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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


How To Fill Your Lot On a Friday Night in 1952


Just a sampling of the kind of shows that used to pack them in during the early fifties. This one, from November 1952, was typical of combinations that catered to audiences out in the hinterlands. Columbia and Republic used to service a lot of these. Westerns were steady reliables for exhibitors and dependable merchandise for producers. $184,000 in domestic rentals may not seem like a lot for Gene Autry’s Indian Territory, but it was money you could count on, and as long as budgets stayed within prescribed limits, profits were virtually guaranteed. Truly a well-oiled machine, and it ran successfully until television flooded homes with the same stuff for free. Pictures like these died hard in the south, though. In the wake of The Beverly Hillbillies’ success on the home screen, our local Starlite Drive-In booked several nights of Judy Canova oldies in the hopes such relics would sate our presumed appetites for all things country --- and those Columbia Autrys were still kicking around our area right through the mid-sixties. A lot of these westerns have been released on DVD, by the way, and all of them sparkle, having been made from negatives retained by Autry's estate. The ones I've watched have been outstanding.

2 Comments:

Anonymous MDG said...

When I was going to drive-ins a lot--late 70s, early 80s--it was mostly to catch horror triple-features. Back then, it seemed they were usually put together as a "current" release (Silent Scream, Phantasm), a perennial favorite (Texas Chainsaw massacre, Last House on the left, Don't look in the Basement), and a piece of eurosleaze (Daughters of darkness, House of Psychotic Women).

Actually, drive ins have come back a little locally (western New York), often with multiple screens, but they just show the current multiplex fare. Not the same, not if you want the REAL drive-in experience.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ohn--did you notice the supporting stars at the bottom of the ad for "Fabulous Senorita" --Marvin Kaplan, later to appear as the hapless gas station attendent in "Mad, Mad World"
and also then-unknown Rita Moreno--later to star in "West Side Story"

How about the statement for the "Indian Territory" "....renegade redskins!" unacceptable today....
Check out who is a supporting player there--Kirby "Sky King" Grant!

Good point about the Autry authorized DVDs...he had the good sense to hang on to 35mm prints and negatives to most of his pictures...we thank him and his estate now that we can see gorgeous transfers of them in 2006. Too bad Roy Rogers didn't do the same...most of his material out there is lesser print quality...

12:00 PM  

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