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.