Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

1949 Showmen Go Gender Targeting

Useful Pressbook Art --- But What Was In It For The Ladies?

Command Decision Lesson #1: If Women Say No, The Pic Won't Go


The trouble seemed to be this: MGM had spent lots for a property adapted to Broadway success about men under stress of war, a war ended several years before. Legiters would pass on heart interest, result no women, that is, not one, in the cast. MGM hewed to that for translate of Command Decision to film, so no ground was given to worrying wives or sweethearts back home per formula of combat stories gone before. Fliers and those who'd led on the ground were invited to advance screen Command Decision and fill out cards re authenticity. Thumbs up from these put the feature on track for Academy consideration, perhaps a Best Picture for 1948, thus a three-theatre "Pre-Release" in Los Angeles for Christmas of that year to qualify for votes. Full-dress military police would act as honor guards for these openers, Command Decision a most lavish of postwar tributes to those who'd won the peace. Reward for Leo's effort was the L.A. Army/Navy Club placing Command Decision among ten all-time best war pics, a list that included Wings, The Big Parade, A FarewellTo Arms, and more recent Destination Tokyo, They Were Expendable, and A Walk In The Sun. All well and good this, but what of hinterland houses that relied on women to fill seats, or bring men/boys who would?


Problems arose in wake of ads done for the pressbook, none of which were femme focused, a mistake that showmen on the ground would have to address. MGM had done a teaser trailer aimed partly to women, but it was too small an effort. Command Decision was getting known as a new year's (and 25th anniversary) Metro show with appeal limited to men, and that was deadly considering fact that it was Mom, dates, and gal-pals that made command decision of what men/boys saw at theatres. How then to assure women that Command Decision was their kind of entertainment? One way, a most obvious one, was to emphasize Clark Gable (as in "The Ladies Love ..."), still swooning even on approach to a third decade serving Leo. Distaff columnists liberally quoted in ads guaranteed sisterhood that Command Decision would please. Ads shown here are from Buffalo and Kansas City, a pair of keys that would have been put on notice as to selling snafus on Command Decision (as in word received from L.A., NYC, and Chicago), and making appropriate adjustment to their own promoting. Kinks could often be ironed out this way, subsequent daters learning from errors made on first-runs.

More Command Decision at Greenbriar Archive.

3 Comments:

Blogger iarla said...

I have been catching up with the post-war Gables and have yet to view "Command Decision". They are a sorry lot - right now I'm struggling thorough "Any Number can Play". The pace is sluggish and Gable looks weary. "Adventure" was atrocious - stodgy and terribly misconceived. "The Hucksters" has some zip thanks to Gardner and Greenstreet, but, on the whole, I realise now why these later, lesser vehicles were not as widely played on TV (when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's). Gables famed Star magnetism is no more - the sexual threat is gone. I checked to see how they were received by the public at the time and was shocked that they posted respectable grosses, although only one vehicle, "Homecoming" made a little over a million dollars in eventual profit. I suspect this was due to his reteaming with Lana Turner, promising audiences some of the sexual chemistry which made Gable famous before the war. Turner is game, still sweet and giggling, but Gable is dull, melancholic even, and not interesting enough as an actor to use this to his advantage. I look forward to "Command Decision" though.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

That sure is a happy bunch of actors in those ads for such a serious movie -- another failure in the truth-in-advertising category.

And that shot of Gable with the crown atop his head looks more like fellow-Metro actor James Craig.

5:15 PM  
Blogger iarla said...

Wasn't James Craig groomed as a Gable substitute during the latters war tenure? Pidgeon, Johnson, Hodiak too - all prospered on the home lot and avoided service for various reasons. Wonder if viewers noted the irony while watching "Command Decision"?

6:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016