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
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.