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Saturday, January 07, 2017

When Silent Pix Flew High


Bronto-Socko Selling of The Lost World (1925) in Oklahoma City

Picture yourself as a ten-year-old in Oklahoma City during November, 1925. Just another day ... then comes a truck-pulled brontosaurus tall as housetops. Where was 20's sensation to equal that? I'm guessing a circus parade came close, but they didn't have dinosaurs. It's old news that showmen tried harder then. In this case, it was First National exchange manager E.D. Brewer who got the idea. Do his descendants realize there was such genius in the family? I always wonder if such men left scrapbooks. You could figure someone like Brewer for decades of creativity applied to the bally art. When do we stop fussing over directors and laud these guys? Long-term exhibs surely looked back to The Lost World when Sinbad made a Seventh Voyage or Gorgo came to town, for I've seen trade reports of similar stunts applied to both when new. It's known that little boys (girls too?) love all things prehistoric. Did that all begin with The Lost World? Must have been one whale of a Ok. City line in knickers and cap when this mighty attraction touched ground. I could wish to have been there, though price to pay would be not lasting to now, though wait ... maybe there's handful left, in late nineties, or touching 100 even, who thrilled to The Lost World, and may yet have glimmer of a one Oklahoma day when dinosaurs ruled the earth.





England would aim still higher on Lost World behalf. Horace Judge, he of First National's UK publicity division, linked with Imperial Airways, Ltd. to launch "The World's First Aircraft Cinema," a 2,000 foot high play-off of The Lost World "before a select audience of notables and newspapermen" (Moving Picture World, 6-13-25). The stunt was referred to as a "first-timer" for movies shown aloft. Imperial's "air boat" was chartered by F.N. and the film was shown as passengers and crew flew over the North Sea. London press lit a fuse that led to mention "in practically every paper in Great Britain." Rail exhibition had played to success on "crack expresses," so why not raise altitude for showgoing? Big risk we note from years distance is 35mm projection being loaded aboard. Lab rats for First National's in-flight experiment would see The Lost World on nitrate stock, all aboard at said 2,000 ft. and doomed should the print catch fire and engulf the cabin. Well, at least it would happen quick. Or would it? So now let's separate committed film folk from mere casual consumers --- would you fly in an airplane today if they were running London After Midnight, The Rogue Song, a complete The Magnificent Ambersons --- on nitrate? (notice how I tinted for fire, just like in silent movies) Who of us would roll such dice? Depends on how badly we'd really want to see those lost treasures. Look at this way ... at least you'd be part-way to Heaven when sudden, and permanent, intermission came.

More of The Lost World HERE and HERE, and thanks much to Scott MacQueen for the bronto-bally image.

6 Comments:

Blogger Reg Hartt said...

The brontosaurus loose in London is fine but the anticipation stirred by the promise in the ads of a Tyrannosaurus Rex loose in London makes the moment a letdown. Too bad. I think the Bronto would have been equally effective in the ads. Maybe even more so.

Still, this is a great film. Thanks for the post.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Marc J. Hampton said...

yeah. i'd take the risk and fly aloft with Nitrate to see ANY of those titles. I once lost a job because i called in sick to go see "Three Wise Girls" (1932) at the Film Forum here in NYC. Clearly I will risk life and livelihood for movies that are tough/impossible to see.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Dan Oliver said...

For "The Magnificent Ambersons" you bet I'd take the risk.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

Winsor McCay's animated "Gertie the Dinosaur" started as part of McCay's vaudeville act and was released as a freestanding film short in 1914. A quick google reveals there were posters for it, including a color beauty of the comic brontosaurus on a city street, balancing a car on her head.

Is it possible they put a T-rex on "The Lost World" posters because of concerns a brontosaurus would make people think of McCay's friendly pen-and-ink character?

There must have been a lot of people who remembered seeing Gertie in one form or another. Conceivably the film itself was still being booked, a novelty still more impressive than the current animated product.

11:54 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

A couple of unknown ads.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3d/d0/48/3dd048b81546bb95248321bf1b944cd2.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/5e/19/4f/5e194fa806dda280f2d39d1b7809ca20.jpg

2:57 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

People in the industry as a rule have always been pretty much ignorant to its history. Doubt McKay's film had any impact on ad design as the motto has always been "NEWER IS BETTER." Flicker Alley has a great restoration of THE LOST WORLD. Though I have two other versions I ordered it and am glad I did. Those are neat ads radiotelefonia. Dramatic too. Thanks. https://www.createspace.com/427548

5:29 AM  

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