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Sunday, June 09, 2019

Buy A Ticket --- Win A Joy Bus

When How Much? Was A Patron's Burning Question

Need further proof we were mired in deepest Depression circa January 1932? Signal of defeat was often admissions being lowered, as at Denver's Paramount Theatre, site of a "Sensational Price Cut," ad emphasis directed by the "Look" arrow pointed not toward the screen attraction, but to ticket rates down to twenty-five and thirty-five cents. That this consumes over half the ad space is significant, and evidence that cost often trumped whatever was screened. Was This Reckless Age worth a quarter where it was hardest earned, and could fill at least part of a grocery bag? "What does college do to youth --- improve or destroy?" might seem an irrelevant question even to the less than ten percent of populace who then pursued higher learning. Still, there was a "Collegiate Auto" being given away at the 9:00 show, and that might be worth gambling a quarter toward. Bank Nights, dish drawings, whatever the giveaway, were a big incentive to go to movies during the cash-strapped 30's. After all, someone had to win the prize. Referred-to Graham-Paige Autos was a manufacturer founded in 1927 that lasted until 1940. Their "Joy Bus" sounds much along lines of the company's "Sound Train" shown at left, a limousine lacking only rails beneath it to fully simulate a Super Chief ride (note the observation platform at the rear). Never mind expense of such a thing --- how would you keep it gassed up? Car collectors might estimate value of whatever Graham-Paige Autos survive. All would be approaching eighty years old or more. 


Blogger DBenson said...

That seems an awfully small mention for giving away a car -- Perhaps you had to attend over several weeks and accumulate chances or win smaller drawings or something? I'd be very surprised if ads preceding this one didn't make a much bigger noise about the collegiate Joy Bus (which could have been a little two-seater and still offer Joy aplenty to non-collegiate, non-wheeled 30s youth). Certainly the dealership wouldn't have provided the prize without getting major free advertising out of it.

Lewis and Martin's "Hollywood or Bust" opened with a movie theater's win-a-car promotion. Idiot movie fan Jerry was the winner, slicker Dino had plans to scam the contest, and they end up sharing the car on a journey to guess where. Forgot the details, but there was something about going to a lot of movies to have a real chance on the car.

Jack Benny did a bit on his TV show about how "The Horn Blows at Midnight" broke house records at one movie house. He displayed the sign for that engagement, which offered a long list of prizes and inducements before reaching the name of the movie in small print.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Lowering prices attracts those who come only when they can buy at a discount. At the same time it makes those who paid regular admissions feel cheated. If you want to kill your business lowering prices is the fastest, surest way to do it. The same thing with offering cars, plates and other junk. It devalues the experience. The sad truth is that then and now most movies were not/are not worth seeing.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Tommie Hicks said...

Is this vehicle reposing at the Forney Car Museum? Every time I see an ad posted here that has an address for the cinema (most don't) I go there via Google Earth to see what is there now. There definitely is a 1920's type building there on Glenarm but the structure does not look conducive for a cinema.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

In Terry Ramsaye's 1925 A MILLION AND ONE NIGHTS AT THE MOVIES I read that the audience for motion pictures was between the ages of 11 to 30, primarily 14 to 24 and primarily female.

With the coming of sound the audience for movies began to shrink in large part because once movies started to speak they lost the audience that could not understand the language spoken from the screen.

The movies also lost the women as the role of women in film creation began to be diminished in the sound era.

By doing this the movies began to lose not only the women but also the men as men go where the women are. Ramsaye's book is great reading.

Today's movies are made for 13 year old Asian boys.

Where once upon a time ministers in churches preached sermons condemning the movies the movies have now become Sunday sermons.

The movies at their best appealed to the worst people. Since so many of us are among the worst people in the eyes of those who think themselves the best people that was a helluva lot of people thus the 5,000 seat theatres.

Add the LEGION OF DECENCY to the mix and it's no wonder people stopped going to the movies. Christ, Jesus wouldn't go. Yes, that's sort of swearing. It's also true. Jesus was a dirt poor carpenter from buttfuck Galilee (Thomas Cahil's wonderfully apt description from THE DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS). According to Ian Wilson in THE EVIDENCE FOR JESUS, Jesus had a Galilean accent which means he dropped his aitches which means in the flesh he sounded like Cary Grant in real life as Archie Leech. So I'm pretty sure anything the LEGION OF DECENCY approved of he would have given a pass this the old saying the nearer the church/synagogue/temple the farther from Allah/The Buddha/God.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Looking through plenty of newspaper ads in my adopted hometown, Duluth MN, it seems all the first run theaters lowered their prices in the thirties. Double features were not widespread in the downtown theaters until the war years, but you usually got an hour or so of added attractions and often something live on stage.

4:02 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer reveals what became of Graham-Paige Motors and the sad fate of Peggy Shannon:

Charging twenty-five cents for a seat at a matinee showing seems a good deal. It would be the equivalent of $4.30 today, and this for a first-run show and supporting program. The thirty-five cents for a balcony seat after six o’clock on Saturdays and Sundays would be like charging $6.02 today. The more desirable loge and lower floor seats would cost fifty cents for weekend showings, or $8.60, but the kiddies would never pay more than fifteen cents, or $2.58, an encouragement, no doubt, to bring the whole family for an evening’s entertainment at the movies.

Graham-Paige suspended automobile production in September, 1940, after an unsuccessful arrangement with Hupp Motors to build lines of Graham and Hupp automobiles using the tooling for the advanced Cord 810/812 cars of the defunct Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg company. Graham-Paige immediately took on munition work and emerged from the Second World War financially healthy and eager to begin automobile production again. Its president, Joseph Frazer, entered into a partnership with the industrialist, Henry J. Kaiser, to build modern Kaiser and Frazer automobiles styled by Howard “Dutch” Darrin, the "Darrin of Paris" who designed the custom Packards driven by Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Ann Sheridan, Gary Cooper, and Errol Flynn. When Graham-Paige, for all its relative prosperity, proved to be undercapitalized for postwar automobile production, it sold its automotive assets to the newly-formed Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, in return for Kaiser-Frazer stock. It then entered into real estate investment, eventually acquiring a controlling interest in the Madison Square Garden complex in New York City. In 1962, Graham-Paige changed its name to Madison Square Garden Corporation, after its principal asset, and later was acquired by Gulf and Western Industries, which also owned Paramount Pictures for a time. After several buyouts and spinoffs, the company is still in existence as MSG Networks, Inc.

Pretty Peggy Shannon, the co-star of “This Reckless Age,” began her show business career in the chorus lines of the Ziegfeld Follies and Earl Carroll Vanities, before being signed by Paramount Pictures in 1931 as a new “It Girl” to replace Clara Bow. There is no record of whether she was also a protegee of B. P. Schulberg or provided reciprocal courtesies to him, but she did not prosper at Paramount. “This Reckless Age” was her last picture for the studio, after which she signed on with Fox but went on a lot of loan outs to the likes of Tiffany and Monogram. Her big picture during this time was the lead in “Deluge,” for RKO. She developed a drinking problem and was considered difficult and temperamental, which may have had to do with the drink or maybe the 16 hour working days she endured, sometimes in two productions being filmed at the same time. The pace continued and she appeared in nine releases as late as 1939, though most of these were programmers and some of her work was in uncredited supporting parts. On May 11, 1941, she was found slumped at the kitchen table of her North Hollywood apartment, a cigarette in her mouth and a whiskey glass in her hand, dead of an alcohol-related heart attack. Three weeks later, her husband of the time, Albert Roberts, committed suicide by shooting himself with a .22 rifle in the same chair in which she had died. His suicide note read, "I am very much in love with my wife, Peggy Shannon. In this spot she died, so in reverence to her, you will find me in the same spot."

5:36 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Remember THE BIRTH OF A NATION premiered at $2 a seat. Despite the industry and the media saying the public would not pay that kind of money for a movie they did. Over four times the population in America alone. That would be over $50 a seat today. BROKEN BLOSSOMS which is much shorter premiered at $3 a seat. The movies once upon a time were big. When the movies became cheap entertainment they through away everything that made them exciting. Name a film you'd pay $50 to see today.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hmmm....I think I sense a bit of a scam here on the giveaways. I suspect the "collegiate auto" might have to something like this; a junker with "oh you kid!" type slogans painted on it. See: for an example (a bit late but also showing that this wasn't a phenomenon confined to the 1920s...) The Joy Bus: maybe that's referring to said car, and it was supplied from the (back of the) used car lot at Hoskins-Butler Motors.


2:42 PM  

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