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Monday, March 25, 2024

Ads and Oddities #5


Ad/Odds: Dick's Doughnut Party, Unholy Love, All-RKO Show, and Dream Girl

WHY NOT A DOUGHNUT PARTY? --- Merit badge to all who toss such event after fashion of Olivia DeHavilland and Dick Powell in 1938. What goes ideally with doughnuts? They may not have proposed marijuana then, but I’ll attest to pastry and cannabis as irresistible combo for potheads during a seventies usage peak, this not from personal experience (never took weed --- really). What I did hear of, and often, was classmates toking up on weekend nights, then hitting Hwy. 421 for Winston-Salem (apx. an hour’s distance) to Krispy-Kreme Doughnuts where fresh treats were served twenty-four hours daily (fun fact, Winston as site of the very first KK in 1937). Odyssey came of “munchies,” hunger said to result from using plant with roots in hell. I knew boys who’d boast of a dozen doughnuts per midnight sitting. My choice, being a good scout, was “Sweet Sixteen” as in white sugared snacks. I think there were 16 of them in each bag. One night in college, we were in a card game which I exited, forgetting my Sweet Sixteens. Realizing the error not two minutes later, I returned to find table occupants, each in munchies grip, with white powder on their mouths, not cocaine, but what was left of my doughnuts. Fury ensued (mine), which got me nowhere. What we needed was leaf from Olivia and Dick’s book, milk served with Sweet Sixteens rather than marijuana. Yet I wonder if doughnuts were sufficient stimulus for Olivia/Dick's merry group. Alcohol as default guest to adult parties make orange juice or milk (even “cool, fresh cider” --- unless spiked) seem tepid alternatives. Note Joan Fontaine serving Pabst Blue-Ribbon at her more grounded in reality pool gathering. I don’t think doughnuts would be compatible with beer, let alone with mixed drinks. Stars were obliged to push product of all sorts, most of which they never personally used, although I can well imagine if D. Powell or Hard To Get lead lady DeHavilland arrived early morning to the set with a big box of doughnuts, they would surely go fast, probably with coffee to energize a sleep-deprived cast and crew.

MYRNA LOY in UNHOLY LOVE? --- An “Art Cinema” might be many things, base exploitation, sex themes promised though not delivered, certainly not where Myrna Loy is the featured star. Patronage could smell rats from distance of print ads, some possibly guessing that Unholy Love was actually the 1932 Vanity Fair rebranded for mid-forties play. I was able to ID the program thanks to key art of Loy which figured into old stills from ‘32 source, Vanity Fair sold on tawdry terms by independent producer M.H. Hoffman, who presumably made the feature available on state’s rights basis, best sell figured a time-honored sex sell. Vanity Fair was based on a nineteenth-century novel somewhat saucy, updating to lend fresh possibility enhanced by risen star Myrna Loy prior to her break into major celebrity. Second feature Reckless Girls could be anything, no use guessing what. Note respectable Colonel Blimp closing out a run. Maybe receipts were low enough from that to need harder tack for recovery. “Little theatres” really found their métier in Euro imports where art and sex coalesced and made titillation seekers feel righteous paying ways in, since foreign stuff, especially Italos, got rave reviews from respectable critics and no one need be embarrassed for attending. Ads for these could be as misleading as Vanity Fair’s reincarnation as Unholy Love. A problem all major stars had was early and possibly embarrassing work returning to haunt them, especially where sold on terms like here. Nothing they could do about it of course. Reassurance for Loy came of knowing content of Vanity Fair would confer no shame, but how could she know Vanity Fair was what was hid behind Unholy Love?

RKO TRIPLE HEADER --- Got a feeling All That Money Can Buy got a same bum’s rush in-out of 1941 theatres as Citizen Kane, and later The Magnificent Ambersons. What to do, said RKO, but jam bills with stuff an audience might actually enjoy and keep Daniel Webster and his Devil in back seats. All That Money Can Buy saw eventual title change for being so obscure --- what were we selling, asked exhibitors, and no one apart from those who paid ways in could answer. Hardly a best way to peddle product understood only in exchange for admission bought, a risk fewer were willing to take. Has a public changed in that respect? All That Money Can Buy was economically made, a negative cost of $463K, took domestic rentals of $527K, foreign at $184K (being Americana a drug upon that market). Loss amounted to $53K, so RKO must have thanked fact it was cheaply produced (for an A). Fact they’d treat All That Money Can Buy largely as a B was response more to public apathy and exhibitor disinterest. Being based on “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” it would ultimately be called that, schools a fitter venue from the forties on. 16mm prints while visually good enough were incomplete, so collectors and TV watchers made do with ninety or so minutes which at least told the story, fleshed-out less though classrooms no doubt preferred it. To pair All That Money Can Buy with belated Flagg and Quirt (with songs!) made commercial sense, as comedy plus three cartoons from Disney helped make medicine go down, blood-stained hands reaching from Hell good enough ad copy for what Money could buy, even as mission of theatres was primarily to leave them laughing, as this program likely did. All That Money Can Buy is lately out from Criterion, restored and looking a best ever.

DREAM GIRL (1948) --- Another starring Betty Hutton, which means forgotten, never shown, near-inaccessible. Betty will be revived when I find dinosaur eggs in the back yard, not primary point for today however, as who's here to state the obvious? Object of interest instead is the Chicago Theatre hosting the “Hutton Hurricane” with much to make fifty, even sixty-five, cents seem a bargain, at least to us who would Dream to go back and see this Girl as seasoning upon stage lures familiar then, but like Betty Hutton, gone with shifting winds. Consider hours these entertainers pulled … start time 9AM, a last show at 10PM. From there I’d be for a sanitarium stay, but these troupers were bound for however long Dream Girl drew crowds, this ad indicating a Hold Over, so how long did artists endure upon this bill? Toni Harper was a “Girl Jazz Singer” and Chicago native who was eleven when she appeared here, later did Ed Sullivan spots seen at You Tube, retired from performing at twenty-nine, and died in 2023. Two-Ton Baker had, among other hits, “I Like Stinky Cheese,” which I will leave for others to resurrect via You Tube or ancient vinyl. Disc jockeys on stage merit mention as Dave Garroway was among them. He obviously went places. DJ’s were welcome at presentation houses for often broadcasting live from jamborees they’d narrate like a ball game, listeners encouraged to come on down and join the fun. Against so much here-and-now excitement few features could compete, the Chicago Theatre wise in loading up live acts where a movie was soft, as probably was Dream Girl, to some extent a chaser to clear seats so watchers wouldn’t camp all day for a single admission. Of course if the stage attraction was hot enough, like a hit crooner or band, there might be endurance sitters there for a twelve-hour haul. Some among these would have been plenty sick of Dream Girl after a long, long day.


Blogger Beowulf said...

Donuts and cannabis? Sounds like a perfect pairing to me.

5:01 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

What comes to mind is Tom Ewell in "Seven Year Itch", repackaging a reprint of "Little Women" as "Secrets of a Girls' Dormitory." Time was when paperback publishers gave grindhouse showmen a run for their money.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Filmfanman said...

Somewhat surprised to find 'Dream Girl' on Youtube, albeit with unimpressive print and sound - but also surprised to find there hundreds of comments appended, very many praising Betty Hutton.
So she does have fans out there - as for myself, I personally avoided watching 20th Century Fox musicals from the 1940s for years because I had mistaken Betty Grable's name on the DVD box for Betty Hutton's, whose performance in 'The Greatest Show on Earth ' I had found grating.
I had mistaken one Betty of the 1940s movies for the other Betty of the 1940s movies, not realizing then that there were two of them.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

Wow...using the classic arrangement of letters: DOUGHNUT.

I ate the whole thing except for the hole.

11:05 AM  
Blogger PalaceTheatre said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:35 PM  
Blogger PalaceTheatre said...

Over the years I've collected old movie magazines, I have learned to spot "doctored"
photos in the ads. Even though this was decades before Photoshop, stars' faces were
superimposed over many ads---I'm sure either Dick Powell or Joan Fontaine would never have had
photographers setting up something as trivial as an ad endorsement. If you look closely
at the first ad, Powell's head and face don't look quite right for the body. It also would
have been very easy to have a generic shot of Joan Fontaine by a pool, have it color toned and
put a glass of beer in her hand. This was VERY common practice in the 30s and 40s.
The star got an honorarium for allowing their photo to be used, even though they were not
actually there.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Filmfanman said...

PalaceTheatre is right, "doctored" or altered photos have been around for a very long time, from the very start of photography in the 1850s.
AI just automates and speeds up the process, as well as greatly increasing the number of people with the tools and skills to alter photos, films and audio recordings.

7:43 PM  

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