Seeking vintage movie theater ads

posted by Jim Vecchio on May 12, 2006 at 8:15 pm

It seems to me that one of the major factors that fostered my love of theaters and movies from my youth was the way they were advertised in our local papers.

The ads were designed to enthrall you to view the movies-many conveyed special images, catch phrases,and imagination-surging presentations.

I love the comments sent by your members that include some of these pages concerning the particular theater, especially since nowadays the newspaper ads are so lackluster (or even absent altogether) that there is nothing to provoke the reads into attending the particular theaters in question.

I was wondering if you could invite members to submit more of these ads and add a link to them.

Thanks for listening!

Comments (18)

JimRankin
JimRankin on May 12, 2006 at 11:15 pm

Most of the better visual (‘display’) ads were actually created by the releasing studio’s Publicity Departments and often merely sent to the local film distributor, the theatre, or as part of a Press Kit to local newspaper reviewers. The papers would simply add their start times under the theatre name and that would be the ad. I seem to recall that there was a book some years back on just this subject, and perhaps someone at www.oscars.com or the MPAA might remember. You could also ask Rich Sklenar at www.historictheatres.org

If too few submit ads, and your interest is serious, you can always go to your nearest large library and request them to order microfilm of most any newspaper in the nation from those early years to be sent to them for you on Inter-Library Loan. You could view the ads and set the machine to print-out those of interest. Then using a scanner and computer, you could scan them and clean them up if you are thinking ahead to writing your own book.

There may also have been a professional association of ad artists and you might want to track them down, probably in Hollywood or greater L.A. area.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 13, 2006 at 4:10 am

You can have a look at my website at www.movie-theatre.org
I have a large collection of grand opening ads for these markets:
Los Angeles CA (70+ including the Chinese), Augusta GA, Chicago IL (almost 100), Washington DC, Vancouver BC, Calgary,AB, Regina SK, Winnipeg MB, Toronto ON, Ottawa-Gatineau ON QC (have a look at the great AMC Kanata 24 ads its AMC Vs Parliment buildings)on the Ottawa suburban PDF., Montréal QC (70 ads found), Trois Rivieres QC, Sherbrooke QC, Quebec QC, Halifax NS, St. Johns NF

Also www.movie-theatre.org/grandopening

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on May 13, 2006 at 7:20 am

I just submitted my simple question and was quite surprised to read your two responses. Thank you so much, Jim and Mike!To Jim: In the sixties I can remember doing lots of reading in a top floor of our main library and, as I recall, you could actually see and handle the old papers in those days. I have been meaning, Jim, to go to our library and do just as you suggested. Also, to Mike: Your website is tremendous and shows much effort. It saddens me to see those nostalgic old names from my hometown that are now just fond memories to those who knew them. You have done such a good job that I don’t want you to feel this is in any way a criticism, but there are some revisions you might consider to your section on Bridgeport: The KLEIN MEMORIAL is still very much open, and often has live shows, often of local interest. I have not attended a show there in many, many years, but I hear it has been refurbished into quite a showplace. Also, the theater you list as BLACK ROCK and ART CINEMA on 2740 Fairfield Ave., was the BEVERLY. It was known by that name at least from the fifties to the time of its demise, which, I recollect, was in the early 80’s. It was an Icon to the neighborhood and is sorely missed. In fact, there is a local Pizza Place which named itself after the theater, BEVERLY PIZZA HOUSE which has not only outlived the theater, but has branched off in another section of the city! And, the Candelite-Pix, I’m pretty certain, was on River Street since either the late forties or early fifties.Unfortunately, much of my family has passed on,so there aren’t too many I can ask about these things anymore, but I seem to remember hearing that, prior to its becoming a Drive-In, this was some sort of a Speedway. Again, I’m not entirely sure, but it may even have borne the name Candelite at that time.
Thanks again, for your responses!!

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on May 14, 2006 at 5:51 am

The microfilm idea is good. I have been using this lately, getting ads from The Warriors all the way to Fight Club (I’m not that old).

Patsy
Patsy on May 14, 2006 at 7:56 am

If you are interested in old movie ads, you might have interest in old movie posters, too. Some neat things can be done with them when decorating a home theatre, etc.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on May 14, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Yes, Patsy, old posters are a great idea-I’ve got a few, but some of them are too expensive for me with all my “vices” (videos, DVDs, etc). But there is something about those old posters-I remember as a kid in the fifties just loving to walk by neighborhood theaters (like the Rialto) or downtown shows (Strand, Warners, etc.) and just gazing at wonderful posters. Even today, often when I watch one of my classic films I like to download a page with the poster first, if possible. There is very little today to beckon one inside the theater-sometimes I think they make one or two generic posters and just “tailor” it slightly to meet the needs of the film on hand. I feel in the production of today’s films, and the way they are advertised, the one crucial element that has been grossly overlooked is…imagination. The writing of yesteryear’s films was greatly understated and often allowed the viewer to thin for him or herself and develop creative skills. Today everything seem “blurted out” and allows one no time to exercise imagination or thinking. The same with the posters. I remember driving by the Fine Arts Theaters in westport shortly before they closed. If there was a Chevy Chase film playing, there would be a tiny poster with a large face of Chevy Chase. Some theaters use no posters at all. There was nothing to draw patrons inside, unless those people had already decided they were going to see the movie. It wasn’t long before those shows were gone.I realize this is an over-simplification but, what has happened to our society has been we’ve gone from a time whn entertainment was avaialble to every neighborhood and wide-eyed children could stand by their neighborhood theaters in wonder staring and dreaming at the psoters to a sociey in which people clump together collectively in a group of little shoeboxes featuring every movie playing at the moment, and very little to stir their imagination.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on May 14, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Yes, Patsy, old posters are a great idea-I’ve got a few, but some of them are too expensive for me with all my “vices” (videos, DVDs, etc). But there is something about those old posters-I remember as a kid in the fifties just loving to walk by neighborhood theaters (like the Rialto) or downtown shows (Strand, Warners, etc.) and just gazing at wonderful posters. Even today, often when I watch one of my classic films I like to download a page with the poster first, if possible. There is very little today to beckon one inside the theater-sometimes I think they make one or two generic posters and just “tailor” it slightly to meet the needs of the film on hand. I feel in the production of today’s films, and the way they are advertised, the one crucial element that has been grossly overlooked is…imagination. The writing of yesteryear’s films was greatly understated and often allowed the viewer to thin for him or herself and develop creative skills. Today everything seem “blurted out” and allows one no time to exercise imagination or thinking. The same with the posters. I remember driving by the Fine Arts Theaters in westport shortly before they closed. If there was a Chevy Chase film playing, there would be a tiny poster with a large face of Chevy Chase. Some theaters use no posters at all. There was nothing to draw patrons inside, unless those people had already decided they were going to see the movie. It wasn’t long before those shows were gone.I realize this is an over-simplification but, what has happened to our society has been we’ve gone from a time whn entertainment was avaialble to every neighborhood and wide-eyed children could stand by their neighborhood theaters in wonder staring and dreaming at the psoters to a sociey in which people clump together collectively in a group of little shoeboxes featuring every movie playing at the moment, and very little to stir their imagination.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on May 15, 2006 at 5:27 am

Sorry for the typos and the fact the above as double-posted.

Patsy
Patsy on May 15, 2006 at 5:59 am

fedoozle: Your memories of old theatre posters was quite interesting! Thanks and I agree with these words that you wrote…..“There is very little today to beckon one inside the theater…..”

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on May 15, 2006 at 10:04 pm

Mike, I just took a look at your page – specifically the theatre listing for St. Louis, Missouri. Great website. However, there are some corrections that need to be made in that section. I’ll be getting in touch with you shortly.

dhroc
dhroc on May 16, 2006 at 6:14 am

I used to help make up the ads for our theatres every week. We’d get the ad slicks that the distributor or National Screen Service sent us and go at it with scissors and glue. I saved some of the slicks from a few favorite movies but they’re long gone now.

Maybe you can find some old copies of your local paper(s) in some old houses, garages and the like.

Old posters are available from Moviegoods.com. Some tend to be a bit pricey. Also, try E-Bay.

CompassRose
CompassRose on May 16, 2006 at 11:53 am

I have a copy of the opening advert for the Balaban & Katz Uptown Theatre in Chicago on my Web site:

View link

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on July 27, 2006 at 9:31 pm

A much-deserved and long-belated “Thank You”, C.R.

Patsy
Patsy on July 27, 2006 at 9:39 pm

I know a former theatre owner who did have many movie posters, but they were all thrown away years ago as nobody thought they’d be worth anything today…wrong!

fredtrekker
fredtrekker on June 11, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I have a blog that features old movie newspaper ads, called “Held Over!” It’s at www.HeldOverMovies.blogspot.com

Hope you and your readers enjoy seeing the ads that I have saved over the years.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

Frederick,I saved hundreds of old ads from Augusta Theatres and one day at the age of 15 i decided to tape them all in a tree fort and they are gone.I have been able to collect quite few finding old newspapers in old homes,attics and such.I loved everyone,the older the better.I have a pressbook on “HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS” why it is not on DVD i will never know.I have a VHS of it.Thanks so much,hope others will see what you have.I will be revisiting it.

Bloop
Bloop on April 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

I collect old newspapers just for the movie ads. Here is the problem; people only saved key dates; both World Wars, John Kennedy shot (1963), Robert Kennedy shot (1968) , Men Land on the Moon (1969), Nixon resigns (1974), Elvis dies (1977), John Lennon shot (1980). That’s it! Nothing happened in 1964, 1965,1966,1967,1970,1971,1972,1973,1975,1976 , 1978, and 1979! I can tell you every damn movie that played on those dates by memory! LOL. YES: local libraries have micro-film machines with built in Xerox capabilities. I have found gem movie ads from my childhood that way.

millsbranch
millsbranch on May 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm

If you wish vintage movie ads, send email, and I will email you a batch. I have over 60 years of nearly every western ever made thanks billy h email>>>

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