Hollywood Motion Picture Review (1937-1940)

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May 29, 1937 HOLLYWOOD MOTION PICTURE REVIEW Page 5 EXHIBITORS' PRAISE CONTINUES AS OTHER THEATREMEN WRITE IN So valuable have Exhibitor's letters proven of interest to Holly- wood readers, we have decided to devote unlimited space to the reprinting of constructive comment from theatre men in the field. In inviting Exhibitor-subscribers to write in constructive sugges- tions for product improvement, we hardly expected the industry to be turned upside down with the contents of one issue. If only a minor portion of Hollywood read the comment and as small an improvement as 10% resulted, it would be a step in the right direction, and encouragement for future efforts on our be- half. We are now more firmly convinced than ever that the most valuable service any trade publication can give to both Holly- wood and Exhibitors is to provide a direct contact between the two. Thus, as often as Exhibitors write in, space will be given over to the reprinting of their letters. Of course, we do not expect huge results from one or two campaigns or a series of letters, but we are of the belief that the constant hammering will bring final results. No one in executive command can counte- nance a system continually turning out pictures which Exhibitors insist are of little value to their box-office. We invite all of Hollywood to read our Exhibitor letters, and we extend an invitation again to theatremen to keep up the good work by writing in their suggestions. Every issue of HOLLYWOOD REVIEW receives an almost 100% circulation around Hollywood Studios, being delivered to all important studio executives in addition to the subscription list, consisting of some of the most prominent stars, directors, writers and pro- ducers. Scores of our readers have time and again compli- mented us for our ability in gaining the confidence of the Exhib- itor to such an extent that he will contribute such valuable letters as have already been printed. Therefore, the Exhibitor's Forum is open for all theatremen who care to join in the crusade for product improvement. The following letter reached us this week: PEMBER-PASTIME THEATRES UNDER THE PERSONAL DIRECTION OF VINCENT DAILEY Granville, New York. 5/21/37 My Dear Mr. Blair: I was going to write you when I sent in my subscription but was busy and again when I received your letter of thanks, I meant to write but just did not get at it and now after reading your issue of May 15th, I am getting down to my Corona at last. First, I want to tell you that I have been reading your reviews for several years and you have all the other fellows in the trade paper field beat a mile. You give me in your reviews just what I want to know and in a way that I understand what it is all about. In your “Analyzing Product” you help me to date in pictures better than any other paper. I hope that some producers will pay attention to the “Exhib- itor Letters” in the May 15th issue but frankly, I have my doubts that they will for it has been my experience and also of others that you can’t tell Hollywood anything. You may be interested in what I think of these letters. . . . HAROLD BERNSTEIN. . . . Here is a “showman” who knows what it is all about ... he is right in what he says about the different companies. Fox and Zanuck are the tops today. He is right about M.G.M. . . . they are “slipping” . . . with all the stars, writers, directors, and money they have, they ought to be far in advance of all the other producers. He is right that Paramount could do better; that Warner pictures were very bad this season but their line-up for next season looks better . . . RKO seems to be coming up. ... He is also correct about United Artists. In reference to his lines about radio. . . . There is no question but that the stars keep people at home and away from the theatres, but I doubt if anything can be done about it as the stars want the money, so it seems to me that the producers are doing the best they can about this matter. He is also right about color in pictures. “Garden Of Allah” was a well acted and beautiful picture but it did not mean a thing at my box office, but they packed in to see “The Trail of the Lone- some Pine”. I don’t agree with him about “B” pictures. . . . I would rather play a good “B” picture than a lot of the so called specials. We can talk all we want to about “B” pictures but we have always had them and we always will—the trouble is that in the last two or three years, they have been giving us a lot of poorly directed, poorly written “B” pictures with play- ers in them who are not stars and never will be stars, and will not draw at the old box office. By a good “B” picture, I mean one like Jane Withers in “Holy Terror”. By a poor “B” pic- ture, I mean Ralph Bellamy in “Wild Brian Kent” . . . An- other subject that Mr. Bernstein takes up is TRAILERS. There is only one company that knows how to make good trailers, and that is Warner Bros. The great trouble with trailers is that they take up too much time with a lot of scenes that do not mean a thing unless the person knows the story and they spend too little time in selling the story. Next: Double features. It will be a long time before we get away from double features. The first reason is that people today are looking for bargains, and second the producers make us buy so many features that the only way to get rid of them is to double feature. Third, there are so many features being made today that do not mean a thing at the box office ... we don’t dare run them alone, because we know in advance what a loss we will take. He is right in saying there are too many murder and mystery pic- tures ... it has got so now that if my people think the picture is a “detective story”, they stay home by the radio. I found out afterwards that a lot of them did not see “Nancy Steele is Missing” because they thought it was another mystery story. They don’t want costume and they hate a lot of smart dialogue. They want . . . “One In a Million” . . . “W^ake Up and Live” . . . “Fifty Roads to Town” . . . “Banjo on My Knee” . . . “Thea- dora Goes Wild” . . . “Three Smart Girls” . . . “Great Guy” . . . “In His Steps” . . . “Rainbow On the River” . . . “Plainsman” & “Texas Rangers.” If I were a producer I’d let the other fellow make the “class” pictures and instead give the people what they show at the box office they want to see. So much for Mr. Bernstein’s letter . . . now . . . Mr. Paul Dietrich. . . . He says less pictures, less shorts and single bills. Maybe he is right but he is not going to get what he wants. The producers make money on programs so they are going to keep on making them and a lot of them . . . and why should they stop making shorts when we have to buy them and do buy them in order to get their features. Do you know for example, that you cannot buy an RKO feature unless you sign up for a year of MARCH OF TIME? The letter from Chas. H. Barron has my OK from the top to the bottom . . . here again is a man who knows what it is all about. Mr. H. S. Nicholas brings up the matter of titles. . . . Titles do mean a lot. “History Is Made At Night” is a good example of a very bad title and one that keeps people away from the box office. \^Tiy, oh, why can’t the producers see this? If I were a producer. I’d save a few dollars on one of the BIG pictures and spend it to have a few Exhibitors who are real “Showman” to come out to Hollywood and tell me what is wrong and what is right with my pictures. We all think we can run the other fellow’s business better than he does, but we, on the other side of the fence see these fellows out in Hollywood make so many mistakes that we as a rule have to pay for, that we would just like to see if we could not do better. So much for tonight. Good luck to you Joe Blair and to your HOLLYWOOD RE- VIEW. Sincerely yours. VINCENT DAILEY. SHORTAGE OF PREVIEWS Due possibly to the current studio strike and also to the withholding of many important pictures for preview until the arrival of delegates for two major sales convention meetings soon to be held in Los Angeles, there has been a shortage of pictures previewed during the past two weeks. However, as the saying goes, it's either a feast or a famine —we'll probably be swamped with previews in the next few weeks.