The Exhibitor (1959)

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The NEW YORK Scene By Mel Konecoff THERE ARE a number of people in the business who are superstitious regarding success, like Joe Levine, Henry “Hi” Martin, and others. These people like to believe that when a successful picture is launched over a luncheon table that others will be similarly successful similarly launched. It was Hi Martin’s turn last week at the Laurent when he, Charlie Simonelli, Jeff Levingston, and Phil Gerard of Universal discussed “Pillow Talk,” “Operation Petticoat,” “Snow Queen,” “Spartacus,” and even “Imitation of Life.” The latter, incidentally, has taken in $5,600,000 domestically in 9,600 playdates. “Pillow Talk” — The aforementioned were very excited about this because the public was buying it with the results really big in many areas. It played 84 spots since the premiere early in October and its holdover rate has been practically 100 per cent. Martin labeled it one of the easiest to handle with the best theatres ready and waiting. It’s particularly easy because it’s accepted by the public, press, and the industry. At the moment it’s running about 25 per cent ahead of “Imitation of Life.” , Martin recalled that it all started with a rough print which was set up for magazine editors and others who had an early deadline. Everybody wanted to cooperate including the producer, stars, bit players, costume designer, etc. One of the results of their efforts showed that Hollywoodites still get a tremendous amount of attention in the press of the country despite reports to the contrary. “Pillow Talk,” incidentally, cost over $1,600,000, and they opined that there is no ceiling on a good picture. The public stands ready to buy better entertainment to an extent never seen. Martin doesn’t believe there is such a thing as a soft period. Only when you don’t have a picture do you encounter a soft period, regardless of the time of the year. “Operation Petticoat” — This will be the Christmas attraction at the Radio City Music Hall opening early in December with another wave of dates coming at Christmas. More will go at the end of December with still another wave scheduled for the second week in January. Staffers and cast will work on the release in the field, and it is hoped to move early on this to beat the Christmas rush and crush. “Snow Queen” — The full-length cartoon feature made in Russia based on the Hans Chris¬ tian Anderson classic has been pushed back from a November release to next Easter. This extra time will give the publicity and advertising staffs more of an opportunity to work on it. It has been re-dubbed and re-scored, and it has been entered in the San Francisco Film Festival for the exposure and reaction which could help in future selling. “Spartacus” — Shooting should be completed on Dec. 26 and plans call for the release of the film in a few selected spots on a roadshow basis in July. Regarding the number of pictures, Martin stated it was not possible to give the number of pictures that will be released next year. It will depend on the number produced at the studio, by independent producers, and what is picked up from other sources. He thought that if U-I can come up with 20 features handled properly, he could forecast a successful year. Twenty-two (16 new ones and six reissues) were released during the 1959 fiscal year, ending October. Martin felt that going back to 36 pictures per year would mean trouble for everyone. Simonelli noted that the advertising situation will have to be reviewed in light of com¬ plaints by churches, etc. although much of the advertising under objection is not Code ap¬ proved. Many people lumped all advertising together, and the result is an unhealthy climate. LODGE NOTE: Cinema Lodge met last week at the Hotel Astor for the climax of the annual fund-raising drive which saw a drawing of a 1959 Cadillac and a 21-inch color TV set to lucky certificate holders. Entertainers Susan Cabot and Jean Courtney helped with the selection. Harold B. Berkowitz won the TV set while the car went to Mrs. Harold Saltz, wife of the U-I Washington branch manager. Milton Ellerin, director of the fact-finding committee of the Anti-Defamation League, was guest speaker, reminding that there is still much work to do in the field of overcoming bias and bigotry. President A1 Schwalberg presided while chairman of the fund raising committee Joe Maharan announced the results of the campaign. Also aboard the dais were Bob Shapiro, Burt Robbins, Joseph Rosen, Martin Levine, Saul Rogers, S. Arthur Glixon, Jack Levin, Adolph Schimel, Irving Greenfield, Arthur Israel, Leo Jaffe, and Stuart Engel. THE METROPOLITAN SCENE: Paramount sent out a hunk of red carpet for their press preview of “Li’l Abner” at the Roxy last week ... U-I came out with a cute dimensional mailing piece on their forthcoming “4 D Man” . . . UA sent out an authentic replica of King Solomon’s famous Ring of Wisdom calling attention to “Solomon and Sheba” natcherly . . . Our best to Ed Solomon, exploitation manager at Fox, who goes over as advertising manager to Joe Levine’s Embassy Pictures . . . Discussing publicity and press relations on the CBS network last week via the Mitch Miller show were Jonas Rosenfield, Jr., Bill Doll, Win Nathanson, and Sid Garfield. Rosenfield naturally plugged “The Mouse That Roared.” Alliance Managers Honored FORT WAYNE, IND.— Admidst an air of optimism and enthusiasm, 90 members of the Alliance Amusement Company gathered for the annual fall convention here recently. For two days prior to the big group meet¬ ing, all managers were able to meet in private clinics with all department heads to discuss views for the improvement of their individual theatres. All problems on buying and book¬ ing were cleared with John Doerr and Pete Panagos; maintenance and concession confer¬ ences were held with Lew Harris and Ted Dariotis. Dan Murray, resident manager of Fort Wayne, was the host. S. J. Papas coordinated all activities and also delivered the keynote address. The annual meeting was called to distribute the awards for the 18 week drve from April 26 through Aug. 29. Distributor Will Test Chicago Censor Law CHICAGO — Times Film Corporation last week argued in U. S. Court of Appeals, Seventh District, that film licensing depend¬ ent upon prior screening by a censor board is unconstitutional, thus testing the city’s film censorship board’s ruling that a film not submitted to the board can not be shown. The film on which an exhibition permit was refused without a censor’s screening is the Austrian-made “Don Juan,” based on the Mozart opera. It is contended that the licensing of a film contingent upon its first being seen by a censor is unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The right to levy a licensing fee will not be contested. Refused an exhibition license without a screening by the censor board, Times Film appealed to the Police Commissioner and later to the Mayor. Both officials upheld lower findings calling for a censor board examina¬ tion and paving the way for an appeal on the broad ground of unconstitutionality. “Don Juan” would have no problem obtain¬ ing a license if one had been applied for, and the industry will watch the appeal with interest as the whole concept of prior cen¬ sorship is put on trial. Battle Among Chi Censors Results in "Snoozing" Charge CHICAGO — Mrs. Honey Fisahman, 52, who was fired with another censor board member, Mrs. Josephine O’Hallaren, after a recent screening fracas, charged last fort¬ night that the censors “snoozed whenever they got tired; that Sergeant Vincent Nolan, head of the censors, was never there and rarely views any of the movies; and that the $4,380 a year censor jobs were obtained through Democratic ward committeemen.” Lieutenant Edward M. O’Malley, former head of the censor board, and Sergeant Nolan both dismissed her claims as “sour grapes.” Film Care Stressed LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.— To highlight the importance of the proper care and re¬ juvenation of film as a means of increasing print runs and saving thousands annually, Rapid Film Technique, Inc., proposes the formation of a presentation committee in the U.S.A., consisting of producers, processors, distributors, and exhibitors. Jack Bernard, president of the firm, said “The film industry needs to form a committee to help safeguard film properties and ex¬ amine the whole process of motion picture presentation in its widest sense. The sub¬ stantial investments in shooting, scripts, tal¬ ent, lab work, and production results simply in a reel of film in a can. This reel demands protection. It is important footage.” He suggests the presentation committee adopt four main areas of interest; the initial release print quality, subsequent deteriora¬ tion, equipment, and projection. Rapid Film Technique, Inc., specializes in processes for restoring prints. Essanjay Changes Hands DETROIT — Sam Seplowin, veteran local independent distributor and district manager, Essanjay Film Corporation, has purchased, the interest of Irwin S. Joseph in Detroit and Cleveland exchanges of Essanjay. He will change the name of the company to Selwin Film Corporation after Nov. 1 with offices in the Fox Theatre building here. 14 MOTION PICTURE EXHIBITOR November 4, 1959