Variety (May 1939)

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VARIETY PICTURES Wcdnesdajt May 3, I939 FILM SHOWMANSHIP Omaha, Noisy Host, Welcomes 250,000 For UP/Premiere Omaha, May 2. Oinaha surprised itseU, visiting Hollywood was- amazed and Para- mount roared a resounding approval a; 'Union Pacific' was- given ,its world premiere here Friday (28) ac- companied by a four-day civic cele- bration. With Cecil B. De MiUe,. Barbara Stanwyck, lomne . Overman, Robert Preston, Brian Donlevy and Anthony Quinn from 'the cast present; the governors of three states on hand; a liost of Paramount officials and the board of directors of the Union Pa- cific railroad in attendance, this town went overl>oard to show how the midwest stages premieres. It was a new high all the way around. ' More than 7.00,000 men, v/omen and children attired them- selves in whiskers, bustles and long dresses. Titere were parades, one when the visiting dignitaries arrived by special train from Hollywood; an' other historical parade anC. one for Just the bewhlskered gentry. A banquet for 3,000 held in the huge Ak-Sar-iBen coliseum was served in liB minutes, a record, to further amaze the visitors. The law worked. 18-hour shifts to handle the crowds of 25(,000 which lined the streets for blocks to wit- ness the parades. They traveled in from mUes around for a glimpse at the movie stars ^and to wear grand- pa's and grandma's old clothes. President Roosevelt pressed a tele- ' graph kiey on bis desk Wednesday (27) to start' the populace celC' brating. The visitors arrived Thurs- day, and Friday was thr< big pre' miere. A costume ball closed the doings Saturday at .the coliseum while thousands danced to Vincent Lopez and his orchestra piped to the downtown streets. Three theatres, the'^Qmaha, Or pheum and Paramount, presented the film. The Orpheum, set a record with a second showing at midnight to help handle the crowds. Barney Balaban, president of Par amount, and Neil Agnew, vice-presi' dent in charge of sales, flew from Mew York. Also from Paramount's organization came Terry Delapp, Robert M. GiUham, R. C. Libeau, BiU Pine, C. M. Reagan, Ray Copeland and Allen Usher. The Paramount lot sent Qeorge Raft, Lloyd Nolan, Evelyn Venable, Luana Walters, Margaret Roach, Pa' trlcia Morison, Kvelyn Luckey, Jan- Ice Logan, Judith King, Evelyn Keyes, Sheila Darcy. A. H. Blank, Trl-State Theatre Corp. president; Ralph Branton, op erators of the three Omaha theatres in which the premiefe was staged, and J. H. Friedl, general manager of the Minnesota Amusement Co, represented the exhibitors. WOW Salutes <Uf.' Civic minded WOW w- itt all the way to cover tlie four-day celebra- tio. for the world premiere of 'Union Pacific' here, devoting 30 programs over a 10-day period to festivities. Foster May, the station's news commentator and .special events head, went to California to return with the special train, waxing inter views which were alrei daily. May set something of a record when he left the train at - Ogden, Utah, , flew to Omaha to fill a per- sonal appearance date for his spon sor and then returned to Cheyenne to join the train. A~ NBC airing was picked up by WOW from Grand Island, Nebr. with May doing the work as the special neared Omaha on Thursday. The station aired the arrival of the visitors, covered the several parades and cut off commercials Thursday night to cover the Old Timers ban qvet, which 3,000 attended. Meeting of the board 0° directors of the Union Pacific railroad, held - for the first time in Omaha, was broadcast Friday (28) and May was master of ceremonies at the pre- miere Friday night Station carried on through Saturday by atrium Vin- cent Lopez and band firom the cos- tume ball, closing event on the pro- gram. Besides May there were John Gll- lln, Jr., general manager; Harry Burke, Lyle DeMoss and-Bill Wise- man working on the broadcasts. During the 13-week period ending April .29 there were 123 features, released, by national distributors .in the .United States. Of this number only 10 met first run qualifications of. satisfactory entertainment and boxofllce draft The first figure is froin Vawety's film booking chart; the second' total comes from the oper- ating head of one of the biggest affiliated theatre cir- cuits. Specifically, the theatre exec names the following films, from all companies, as meeting the requirements of first nms in Important key cities where the appeal to audiences of the better middle class, capable of supporting boxoSice admissions ranging from 25c 'to 75c. The verdict: United Artists, 'Made For Each Other,' 'SUgecoach' and 'Wuthering Heights'; Warners, 'Wings of the Navy,' . Yes, My Darling Daughtei:,' 'Dodge City' and 'Dark Victory'; 20th'^Fox; 'Little Princess,' 'Wife, Husband and Friend,' 'Alexander Graham Bell' and 'Return of the Cisco Kid'; RKO-Radio, 'Gunga Din,' 'Love Affair' and ''The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle'; Metro, 'Pygmalion' and The Hardys Ride High'; Paramount, Cafe Society' and 'Midnight'; Universal, 'Three Smart Girls Grow Up.' What then of the balance? Some of them did well in second rim and small town houses. 'Huckleberry Finn' is an example in this category, although the rea- son for its strength In the lesser spots and Its uniform wealmess in first rtms is a show-business puzzle, he. said. In the main, however, the dramatic material selected for filming in Hollywood, he thought, failed to measure to the requirements of audience taste. It was the suggestion of this operator that some joint By Jobn C Flimi • action be taken'by producing, distributing and exhibit- ing units to conduct a progressive survey into film marketing conditions and Into the field of public re- lations of the Industry at large. 'While I do not believe it is possible for a film pro- ducer to interview a hundred or a thousand persons and obtain suggestions of the type of story to film, I do believe that such inquiries would point out some pitfalls to avoid,' he said. 'On the other hand one of the most constructive angles of such an investigation, properly conducted, would be information with regard to theatre operating policies and whether there Is op- portunity to improve public relations in that regard. I have particularly in mind the question of double- bllUng.' In the view of ihis theatre man the film indusby. is entering a period of radical transition and change, in- dications of which may be readily foUnd in the wide variance of public film likes. The trend, he said, was towards -a constantly increasing discrimination at first run houses. Audiences are shopping for their enter- tainment in greater numbers today than ever Ijefore. Such a condition may be of vital concern to the indi- vidual film producer in Hollywood but it is piling on additional difficulties to the many which already face production executives handling the details of any large studio turning out a diversified program. Most encouraging happenings in recent weeks, he said, was the revival of exploitation and showmanship on the scale used at the premieres of 'Dodge City' and 'Union Pacific' These campaigns have awakened some interest In films generally, he Ijelleved. Adrertisers Shy At %zi Spy' Bfllboards; Tie-h With Legioi Atlantic City, May a. For tiie first time in many moops the local Warner theatres outfit have stepped out and are putUng up a real pre-campaign for 'Confessions of a Nazi Spy* with plenty of paper all over the ci^. Paper placing ' was not any too easy, as plenty of places objected to the big swastika on the stulT and billposter Harry Himmels was hard put to get up his generous showing. Also on billboards were the' posters of the 'Americanization Day' of the American Legion. The swastika paper was put up right next to it in many places. IflUY GETTING SET FORBIGUrSENDQFF Philadelphia, May 2. One of the most extensive local exploitation campaigns ever given a picture here wiU get under way foi^ "Union Pacific' next Monday (8), when the Union Pacific special pulls into Pennsylvania' station. Train which is touring the country consists of a 70-year-old woodbuming loco- motive, new 5,000 horse-power steam electric , locomotive, first passenger coach ever made in the United States, plus other old coaches. On board will be several players from the film in costume. Newspaper critics, columnists, ra- dio commentators, and exhibs have been invited by Earl W. Sweigert local Par nunager, to luncheon on the train. David . Weshner and Everett Callow of Warner Bros, cir- cuit are .arranging to plaster the town with paper announcing the ar- rival of the old locomotive and cars. Tie-ups have been effected with national advertisers. Washington, May 2. Even the 'White House and Con- gress were roped in for the buildup for 'Union Pacific,' one of the best publicity grabs in recent years. Ballyhoo was slipped into the staid Congressional Record when. Senator Edward R. Burke, Democrat of Nebraska, hailed Cecil B, DeMllIe as great contributor to historical archives and handed the film many verbal bouquets. Day before. Presi- dent Roosevelt did the ciastonntry telegraph key pressing to open the Omaha celebration. Aside from fairs and expositions, the White House al- most never takes part In commercial exploitation in this way. McMamis PaHs Good Stmits at Midiaiid a C. Trailer for U P/ FILM AD MEN ARE TOU) TO WAKE UP Kansas City, May 2. John McManus, manager of the Midland theatre, worked out a con test for some effective notice among high schoolers for approaching shoW' ing of the new Hardy film. In s con' test among the eleven schools, Dor- othy Dennis of Paseo high was chosen for a 'phone date' with Mickey Rooney, who lined a personal call in from Hollywood. Stunt was good for heavy publicity in all of the schools' papers for ten days .in advance, readying element most in- terested in the series in their own environment McManus also arranged for a single pji. of Judy Garland at the Midland last Friday night Learning that the singer was en route through from some p.a.'s in the E:ist he timed his schiedule with the railroad to allow for a ten-minute guest ap- pearance during the train stop. Also worked in transcription for station WHB and several interviews during the forty-five minute stop. Singer appeared at the 9 p.m. show to build opening day take. WB's New Fi(^ BaDy Setup; Lee Bhmiberg In Charge of Dirisioii A new setup in the Warner field exploitation department was organ- ized by Charlie Einf eld prior to leav- ing for the Coast Friday (28), with Lee Blumberg, who has headed tiie press-book division, placed in charge of all the company's field, exploiteers. Blumberg will function under Mort Blumenstock, who heads combined publicity .advertising duties from the eastern end. Dick Hylan, from h.o. publicity department has been promoted to post of exploiteer for the southern district witti headquarters at Dallas under district mgr. Fred Jack. He replaces Allan Glenn, with Warners at Dallas for many years. Another promotion is that of Mon roe Rubinger, who takes over KaU' sas City, in charge of exploitation on the newly-formed 'prairie district' under the supervision of district mgr. Rud Lobrenz. Other exploita- tion divisions remain the same. GoMwyn Gi?es Preem That Personal Touch Turrou at Temple U. Philadelphia, May .2. Everett Callow, Warner exploita- Uoh chief here, arranged a busy day today for Leon G. Turrou, former G-man, whose book is basis of 'Con- fessions of a Nazi Spy.' Callow starts Turrou oft with- a..bceakfast for the press—first tline it's ever , been tried here—and then went on to a recep- tion in City Hall, a lecture to Tem- ple University students, a broadcast over KYW, a reception by the B'nai Brlth, and a personal- appearance at the Stanley, where the film opens tomorrow. 'Spy' press campaign got under way here a week ago Vrhen Lya Lys was entertained at a cocktail party. Seattle, May 2. 'Wuthering Heights' (UA) had plenty of exploitation aid for pre- miere Thursday night (27). Sammy Siegel, advance man for UA, ar- ranged for wires to be sent out of Hollywood signed by Samuel Gold- wyn inviting state, coim^ and city officials, prominent citizens and school heads to the premiere at the Music Box- (Hamrick-Evergreen)c Battery of klelgs and searchlights brightened things up and gave color to-the opening. Costumes worn in film were shown at Bon Marche this week. Bon Kelly, house manager, and Siegel, person- ally contacted all English depart- ment heads at local high schools and placed the Hays office exhibits of the eight posters at libraries. Copy of short script was planted at local high school that has'class In movie appreciation; 11 book stores and de- partbenta had displays, and 12,500 postcards were mailed to opera. legit, repertory and blue booken, calling attention to the film. Film advertisers might profit from experience of executives in the radio industry who have conducted surveys into public opinion, mem- bers of the Associated Motion Pic- ture Advertisers, Inc., were told this week by Dr. J. S. List, consultant on children's programs at NBC. He said: 'Motion pictures during, their history of scarcely more than 35 years have become established as one of the most Important in- fluences of modern society with the possible exception of the newspaper. They have probably touched the lives of more people than any other of the major Institutions of our times. It is probable that within -the limits of their content their in- fluence has been even greater than that of the newspapers because the latter is favorable only to the liter ate, while pictures may appeal to all except the relatively small number of blind. 'However, no one can say just how much social influence the motion pic- ture has had, although the volumes of writings on the subject will run into hundreds of titles. Opinion, bias, precedent, wish fulfilments and all the gamut of our producing agents have characterized many, if not most, of these, The Important point I wish to make is that while you have at- tempted according to your rules and codes to repeat yourselves In your ?rocedures to reach the public mind firmly believe that today you are on the threshhold of having to re- trace your steps and begin to educate yourselves. You will have to learn to see that what has brought the public to the boxofllce over 35 years will no longer favor you for the rules are now outmoded. It is the human contact the un derstanding of the emotional factors underlying the life of the city, the country, the village you will have to consider—the reconditioning of their minds by going into their homes apd finding out what they want rather than making yourselves the summum bonum of all that you may believe they want "You can no longer go into your studio and preyiew a picture and hope to come out with the secret of some open sesame. The present period calls for resejirch, sucli as all large industries today are devoting their money and energy to. 'When you do this, your research will then become the answer determined by scientific methods to the questions 'What?' and 'Why?' The broadcast- ing stations have gone into the vil' lage and the country and the city, have brought men and women to the microphone and have discussed their individual problems. And the radio today is all the better for it Radio has learned what you so far have been blind to, that everything that progresses, outgrows." PASS GRABBERS MUST CARRY FILM BANNERS New Orleans, May 2. Gar Moore^ Liberty theatie ex- ploiteer, landed free space . for 'Blondie Meets.the Boss' inThe New Orleans States despite agreement among four papers here to ban out and out publicity. Moore tied-up picture with comic strip which the paper carries'daily. Moore sold editor idea of carrrying story and picture of pass winners to see fiicker. He had 'sandwich man' offer tree passes to passersby on main stem who had nerve enough to take sign he was carrying, wear it themselves and walk to the thea- tire, several block distant As soon as one sign was taken an- other waa substituted. Stunt cUcktd and States went for it to th^ tune of a -three column cut and story. Lemer Starts Breen Hollywood, May 2. Sol Lesser got back Into produc tion on the RKO lot with the Bobby Breen starrer, 'Way Down South.' Bernard-Vorhaus la directing.. Standard Boosts May Fdms in Fiesta DririB Oklahoma City, May 2. Standard' Tlieatres, operating four downto^ and a number of nab* houses are breaking a 'May Movie Hit Fiesta' campaign boosting prod- uct to be shown at the houses dur- ing the month. The theme of flit campaign is being spread through the use of every promotion medium in the city with twenty billboards being xised solely for an institutional campaign to boost movie-going here during May. Copy refers to no spe- cific theatre or picture but boosts the fine llne-up of films available at all theatres during the 'Fiesta.'' Other outlets being used by Waller Shuttee, Pat Patchen and Jimmy Birge ; for the company - include printed matted to be sent by direct mall to every householder in the city thlt week, a half-hour radio varied show on 'WKY, top station here^ which will contain recordings by stars sent from Hollywood extend- ing personal greetings to Oklahoma City movie fans for the Fiesta, a special DeLuxe trailer being shown in all Standard houses preferred es- pecially for the occasion by National Screen Service, lobby displays, rib- bons on ushers and cashiers, spe- cial programs for the youngsters, an entire spread of two pages of eo- operative^ads at the start of the cam- paign and other usual mediums of promotion. Real Madden Sees Film Indianapolis, May 2. Ward Farrar and Orville Crouch, of Loew's, did some good detective work on their own to plug 'Sergeant Madden' (M-G). Bfanaged to locate a Sergeant John Madden, member-of, the Indianapolis jwlice force for 25 years, matcUng In name the moniker used la the pic by Wallace Beery. The real copper was invited to see a preview of the pic, but the music lulled him to sleep, so he went to the theatre to see how his namesake caught the crooks in the movie game of cops end robbers. News carried pictures of both Sergeant Maddens in two column spread with story. Sport Fibnt for PreM PhUadelpbia, May 2- Frank McNamee, local RKO chief, was host to sports editors and golfers last week at a special screening o» sports shorts. . Scribes and pill-drivers viewed •Smooth Approach,' 'Golfing Broth- ers,' 'Big Leaguers' and T»« Hockey Champ.'