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Throwback Thursday: Garbo, John Wayne, Laurel & Hardy

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by Leonard Maltin
July 10, 2014 12:00 AM
6 Comments
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Welcome to a new weekly feature where we’ll be reprinting vintage movie ads. I can’t get enough of these, and I hope you’ll share my enthusiasm as we step back in time. Today we visit San Jose, California for a pair of ads that appeared some months apart: on the left, from August of 1935, John Wayne takes second billing to Laurel & Hardy in his first starring feature for Republic Pictures. (In fact, Westward Ho! was the very first Republic release.) The second ad is from Christmas week of 1934 at another Fox Theatre in downtown San Jose. The Garbo film played on a single bill, but the short subjects got notice in the ad lest anyone think they weren’t getting their money’s worth. And see how MGM promoted Garbo’s wardrobe by Adrian, clearly appealing to female moviegoers. 


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6 Comments

  • John | July 10, 2014 5:43 PMReply

    I love those newspaper movie ads! Growing up in the 1950's for me it was a nightly race within the family to got the daily newspaper first and the movie page was always my number one destination if I lucked out. I couldn't wait to see what was playing at the downtown movie palaces and neighborhood theaters and main street triple feature grind houses, even the drive ins although in the early years we didn't even have a car!

    Unlike today where every multiplex seems to be playing the same top 20, movies had a long life back then and there was great variety in what was playing in various local theaters. Brand new movies, movies several months or several years or even several decades old, almost all in different double feature programs. I loved scouring those ads then and I still do whenever I find an old newspaper or visit a library that has them archived on microfilm. Is there anywhere on line that has an archive of newspaper movie ads? If so I'd sure like to find it! Please keep on posting them Leonard!

  • Randall Buie | July 10, 2014 5:13 PMReply

    Love this new weekly feature. Looking forward to more classic ads in the future.

  • Ed Kowalski | July 10, 2014 4:52 PMReply

    I wasn't around in the 1930's but certainly do remember the 1950's as a young kid going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon for several hours of fun with the other neighborhood boys. We would study the ads -- usually a combination of a Western, a main feature (hoping it was Martin & Lewis), six cartoons, a Movietown newsreel, and of course previews of coming attractions. No commercials! The local small town "movie house" owner would give us kids the older posters -- if only we kept them!

  • max fraley | July 10, 2014 4:11 PMReply

    Those were the days. As a youth the movie theater, sports and comic pages were usually the first sections I went to in the daily papers. I loved that seed of anticipation the movie ads sowed in the mind. A very nice addition to your features listing. YOWZA!

  • Terry Bigham | July 10, 2014 4:02 PMReply

    I never thought they would show a Betty Boop cartoon from Paramount with an M-G-M Garbo vehicle! But obviously they mixed and matched movies and shorts from different studios back in the 30s.

  • Carl LaFong | July 10, 2014 1:09 PMReply

    BONNIE SCOTLAND is a rare Laurel & Hardy clinker, but the double bill with WESTWARD HO is interesting. One would need a dose of John Wayne to recover from William Janney - the least "manly" leading man in movie history!

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