Here are pages from the Rose Marie pressbook, which provide an interesting glimpse of film publicity under the studio system and some behind-the-scenes background on the making of this movie.
Pressbooks were issued by the studios to promote and market their movies to exhibitors. Chock-full of illustrations and general press release articles, the material would be used for newspaper and magazine ads and filler.
This pressbook for Rose Marie (1954) is 24 pages, the large pages measuring 12 by 17 inches. Issued by MGM, it features a wealth of camera-ready ads, and sample publicity photos that could be ordered for display or publishing.
We are given brief features on stars Ann Blyth, Howard Keel, and Fernando Lamas -- on Keel's new crew cut for his role as the mountie, Marjorie Main's opulent movie wardrobe, and a funny story about how Jack Benny became an extra in one scene.
One article notes Ann's hectic schedule in preparation for the film:
During the rehearsal period she reported on the M-G-M back lot every morning at 10 for riding lessons, went to a rifle range an hour later for shooting instructions, and spent two hours after lunch in rehearsing her Rudolf Friml love songs. In between, she als had to learn to ride the rapids of a mountain stream in a canoe!
The pressbook gives a bit of the background of former versions of Rose Marie (for more on that background, please see my previous post on Another Old Movie Blog here).
The eye-catching ads are a lot of fun to look at, and usually leave blanks to fill in the name of the theater being advertised. There are also suggestions for contests and events to promote the movie, including dance competitions on the stage of the theater, puzzles and coloring contests. Cartoon-like line illustrations of Ann Blyth, Fernando Lamas, and Howard Keel would be ordered by the exhibitors from the studio publicity department for the kids to color. The promotion notes:
The kids do the coloring, and their folks are reminded of the film right in their home environment--where advertising impact has been proven greatest.
Also included are one-minute live announcement radio scripts to promote the movie, as well as half-minute scripts, and script so 35 words. One anachronistic example of promotion at this time is the TV slide or "teleop," a slide of a single image with the title, like a movie poster, that remains on TV for 10 seconds with a voiceover. The prepared slide could be purchased for $7.50 from the QQ Title Card Company of New York. I wonder what the advertising rates for the local VHF station would be?
Lobby cards could be purchased as well, or "2-color heralds", and the vibrant posters with which we film buffs today consider collectibles: the one sheet, the 3 sheet, the 6 sheet.
I don't know how many classic film fans collect pressbooks, but they provide another view of the giant promotional machine that had been perfected by the Hollywood studios.
"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey
"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films
"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood
Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.
by Jacqueline T. Lynch
The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.
The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer. You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.
If you wish a signed copy, then email me at JacquelineTLynch@gmail.com and I'll get back to you with the details.
My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60 or check with your local paper.