Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rosetta Stone: Celebrate Paramount Week advertisement

Below, I've posted a large scan of a "Celebrate Paramount Week" advertisement which I recently came across in a San Francisco newspaper. It dates from 1926. This ad is not unique to San Francisco. In the past, I've dug up these kind of advertisements in other newspapers located across California and the United States.

A close reading of the advertisement reveals that the Louise Brooks - W.C. Fields film, It's the Old Army Game, play at two theatres in San Francisco on September 4th and 5th. As I am currently engaged in a project documenting the exhibition of Brooks' films in the City by the Bay, that's useful information. (The New Mission Theatre and the New Fillmore Theatre were sister theatres which almost always shared programming.)

However, what makes this large advertisement especially revealing is the extensive listing of San Francisco, Bay Area, and Northern California theatres. All of the venues listed here - including the various "irregular exhibition spaces" like hospitals, retirement homes and army base theatres - participated in Paramount Week. And by inference, these were theatres where Brooks' other Paramount features might have been shown. That's also useful information.

This advertisement - and the names and locales of the theatres contained within it - acts as a kind of Rosetta Stone in helping to document the exhibition of Brooks' films. It also reveals which theatres were allied with Paramount (this being the days of block booking) - and in some instances, the very existence of a theatre.

I was especially pleased to spot a listing for the Empress Theatre, located at 28th and Church street in San Francisco. That venue, which was torn down a few weeks ago, is located just a couple of block from where I live in San Francisco. I had written about its demise for my regular column on examiner.com.

If you live in Northern California, you will likely enjoy scouring this advertisement for a theatre near you. Because of its fine print, I have posted a rather large scan. Double-clicking on the image will reveal its full size. Isn't it impressive how many movie theatres there were back in the 1920's? They seemed to located just about everywhere!

1 comment:

  1. My apologies. I had scanned and posted the image at 150 dpi resolution in order to make it easier to read, but it now stands at only 96 dpi. Perhaps blogger "converted" it. If any theatre historians want the higher res scan, please email me.


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