Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Louise Brooks at a drive-in and other firsts from the 1950s

I come across a lot of unusual material while researching Louise Brooks. Here are the latest, each related to the 1938 film Overland Stage Raiders, a western from Republic Studios which featured  Brooks alongside John Wayne.

Would you believe that in 1954 Overland Stage Raiders was shown at a drive-in in Carbondale, Illinois? The film was part of a Friday-Saturday triple bill, along with another Wayne film, Lady from Louisiana (1941) and a crime drama called Million Dollar Pursuit (1951). Both films were from Republic. The following day, the drive-in was showing the more recent The Wild One (1953), starring Marlon Brando.

Pictured left is an advertisement for the Waring Auto drive-in near Carbondale. This venue opened in July, 1948 as the Waring Auto Theatre, with space for 500 cars. It was later renamed the Campus Drive-In, after its proximity to Southern Illinois University. During the 1970’s, it played mostly horror and adult movies, before closing towards the end of that decade. The drive-in has since been demolished and a hog farm s(h)its on the site today.

And that's not all....

Overland Stage Raiders was reissued in 1953, and that same year it was shown as part of a double bill alongside Zombies of the Stratosphere in Kokomo, Indiana! The film was also screened on various bills in small towns and large cities across the United States, from Paris, Texas to Detroit, Michigan, from Green Bay, Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri.

Zombies of the Stratosphere, for those not familiar, was a 1952 black-and-white Republic Studios serial that was the second to feature Commando Cody. Today, it is best remembered as one of the first screen appearances of a young Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), who plays one of the three Martian invaders.

Overland Stage Raiders was also shown on television numerous times between 1953 and 1959. I found listings from across the United States. It was shown in Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona and Asbury Park, New Jersey and Rochester, New York (just before Brooks moved there) and elsewhere.

Certainly, Overland Stage Raiders was the first film featuring Louise Brooks to be shown either on television or at a drive-in. The earliest television listing I came across for the film was from March 8, 1953 in Hazelton, Pennslyvania as part of "John Wayne Theater." The film then showed two days later in Los Angeles. As far as television goes, 1953 is pretty early. Pictured below is a June, 1953 advertisement for "Sunday Televiewing" in Los Angeles. KTTV is now known as Fox 11 in Southern California.

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