my friend summer, who writes the wondrous and heartfelt crazier than shirttails, gave me a gift today that i thought i would share with you guys. she recently came across a small collection of seventy year old photographs of lobby displays and was kind enough to pass them along to me. from what i can deduce, these come from a theater in kingsville, texas in the spring/summer of 1939. most likely it was either the rex or the rialto.
we'll kick things off with this one for the four feathers (1939). it certainly beats your standard poster or cardboard standup. while this isn't the most extravagant one in the bunch, it appears they went to the trouble to do tile work on the little riser holding the display. the item on the steps, as far as i can tell, is a map with a gilded border. the spears, sword and shield are all a nice touch. breathless entertainment! in technicolor!
next up we have the display for the bette davis/paul muni vehicle juarez (1939). this one is a little less inspired than the rest but everyone has an off day once in a while. sombreros and serapes were probably easier to come by in kingsville than a sudanese arsenal. maybe the regular display person was sick that week and they threw this together at the last minute. even so, it's a more personal touch than what we routinely get these days. and you damn well bet i would wear that jacket embroidered with the mexican eagle hanging on the top left corner of the poster.
now that's more like it. this one is for the jack benny/dorothy lamour romp, man about town (1939). the tile work in the first photo has been replaced by a much more glamorous and glittery foundation. this one promises swinging sophistication and some swell tunes. if you look to the left you will notice that sunday and monday shows just got a whole lot sexier. snazzy.
they pulled out all the stops for this one for only angels have wings (1939). promotional life preserver, lanterns, palm fronds, a guitar, a propeller, not to mention the return of the african spear and shield! does it matter that it takes place in the colombian andes? nope! if i lived in kingsville in 1939 i would have been at this joint three times a week. alright, so attention to detail and accuracy may be occasionally lacking, but look how much they cared about being the best theater in the gulfland of texas. these aren't a lot of promotional materials sent out from the studios. these items were rounded up from employee/owner attics, basements, sheds and garages and kingsville's best secondhand shops and craft stores. no expense was spared when it came to yard sale antiques and calligraphy pens. i salute you, kingsville, for trying to make it special. and thank you, summer. these are fantastic photos.