Haut de page
- 1 Trader Horn (Clipping File), Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library (hereafter AMPAS L (...)
- 2 “Metro Will Shoot ‘Solomon’s Mines’ On ‘Trader’ Locale,” Daily Variety, July 11, 1949, 3.
1From 1929 to 1930, MGM produced Trader Horn (W. S. Van Dyke, 1931), an adventure picture set in Africa. Instead of shooting the entire film on jungle sets erected in the studio, the company sent a production crew to Africa to obtain location footage, a novel decision worthy of Hollywood-style ballyhoo. While this undertaking did receive some attention in the film’s souvenir programs and pressbook, the location shooting was not mentioned on the film’s posters and advertisements.1 Twenty years later, MGM produced another African-set adventure film, King Solomon’s Mines (Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton, 1951). Although not quite a remake of Trader Horn, the cast and crew traveled to many of the same African locales where the original production had been filmed.2 This time, however, the posters proudly publicized, “Filmed Entirely in the Wilds of Africa in Technicolor.” So why the change? Why do the posters for King Solomon’s Mines highlight the fact that the film was shot on location in Africa while the advertisements for Trader Horn do not?
- 3 Reflecting Tino Balio’s analysis of United Artists’ promotional campaigns, I treat promotion as a “ (...)
2In addressing these questions, I would like to examine the promotion of Hollywood’s postwar foreign productions from the late 1940s to the early 1960s by focusing on why authentic locations were fore-grounded in these films’ promotional campaigns.3 I would also like to look at the different publicity and advertising strategies used by the film industry to sell this stylistic feature to audiences. I concentrate on audiences in the United States, but in places I describe the publicity of these films in European contexts. Ultimately, I want to stress that the prominence of authentic foreign locations in these campaigns reveals important changes in Hollywood promotional practices and in the self-image that the US film industry was advancing in an era of transition.
3The promotion of authentic foreign locations points to a significant shift in the US film industry in the postwar era: Production was moving away from the Hollywood studio and Hollywood the place. Beginning in the late 1940s, Hollywood ventured into international production for a confluence of reasons, including access to frozen foreign earnings, the use of cheap yet skilled overseas labor, the eligibility for European subsidies, and, not least of all, the opportunity to capitalize on locations abroad.
- 4 “Bigger Ad Budgets Urged By Perlberg to Hypo B.O,” Hollywood Reporter, June 20, 1951, 3. “Early Pre (...)
- 5 Jay E. Gordon, “There’s Really No Business Like Show Business,” Hollywood Quarterly 6 2 (Winter 195 (...)
4For film producers, shooting a motion picture on the actual geographic location where the story was set became a way to bring audiences striking sights and sounds often captured by new color and widescreen technologies. The emphasis on foreign locales in promotional campaigns proved particularly beneficial at a time when studios were retrenching and when a single successful film could comprise most of a studio’s annual earnings, which meant that the “pre-sell”–the long advance build-up of a film–became crucial.4 Promoting foreign locations also helped to individualize the film product during a period when, as movie critic Jay E. Gordon asserts, “Each motion picture should be sold as a separate article of commerce, advertised in accordance with its own merits and within the bounds of established rules of salesmanship pertinent to creations of art.”5
- 6 “AFL Report on Pix Abroad Is Delayed,” Daily Variety, September 27, 1949, 2.
- 7 Darryl F. Zanuck, “Shoot It Where You Find It!,” The Journal of the Screen Producers Guild, Decembe (...)
5The filming of authentic foreign locations was also a key issue in the debates among unions and producers over whether these “runaway” productions–as unions named them–contributed to the already diminished postwar film workforce. From some of its earliest pronouncements against runaway production, the Hollywood American Federation of Labor Film Council condemned overseas production except when a film required foreign locations.6 This exception was mentioned time and again by Hollywood producers to make the case to shoot films abroad. Producer Darryl Zanuck argues, “The only excuse in my opinion for anyone to make a picture abroad is because it cannot be properly produced anywhere else except on the locale dictated by the story.”7 While the promotion of authentic foreign locations was not an overt strategy to veil the controversial economic imperatives of overseas production, the advertising of foreign locales nevertheless conformed to producers’ delicate handling of labor and the runaway production problem.
- 8 “Zanuck Sees Actual Locale Lensing As B.O. Stimulant And TV Antidote,” Daily Variety, July 19, 1951 (...)
- 9 “Irving Allen Opines H’wood’s Future Lies In Int’l Production,” Daily Variety, January 6, 1954, 3.
6More than just a decorative feature of foreign productions, real locations became a way for film companies to differentiate their products from each other and to entice back into movie theaters US audiences lured away by television and new leisure-time activities. In 1951, Daily Variety reported that Zanuck, then head of production at Twentieth Century-Fox, aimed to shoot his studio’s films on foreign locations whenever the subject matter called for it. For Zanuck, location shooting was one of the film industry’s means of successfully competing with TV.8 Producer Irving Allen shared a similar view in suggesting that the future of Hollywood was in international production and that diverse location work would bring audiences back to the cinemas.9
- 10 “Realism Next Big TV Trend: Leonard,” Daily Variety, October 9, 1958, 8.
- 11 Silver City advertisement, Daily Variety, December 26, 1951, 9. Bayou advertisement, Daily Variety, (...)
7However, some US television commercials and programs, such as Foreign Intrigue (1951-1955), China Smith (1952-1955) and Ramar of the Jungle (1953-1954), were shot in foreign countries during this period. Even though in time television aimed for realism through documentary techniques, with cinema–as promotional campaigns drove home–producers could more fully represent foreign locations through color and widescreen technologies and deliver to audiences a vividness and scope that TV could not approximate.10 Also, just as foreign-shot movies promoted their locations, certain domestic film productions spotlighted authentic locales. Posters for Jules Dassin’s crime picture Naked City (1948) publicize, “Filmed in the streets of New York with a cast of 8 Million New Yorkers!” One Daily Variety advertisement for Silver City (Byron Haskin, 1951) announces, “High Adventure Actually Filmed in the High Sierras!” while another for Bayou (Harold Daniels, 1957) states, “Photographed in its entirety on location in the magnificent Cajun country.”11 However, the focus on location in promotional efforts and critical discourses for domestic productions was less pronounced than for overseas productions.
- 12 Peter Lev, The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959 (Berkeley: University of California Press (...)
- 13 Vanessa R. Schwartz, It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture (...)
8Much has been written about how Hollywood developed new color, widescreen and stereoscopic technologies as a response to the loss of audience in the early 1950s.12 More recently, some historians have observed how the combination of foreign location shooting with widescreen technologies contributed to the formation of new Hollywood film cycles in the postwar era.13 As I will demonstrate, bringing foreign location shooting into the discussion of postwar technologies reveals that advertising rhetoric routinely elevated overseas locales alongside these technological innovations, at times directly linking foreign locations with color and widescreen.
9This practice was most overt in the copy and design of movie advertisements. A poster for Green Fire (Andrew Marton, 1955) reads, “M-G-M’s action-hit, filmed in the South American wilds in COLOR and CinemaScope.” Advertising Sayonara (Joshua Logan, 1957), a poster claims, “Filmed in Japan in the never-before-seen beauty of Technirama and Technicolor.” For Richard Fleischer’s The Vikings (1958), a poster promotes, “Actually Filmed Amid The Ice-Capped Fjords Of Norway And The Sea-Lashed Cliffs Of Brittany! In Horizon Spanning Technirama And Magnificent Technicolor!” These rhetorical flourishes, which paired location shooting with color and widescreen, hyped the way that foreign productions harnessed new technologies to render exotic and spectacular views from around the world. The effect promised audiences spectacle and a semblance of realism.
- 14 Janet Staiger, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960 (New York: C (...)
- 15 Staiger, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, 122.
10Janet Staiger has shown that in the early years of cinema, producers and exhibitors purposefully appealed to notions of spectacle and realism to sell films. For example, Thomas Edison advertised one of his projection systems in the late 1890s by ensuring a heightened experience of realism, while an advertisement for a 1912 multi-reeler, titled Homer’s Odyssey, underscored its realistic and spectacular qualities.14 Prefiguring postwar off-the-lot filming, independent companies in the 1910s sent motion picture units on location journeys both in the US and abroad, a venture that was advertised in order to emphasize the spectacular and realistic features in these films.15 In the postwar era, foreign productions continued this tradition by promoting the photographic depiction of a geographic reality and a sense of spectacle that was achieved through the global travel of film companies and the marvel of new technologies.
11As some producers in the postwar period argued, recreating foreign settings in Hollywood studios was no longer practical because of changing audience expectations and the economic need to innovate. Producer William Perlberg makes the case:
- 16 William Perlberg, “What Do You Mean? Run-Away Production!,” The Journal of the Screen Producers Gui (...)
12Competition for the entertainment dollar has wedded us to big films and to global stories. Clarity of pictures and size of screen are increasingly taxing the abilities of our art directors to provide believable exterior settings…When it comes to making Paris on the back lot, our trick bag is falling apart at the seams.16
13So in order to evoke Paris–and other locales abroad–film companies had to shoot the real thing. The responsibility to prepare consumers and critics to appreciate foreign locations then fell to publicists and studio promotions departments.
- 17 I am basing the distinction of these phases on Balio’s conception of film promotion in United Artis (...)
14What were the various ways that film companies sold foreign productions and their locations? We can divide a movie’s promotional campaign into two overlapping stages: 1) “pre-production/production phase” when publicists generated press stories, and 2) the “pre-release/release phase” when studio advertising and publicity departments distributed pressbooks and advertisement materials just prior to a film’s theatrical opening.17 Throughout this process, foreign locations were frequently highlighted in the campaigns.
- 18 John Huston to Henry Rogers, April 24, 1954. Henry Rogers to John Huston, May 7, 1954, Moby Dick (H (...)
- 19 Ernest Anderson, “Bulletin No. 1 from Youghal, County Cork, Eire,” n.d., Moby Dick (Publicity), Joh (...)
15In order to feed film trades and the popular press with production stories, a movie company relied on studio publicity departments, public relations firms and unit publicists who worked on location. Keeping an ear to the ground, unit publicists could convert the challenges and intricacies of location work into promotional material, which proved especially useful in selling foreign productions. For Moby Dick (John Huston, 1956), the film depended on the Warner Bros. publicity and advertising division and the public relations firm Rogers & Cowan, which hired Ernest Anderson, a London-based unit publicist who had a wide array of contacts with the European and US press.18 From various locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where Moby Dick was shot, Anderson published personalized press releases full of anecdotes about the locations and the logistical trials that the crew faced.19 With a first-hand perspective on the production, he transformed the unfolding drama of the film’s shoot into material that publications both in the US and abroad turned into news stories.
- 20 Jack Gold to Teet Carle, April 2, 1952, Roman Holiday (Correspondence 1952), Paramount Pictures Pro (...)
- 21 Jack Gold and Ed Hill to Teet Carle, July 7, 1952, Roman Holiday (Publicity), William Wyler Papers, (...)
16To handle publicity in Rome for the production of Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953), Paramount enlisted Jack Gold, a reporter and former Hollywood publicist, and his associate Ed Hill, a former newspaper editor. Based in the Italian capital, Gold and Hill helped oversee the editorial department of The Rome Daily American while working as stringers for various publications. They pitched their services to Paramount’s publicity director and eventually they were employed, saving the studio the expense of sending over one of its own publicists and allowing the studio to pay Gold and Hill in lire since both resided in Italy.20 With their connections to international publications, the two publicists sent out news stories via various wire services and set up production pieces with magazines and newspapers.21
17As publicity campaigns placed greater attention on the production phase of foreign shoots, the US press responded with a growing interest in Hollywood foreign production work. From the late 1940s through the 1960s, the popular press, the film trades and professional publications were filled with news articles and profiles of productions shooting overseas. In the mid 1950s, Daily Variety introduced the columns “In Paris,” “In London” and “Roamin’ in Rome,” each of which reported on national film festivals, celebrity gossip and Hollywood films being shot in these respective cities. In the late 1950s, occasional columns emerged from Madrid and Tokyo as well. The publication of these dispatches not only marked the emergence of these regions as key production centers for Hollywood companies, but they also indicated that the very act of shooting in a foreign country was news itself.
- 22 Charles G. Clarke, “We Filmed ‘Kangaroo’ Entirely In Australia,” American Cinematographer, July 195 (...)
18The professional publication American Cinematographer represented locations abroad through features on production personnel who shared technical tales from their foreign work. The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), the publisher of the magazine, treated foreign production as both a swashbuckling experience and a creative hurdle that the Hollywood director of photography triumphed over through competence, professionalism and technical know-how. For example, cinematographer Charles G. Clarke explains the challenges of making Fox’s Kangaroo (Lewis Milestone, 1952) in Australia while director of photography Russell Harlan recounts the difficulties of filming wildlife in East Africa for Howard Hawks’ Hatari! (1962).22 For these craftsmen, foreign locations were logical and technical problems to overcome through the solutions of Hollywood production practices, which, in turn, served to promote the adventure of overseas filming. These pieces fell in line with the strategies of promotional campaigns by playing up the feat of filmmaking to boost the worth of motion pictures.
19The foreign popular press also followed Hollywood’s international productions, which helped fulfill the aims of Hollywood promotional efforts to build audience anticipation all over the world. At a time when the foreign market was making up for dwindling US audiences, Hollywood producers and publicists boosted their efforts to attract film viewers overseas. Now when a Hollywood company with publicity-generating stars came to a foreign locale, the local press took great interest in these films, churning out stories and photo spreads for a foreign public hungry for a taste of Hollywood glamour in its native land.
- 23 “Oui c’est César,” Paris Match, May 28, 1960, 88-93. Yves Salgues, “Fanny à l’américaine,” Jours de (...)
- 24 “French Critics Blast ‘Fanny’ Film Version,” Times Herald-Tribune-London-Observer, April 20, 1962, (...)
20The foreign press was particularly captivated when its nation became the setting and location for a Hollywood shoot and when local stars were employed. The French press covered the Warner Bros. adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s Fanny (1961), which was shot on location in Marseilles and starred French-turned-Hollywood actors Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer. Both Paris Match and Jours de France carried lengthy photo spreads of the actors performing and cavorting in the port of Marseilles.23 However, Hollywood’s depiction of foreign cultures and landscapes was received with scrutiny from local journalists, as was the case with Fanny, which was panned by French critics.24
- 25 Giuliana Muscio, “Invasion and Counterattack: Italian and American Film Relations in the Postwar Pe (...)
- 26 La Settimana Incom, April 21, 1955. L’Europeo Ciac, July 31, 1957 and May 1, 1958. Cinecittà Luce, (...)
21In Italy, the “Hollywood on the Tiber” phenomenon produced a great deal of media coverage of Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars working and unwinding throughout Italy. As Giuliana Muscio has demonstrated, Italian film publications offered dedicated coverage of both Hollywood productions in Italy and Hollywood movie stars in general. However, the reactions of these publications were mixed, sometimes provoking negative responses when Hollywood studios sent over an “invasion” of production units viewed as “a manifestation of economic and cultural imperialism.”25 While at other times, these productions garnered admiration for the draw of visiting Hollywood film stars. Italian newsreels tended to concentrate on the latter by filming Hollywood actors, producers and directors landing in Rome’s Ciampino Airport. For instance, the newsreel program La Settimana Incom recorded Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer’s arrival in Rome to shoot War and Peace (King Vidor, 1956) while L’Europeo Ciac documented King Vidor’s arrival to direct A Farewell to Arms (1957) and Ava Gardner’s entry to star in The Naked Maja (Henry Koster, 1959).26 For foreign audiences, the presence of Hollywood stars working in their home countries often caused eager anticipation for the release of films connected with the local region and culture.
- 27 Leslie Frewin to John Huston, July 13, 1954. Moby Dick (Publicity Correspondence), John Huston Pape (...)
- 28 Ernest Anderson, press release, July 24, 1954, Moby Dick (Publicity Correspondence), John Huston Pa (...)
22In some cases, unit publicists facilitated production stories by arranging location visits for the press. For Moby Dick, the publicity team invited reporters from London, Dublin and Paris to the film set in Youghal, Ireland.27 Something of a novelty, these media visits became the basis of press releases from the film’s publicists.28 Hollywood Reporter columnist W.R. Wilkerson even picked up on the story, noting:
- 29 W. R. Wilkerson, “Trade Views,” Hollywood Reporter, August 5, 1954, 1.
23The shooting of a big motion picture in this location already was big news throughout Ireland, Scotland and England, and the press junket brought notice and early publicity for the picture to the attention of the whole of Europe, and because of that big coverage it is now reaching the papers here in the U.S… forming a pedestal of public anticipation that will sell a lot of tickets when the film finally is exhibited.29
- 30 For an overview of pressbooks see Mark S. Miller, “Helping Exhibitors: Pressbooks at Warner Bros. i (...)
24Once the production wrapped, the promotional campaign turned its attention to exhibitors while also continuing to develop public interest through advertising materials. Central to this phase of the campaign was the pressbook. Studio advertising and publicity divisions produced these manuals, which contained a company’s suggested words and graphics for movie theater managers to use to advertise films in local newspapers and at their own cinemas.30 For Hollywood’s foreign productions, sample advertisements and pre-written stock articles commonly promoted a film’s location. By highlighting foreign scenery, studio press departments shaped the way that exhibitors publicized the films to audiences.
- 31 Master of Ballantrae pressbook, Master of Ballantrae (Publicity), Warner Archive.
25In the pressbook for the Warner Bros. swashbuckler The Master of Ballantrae (William Keighley, 1953), poster prototypes exclaim, “Filmed on the historic cliffs and moors of Scotland and Cornwall–and in the Mediterranean!” and an article headline declares, “Warners Film ‘Master of Ballantrae’ In Authentic Historical Locations.”31 Even for a period adventure film, real locations invested the movie with an air of authenticity. In the pressbook for Paramount’s September Affair (William Dieterle, 1951), a prepared article titled “Joan Fontaine in Love–with Lucky Italy!” presents the Italian filmmaking experience of lead actress Fontaine as a cultural holiday. The article describes:
- 32 September Affair pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
26The company filmed scenes in Rome, Naples and Florence, as well as on the Isle of Capri, so Joan had plenty of time to get the lay of the land. Her verdict: ‘Italy is unbelievably beautiful, and the people themselves – well mentally, I think they’re the healthiest people in the world. They’re so warm and spontaneous and happy. They seem to have found the secret to good living.’32
27Though intended to emphasize the film’s authentic locations and Italian backdrop, the copy comes off as an advertisement for tourism in Italy.
- 33 Roman Holiday pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
- 34 Funny Face pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
- 35 “New Pix Meet Fans Travel Urge,” Daily Variety, November 16, 1948, 11. Belton, Widescreen Cinema, 9 (...)
28In fact, the pressbooks at times linked movie-going with travel by recommending cross-promotional tie-ins that encouraged trips to the films’ foreign locations. The pressbook for Roman Holiday informs exhibitors that that they can hold a contest for a trip to Rome sponsored by the Italian State Tourist Office and the American Society of Travel Agents.33 The pressbook for Funny Face (Stanley Donen, 1957) urges exhibitors to work with local travel bureaus to present displays in the movie theatre lobby. Alongside photos of the film’s stars in Paris, a travel bureau could set up its own display with the suggested tie-in line: “SEE PARIS THROUGH THE EYES OF AUDREY HEPBURN AND FRED ASTAIRE IN ‘FUNNY FACE’ . . . THEN LET US HELP YOU SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!”34 In an era when more US middle-class families were able to travel abroad, these gimmicks aimed to take advantage of a rising interest in global tourism, which Hollywood’s foreign productions gave audiences a taste of.35
- 36 The Man on the Eiffel Tower advertisement, Daily Variety, January 19, 1950, 13-19.
- 37 The Ambassador’s Daughter advertisement, Daily Variety, July 27, 1956, 16.
29From the pressbooks, theater managers could order a range of film posters and print advertisements. Even though the ads relied on the proven appeal of movie stars and images of lust and romance, they stressed foreign locations. Films shot in European cities were regularly pitched as urban tours. For Irving Allen and Franchot Tone’s production of The Man on the Eiffel Tower (Burgess Meredith, 1950), one poster pronounces just above an image of the titular landmark, “Paris . . . Gay, Alluring . . . Masking a Strange Adventure!,” at the same time giving fifth billing to “the city of Paris.” An advertisement for the film taken out in Daily Variety reads, “Paris . . . as you’ve never seen it before!!!”36 Six years later, Paris still held its allure as a publicity focal point. An advertisement for The Ambassador’s Daughter (1956) explains, “Writer-producer-director Norman Krasna has sent a sextet of stars and a wonderfully witty story Cinemascoping through the bistros and boulevards, the fashion salons and embassies, the hot spots and cool dives of the maddest, gladdest, wickedest, womanest city in the world–Paris.”37 In the advertising of these films, the city of Paris itself was a sign of sex and thrills that previously might have been delivered solely through character and story.
- 38 Green Fire advertisement, Daily Variety, January 12, 1955, 5.
30Posters and advertisements for films shot in Africa and South America oftentimes underscored the adventurousness of their geographical sites and location shoots. Through pithy taglines, these ads evoked the technical challenges and feats that press and professional accounts also conveyed. A lurid-looking poster for John Huston’s The African Queen (1952) asserts, “Actually filmed in the splendor and dangers of the Belgian Congo!” An advertisement for Green Fire announces, “Filmed on location in the danger-laden jungles of Colombia, South America!”38 A poster for the 1957 MGM production Something of Value (Richard Brooks) touts the fact that it was “Filmed under military protection in Africa where it happened!,” a statement that at once brings to mind the film’s controversial subject matter (the anti-colonialist Mau Mau uprising in Kenya) and the danger of shooting on location in Africa. Collapsing the film’s story and its making has been a long-running trope in film promotion, which found particular resonance in foreign productions when the story (a safari, combat, tourism, etc.) functioned as a metaphor for the movie’s overseas filming.
- 39 Bhowani Junction advertisement, Daily Variety, July 7, 1955, 6-7.
31Other posters and advertisements brought forth making-of information, i.e. trivia about the production experience. For His Majesty O’Keefe (Byron Haskin, 1954), a poster trumpets the length of the shoot: “Adventure beyond the fabulous! Two years in the making! All of it actually filmed in the Fiji Islands!” A poster for Howard Hawks’ Land of the Pharaohs (1955) plays up the production’s epic undertaking by promoting, “Spectacularly filmed in Egypt with a cast of 11,500 by the largest location crew ever sent abroad from Hollywood!” Some advertisements accentuated the distance that a production unit traveled to make the film. An advertisement for Bhowani Junction (George Cukor, 1956) visually lays out the film’s production route, which spanned Hollywood, the North Pole, Copenhagen, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and Pakistan. Included is the line: “No motion picture company ever traveled as far (12,840 miles) and suffered such travail to film a great book in it’s [sic] actual fascinating and exciting locale…and no company was ever so richly rewarded”39 Along with using location and making-of information to evoke realism and spectacle, these posters’ promotion of a production’s dramatic execution gave added value to the film.
- 40 Lisa Kernan, Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers (Austin: University of Texas Press (...)
32Just as posters drew attention to foreign locations, movie trailers also spotlighted foreign locales through a mixture of titles, voice-over narration and moving imagery. In her study of film trailers, Lisa Kernan observes that one convention of the form–the use of “shots of nature and other scene-setting devices”–creates a travelogue effect that promises audiences an experience of travel.40 Trailers for overseas productions fulfilled this commitment to transport audiences by depicting foreign places. For example, a sequence in a trailer for Three Coins in the Fountain (Jean Negulesco, 1954), the first CinemaScope film to be shot in Italy, plays like a travelogue as images and voice-over demonstrate how the widescreen format renders St. Peter’s Basilica, the Borghese Gardens and the Venice canals.
33As with certain advertisement, some trailers also called attention to making-of information as a way to promote the production’s spectacular undertaking. In a trailer for John Ford’s Mogambo (1953), the voice-over mentions the dangers of filming in Africa and turns the story of white adventurers in black Africa into a dubious metaphor for the filmmaking experience. Other trailers used direct address to plug a movie’s production circumstances. In a ten-minute featurette trailer for The Ten Commandments (1956), director Cecil B. DeMille speaks from a library set and relates that the film was shot in the actual Egyptian locations where Moses once walked. He traces the path of both production and prophet on a map of the Sinai Peninsula, moving from the Land of Goshen to Mount Sinai, thereby imbuing the production with an aura of religious significance.
- 41 Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties (Austin: University of Texas P (...)
- 42 Denise Mann, Hollywood Independents: The Postwar Talent Takeover (Minneapolis: University of Minnes (...)
- 43 “Promotional Featurettes for TV (5 to 30 Mins., Up to $25,000) Enjoy Spreading Acceptance,” Variety(...)
34Trailers in which a film’s personnel recounted how a movie was made signaled a shift in promotional campaigns, as behind-the-scenes clips and anecdotes began to sell the story of a film’s production, a trend that found an unlikely home on US television. In the late 1950s, when studios such as Disney had proven the success of using sneak peeks into new movies and the filmmaking process on its show Disneyland, other film companies saw the value of promoting theatrical releases with behind-the-scenes footage.41 This trend also reflected a wider public interest in making-of information found on television and in magazines.42 By the 1960s, studios realized that TV networks liked to show promotional featurettes as accompaniments to primetime movies.43 Although these kinds of films date back to the silent studio era when cinemagoers were treated to visual tours of studio backlots, the 1960s upsurge was ushered in by the cross-promotion potential of television and new portable equipment that allowed small crews to travel all around the world to acquire footage of production work.
35Authentic foreign locations and the attendant challenges of working abroad indeed became a major point of interest in promotional featurettes. A making-of short for Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings (1961) shows the filming of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The promo details the Super Technirama crew’s difficult camera and lighting set-up, the use of thousands of Spanish extras, and the creation of production facilities and a commissary in the hills outside of Madrid. For Carl Foreman’s production of The Guns of Navarone (J. Lee Thompson, 1961), Columbia Pictures produced a series of featurettes recounting the parade of elite visitors to the film’s set, the Greek honeymoon of star James Darren, and the shopping spree of actresses Irene Papas and Gia Scala. Also illustrated are the difficult camera positions on the island of Rhodes. As the camera crew perches precariously alongside vertiginous sea cliffs, a voice-over narrates, “A studio would be safer, but only such rugged landscapes as these could capture the searing drama and high adventure of a lastingly great film.”
36The imagery and rhetoric of these featurettes, which celebrate the films’ foreign settings and the filmmakers’ expertise, also fell into a promotional campaign’s discourse of realism and spectacle. Perhaps more significantly, these promos served a critical function by giving the public insight into the culture of filmmaking and the production process–albeit in a hyped-up way–which could be accessed through television. Even though the promotion of foreign locations was in part a tactic to lure audiences away from television, in time Hollywood would use TV to market the very features–spectacular landscapes, widescreen and vivid color–that the boxed medium could not yet deliver. This fusing of cinema and television points to the growing convergence of these media for promotional purposes, one which would increase all through the rest of the 20th century.
37The selling of foreign productions through the promotion of authentic foreign scenery and the monumental operation of achieving these images indicates some consequential developments in Hollywood production practices and the tastes and habits of movie-going consumers. Because of the amplification of realism and spectacle in response to the popularity of television as well as the US public’s mounting interest in international travel and their awareness of the wider world, Hollywood had to embark on a new method of portraying foreign-set stories via location shooting. Publicists and advertisers subsequently brought to the fore this stylistic characteristic by fostering production stories in the press and accenting authentic foreign locales in exploitation tie-ins, posters, advertisements, trailers and featurettes.
- 44 Miller, “Helping Exhibitors,” 191-92.
- 45 Miller, “Helping Exhibitors,” 189. John Thornton Caldwell, Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivi (...)
- 46 “Agency Plumping For Ad-Bally Prior To Films’ Shooting,” Daily Variety, May 14 1958, 4.
38Moreover, the promotional campaigns for foreign productions reflect some influential changes in Hollywood publicity and advertising strategies and the image of the US film industry. During the classical studio era, campaigns kept promotional activities during the production phase to a minimum. Even as studios previously employed “unit men” to turn out pre-production anecdotes, star biographies and industry gossip, much of this material was assembled before the film began shooting.44 Additionally, production stories–both true and apocryphal–trickled into the public through fan magazines, newsreels, craft journals and ultimately pressbooks, but this kind of publicity usually became a part of a film’s pre-release campaign.45 In the postwar era, the hiring of unit publicists and the facilitation of press coverage increased the benefit of doing promotional work during the production phases, rather than waiting until the production finished to sell the film.46
- 47 Staiger, Classical Hollywood Cinema, 99-100.
- 48 These changes coincided with what Denise Mann argues was a shift in postwar promotions when studios (...)
39This shift led to a second change in film promotions: The production experience itself became content for publicity and advertising campaigns. The publicity surrounding the production circumstances was not new in Hollywood. Advertising the high costs of filmmaking and a production’s scope and size was a common promotional strategy that dated from 1910s.47 However, in the postwar era, the concern with location shooting–especially foreign location shooting–and the difficulties that such work entailed were dramatized in press releases, advertisements and promotional films as a way to provide a dwindling movie audience with proof of a film’s worth and the continuing ingenuity of the cinematic medium.48
- 49 Caldwell, Production Culture, 274.
40Finally, the ways that Hollywood foreign productions were promoted unveils changes in the postwar US film industry. The promotion of foreign location shooting signals that Hollywood production was becoming more international. These campaigns also shed light on marketing a self-image contrived by the industry during a time of transformation. As John Caldwell suggests, marketing can be “viewed as a quintessential form of industrial self-representation.”49
41During the classical studio era, the US film industry had cultivated a self-image of a glamorous and technically savvy artists’ colony that was closely tied to Hollywood the geographical place and Hollywood the symbolic space. However, by the 1950s, this image of Hollywood was becoming outdated as film companies and independent producers were shooting movies around the globe, a new reality captured in film publicity. Nevertheless, these images were just as semi-manufactured as anything that had come before. Instead of stars living out their fantasies in Beverly Hills mansions, there were globetrotting actors involved in the high adventure of exotic location shoots. Instead of directors conjuring up illusions on Hollywood soundstages, there were filmmakers working all over the world and overcoming the most difficult of logistical challenges. At once accurate and exaggerated, these images tell us a good deal about evolving production practices and an industry that was navigating a period of major transition.
Haut de page
Archival Special Collections
Fanny Production File, Warner Bros. Archive, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
John Huston Papers, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library, Beverly Hills, California.
Master of Ballantrae Production File, Warner Bros. Archive, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library, Beverly Hills, California.
Paramount Pictures Production Records, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library, Beverly Hills, California.
Trader Horn Clipping File, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library, Beverly Hills, California.
William Wyler Papers, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library, Beverly Hills, California.
Articles and Books
Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
Balio, Tino. United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.
Belton, John. Widescreen Cinema. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Bordwell, David, Staiger, Janet and Thompson, Kristin. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
Caldwell, John Thornton. Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
Clarke, Charles G. “We Filmed ‘Kangaroo’ Entirely In Australia.” American Cinematographer, July 1952, 292-93, 315-17.
Gordon, Jay E. “There’s Really No Business Like Show Business.” Hollywood Quarterly 6 2 (Winter 1951). Reprinted in Hollywood Quarterly: Film Culture in Postwar America, 1945-1957, edited by Eric Smoodin and Ann Martin, 283-92. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
Harlan, Russell. “On Safari With ‘Hatari’.” American Cinematographer, August 1961, 470-72, 488-89.
Kernan, Lisa. Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.
Lev, Peter. The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
Mann, Denise. Hollywood Independents: The Postwar Talent Takeover. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
Miller, Mark S. “Helping Exhibitors: Pressbooks at Warner Bros. in the Late 1930s.” Film History 6 2 (Summer 1994), 188-196.
Muscio, Giuliana. “Invasion and Counterattack: Italian and American Film Relations in the Postwar Period.” In “Here, There and Everywhere”: The Foreign Politics of Popular Culture, edited by Reinhold Wagnleitner and Elaine Tyler May, 116-31. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000.
“Oui c’est César.” Paris Match, May 28, 1960, 88-93.
Perlberg, William. “What Do You Mean? Run-Away Production!,” The Journal of the Screen Producers Guild, December 1960, 7-8, 33.
Salgues, Yves. “Fanny à l’américaine.” Jours de France, June 11, 1960.
Schwartz, Vanessa R. It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Shandley, Robert R. Runaway Romances: Hollywood’s Postwar Tour of Europe. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.
Zanuck, Darryl F. “Shoot It Where You Find It!.” The Journal of the Screen Producers Guild, December 1960, 3-4, 31.
Trader Horn (Clipping File), Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library (hereafter AMPAS Library).
“Metro Will Shoot ‘Solomon’s Mines’ On ‘Trader’ Locale,” Daily Variety, July 11, 1949, 3.
Reflecting Tino Balio’s analysis of United Artists’ promotional campaigns, I treat promotion as a “catchall term for advertising, publicity, and exploitation.” Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 199.
“Bigger Ad Budgets Urged By Perlberg to Hypo B.O,” Hollywood Reporter, June 20, 1951, 3. “Early Pre-Sell Need Greater Than Ever To Get Pix Coin; UI’s Lipton,” Daily Variety, April 1, 1958, 1, 5.
Jay E. Gordon, “There’s Really No Business Like Show Business,” Hollywood Quarterly 6 2 (Winter 1951) reprinted in Hollywood Quarterly: Film Culture in Postwar America, 1945-1957, eds. Eric Smoodin and Ann Martin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 289.
“AFL Report on Pix Abroad Is Delayed,” Daily Variety, September 27, 1949, 2.
Darryl F. Zanuck, “Shoot It Where You Find It!,” The Journal of the Screen Producers Guild, December 1960, 4.
“Zanuck Sees Actual Locale Lensing As B.O. Stimulant And TV Antidote,” Daily Variety, July 19, 1951, 1, 4.
“Irving Allen Opines H’wood’s Future Lies In Int’l Production,” Daily Variety, January 6, 1954, 3.
“Realism Next Big TV Trend: Leonard,” Daily Variety, October 9, 1958, 8.
Silver City advertisement, Daily Variety, December 26, 1951, 9. Bayou advertisement, Daily Variety, November 5, 1956, 16.
Peter Lev, The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). John Belton, Widescreen Cinema (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992).
Vanessa R. Schwartz, It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), chs. 1 and 4. Robert R. Shandley, Runaway Romances: Hollywood’s Postwar Tour of Europe (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009), 76-110.
Janet Staiger, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 100.
Staiger, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, 122.
William Perlberg, “What Do You Mean? Run-Away Production!,” The Journal of the Screen Producers Guild, December 1960, 7.
I am basing the distinction of these phases on Balio’s conception of film promotion in United Artists, 199.
John Huston to Henry Rogers, April 24, 1954. Henry Rogers to John Huston, May 7, 1954, Moby Dick (Henry Rogers), John Huston Papers, AMPAS Library.
Ernest Anderson, “Bulletin No. 1 from Youghal, County Cork, Eire,” n.d., Moby Dick (Publicity), John Huston Papers, AMPAS Library.
Jack Gold to Teet Carle, April 2, 1952, Roman Holiday (Correspondence 1952), Paramount Pictures Production Records, AMPAS Library.
Jack Gold and Ed Hill to Teet Carle, July 7, 1952, Roman Holiday (Publicity), William Wyler Papers, AMPAS Library.
Charles G. Clarke, “We Filmed ‘Kangaroo’ Entirely In Australia,” American Cinematographer, July 1952, 292-93, 315-17. Russell Harlan, “On Safari With ‘Hatari’,” American Cinematographer, August 1961, 470-72, 488-89.
“Oui c’est César,” Paris Match, May 28, 1960, 88-93. Yves Salgues, “Fanny à l’américaine,” Jours de France, June 11, 1960, Fanny (Publicity Clips), Warner Bros. Archive, University of Southern California (hereafter Warner Archive).
“French Critics Blast ‘Fanny’ Film Version,” Times Herald-Tribune-London-Observer, April 20, 1962, Fanny (Publicity Clips), Warner Archive.
Giuliana Muscio, “Invasion and Counterattack: Italian and American Film Relations in the Postwar Period,” in “Here, There and Everywhere”: The Foreign Politics of Popular Culture, eds. Reinhold Wagnleitner and Elaine Tyler May (Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000), 123.
La Settimana Incom, April 21, 1955. L’Europeo Ciac, July 31, 1957 and May 1, 1958. Cinecittà Luce, http://www.archivioluce.com/archivio/
Leslie Frewin to John Huston, July 13, 1954. Moby Dick (Publicity Correspondence), John Huston Papers, AMPAS Library.
Ernest Anderson, press release, July 24, 1954, Moby Dick (Publicity Correspondence), John Huston Papers, AMPAS Library.
W. R. Wilkerson, “Trade Views,” Hollywood Reporter, August 5, 1954, 1.
For an overview of pressbooks see Mark S. Miller, “Helping Exhibitors: Pressbooks at Warner Bros. in the Late 1930s,” Film History 6 2 (Summer 1994): 188-196. Also, Balio, United Artists, 212.
Master of Ballantrae pressbook, Master of Ballantrae (Publicity), Warner Archive.
September Affair pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
Roman Holiday pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
Funny Face pressbook, Paramount Pictures Press Sheets, AMPAS Library.
“New Pix Meet Fans Travel Urge,” Daily Variety, November 16, 1948, 11. Belton, Widescreen Cinema, 93-94. Schwartz, It’s So French!, 192-93. Shandley, Runaway Romances, 93-95.
The Man on the Eiffel Tower advertisement, Daily Variety, January 19, 1950, 13-19.
The Ambassador’s Daughter advertisement, Daily Variety, July 27, 1956, 16.
Green Fire advertisement, Daily Variety, January 12, 1955, 5.
Bhowani Junction advertisement, Daily Variety, July 7, 1955, 6-7.
Lisa Kernan, Coming Attractions: Reading American Movie Trailers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004), 12.
Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994), chs. 6 and 7.
Denise Mann, Hollywood Independents: The Postwar Talent Takeover (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 25-26.
“Promotional Featurettes for TV (5 to 30 Mins., Up to $25,000) Enjoy Spreading Acceptance,” Variety, December 11, 1963, 5, 16.
Miller, “Helping Exhibitors,” 191-92.
Miller, “Helping Exhibitors,” 189. John Thornton Caldwell, Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 283-84.
“Agency Plumping For Ad-Bally Prior To Films’ Shooting,” Daily Variety, May 14 1958, 4.
Staiger, Classical Hollywood Cinema, 99-100.
These changes coincided with what Denise Mann argues was a shift in postwar promotions when studios gave up their hold on film fan magazines and as industry gossip columnists lost their influence in shaping the image of the industry. In their place, she contends that television entertainers offered the public “insider references.” Mann, Hollywood Independents, 25-26.
Caldwell, Production Culture, 274.Haut de page