“The Man Who Knows” at Antlers Theatre, Roseburg, Oregon

I chose this article/advertisement on a vaudeville event happening at the Antlers Theatre in Roseburg, Oregon, because it stood out for me from the rest of the other newspaper ads. The picture of this ad is not only interesting to look at but also a huge segment in the second page of the The News-Review, one of the main newspapers of Roseburg during 1917. Under the picture is an article about the coming of the Great Alexander who, from what it looks like, is a very famous magician in the west coast area. The article states that he’s done shows everywhere from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington.

The News-Review, 9 Apr. 1917, p. 1–2.

The ad then shares that this “great” magician, who is commonly named “the man who knows,” will be having a showing at the Antlers Theatre for three days only. Something that is interesting to mention is that this article shares no date as to when these events are happening nor how much the admission cost is in order to get in the event. This could mean that there’s other advertisements elsewhere for this information or that Roseburg was such a close-knit town and they could have used word of mouth to share this information. The short article mainly describes in great detail the show that you will experience if you choose to come to this event. The article states that, “Alexander’s performance is divided into two parts. The first being a series of the most mystifying, astounding and puzzling feats of magic…[and] the second part is portrayed in an oriental setting with oriental dancing and scenic effects.” From looking at other advertisement and articles on the Antlers Theatre, it is understood that they have a great variety of performances and entertainment. This article shows that moving pictures were not the only marvel at the time. Even Alexander, a “man who is heralded by people in the west as the greatest brain marvel in the world today,” people found entertaining at theaters in Roseburg, Oregon.

“The Seven Swans” at the Majestic Theatre

On May 24, 1918, an advertisement was placed in the Corvallis Gazette for the upcoming show, “The Seven Swans,” to be played at the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis, Oregon. This silent film portrayed Marguerite Clark, an actress who was at the height of her fame in the year of 1918. This can be shown by simply just looking at the advertisement and noticing that her name is the largest font on the entire ad. The five reels told a story about characters in a mythical world, where princes can be magically enchanted into swans by the Queen of the Bouncing Ball and eventually returned to their human forms in a dramatic ending through hastily sewn magic robes by Princess Tweedledee.

The film premiered on Christmas Day in 1917, in New York, and was based on the fairy tale, The Seven Swans, by Hans Christian Anderson. The film didn’t reach Corvallis until 5 months after the premiere in December, but given the amount of films that, in this time period, took over a year to reach Oregon, the Majestic was able to get this one pretty quickly.

According to the advertisement, if someone were to attend the film, they would “live in the ‘old days’ over again” when they see this picture which was “staged with the hand of a magician,” and if the characters’ fun names weren’t enough in themselves to get a person to go see the film, the high praise written in the advertisement would be sure to give the potential film-goer the final push.

“The Seven Swans” wasn’t the only entertainment of the night, though. Also according to the ad, there was to be a screen telegram and a “Mutt and Jeff Comedy” as well. A “Mutt and Jeff Comedy,” as it turns out, was a generally short (averaged about a half reel long) comedy film based on the “Mutt and Jeff” comic strips which were very popular in the time period.

 

American Film Institute Catalog, “The Seven Swans.” https://search.proquest.com/docview/1746496105/C8913650F40F4E85PQ/1?accountid=14698

Historic Oregon Newspapers, The Corvallis Gazette, page 2.

A Big Year for the Arcade Theatre

            

As I continue to do research on theatres in La Grande, Oregon from 1914-1921, I ran across an article in the La Grande Evening Observer which states that in the spring of 1916, the Arcade Theatre was going to remodel. The news came from the newest manager of the Arcade Theatre, Mrs. H. B. Leiter. So far this is also the only theatre I have come across with a female manager. Mrs. Leiter was going to remove the vaudeville shows entirely from the theatre. She claims that the movies are becoming higher in quality, and that is what audiences really want to watch, not vaudeville. Mrs. Leiter also reminds the readers/audience that they are seeing the same quality pictures for 10 cents, that others are seeing in Portland for 15 cents, as a way to entice them to continue coming to the Arcade.

I have no real explanation as to why Mrs. Leiter would remove vaudeville from the theatre, except that around that time, there were traveling movie showings. Calvin Pryluck talks more about these traveling movie showings, explaining that they had a circuit they would travel, stopping in towns large and small, and showing their movies. While Pryluck couldn’t find evidence, there are stories of some of these itinerant movie showings traveling around Eastern Oregon up until the 1950’s.

For Mrs. Leiter, these itinerant movies could have been a problem for her business if they were able to show a wider variety of movies, while she was showing vaudeville and movies. The second article, which was found directly underneath the first, talks about how Mrs. Leiter is also going to redecorate the theatre to make it new and attractive. She states that she wants everyone to feel at home while at the Arcade, as well as how well taken care of the children will be, especially since from time to time, the Arcade will play specific movies directed towards the children. The remodel, as well as the language directed at the family, could possibly be another way in which Mrs. Leiter is competing against the itinerant shows. While we may never know exactly why Mrs. Leiter was remodeling the theatre and removing vaudeville shows, she was at least making her mark on the Arcade Theatre.

La Grande Evening Observer, 4 Jan. 1916, p.8

“The Itinerant Movie Show and the Development of The Film Industry” Hollywood In The Neighborhood (Calvin Pryluck): 37-52

“Everywoman” at the Grand Theatre in Salem, Oregon

On September 4, 1920, the Capital Journal in Salem, Oregon, posted an ad for the black and white silent film, Everywoman. The ad portrays pictures of all the actors and actresses, including lead actress Violet Heming at the top center, proclaiming the presentation of the film by Jesse L. Lasky and “A Paramount Artcraft Picture.” According to the American Film Institute Catalog, the film was about 7 reels long, with a publication date of December 1919. The original publication date provides the information that Everywoman took almost a year before reaching the town of Salem for a showing, also shown by the date of the published advertisement.

The Capital Journal ad then describes Everywoman as “The imperishable Story of a Woman’s Heart – The sublime spectacle of lavish beauty. The Picture Beautiful Beyond Words.” Following the film description is a list of prices; 50 cents for the lower floor and balcony, 35 cents for the gallery, and 15 cents for children.

Capital Journal, Sept. 4, 1920, p. 2

This film was to be played in the newly renovated Grand Theatre, previously known as the Grand Opera House, as told in a previous Capital Journal article almost a month prior to the Everywoman newspaper ad. This begs the question, was Everywoman the first film to be shown in the brand new Grand Theatre? The timeline would match up, with the article announcing the renovation published on August 12, 1920, and the ad for Everywoman published on September 4, 1920, giving a little over a month for renovation and enough time to advertise the first feature to be shown. If this theory is correct, then it would also tell us that Everywoman was a relatively successful film, as the owner of the advertisement and newly renovated theatre would want to start off with a popular showing in order to create some excitement in the city and some revenue for the Grand Theatre.

The First Motion Picture Shown at the White House!

Advertisement for Caberia at Norm Theatre in Monmouth, OR
“CABERIA”: Earth’s Greatest Spectacle! – 1916

In this advertisement for “Caberia” in Monmouth, Oregon from the May 19, 1916 issue of the Monmouth Herald, the advertisement found on page 6 makes great exclamations about this film “CABERIA” coming to the town. With exclamations such as “Nothing like it ever before in Monmouth”, “Earth’s Greatest Spectacle”, and “The Wonder and Marvel of the Present Era”, we are able to deduce the true popularity and success that this film had cultivated in the town of Monmouth. When finding this advertisement, the phrase that stuck out most to me was “Precisely as shown at the White House.” I found this phrase interesting to include in an advertisement all the way in Monmouth, Oregon and I began to wonder about the origins of this phrase and why the manager of the theater and/or the advertiser decided to include this information and what they were referring to with its inclusion within the advertisement. Upon further research into the matter I found that the newspaper had actually misspelled the popular Italian film of the time, Cabiria (1914). During my research, I learned that Cabiria was “the first motion picture to be screened on the grounds of the White House” (Drees). With this historically significant fact taken into consideration, we can begin to understand the true impact that this film had not only on the town of Monmouth, Oregon, but the United States as a whole.

Though the advertisement does not include much information about the film itself other than length (“12 Big Reels”) and run time (“3 Hours Entertainment!”), the positive reception of the film speaks volumes for the film and sufficiently advertises that this film is one not to miss. With the main focus of the advertisement to publicize the coming hit attraction to Norm Theater, the advertisement also includes the admission cost and states that “all seats reserved for evening performance.” This phrase further indicates the true success of this film by demonstrating that seats must be reserved in advance in order for citizens to view the film. With the influence of newspaper articles and advertisements driving the success of numerous theaters and motion picture programs, we can see firsthand with this advertisement how true success and influence was cultivated within the town of Monmouth, Oregon for the film. Through the inclusion of these overly positive phrases, we can see how the manager and/or advertiser were able to manipulate and persuade the citizens of Monmouth, Oregon to go to Norm Theater in order to view the film.

Works Cited:

“Caberia.” The Monmouth Herald [Monmouth], 19 May 1916, p. 6.

Drees, Rich. “ Italian Silent Classic Cabiria Restored.” Italian Silent Classic Cabiria Restored, 23 Mar. 2006,

www.filmbuffonline.com/News/2006/CabiriaRestored.htm.

The Pastime Theatre – Pendleton, Oregon circa 1916

In the September 21, 1916 edition of the East Oregonian there appears an advertisement for the Pastime Theatre, located in Pendleton, Oregon. The ad is part of a page headed “Pictures and Plays in Pendleton,” although the page itself consists exclusively of advertisements outlining the appeals of various Pendleton theaters and containing no actual information about the pictures showing.

Pastime Theatre advertisement. East Oregonian, September 21, 1916, p. 5.

This advertisement’s strategy for promoting the Pastime is primarily threefold. It focuses on the film companies whose films the Pastime shows, the stars who appear in those films, and the Pastime’s practice of only booking films “which have made good in larger cities.” This latter element seems to be especially important, as it is advertised in bold type with the statement “The only theater in Pendleton using the open booking system.” This copy implies a greater degree of selectiveness and therefore quality in the films that the Pastime shows, differentiating it from its competition.

Even in 1916, only about five years after newspapers began to carry content related to photoplays, name recognition of stars and production companies (Fox, Mutual, and V.L.S.E. are named in this ad) served as a major promotional strategy for at least one Pendleton theater. Charlie Chaplin is the only star mentioned in the ad who is still recognizable, but William Farnum and Clair Whitney are also advertised.

Additionally, the appearance of the tag lines “good music,” “courteous treatment,” and “best pictures” seem to sum up the Pastime’s brand image. The “courteous treatment” element is especially interesting, as it highlights the vestiges of the opera-house experience that characterized movie-going throughout the early twentieth century and contributed to the audience’s experience of “going to the movies.”

Of course the quality of the musical accompaniment was of great importance during the era of silent film, and a longer description, located elsewhere on the same page of the Eastern Oregonian, of the Pastime’s attractions asserts the quality of the three-piece orchestra employed by the theater.

Live Vaudeville Performances and Film: Linking Past with Future

“VAUDEVILLE AND MOVING PICTURE SHOW,” an advertisement in the November 27, 1909 edition of the La Grande Evening Observer describes a mixed-bill of upcoming entertainment to be viewed at the Scenic Theatre in all capital letters to grab readers’ attention. This cross-promotion of live and recorded entertainment is highly intentional.

In his article “Film Exhibition in Vaudeville: What We Learn From Keith-Albee Managers’ Reports”, scholar Michael Slowik argues that by “placing films within a vaudeville program, vaudeville lent film the early identity of a ‘vaudeville act’. As a vaudeville act, film was expected to be a culturally respectable entertainment that appealed to a diverse group of patrons.”

Slowik’s concept of promoting film alongside live vaudeville acts to increase audience recognition of film as a valid and celebrated form of entertainment in the early 1900s is made apparent in the La Grande Evening Observer Scenic Theatre advertisement. The advertisement reveals the double feature of vaudeville performances “O’NEAL AND MARION Burlesque on Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “THE KENMORES. Willie and the Dolls” alongside “two reels of moving pictures.” The vaudeville performances would likely draw the crowd in for the film to follow, with hopes of building a future audience for film-only events that would potentially cost less money and require less organized planning than live vaudeville performances.

In addition to the format of the Scenic Theatre’s bill of upcoming entertainment, the content itself is worth discussing. With O’Neal and Marion’s burlesque show’s titular reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an audience member would likely expect elements of blackface minstrelsy and other racially charged material. (Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’ became synonymously used a derogatory term describing a subservient black man.) As cited by historical records in Oregon Blue Book, “African-Americans were unequivocally not wanted.” Exclusionist and Free Soil beliefs solidified Oregon’s early attitude on race, declaring it both ‘anti-slave’ and ‘anti-black’. Material such as blackface minstrelsy would likely be unsurprising and well received in an Oregon community such as La Grande, even in the early 1900s.

Examination of the Scenic Theatre’s advertisement in the La Grande Evening Observer offers primary insight into both the movement to use live vaudeville performances to draw audiences to film, as well as to the frightening reality of Oregon’s roots in racism. In this way, it is clear that live vaudeville performances had the capacity to act as agents of change towards the future, as well as pieces of historic preservation highlighting a problematic past.

REFERENCES:

Beecher Stowe, Harriet. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. John P. Jewett and Company, 1852.

La Grande Evening Observer, 27 Nov. 1909.

Oregon Blue Book: Oregon History: Statehood to Present, bluebook.state.or.us/cultural/history/historypost.htm.

Slowik, Michael. “Film Exhibition in Vaudeville: What We Learn from Keith-Albee Managers Reports.” Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, vol. 39, no. 2, 2012, pp. 73–92. Manchester University Press, doi:10.7227/nctf.39.2.5.

 

Sunset Theater: Have You Motion Picture Talent?

     

 

This advertisement for the Sunset Theater in The Sunday Oregon features slapstick comedian Charlie Chaplin alongside the venue’s screenings for the week of October 8th, 1916. The advertisement prominently features two films including Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company production of The World’s Greatest Snare starring Pauline Frederick and distributed by Paramount Pictures; as well as Mutual Film Corporation’s The Count starring Charlie Chaplin

     This particular advertisement for the Portland Oregon theater is unique in its promotion of a talent scouting contest. “Have You Motion Picture Talent?” the advertisement asks in large bold letters, prominently outlining the opportunity for “three boys” and “three girls” to be chosen to take part in a motion picture created by the Oregon Film Producing Company. Each Portland high school is set to nominate pupils from their institution to be shot in a “characteristic pose in motion picture” to be shown onscreen to voting attendants at the Sunset Theater.

     While the prominent image of Charlie Chaplin promotes the theater’s current screenings for the week, the promotional motion picture contest proves that theaters were more than merely a place to watch films in Oregon in 1916. The Sunset Theater is one of many theaters in Oregon at this time to be involved in the culture and community of moviegoing. Interaction with members of the community by holding a competition for high school students indicates the popularity of film with younger audiences, or an attempt to attract a younger demographic to moviegoing.

      Unlike advertisements of today, which commonly include contact information and addresses, both are unavailable in this piece. Times of screenings and cost of tickets are unspecified, and further research is required to find the original location of the Sunset Theater.

-Shelby Chapman

Source:

Sunset Theater. “Have You Motion Picture Talent?” The Sunday Oregonian [Portland], 6 Oct. 1916.

https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83045782/1916-10-08/ed-1/seq-54/print/image_672x817_from_0,0_to_5681,6901/

Automatic Theatre, Astoria

Above is an advertisement for “Automatic The Rea” a theater in Astoria, Oregon, published in the Morning Astorian newspaper in September of 1908. The advertisement is both short and concise. The most important parts of the advertisement are either large or bolded to attract attention. Something else that I noticed was that this advertisement was specifically for a certain day. The word “tonight” is largely printed making sure that people understand that they do not want to miss the performance. It is hard to say if there was a limited number of showings of this performance, which consists of numerous films including an illustrated song called Won’t You Wait Nellie Dear.” There is a Matinee showing Sunday at 2:30, but besides that, any further showing is unknown. As we discussed in class, theaters never just showed one film. There were always numerous short films and sometimes one feature presentation.

“Automatic The RE.” Morning Astorian, 9 Sept, 1908

An interesting part of the advertisement was that there was an actual raffle available for all attendees of the theater. A “ladies’ gold watch” would be given to the lucky person whose ticket was picked. This is a very interesting way of promoting the theater, one that I did not expect to see. This watch is obviously targeted to get woman to ask their boyfriend or husband to take them to the theater in hopes of being the lucky one to win. For that time, it is a very intelligent way to sell more tickets.

Pricing is also an important part of the advertisement. At 5 cents for a child and 10 cents for an adult, this is an affordable show compared to some of the other advertisements that I looked at. With it being so early in the 1900’s. This cheap price makes sense for the time.

Finally, the last part of the advertisement I want to discuss is the way in which the advertisement explains the show. The terms “first class” and “latest” emphasize that this is a top-notch theater, and that the films being shown are not to miss. This along with the raffle gave very good reason for customers to see this advertisement and decide to go watch.

Pendleton, Oregon: ‘The Pastime Theatre’

I chose to focus on the ‘Pastime Theatre’ in Pendleton, Oregon. This theater opened in 1906 during March. They promised to show only movies that came from licensed companies which meant that the audience could expect the quality of the movies to be superb. Also, not all movie theaters allowed women and children to be present in their buildings during this time period; however, at the ‘Pastime Theatre’ women and children were indeed welcome. However, in the photo that was included in the newspaper, it looks like only middle-aged men and possibly one young boy were pictured. It would be nice to know how often women and children truly attended these theaters. They were a family friendly theater; material that may have been offensive would not be shown. Moreover, the newspaper expressed that this theaters ventilation system was one of its best features. Families could depend on the theater to be a place to escape the horrendous heat during the hot months of the year. This is important because as expressed by the author Rae Hark, average citizens did not have air conditioning in their homes during this time because it was a luxury that not many could afford (13). However, in this case, taking a trip to the ‘Pastime Theatre’ meant that these citizens who did not have access to air conditioning were able to enjoy a break from the heat during their viewing of the film(s). Also, since women were welcome in their theater, one can imagine that this theater served as an escape to get out of the house where they spent most of their time. In fact, the theme of theaters serving as an escape from the house can extend to everyone, and it is still prevalent to this day. Moreover, this theater was proud to state that they were using an Edison machine to project their films because the popular belief was that this machine was the best made one at this time; using the Edison machine ensured that the audience would not experience flickering during the film. An interesting and sort of humorous part is when they expressed that their curtain was made by a ‘secret manufacturer’ and that it was the only one in the city; it makes one wonder why the manufacturer was kept a secret. They also included the admission prices which was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. Overall, it seems as if this theater appealed to families (all ages and genders); however, we are not explicitly told what groups were not allowed in this theater. Also, they ensured that their audience would only be receiving the best films that were from licensed companies and that the Edison machine would guarantee no flickering during their experience.

Works Cited:

Hark, R. (n.d.). Exhibition, the Film Reader. In Focus, 1-15.

The Pastime Theatre. (1906). East Oregonian (EO) [Pendleton].