Sunday, November 22, 2015

Walter Pidgeon at the drive-in

On the TCM schedule today at about 3:45 PM, or just after The Pirate (2:00 PM, 102 min plus an intro and outro from Ben Mankiewicz), is a short called The Management of Metro Twin Drive-In, Chullora, Is Proud to Introduce Mr. Walter Pidgeon.

I haven't seen this particular promo from MGM, but there is a long line during the studio era of the studios making shorts designed with the purpose of having stars promote either new movies or going to this theater in general. One that TCM shows often enough for it to stick in my memory involves the Hardy family coming down to the living room, enjoying their Christmas presents, and thanking the viewers for spending time with them.

Other shorts that TCM has run repeatedly include one announcing the opening of a Loew's picture palace in Cairo Egypt, and all the fabulous movies that MGM is going to be running there, with the movies being late 30s fare about a year behind what was being shown in America. Of course, World War II would have put the kibosh on all of that.

When it comes to the exibitors and not the studios, I'm reminded of the two interesting low-budget shorts This Theater and You and The Case Against the 20% Federal Admissions Tax on Motion Picture Theaters. In some ways they're both hilarious to look at over 60 years on, but they're also for their historical value for what the movie theaters tried to think of themselves.

Getting back to Walter Pidgeon, I thought it would be odd to imagine him promoting anything at the drive-in, since he's not the sort of person the teens would have wanted to go see. But then I noticed that the date of this short (1956) is the same year as Forbidden Planet, which I think might just be the sort of movie that people would go to a drive-in to see. At least, it's in the same science fiction vein, although the production values are quite a bit better than what would normally be shown at the drive-in.

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