P is for Publicity: 13 Classic Movie Trailers


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P is for Publicity

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The Hollywood Publicity Machine has been going into overdrive this week with the release of trailers for two tent-pole movies, the new Star Wars and the new Batman V. Superman (which was “leaked”).

It will be ages before we see either film at the cinema, but we live in an age ruled by fanboys, and studios have been pandering to them for years. Hence the massive marketing campaigns for superhero franchises (usually with tie-in product placement and advertising); hence “viral” campaigns; hence hashtags; hence the “panel discussions” at Comic-Con; hence the teaser trailers for upcoming movies; and hence the cast of The Avengers getting loaded and playing Family Feud.

All the fuss about the new Star Wars and the Batman trailers has me thinking about how Hollywood markets its products. There’s nothing new about publicity, of course, but movies were sold a lot differently in the olden days.

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You would seldom see a critic’s quote on a one-sheet: the hyperbole was all generated in-house.

Studios had a very cozy relationship with the Press and had much stronger control over what did and did not make the gossip column.

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Once a studio had spent time and money nurturing its talent (vocal coaches, dental work, deportment lessons, and so on), it wasn’t going to risk a star’s public image being tarnished. Adoring fans never knew about Humphrey Bogart‘s heavy drinking, Joan Crawford‘s tantrums, or Cary Grant‘s homosexuality. A studio would arrange for two stars to be romantically linked – even married, if necessary – to promote a movie. Scandals were hushed up.

Here are 13 movie trailers from the Golden Age.

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8 thoughts on “P is for Publicity: 13 Classic Movie Trailers

  1. Nice selection Niall. I think that the ‘Now Showing’ and ‘Coming Soon’ cards outside cinemas played a big part for me. They often had great stills from the films; all the exciting bits, and lavish portraits of the stars. I used to stand and look at them for ages, anticipating my next visit to see a film, or wishing I could see the one playing at the time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I like old trailer styles better…. getting to see whole scenes rather than “money shots” that may or may not represent the movie properly. Great selection of trailers!

    Liked by 1 person

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