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A Depressing Slide into the Fifties

September 8, 2011

Slide for World in My Corner (1956)
Slide for World in My Corner (1956)

What is the the latest date that lantern slides were used for motion picture advertising in the United States?  

This is one of many questions I have been trying to answer through my inquiry.  Though I may never find a definitive answer,  I am constantly discovering evidence that the practice continued, at least on the fringes, late into the 1950s.  Every couple of months I come across a new slide that pushes my terminus post quem a little later. Most recently I came across a slide for World in My Corner which was released in March 1956, making that the date of my new latest confirmed U.S. slide.

Slide for Jim Thorpe - All American (1951)
Slide for Jim Thorpe - All American (1951)

But even though the physical manufacture of advertising slides persisted into the mid/late fifties, it is abundantly clear that any consideration that these materials could be interesting, attractive, or creatively designed, had long since retreated into oblivion.  Not only are these slides poorly and cheaply produced, the graphic design is sadly, even depressingly, the same: black and white copy, a sloppy splash of yellow across the title, and a stripe of blue across the text box at the bottom.  

Slide for Retreat Hell! (1952)
Slide for Retreat Hell! (1952)

It also appears to be the case that by this time the manufacture of coming attraction slides was reduced to a single commercial entity.  While during the silent era there were literally dozens of national and regional concerns producing slides for the cinema, every slide from I have encountered from the 1950s is framed by the same sad nondescript blank cardboard holder, bearing only the title of the film and the assurance that the slide was "MADE IN U.S.A."

Slide for Red Light (1949)
Slide for Red Light (1949)

Why anybody thought these advertisements would entice anybody into the cinema is beyond me. Could they have put any less effort into them?  It's hard to see how.  

For some reason the projectionist's handwritten text in the Red Light slide says it all:  "Soon." Yeah, what ever. That's close enough

I get depressed just looking at them.