Film Publicity and Politics, 1920

April 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

Harry Reichenbach, on the existential link between new media and modern politics:

“Do motion pictures have to be advertised in this extraordinary way?”, asked the District Attorney.
“I will answer that question in this way, judge,” replied Reichenbach. “You take Governor Cox; he is running for President. Well, you see pictures of him in the papers cooking in camp; you see pictures of his wife cooking doughnuts, and you see his son riding a bicycle.
“Now, what has that got to do with his ability to be President? Nothing. But people will be attracted by that sort of stuff, and that is why it is put out. It is the same kind of press agenting that is put across for the movies.”
(NYTribune, 30 juillet 1920)

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§ 2 Responses to Film Publicity and Politics, 1920

  • Naïve Spectator says:

    I’m curious about the context of this conversation. What is “this extraordinary way” that the movies are being promoted that is in question? Is it somehow related to the star scandals of the 1920s?

  • Fabrice says:

    Hi and thanks for the comment. The context is not star scandals à la Fatty Arbuckle but advertising ballyhoo — specifically the fact that on July 18, 1920 a bag containing a suicide note is found near Central Park lake, signed from a Miss O. Yuki, the name of the character of a Universal feature (“Breath of the Gods”), character played by Tsuru Aoko, Hayakawa’s wife, which opens…July 18 at the Astor close to Central Park. The whole thing is a hoax but the efforts wasted by the NYC Police to recover the body are not amusing to NYC prosecutor Judge Swann who opens an investigation into such ballyhoo film hoaxes in the hope of having a law passed to forbid such practices. Doesn’t seem to have succeeded much.
    Just thought it was rather interesting to have such advertising high-class nonsense justified by a recourse to political advertising — but then Reichenbach is a pretty wild character.

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