3/19/14

King Kong vs. Godzilla Showman's Manual (Universal, 1963)

Some movie studios called their Pressbooks "Showman's Manuals," because it sounded more "fancy."  This particular one is tough to track down, and as it is even larger than the normal-sized pressbook, also impossible to scan.  However, we are going to hit the highlights here, so get ready!
Nothing needs to be said about KING KONG vs GODZILLA...without a doubt, the film cemented Godzilla's place in the landscape of American memory.  Goofy enough to be fun and featuring lots of monster-battling action, against an American icon no less, the film is a classic (and one about to be re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon!).


I say it every time I discuss a pressbook, but they are fascinating to me because sometimes, they are the only way to determine what sorts of materials were made for particular films...unfortunately, some of their plans never seemed to see fruition.  Case in point is this first item:  a record of a five (and 2&1/2) minute spiel to be played in theatres?? I haven't read or seen of this one really existing, but I'd be excited to know...and more excited to own one.

[3/31/14 ADDENDUM :
The good news is, this record exists! The bad news is, you won't be able to enjoy it here, because after holding the high bid for seven days, the price shot up to (hope you are sitting down) $343.79.  I can confirm that the contents are:  SIDE ONE - "Long Track" (3:40), "Short Track" (2:25), SIDE TWO - "Tone"....let's hope that whoever bought it is kind enough to share it with the rest of the world.  If you are out there, please let us know! I'd be happy to post it here if it helped.]
 
Pressbooks also usually gave the recipients (theatre owners) examples of how to "sell" the picture, although in this case, not very well.  Please do NOT sell to "great-grampa."  He can't hear, and he doesn't care.  Also, please especially do NOT sell to "baby," because without a doubt the screaming brat will end up sitting directly behind me when I'm trying to enjoy my movie.  
I'm assuming a "Telop" is a still that was designed for television broadcast, but I have no idea.  The slide, however, I think I saw one time on Ebay several years ago:
Now, as cool as this item is, it is kind of sad to realize that your local theatre hasn't progressed beyond "magic lantern" technology, and still uses glass slides.  (I just say that because I'm jealous that I don't own one...but I'm honest.)
More tips on how to make your selling a CAMPAIGN.  Sell it as a "sporting event," for example. One thing that isn't present in this pressbook (excuse me, Showman's Manual) is the suggestion to "make sure to tell all your friends that a special ending has been filmed for this movie where King Kong wins, showing the triumph of the United States over Japan, extending any leftover WW2-era ill will! And make sure this myth is reprinted in countless magazines and books for decades!"
Here's another item that I can confirm: it exists.  I didn't win this one either, the one time I saw it...I'm starting to depress myself, so we better keep moving!
Another thing that surprises me when I read these old pressbooks (sorry, did it again) is that you never knew what the studios were actually going to SUPPLY to you when you followed their ridiculous advice, and what you were expected to fork over your Cold-War-era dollars to.  In this case, you as a theatre-owner are expected to erect TOWERING displays in your lobby...or over your marquee, with "flashing lights," "sounds," and yes, you read that correctly, SPEWING FIRE.  Huh.  Even today that would be expensive.  And dangerous.  And stupid.
I apologize that the above picture was over the fold and couldn't be photographed any better than this, because it is completely and totally awesome.  
If you didn't want to sink a few thousand dollars into your display of plywood and pyrotechnics, then you could always consider "Truck Ballyhoo," which I think will be my next band name.
Oh wait, it's exactly the same giant display, only now I need to rent a huge flatbed truck to put it on.  Forget it.  (Incidentally, I know that the last paragraph says ORDER YOUR MODELS, but nowhere in the Showman's Manual does it say how to do this.  I think they mean from somebody else.)
Now, at last, here is a promotion I can afford.  I don't know about "planting" the graphic in newspapers (that sounds like spy work to me), but I can see this actually being fun.  The one problem is, the original isn't much bigger than a postage stamp, and I don't think there was a Kinko's (oh, wait, you could order it.) That brings up another point: anybody ever seen one of these "coloring mats" in person?
Here's the tiny image anyway, in case you want to print it larger and try your hand at an imaginary contest from 1962.  But what was the prize? A copy of Profiles in Courage?  Who knows?
Let's not discuss the "teasing."  Rather, let's discuss whether this item was ever made.  Anybody know? (Man, this movie had the most crap made, or promised, until MEGALON!)
Not since I giggled at the Ghidrah pressbook have I giggled at stenciling suggestions. Um, you probably don't need me to tell you this, but never take anybody's advice that begins with "If you can get away with it..."!
I can at least confirm that the record of radio ads exists, as there's one floating around the Internets someplace (I even included it in some radio spots I uploaded a while back).  The TV ads make perfect sense that they definitely exist, but I'm not aware of running into any, so hmm.
Interesting art that isn't the run-of-the-mill handful of KK vs G stills you see...you DO notice, of course, that Kong is standing in the exact position of the Statue of Liberty, don't you, in an obvious dig at the USA? Oh good, I didn't either.
Back cover of the Showman's Manual, and right as I get used to calling it that, we are done.  I hope you have enjoyed our look at this historical document, and maybe even learned something.  (Such as, don't take it upon yourself to go stenciling public streets, for starters.)

2 comments:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I'm assuming a "Telop" is a still that was designed for television broadcast, but I have no idea. The slide, however, I think I saw one time on Ebay several years ago:

It's just what it is. Basically it's a industry term for a still image used primarily to give information or display certain graphics like station ID's or other such uses like "technical difficulties" and promo spots. Also once used for "superimpositions" were text could be added electronically to a video source through a luminance keying process (this of course was replaced by character generators/titles later on).

These are basically 35mm slides that were placed in a special drum that was operated much like a slide projector though it moved vertically than horizontal. Here's one such device.
http://www.fsinet.or.jp/~funtime/sssm_com_editing_museum/telecine/Graphics/filmchain.jpg

Usually these were operpated in conjunction with 16 or 35mm film projectors in a mixed setting using some sort of prism system to shift between each source.

Here's some telops in action (Sorry for being long-winded here)!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YHbLBUQbn0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrB_ngY1Cbc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUuosUuWczE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHwjWody-0o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5dQci9w6KU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJIE1tpuVhM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ8r0GgVWvQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THSQKwjSJLc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX0BqxzZKF4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQtB-iyzdK8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY6H3SXKw6o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoUmmcthjzY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYM0uBTCDP8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKnBrogg46s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2W379jXHkg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vb3GJwsvd4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YOvgk1AQrU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdyWxZS296s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqVjiQvUwqk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Iei9gwuns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0OscEzfKa0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EABSXNWSy4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsNlAtBRi1k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfKu1JWiot0

Such devices started to go out of the door when newer "still-store" devices were in place. These basically store the graphics, ID's and such as still video frames that can be punched up when needed. Here's some examples.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4aYboqi9uk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edNIQtflZwM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP6R44B9iRg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtuzBr5Nmg

Sampoerna Quatrain said...

Neat! Thanks for the info, I will check these out!