Page 28 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 28

A Poster Speaks AThousand Words

                                                    By Roger Seccombe

            The early movie promoters showed
          a mindset similar to cavemen. They
          understood the power of imagery writ
          large to attract audiences to their
          primitive cinema halls. Promoters of
          ballet or opera would doubtless have
          considered the headline- grabbing
          advertisements for music halls,
          vaudeville shows and the new marvel of
          cinema to be crass, vulgar and
            Any vacant wall, fence or other
          prominent display surface was fair
          game for bill-posters, who blithely
          ignored the small sign threatening ‘Post
          No Bills’ or ‘Bill Posters Prosecuted.’
          The proliferation of hoardings and
          poster graffiti on almost anything
                                            Advertising overload: the Imperial Playhouse (later Embassy cinema) in Bolton,
          vertical suggests an era in which
                                            England around World War I.
          protection of the streetscape from
          visual pollution was not really a
            As with advertising in general, the
          more prominent the site the more
          demand for it. And from the 1920s
          cinema was in a position to pay for the
          best sites. The paste-up man with his
          pot of glue, brushes and ladder and role
          of bills became a familiar sight around
          the suburbs.
            Posters began to appear wherever
          people congregated, and what better
          place to splash the latest and greatest
          than on a railway platform? In
          Melbourne the main concourse at
          Flinders Street Station and major  Prime position: the intersection of Burnley Street and Swan Street, Melbourne c. 1927
          stations like Richmond, South Yarra
          and Spencer Street offered prime sites.
            As cinema posters diversified they
          acquired their own jargon - the Daybill
          or One-Sheeter, the Three-Sheeter, up
          to the multi-section display of the 24-
          sheeter, laboriously pasted up strip-by-
            Clearly, the assumption was that the
          larger the hoarding the greater its
          impact. British film historian Leslie
          Halliwell, in his autobiography Seats In
          All Parts, recalls childhood memories
          of these huge boards dotted around his
          hometown of Bolton in north England:
            I was attracted from across the
          width of Bradshawgate by the huge, red
          pictorial poster which covered almost
          the whole of one wall (of the Queens
          cinema). In the centre was a train,
                                            Ascot Vale platform c. 1932

          28  2008 CINEMARECORD
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