Page 29 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 29

steaming out at me, and this was
          surrounded by cameo heads of an array
          of familiar faces in  attitudes of fear.
          Surely this had to be worth five pence?
          (The film was the1938 Hitchcock
          thriller The Lady Vanishes.)
            I have childhood memories of
          hanging around local cinemas watching
          a young fellow pasting up day-bills on
          adjacent fences. I would plead with him
          to let me salvage posters before he
          pasted over them, but was usually
          rebuffed. I was fascinated by the speed
          with which he could slap on the glue
          and then, with a flick of the wrist,
          smooth the new day-bills on the
          wooden-framed, sheet-metal board
          covered with remnants of what seemed
          like years of earlier programs.
            Later, I would again try the charm
          offensive at Point Lonsdale, when on
          regular holidays with my great-aunt.
          But the chap who pasted up the day-  The Bill Poster and his admirer.
          bills for the Point Lonsdale cinema on
          the fence beside the sweet shop was
                                               I didn’t know then how soon the    As well as changes to the grade of
          also immune to my requests. My heart
                                            trashy old-style posters, with their  paper and the style of artwork, printing
          would ache longingly for my own
                                            colourful and flamboyant artwork,  techniques have changed too. You need
          collection of these gaudy day-bills. It
                                            would be superseded by the anaemic  to go a long way back, probably at least
          would be many years before I realized
                                            look of photo-realism and glossy   to around the 1910s, to find any posters
          this ambition.
                                            artwork, better quality paper though it  prepared from artwork etched on
            My teenage experience of the
                                            might be.                          printing stones!
          distinctive environment of a poster
                                               There was something gutsy about    In Britain and Australia the earliest
          printery was at the Melbourne office of
                                            the old-style bills printed on little better  posters for movies (at least up until the
          British Empire Films in Hoddle Street,
                                            than lavatory paper! Today’s glossy  mid-1910s) were usually printed by
          near West Richmond Station. I
                                            style is enclosed in glass-fronted  letterpress. This limited the display
          managed this entrée thanks to the late
                                            display cases at the cinemas       mainly to text and the posters
          Gordon McClelland.
                                            themselves, and for a top release put on  resembled those used to promote music
            I was program organiser for a group
                                            ‘sliding’ signs at major train stations.  halls and vaudeville shows during the
          which ran closed film shows at
                                            Occasionally, outside some country-hall  nineteenth century. You see these basic
          Gordon’s Carlton Theatre (later the
                                            cinema, day-bills can be seen displayed  posters all over fences and hoardings in
          Carlton Movie House). Gordon would
                                            in the traditional way.            archival photographs. It wasn’t until
          send me over to BEF to pick up copies
                                                                               around the First World War that more
          of day-bills (and sometimes I’d be
                                                                               pictorial advertising would infiltrate
          allowed to get a One-Sheeter) to
                                                                               into movie promotions.
          promote our show.
            I revelled in this task. The printing
          office was down the back of a dingy
          covered-in laneway, in a collection of
          tin sheds attached to the main office
          building. The distinctive smell of paper
          and printing inks, mixed with the odour
          of drains was unforgettable. Amidst old
          printing machines, tempting piles of
          posters were heaped all over the place.
          I wondered how the crew of workers
          who inhabited this draughty out-house
          could ever find the posters that were
          needed! Yet it all seemed to work. I
          would reluctantly depart clutching
          several daybills for my up-coming
          show at the Carlton.              Letterpress cinema posters in Bolton England; early 1900s. The 'Excursions' were
                                            travelogues often filmed from the front of a train.

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