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Synopsis

Let's go back in time for a moment and pretend we are looking in on an average neighborhood theater manager in a big city like New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh or Detroit, in the classic days when Hollywood movies were the number one entertainment choice of all the citizenry. On the one hand, our cinema manager is obviously anxious to please his patrons by booking a highly advertised, ready-sold, "colossal" main feature, such as "Jezebel", "A Star Is Born", "The Rains Came", "High Noon", "I'm No Angel", "The Great Ziegfeld", "100 Men and a Girl", "Mad About Music", "Manhattan Melodrama", "One Night of Love", "Rio Rita", "Road to Zanzibar", "Mr Deeds Goes To Town", "Mr Smith Goes To Washington", "Little Miss Marker", "The Mark of Zorro", "The Merry Widow", "The Great Waltz", "King of Jazz", "Ball of Fire", "Mutiny on the Bounty", and "Alexander's Ragtime Band". On the other hand, patrons were supremely anxious to obtain "value" for their admittance money. They wanted a program that ran not less than three or even four hours. They demanded not only a colossal main feature, but a supporting program comprising a lesser movie with a running time of 70 minutes or perhaps slightly less, plus a cartoon, plus a short subject of one or two reels. So here are detailed not only main attractions (including all those listed above), but some of the lesser movies that clamored for the manager's attention. The choice usually depended on the cost of the main feature. The more expensive the main attraction, the less money was available to hire a series entry like "Fly-Away Baby" (released by Warner Brothers as an entry in their Torchy Blane series). Instead, the manager would opt for a movie he could hire at the lowest possible flat rate, such as "Death from a Distance" (released through Chesterfield, a Poverty Row company that specialized in "B" movies), or "Caribbean Mystery" (a 20th Century-Fox release that the studio had no faith in), or "Bowery at Midnight" (Bela Lugosi in a Monogram picture), or "Trouble in Texas" (Tex Ritter and Rita Hayworth in a Grand National release), but not RKO's highly popular (and therefore comparatively expensive) "Mexican Spitfire" series starring the exotically excitable Lupe Velez. These of course are just a few of the movies discussed and detailed in "Your Colossal Main Feature Plus Full Supporting Program". In addition to a wide selection of both main and supporting features, the book also examines some of the typical cartoons and short subjects available.

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