Today’s irritant is tomorrow’s nostalgia and theater slides prove that point. Nowadays, theater slides are used humorously and affectionately and this nostalgia extends far back with The Great Race using theater slide designs for its opening credits.
At the time, though, these slides were viewed with the same irritation that we might feel when inundated with ads for cars, candy and smartphones at our local theater. Cartoonist Rube Goldberg, already a celebrity at the time, spoofed this problem in a witty strip published in Photoplay in 1919.
Who Invented the Theatre Slide, Anyway? by R.L. Goldberg
Okay, this one made me laugh out loud. It was a big fad in the movies to have opposite day titles like The Delicious Little Devil, The Married Virgin, The Big Little Person, The White Black Sheep, etc. and William S. Hart was known as the Good Bad Man. Douglas Fairbanks borrowed the nickname as a title for a western spoof. So The Adorable Murderer is a pretty dead-on satire.
Theaters pushed hard for the solo kid market back in the day, giving away things like paper pork pie hats to tie in with a Buster Keaton picture, for example.
We hear you, Rube. We hear you.
You can look up lots of swell clippings like these at the Media History Digital Library.
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