Charming Old Theater Slides? Hardly! Rube Goldberg Takes On Obnoxious Ads

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

Famous last words.

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.

I, too, wish to save money on inner tubes and chewing gum.

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.

Mind you, prune bites can be very painful…

We hear you, Rube. We hear you.


  1. Shari Polikoff

    Lots of laughs in this post, plus that interesting tidbit about the paper porkpie hats (I never knew that, and I’ve read everything I could find about Keaton, whom I adore.) Now if we could only persuade someone to produce ‘The Adorable Murderer’!

  2. Marie Roget

    Rube Goldberg- what a wit. Thanks so much for this post!

    Ever read the story of how Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, and Rube Goldberg went to the barber shop to have their hair trimmed and get a shave? Goldberg fell asleep in the chair- Fitz and Wilson persuaded the barber to give them a turn with the shears. They cut his hair into a checkerboard pattern and left. Goldberg on awakening thought it was as great a joke as they did πŸ™‚

  3. amycondit

    Thanks for being so creative with this post, and researching the excellent Rube Goldberg cartoons from Photoplay. I like to go to the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, Ca (Near the L.A. Airport) as they have a sing along with old slides that’s part of their experience recreating what it was like to go to the movies during the silent and early sound film days? Their cartoon slides say things like “A little more pep”, “Take a cough drop, and lets go”, and “singing class dismissed!” I wish I could attach a photo to show you-you’d get a kick out of it!πŸ˜€

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