Thursday, May 11, 2017

1967 ads for the Rialto, Louisville's million dollar movie palace

February 1, 1967
Doctor Zhivago, which opened June 30, 1967, played for seven solid months at the Rialto in an exclusive roadshow engagement.  It finally stepped aside for only one of two movies filmed in D-150 (a variation of Todd-AO designed to look better on deeply curved Cinerama screens which were still quite numerous at that time).  The other movie in D-150 was Patton. After the Rialto closed in 1968, the old Cinerama screen was moved across the street to the United Artists, and though for years it proudly called itself 'a D-150 Theatre,' it showed neither The Bible or Patton.  I don't know who went to 'gala premieres' in Louisville.  Possibly important members of city government?  Certainly not Ava Gardner. She told a reporter she hated being at the world premiere.
I desperately wanted to see The Bible...in the Beginning, and for once I got my wish. I went with some of my friends in the eighth grade. We talked about it for weeks. I rarely bought any concessions in those days (I never had much money with me) but that time I bought a watery orange drink in a carton from the concession stand in the balcony lounge. It was not quite as hearty as Hi-C. I was the only one honest enough to admit at the time that I mostly wanted to see the movie for the Adam and Eve sequence.  That remains one of the few reasons to watch this dull, disappointing movie with its murky photography and endless running time. It was so tedious by the time it ended with Abraham it was starting to feel like I was in church.  I was surprised to learn the movie was ultimately not a success because it certainly had a nice healthy run in Louisville, probably due to church groups and everyone else wanting to see Adam and Eve. I bought the soundtrack album for a dollar at Zayre's or Arlan's a few years later.  Like Doctor Dolittle, which Fox was filming at this time, they made way too many of them. I still have it.  This ad is from February 5, 1967. 
                                                                      March 5, 1967
Whoever did the advertising art for the Louisville theaters for the Courier-Journal must have been given some creative license at times.  March 26, 1967. The same style of hand lettering for all the theater ads was consistent the entire time I was growing up so I assume most of it was done by the same person.
                                                                   April 30, 1967
                         June 25, 1967 After five months, the beginning was finally coming to an end. 
After the long roadshow engagements of The Sound of Music, Doctor Zhivago and The Bible, I'm sure the management looked forward to a regular run.  I wanted to see The Taming of the Shrew and very nearly did, but somehow it didn't happen.  This ad ran June 25, 1967
 Liz and Dick were still romping July 9th.  It's certainly one of their better films together.
 A Guide for the Married Man was next. The Johnny Williams score is fun -- there's a fairly new CD soundtrack of it.  That's about all that recommends it. I wanted to see it if only for the 'suggested for mature audiences' warning. I'm quite certain the Catholic review board condemned it. The movie ratings were the only things I read when my parents got their monthly Catholic Record, which is probably more than they read of it.  August 20, 1967.
                                                             September 3, 1967
Here's a pretty sleazy way of advertising this movie, which is really incidental to the plot. Sex sells, and they obviously had no faith this movie would and yet it later won Best Picture that year.  September 24, 1967.
 After the good reviews, perhaps they decided to stop the sleaze angle.  October 8, 1967.
It's well known that Bonnie and Clyde was a dud in its initial release. Bosley Crowther hated it and was ultimately fired because of his bad review for being out of touch.  Over the summer, the audience built and even after it played second run it returned to first run houses -- but in this case not to the Rialto.  October 22, 1967.
There must have been at least an uptick of business early on because Who's Minding the Mint? was delayed from opening at this date. Ad appeared November 5, 1967.
On November 12, 1967, the Rialto was still playing. These 'held over' notices were common at the time. That doesn't happen much anymore.
And then, unexpectedly, the Rialto showed Clambake instead.  According to IMDB, Elvis said this movie was his least favorite.  November 25, 1967.
And then there was Gone with the Wind, the bigger yet smaller version in which every frame of film was put through an optical printer and cropped then blown up to 70mm just to make it fit better on a Panavision screen and the soundtrack 'improved' to make it sound more stereophonic. This was a time when every big movie had to be in some wide screen process and MGM probably figured that it might make the old movie seem new-ish.  I do wonder if there still exists the negative for this regrettable version.  This was probably the oldest movie ever re-released with reserved seats. Despite everything MGM could do to it to ruin it, this reformatted version of Gone with the Wind would play the Rialto a very long time, all the way to the following summer when it was replaced by another its very last roadshow engagement -- Doctor Dolittle, and after that...well, you'll see...
This article appeared December 10, 1967 explaining how MGM tried very hard to ruin everything about Gone with the Wind.  We're really very lucky the original negative survives intact.
Meanwhile, poor little Who's Minding the Mint? was patiently waiting by to play just the few weeks around Christmas. I remember liking it when I saw it at the Valley Auto Theatre with my parents.  I haven't seen it since. December 10, 1967.
                                                              December 10, 1967
                                                               December 21, 1967

All articles and advertisements appeared in The Courier-Journal in 1967.

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