“You were given a booklet when you came into the theater.”
In the late 1950s, theaters were looking for gimmicks to pry people away from their television sets and get them into cinema seats. We’ve all heard of the resulting innovations of widescreen, 3D, and William Castle-style exploitation, but what about games on the big screen?
Today at the Conservation Center, we watched the first half of a two reel oddity, PLAY “MOVIE.”
In 1958, you could go to a special show at your local cinema that combined a film with a game. Although we are not sure exactly how this played out, it appears a double feature would be regularly interrupted, presumably at the reel change (every 20 minutes) by a segment of the game. Divided into ten parts, a sequin-clad woman on the big screen would pull a ball from a tumbler, and a quintessential 1950’s man would call out the number, a-la bingo or powerball.
This “scientifically calculated” process would end when there was a possible winner in the audience, bells would ring, “MOVIE” would flash onscreen, and the movie would return. One would have to wait until the 10 parts had played out to bring winning cards to the lobby to claim a prize.
“Shout MOVIE when you’re a winner!”
This film is from the Little Art Cinema Collection at the Harvard Film Archive.
PLAY 'MOVIE' AT THE MOVIES. Play Movie, Inc. 1 l/2 reels, sd,, b&w, 35 mm. © Play Movie, Inc.; 17Feb58; MP8879.