Hording Cinema Hoardings

A slightly obsessive exploration of what films were showing in images of Bristol cinemas and local cinema advertising through the ages.

I started trawling through images of Bristol cinemas and looking up the films on the hoardings to try and get an idea of the date of the picture - in the process I became obsessed with cinema advertising, and finding out about the programming of the different eras, looking up the films on imdb and Wikipedia to try and find out as much as I could about each film. It became highly addictive, like some sort of detective work.  Some of it is guess work as it is difficult to read the wording on some of the photographs, some of it is triangulation between the known year of another film and an actor's name and the shape of a word...  Here's some examples from Whiteladies Picture House in different eras:

Whiteladies Picture House c1925

Whiteladies Picture House c1925

Learning to Love (1925) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016014/

The Rag Man (1925) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016258/

The Next Corner (1924) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015173/

[Film starring Virginia Valli – Why the Woman?? can anyone read this / find this??]

Whiteladies Picture House c1982/3

Whiteladies Picture House c 1982/3

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial(1982) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083866/ - released 9 Dec 1982

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084434/ - released 1 Jan 1982

First Blood (1982) http://www.imdb.com/find?q=first+blood&s=all - relased 4 Dec 1982

I think this is one a of series of pictures taken of Bristol Cinemas for Anderson's A City and Its Cinemas (1983), Redcliffe Press, no longer in print.  

I'm almost certain I watched E.T. at Whiteladies, so this image is pretty resonant for me. Think is says "Souvenirs on Sale in the Foyer" below the E.T. on the hoarding - cool. You can just about make out the E.T movie poster at the top of the three posters on the right hand side of the entrance:

E.T. movie poster

Whiteladies Picture House 1999

Whiteladies Picture House c1999

Whatever Happened to Harold Smith  (1999) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194530/

Toy Story 2 (1999) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120363/

American Beauty (1999) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169547/

The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) www.imdb.com/title/tt0134119/

This lead me to look at local cinema advertising:

Tatler, Prehistoric Women (1950)

Truck outside The Tatler, Old Market, Bristol advertising Prehistoric Women (1950) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042855/

I find this image and the image below fascinating, both in terms of gender and race - there's a whole PhD in there somewhere!

Empire Advert for Java Head (1934)

Java Head (1934) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025326/ starring Anna May Wong.

What's interesting about this image is that it is the actual body of the (presumably white) woman in oriental costume that has become the advertising hoarding, with the poster attached to her back, as she kneels in submission to the pipe-smoking gentleman.

According to the synposis on imdb, the storyline of this film is incidentally about "the port city of Bristol, England, in the 1800s is home to Java Head, a sailing ship line company. The owner has two sons. One, a handsome seafarer, is in love with a local girl, but cannot marry her due to a long-running feud between their fathers. After a lengthy voyage, he returns with a very exotic, noble Chinese wife, which scandalizes the conservative town. His other son, a "landlubber", seeks to convert to steamships, to the disgust of his father. Even worse, he is secretly dealing in contraband." 

This image is cited as advertising the Vandyck, Fishponds here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/4609208660/in/set-72157603194396363/ but think it might be advertising the Empire Theatre, Old Market, as it clearly says EMPIRE at the bottom of the flyer.

According to Wikiepedia, Anna May Wong was "the first Asian American woman to become an international star" and Java Head is the only film in which she actually kissed the white male lead - so the orientalist advert is actually advertising a taboo-breaking film: 

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong in Java Head (1934)

This research has made me think that other people too will be interested in finding out about what films were shown at the cinemas through the ages.  Anyway, I'm hoping that I'm not the only one that finds this fascinating, and think that finding out about this stuff whilst actually standing outside the location itself will be even more effective....