Pre-Code Ephemera

I’ve mentioned on this blog once before, I have a number of collections – dolls, ashtrays, shot glasses, old radios, refrigerator magnets. But one of my favorites is my collection of old movie magazines. I started collecting them years (decades?) ago, way before there was an internet – or, at least, not one that I knew of. I like everything about these publications – the beautiful covers, the flowery language, the hilarious ads. So today, in honor of these wonderful pieces of the past, I’m shining the spotlight on one of the magazines from my collection, and taking a look at some of the things that make it so awesome.

The magazine I’ve selected is from the pre-Code era – Motion Picture from July 1932, with Sylvia Sidney on the cover. And it’s a good one. Come along with me and check out what’s inside…

Ipana Tooth Paste Ad

The tag line is “What a FOOL she is! Buys the loveliest lingerie … Never a thought for her gums, and she has ‘pink tooth brush’!”  Now, I ask you – is that a hoot, or what? The ad goes on to talk about the importance of firm, healthy gums, and informs us that gums which don’t receive enough stimulation tend to become “flabby and weak-walled.” (Flabby?) They could even (duh duh DUH) start to bleed, causing the dreaded “pink toothbrush,” possibly leading to gingivitis, pyorrhea, or something called Vincent’s disease. (I’d never heard of the latter ailment, so I looked it up – and it sounds pretty awful. In fact, it made me want to get up and brush my teeth. Yikes!) However, all these unpleasant conditions could be easily avoided with the use of Ipana! You could even send for a trial tube by just enclosing a two-cent stamp to cover “partly” the cost of packing and mailing! (Two cents! Those were the days.)

We Nominate for Stardom

In this section, the magazine selected two up-and-coming performers, one male and one female, who they believed would be the “stars of tomorrow.” This issue featured Gwili Andre and Bruce Cabot, who was labeled as a rival for Clark Gable. I’m not sure who the magazine nominated in other issues, but uh … I think they kinda missed the mark with this one.

Letters from Readers

Like many movie magazines back in the day, Motion Picture offered their readers a monetary prize for the best letters. In this issue, $20.00 was awarded to a writer named Ruth W. from Portland, who offered an “open letter to producers.” In it, she gave a variety of opinions, including her thoughts on the newly released Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise. Ruth called this Garbo-Gable feature “a long, slow, episodic, poorly directed, poorly photographed, poorly acted farce of unregenerate love.” WOW. Tell us how you really feel, Ruthie.

Your Gossip Test

One of my favorite parts of the magazine presents a quiz featuring a series of gossipy questions about the stars – like “How did a well-known comedian try to show his wife that he was the boss?” and “Which one of the film stars was ridiculed at a recent Hollywood opening?” and “Which one of the blonde Hollywood beauties recently suffered a severe nervous breakdown?” Juicy stuff!  Incidentally, the answers were these: The comedian in question was Buster Keaton, who “kidnapped” his own sons to prove to his wife that he could take them on an airplane ride to Mexico against her wishes. The ridiculed star was Greta Garbo – at the Grand Hotel premiere, Wallace Beery dressed in women’s clothes and affected a Swedish accent. And the actress who suffered a nervous breakdown was Carole Lombard. Who knew???

Ads and More Ads

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say more about the ads in these old magazines. I just love them – they’re so straightforward and direct – no word-mincing whatsoever. So I’m wrapping up this look at Motion Picture magazine by offering up some of the best slogans from this issue:

“Lost Her Boy Friends Because of FAT.”

“My Clear White Skin Captured Him!”

“So Thin, Haggard-Looking, She Hated to Have Her Picture Taken!”

“Why Tolerate Pimples and Blackheads When Cuticura Quickly Relieves Them?”

“Are You Flat Chested? Develop Your Figure This New, Easy Way.”

“Remove Fat This Sure Way: Thin-O-Creme!”

And my favorite . . .

“Yes, I Used to Have Muddy Skin and Moth Patches, but I got rid of them by using KREMOLA!”

Hope you enjoyed this step back in time !


~ by shadowsandsatin on November 7, 2013.

4 Responses to “Pre-Code Ephemera”

  1. What fun to have a collection of old movie magazines! Now you can watch an old movie and find out the gossip on it in your collection. Fantastic.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Janice — I have definitely found behind-the-scenes stuff in these magazines after watching a movie — it’s really like stepping back in time!

  2. I collect old magazines, too (movie mags, National Geographic, True Story… anything I can find, really haha). They’re a whole lot of fun to read! I especially love features like “We Nominate for Stardom.” It’s fun to see what the people who seemed so destined for greatness actually ended up doing. Nice post!

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