CineSavant Column

Saturday March 2, 2019


I have this hobby centered around fancy theater marquees, especially the ‘bright lights’ of New York City, that are so extravagant, one would think it would take two weeks’ worth of admissions to pay for them. John McElwee’s Greenbriar Picture Shows website and his books feed this habit, and I even tried my own little article on the subject last year, to some good response. A show was definitely a show back then, not simply a larger TV image projected on a screen instead of one’s own TV monitor.

I can sometimes be caught pausing and single-framing through movies to ID film marquees. With Blu-ray’s clarity (and lack of shared/smeared film frames), one can sometimes read text in the far background of shots. In the sci-fi realm. the Soviet space picture Nebo Zovyot has a view of New York, which happens to display a This Island Earth marquee. A terrible Bob Hope/Katharine Hepburn comedy called The Iron Petticoat (1956) gives us a fantastic color shot of a huge colorful Piccadilly Circus display for Tarantula. The same theater marquee appears frequently in other movies. Other film scenes prove that particular productions may have had delayed releases. The 1961 Gorgo shows a marquee for the 1959 The Mummy, while the 1962 The Day of the Triffids displays the 1960 marquee for Terror of the Tongs.

If you open the image above left in a new window you’ll see that it is much bigger. It shows the spectacular marquee display for 1949’s Home of the Brave, and tells us that Stanley Kramer’s picture got a first-class New York send-off. But what’s that partial marquee off to the left?   I blew it up (inset right) and saw the letters “ERE” over “GER-something.” What movie is that?  Ten minutes of online searching through lists of 1949 movies gave me the answer: John Huston’s We Were Strangers.

Naturally, I sent my findings off to John McElwee, to apply for a ‘Junior Greenbriar Woodchuck’ merit badge. Now, what a coincidence it is, that I’ve reviewed all but one of the movies mentioned in these marquee-spotting games.

Correspondent Åke Bergvall reminds me that one of my favorite pictures is being released on Region-A compatible Blu-ray for the first. I’ve already reviewed the marvelous Czech science fiction space epic Ikarie XB 1 twice, for a 2006 DVD import and a 2017 Czech Blu-ray, and readers will likely think I’ve exhausted my stories of discovering the A.I.P. bowdlerization Voyage to the End of the Universe, my finding the last ruined Voyage projection print in 2000, etc..

Although I’m not going to shill for the new ‘Second Run’ disc directly, it can be found at — it streets near the end of March. Ikarie has gotten a lot of talk lately with various revivals of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although Kubrick went on record calling all previous space movies worthless, I think he was talking about their special effects. One can make some hard-to-discount parallels between the art direction of Jindrich Polák’s film and Kubrick’s. There’s also a figurative ‘Star Child’ at the finale of the Czech classic, that’s quite a coincidence. Thanks, Åke.

And Bob Furmanek of The 3-D Film Archive reminded me that Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ 3-D of the 1954 Jivaro is due out in a few weeks; I’m taking a look at it this weekend and will try to review it in the next ten days or so. Jivaro will complete the Archives’ roster of all three Pine-Thomas 3-D pictures; they’ve already released Sangaree and Those Redheads from Seattle.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson