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Showmen, Sell It Hot!: Movies as Merchandise in Golden Era Hollywood Hardcover – July 15, 2013
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“John McElwee digs deep and explodes box-office myths about beloved and obscure films, as well as serving up the fascinating, heretofore untold stories of how classics were sold at local bijous and their often torturous afterlives. Catnip for movie buffs, all told in an irresistible, wryly amusing voice.” —Lou Lumenick, film critic, New York Post
“The book is wonderful in its variety of films chosen and situations connected with ballyhoo that strongly influenced public perception and market response. John has ably demonstrated, as no one else has to date, the crucial nature of the motion picture exhibitor who, by way of creative marketing, or not, helps determine the fate of producers (as in the case of Lewton) and even the memory of deceased stars in his fascinating chronicle of both Jean Harlow and James Dean. McElwee has shown that the 'sizzle' was, in fact, the 'steak' of moviegoing during the heyday of motion pictures and gives substance to the term 'popular' in the study of popular film. Showmen, Sell It Hot! proves conclusively that without the imaginative and resourceful exhibitor, even the best-laid studio advertising campaigns were not sufficient to sell a film in a very competitive market." —James V. D'Arc, curator of motion picture archives, Brigham Young University
"John McElwee's Greenbriar Picture Shows is unique among the countless film blogs on the Internet in that it focuses on the exhibition side of the business and the role showmanship played in the filling of seats. Now John has produced a book as unique and valuable as the site from which it is derived. In Showmen, Sell It Hot! he tells the local exhibitor's story as never before, incorporating solid research, eye-popping graphics, and the distinctive voice his readers have come to expect. It fills a long-vacant niche in film scholarship, but it's also loads of fun. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed a book so much." —James Curtis, author, Spencer Tracy: A Biography
“Having been privileged to see an early proof of John's book, I can happily attest that it's a humdinger, and everyone should go out and buy it. It truly is more than a collection of some of the best from Greenbriar, it weaves a interesting tale from the Exhibitors point of view covering the important decades of the movie business. Fabulous photos, an entertaining read, and a terrific education. All of your bookshelves require it.” —Richard M. Roberts, author, Past Humor, Present Laughter: Musings on the Comedy Film Industry 1910–1945, Volume One: Hal Roach
“You’ll want to own a copy of the handsome new hardcover, Showmen, Sell It Hot! Every chapter of this lavishly illustrated volume is packed with information that was new to me and fascinating to learn. I can’t say enough about this entertaining book or the ongoing research John McElwee offers at his site.” —Leonard Maltin
About the Author
John McElwee is a lifelong film enthusiast who began reviewing new movies in print at age 14. His articles have appeared in Films in Review, Monsters from the Vault, and Noir City Annual. He has taught and lectured on film and has programmed extensively for colleges and universities.
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Top customer reviews
The author provides insanely rare photographs and advertising materials and theater cards from his vast private collection.
If I have one bad thing to say about this book, it is that it is too darn short! I wanted another hundred pages!
If, like me, you read trades like "Variety" for the weekly grosses when you were young and they were difficult to find in the mass media, you'll love this. If you just started paying attention to the weekend grosses because of all the Internet media now devoted to them, then this tome will deepen your knowledge of the "old days."
A wonderful purchase, worth every penny.
Now John brings us his first book. Showmen Sell It Hot treads along the same ground as Greenbriar does, but the pieces in this book have been expanded and revised with new formats and additional information. It doesn't really duplicate the blog, although the writing style will be familiar to you if you read Greenbriar regularly. It's a beautifully laid out book, and one that works as an extremely readable and conversational piece, and also as a bright and colorful coffee table book.
Showmen Sell It Hot is one of the finest movie books to be released this year, and there are plenty of good movie books coming out this year. It's a worthwhile purchase for anyone who loves movies.