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3 Messages

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92 Points

Thu, Feb 17, 2022 12:18 AM

Answered

Were short subjects / short comedies ever shown again in theaters after their initial release date?

Hi. Love IMDb!
Could anyone answer a question I have about short subjects, short comedies? Were they ever shown again in theaters after their initial release date? For example, could you see Blotto released in 1930, again in 1939 in theaters, even though you saw less for your ticket starting in the Great Depression 30s (and Laurel and Hardy went into feature films after 1935)?
I may have answered my own question. Perhaps I should ask, could you see Blotto released in 1930, in 1939 somehow. If so, how and where? Other than renting the short comedy for your home projector (if possible).
Thank you :)

Champion

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6K Messages

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259K Points

4 m ago

BlueWhale: I believe the answer is "possibly." 

As I understand it, when movie theaters showed shorts before a feature prior to the mid-1970s, typically they showed whatever shorts they were sent by, or could get from, the distributor. 

As explained at http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/films/talkies/blotto.html, MGM decided in the late 1930s to reissue some Laurel & Hardy shorts from earlier in the decade, one of which was Blotto, re-released in 1937, albeit with some censorship edits. (The plot of Blotto revolved around drinking liquor during the Prohibition era when the film was originally made; by the time of the reissue, alcohol was legal again but the Production Code was in force, which provided that "The use of liquor should never be excessively presented.")

So it seems plausible that the MGM distribution depots might still have Blotto available in 1939, if a theater requested a Laurel & Hardy short to show with a feature. 

But if you were a moviegoer looking to see any particular short subject in a theater, I suspect you would have had a difficult time doing so (even a newly made short, not just a short from a previous year). From what I've seen of old newspaper advertisements, the shorts didn't tend to get advertised. Maybe there were signs or posters promoting the shorts at the theaters themselves, but as far as I can tell, not in the newspapers.

3 Messages

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92 Points

4 m ago

Wow, great answer! Thank you so much gromit82!

A follow-up question I should have continued with in my original question...

I've been searching to see if any 8mm prints of Blotto were ever made for rent or purchase around 1937. I know 8mm prints of Blotto were sold in later decades. I'm interested in it's earliest home movie 8mm print release date. Not for purchase (it would be expensive) but for research.

Thanks again gromit82. This is a great forum! :)

Champion

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6K Messages

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259K Points

@BlueWhale​ I have a lead on where you could find that information, although I don't specifically have the information.

https://www.uschefnerarchive.com/blackhawk-films-catalogs/ has scanned a bunch of catalogs from Blackhawk Films, which rented and sold 8mm and 16mm films, including some with Laurel and Hardy. Their archive of catalogs goes back to 1935.

I am not 100% sure when Blackhawk first had Blotto available. However, in their Bulletin #177 (May-June 1967), Blotto is featured on the front page (available for sale in 16mm and 8mm sound versions), whereas in the prior bulletin I don't find it listed among their Laurel and Hardy films. I can't rule out the possibility that Blackhawk might have held the rights previously and then lost the rights, or someone else may have distributed this film previously.

(edited)

3 Messages

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92 Points

Thank you so much again gromit82! I really appreciate your time and effort to reply :)
I’ve looked at the catalogs you linked me to. I wasn’t able to find Blotto amongst the listings, but the trip was worth it! Great historical film related time capsules. Wonderful!
I would believe that as soon as 8mm cameras and projectors were affordable for home use (1920s), movie houses (or others) were creating pirated 16mm + 8mm copies of the legally screened theater movies. Would this be a realistic assumption? Where there’s money to be made…
Thank you again gromit82 :)