Update + “Pictorial Insight into Filmland”

Hi all, and welcome back after a little while of NoRMMA radio silence!

We’ve been busy planning our conference, entitled “Turning The Page: Digitalization, movie magazines and historical audience studies”, which we are coorganising with the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies (CIMS) at the University of Ghent, Belgium. The event will take place in Ghent on 12-14 November, and we are currently finalising the schedule, which we will hopefully have ready to share by early September. Our keynotes will be Dr Eric Hoyt (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Dr Geneviève Sellier (University of Bordeaux), and I do invite you all to join us for what I hope will be a really interesting and fruitful event. If you are interested in attending, please drop us an email at normma.network@gmail.com.

Secondly, I just wanted to share some images from an annual I recently picked up – it’s a Film Pictorial annual from 1936. While such annuals are usually fairly easy to find from the mid-forties onward, I was very excited to find two copies from the thirties. Film Pictorial was a British magazine that ran from 1932 to 1939, merging with Picture Show in 1939.

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Since this is a British annual, I was particularly interested to see if the focus was particularly on British or American stars – and I found that the balance is fairly even. While the cover image (which may or may not have been part of my reason in buying it!) depicts Canadian-American star Norma Shearer, the introductory note was written by English star Jessie Matthews – who notes that the choice for a British star indicates the “rise in importance of British films”.

The overall content of the annual echoes this balancing act. A significant portion is taken up by full-page images of particular stars, alongside their signatures.

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Most of them are American, or at least not British (like Greta Garbo, depicted here), but a number of British Hollywood stars are included, such as Leslie Howard, Madeleine Carroll, and Herbert Marshall.

Other items in the annual deal with British films and stars in particular, for example this article, which promises to take the viewer on the set with Britain’s stars…

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… and this one, which provides a historical perspective on British filmmaking.

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Other items had a more international appeal, such as a section on beauty and fashion, which included an article purportedly written by American star Carole Lombard, as well as a set of exercise instructions.

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Another item focused on film doubles and bemoaned the difficulties they had in developing a career of their own, due to their likeness to an already popular star.

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Finally, the annual ended with a short story, entitled Shadow of a Star and focusing on life at a film studio.

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As ever, do feel free to comment with any questions about the conference or information about magazine annuals!

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