Towed in a Hole - Pressbook Stories

As the distribution company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and not Hal Roach Studios, prepared the publicity campaign for exploitation of the Laurel & Hardy releases. One of the most interesting and coveted promotional items to recover today would be the coming attractions preview trailer.


According to the pressbook for TOWED IN A HOLE, "Laurel and Hardy can be exploited as easy as a feature picture. They are known and looked for by every movie-goer. The complaint of the public is that exhibitors do not give them sufficient prominence in their program advertising."
"The advertising and exploitation accessories provided on all Laurel and Hardy comedies should provide the backbone of your campaign."

"A special talking trailer measuring 50 feet has been prepared on this comedy - and similar trailers will be available on each release of this series. These trailers combine the most effective use of selling titles and scene footage from the picture itself. There is no better way of selling Laurel and Hardy to your audiences in advance: Rental cost per trailer $1.50. Oder through National Screen Service, 630 Ninth Avenue, New York City, New York."

If only we could. A trailer running 50 feet would play a little more than half-a-minute. No theatrical preview trailer for any Hal Roach Studios sound films short subject is known to survive.

In one seat-selling shortcut, M-G-M borrowed artwork from THE LAUREL-HARDY MURDER CASE to illustrate the 3-sheet poster for TOWED IN A HOLE. Generally new art was commissioned and inspired by the theme of the film being promoted.

The cost to motion picture exhibitors who wished to order this 3-sheet or 1-sheet piece of disposable poster advertising was 50 c. Ten nickels. Five dimes. Or half-a-dollar. If one single such poster could be located today, for consignment and sale at any one of the leading auciton houses around the world, it might fetch or tow the sum of $100,000.00.

And theater poster art created by M-G-M was the least attractive of any major studio's work, or it might be worth even more.

In the spring of 1998, at a Sotheby's auction in New York, a drab looking duotone 3 Stooges poster for their 1934 two-reeler entitled MEN IN BLACK (directed by Leo McCarey's brother Ray) sold for the handsome sum of $109,750. Who knew this poster existed? Who knew to save it? Who knew any 3 Stooges fan had $109,750?

-- by Richard W. Bann --