Book Review: Beyond Ballyhoo

Beyond Ballyhoo: Motion Picture Promotion and Gimmicks
By Mark Thomas McGee
Published by McFarland & Company, 1989, republished in 2001. 237 pages.

Beyond Ballyhoo

Beyond Ballyhoo

I’ve always been a sucker for a gimmick when it comes to the movies. It definitely was something for a different era of movie promotions, though there are a few out there that still practice this old way of getting your audience’s attention, but nothing like it used to be. But even though those days are gone for the most part, reading about them is a lot of fun. Sure, it makes you wish you were around during those times. I mean, who wouldn’t have loved getting an “Up Chuck Cup” when going to see I Dismember Mama? Or getting to drink some ‘green blood’ when you went to see Mad Doctor of Blood Island? But it is fun to read about all the different wild and crazy things that studios used to come up with to try and get people to come to see their movies….even if the movie wasn’t that great.

Once again, McGee does an excellent job as our storyteller, giving us not only a lot of facts, but personal references and memories as well, which makes the stories even more entertaining. We get to hear about gimmicks like the coming of sound pictures…yes, that’s right. Sound pictures started out as just another gimmick to get people to the theaters. Then we have the coming all the different types of presentations, like CinemaScope…Dynamation….VistaVision….and the list goes on. Of course, then there is the invention of 3-D movies, and all the different kinds of those! Needless to say, we get to hear about them all in McGee’s well written book that is just packed with information.

And most of all, it is so much fun to read.