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Easter means movie time

Or so says this series of vintage seasonal ads

(L to R) Jim, Robert, and Chris Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, Buddy, Carol, and Patty  Costello, and their pop, Lou. Modern Screen, May 1946.
  • (L to R) Jim, Robert, and Chris Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, Buddy, Carol, and Patty Costello, and their pop, Lou. Modern Screen, May 1946.

Quick: name an Easter movie. Ben-Hur? The Ten Commandments? Easter Parade? Yogi the Easter Bear? A few more spiritual-based titles come to mind, but for the most part, Easter at the movies is just another Sunday.

That’s never stopped a shrewd exhibitor from trying to put cottontails in seats, as evidenced by this series of holiday-themed attempts to resurrect the box office from a winter slump. Feast on such uplifting gems as Dead End Girls, Thomasine and Bushrod, Shanghai Lil and the Sun Luck Kid, and the textured turgidity contained in that miracle film assigned from on high, The Oscar.

Ernst Lubitsch was originally signed to direct this musical remake of his silent comedy, “The Marriage Circle.” That was before the film he was working on, “The Man I Killed,” went over schedule. George Cukor was handed the reins and within weeks, leading man Maurice Chevalier raised such a stink that Lubitsch had no choice but to return. It was ultimately signed by Lubitsch, with Cukor, who remained on-set during the entire shoot, receiving an “assisted by” credit. Available on DVD in the Eclipse “Lubitsch Musicals” box, “One Hour with You” was the Capitol Theatre’s “special Easter attraction” for 1932. “The Calgary Daily Herald,” March 24, 1932.

Ernst Lubitsch was originally signed to direct this musical remake of his silent comedy, “The Marriage Circle.” That was before the film he was working on, “The Man I Killed,” went over schedule. George Cukor was handed the reins and within weeks, leading man Maurice Chevalier raised such a stink that Lubitsch had no choice but to return. It was ultimately signed by Lubitsch, with Cukor, who remained on-set during the entire shoot, receiving an “assisted by” credit. Available on DVD in the Eclipse “Lubitsch Musicals” box, “One Hour with You” was the Capitol Theatre’s “special Easter attraction” for 1932. “The Calgary Daily Herald,” March 24, 1932.

Balaban & Katz highlight the Easter parade of stars gracing their screens. "The Chicago Tribune," April 12, 1936.

Balaban & Katz highlight the Easter parade of stars gracing their screens. "The Chicago Tribune," April 12, 1936.

Uncle Walt’s first successfully merchandisable character, and the only one the animation giant let slip through his fingers. Oswald was created in 1927 by Disney and Ub Iwerks to be distributed by Universal Studios. Disney didn’t own the rights to the character and after a request for a raise was met with a 20% pay cut, he bolted. Disney went on to shorten Oswald’s ears, straighten his tail, and call him Mickey while the rabbit was left in the care of Woody Woodpecker’s future papa, Walter Lantz. "Universal Weekly," March 21, 1936.

Uncle Walt’s first successfully merchandisable character, and the only one the animation giant let slip through his fingers. Oswald was created in 1927 by Disney and Ub Iwerks to be distributed by Universal Studios. Disney didn’t own the rights to the character and after a request for a raise was met with a 20% pay cut, he bolted. Disney went on to shorten Oswald’s ears, straighten his tail, and call him Mickey while the rabbit was left in the care of Woody Woodpecker’s future papa, Walter Lantz. "Universal Weekly," March 21, 1936.

Easter menu: cheesecake at the State Lake and Garrick; stale corn at the Roosevelt; drawn Bobs Watson and a side of live Mischa Auer at the Chicago; frozen novelties at the UA; and the pièce de résistance, Renoir Flambé at the Apollo. "The Chicago Tribune," April 9, 1939.

Easter menu: cheesecake at the State Lake and Garrick; stale corn at the Roosevelt; drawn Bobs Watson and a side of live Mischa Auer at the Chicago; frozen novelties at the UA; and the pièce de résistance, Renoir Flambé at the Apollo. "The Chicago Tribune," April 9, 1939.

Shirley Temple headlines Interstate Theatres' "Easter Happiness Program." "Showmen's Trade Review," April 13, 1940.

Shirley Temple headlines Interstate Theatres' "Easter Happiness Program." "Showmen's Trade Review," April 13, 1940.

John Cromwell’s uniquely depressing "So Ends Our Night" is the only downer in this otherwise peppy lineup of music and comedy. “The Chicago Tribune,” April 13, 1941.

John Cromwell’s uniquely depressing "So Ends Our Night" is the only downer in this otherwise peppy lineup of music and comedy. “The Chicago Tribune,” April 13, 1941.

One might only imagine how much better this would have been had Judy not followed her psychiatrist’s advice and allowed her then-husband, Vincente Minnelli, to director. “Modern Screen,” August 1948.

One might only imagine how much better this would have been had Judy not followed her psychiatrist’s advice and allowed her then-husband, Vincente Minnelli, to director. “Modern Screen,” August 1948.

"Easter Parade" was the biggest grossing film of 1948.

"Easter Parade" was the biggest grossing film of 1948.

Funny bunnies, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, pull out all the hops for their in-person Easter extravaganza. "The Chicago Tribune," April 9, 1950.

Funny bunnies, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, pull out all the hops for their in-person Easter extravaganza. "The Chicago Tribune," April 9, 1950.

Milton Berle for Straight & Wide Vegetable Juice Cocktail. This 1952 ad was designed by the inimitable, Jacques Kapralik.

Milton Berle for Straight & Wide Vegetable Juice Cocktail. This 1952 ad was designed by the inimitable, Jacques Kapralik.

National Screen Service's instructional booklet advises exhibitors on how to put cottontails in seats. "The Film Bulletin," March 24, 1952.

National Screen Service's instructional booklet advises exhibitors on how to put cottontails in seats. "The Film Bulletin," March 24, 1952.

A 24 carrot backlot brunch: (L to R) Nison Tregor, gossip columnist (and "Modern Screen" hostess) Pamela Mason, Dana Andrews, Shelley Winters, Deborah Kerr, June Allyson, Joan Evans, Fernando Lamas (looking marvelous), Esther Williams, Donnie Darko, and Michael Silver. "Modern Screen," April 1953.

A 24 carrot backlot brunch: (L to R) Nison Tregor, gossip columnist (and "Modern Screen" hostess) Pamela Mason, Dana Andrews, Shelley Winters, Deborah Kerr, June Allyson, Joan Evans, Fernando Lamas (looking marvelous), Esther Williams, Donnie Darko, and Michael Silver. "Modern Screen," April 1953.

"Eh, what's up, Brach's?" 1959 magazine ad.

"Eh, what's up, Brach's?" 1959 magazine ad.

Disney lays an egg for Easter in the form of this soft-boiled intergalactic romp. "Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin," March 1962.

Disney lays an egg for Easter in the form of this soft-boiled intergalactic romp. "Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin," March 1962.

Easter presented in Technirama 70 and Full Stereophonic Sound. Anyone have a time machine? 1959 "Chicago Tribune," March 29, 1959.

Easter presented in Technirama 70 and Full Stereophonic Sound. Anyone have a time machine? 1959 "Chicago Tribune," March 29, 1959.

Easter means Pinocchio, Mitchum, and a chance to turn your car into a hutch. "The Chicago Tribune," April 22, 1962.

Easter means Pinocchio, Mitchum, and a chance to turn your car into a hutch. "The Chicago Tribune," April 22, 1962.

Why not throw a contest for the best Easter ham suit? "The Chicago Tribune," April 12, 1963.

Why not throw a contest for the best Easter ham suit? "The Chicago Tribune," April 12, 1963.

A fish course for vegetarians. "The Chicago Tribune," March 26, 1964.

A fish course for vegetarians. "The Chicago Tribune," March 26, 1964.

Who's your Messiah now? Frank Fane, in a film so bad it's enlightening! "The Chicago Tribune," April 10, 1966.

Who's your Messiah now? Frank Fane, in a film so bad it's enlightening! "The Chicago Tribune," April 10, 1966.

Magnums, flesh, karate, blaxploitation, and Quadrophonic sound! It truly was a joyous time. "The Chicago Tribune," March 30, 1975.

Magnums, flesh, karate, blaxploitation, and Quadrophonic sound! It truly was a joyous time. "The Chicago Tribune," March 30, 1975.

Step 1: Blanch Tweety in scalding hot water to remove feathers.

Step 1: Blanch Tweety in scalding hot water to remove feathers.

Every bunny was kung-fu fighting! "Chicago Tribune," March 30, 1975.

Every bunny was kung-fu fighting! "Chicago Tribune," March 30, 1975.

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Comments

Mischa Auer, Uncle Miltie in a bunny suit, Fernando Lamas, and Frankie ("Don't shuck me") Fane is plenty... but blanching Tweety made me laugh out loud loudest!

Nice collection Scott!

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