Exploitation on “Broken Blossoms” Is Explained in Detail (The Moving Picture World – December 13, 1919)

Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess - Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess – Broken Blossoms

The Moving Picture World – December 13, 1919

Exploitation on “Broken Blossoms” Is Explained in Detail for Showmen Who Would Get All the Dollars

Indications are that as a money maker for exhibitors, “Broken Blossoms” will hold its place with “The Miracle Man,” “The Hoodlum,” “His Majesty the American,” “Back to God’s Country,” and other big releases now winning for the theatres of the Middle West the biggest attendance they ever enjoyed. The picture was introduced to Iowa in the new Des Moines theatre, of which Arthur Stolte is manager. In Nebraska it was shown by Manager H. M. Thomas at the Omaha Rialto.

Manager Stolte, at the Des Moines, gave the picture an elaborate presentation, following an advertising campaign in which advertisements in two colors were used in the dailies of Des Moines. Green and red were employed in the color scheme in the theatre. Huge Chinese paintings in these colors surrounded by gleaming Chinese lanterns, beautified the outside lobby. The second lobby, or arcade, was filled with mirrors, paintings and lights, and Chinese incense burners added Oriental fragrance to the atmospheric effect.

Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess (Moon Scene) Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess (Moon Scene) Broken Blossoms

Acted Prologue to Film.

The prologue scene represented an actual scene from the picture, showing the act when the Chinese brings the girl into his room. It occupied about seven minutes. Charles Tazewell, a Des Moines student of dramatic art in the university there, played the part of the Chinese.

Lillian Gish (Lucy Burrows) Broken Blossoms backlighting (contour) shot MGM 13168
Lillian Gish (Lucy Burrows) Broken Blossoms backlighting (contour) shot MGM 13168

Maurine Sandahl, also studying in the dramatic school at the university, played the part of Lillian Gish. On one side of the stage the lights were on in a scene showing the room, the Chinaman attempting to express his love for the girl, and his deep regret when his effort meets with no response. As this scene faded out, the lights turned on on the other side of the stage, where the “Chink” was shown bowing before the Buddha. He arose, lighted the incense, tapped the gong, and the lights faded out as the picture was flashed upon the screen.

In opening the picture, the title was started on the screen, when the curtain closed. There were loud drum beats by the orchestra, then a rumble, then the first scene of the prologue brightened into view. The theatre was in green and red all the time, lanterns showing the red and the inverted lighting system showing the green. The girl ushers were dressed in Chinese costume.

Lillian Gish - Lucy, the girl (Broken Blossoms)
Lillian Gish – Lucy, the girl (Broken Blossoms)

Garrick Stages Prologue in Lobby.

The Garrick Theatre, now showing “Broken Blossoms,” the D. W. Griffith production, is attracting much attention with its prologue to the picture, which is staged afternoon and evening in the lobby of the theatre. A girl, dressed in a costume to represent Lillian Gish, and a man dressed as a Chinaman, go through a little sketch that is in harmony with the theme of the play.

Broken Blossoms - Lillian Gish
Broken Blossoms – Lillian Gish

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