1930’s Movie Handouts from the Madison Theater

My buddy Jay Pregent is going to lose his mind when he sees these.

Jay and I go back a long ways, we were both part of the “Open Mike” crew that would do Wednesday night comedy routines at The Comedy Works.  A few years ago, Jay was part of a group that purchased Albany’s Pine Hills movie palace, the Madison Theater, and since then has done everything he can to restore and renovate the building.  He’s also a fellow camera aficionado, Pentax cameras are his weapon of choice.

Last Saturday, among the many errands I undertook was a trip to the Washington County Fairgrounds, where there was an antique / flea market supersale.  You know – Chuck has a new place, Chuck is building a new life, Chuck’s gotta dd some new decor.

As I strolled through the various booths and dealers and shops, examining nearly every table and thinking – “I can’t afford this” or “This would look absolutely garish in my new place” – I came across what looked like a series of old movie advertisements.  I glanced at them – nothing major – and then I noticed that the advertisements were of a local nature.  And that caught my attention.

Apparently during the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Madison Theater produced a series of handouts to promote their upcoming movie schedules.  I don’t know where these were distributed; I don’t know if they were in the movie theater itself or provided to various businesses as a free handout.

Each four-page handout – essentially an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet folded in half – contained advertisements for upcoming movies, as well as advertising that the Madison was “comfortably cool” – a very important point to consider in Albany’s sweltering summers.  By the 1940’s and 1950’s, the handout also contained advertisements for films at the Strand and at the Ritz, the other Albany-based Warner Bros. theaters.

So you want to see these advertisements?

Of course you do!

This first one was for the week of July 21, 1935.  And what a lineup it promoted – films like No More Ladies, featuring Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery – and The Girl From 10th Avenue, a Bette Davis thriller.  You could also see a short film, The Flying Mouse – and yes, that “flying mouse” was the first appearance of Mighty Mouse himself.

Our next handbill is from March 19, 1939.  As was customary at the time, the Madison offered a lineup of children’s films on Saturdays, with the shows starting at 1pm.  It was “Happy Hour Entertainment,” as this handbill touts.

Here we are, it’s November 22, 1937, and the Madison’s manager, A. LaFlamme, promises “the perfect programs suitable for every member of your family” for Thanksgiving.  Look, it’s Loretta Young in Ramona, backed with Jean Artur and Joel McCrea in Adventure in Manhattan.  And matinee prices were 15c for adults, 10c for kids; while evening showings – as well as weekend and holiday showings – were 25c for adults and 15c for the kiddies.

And finally, it’s Christmas time at the Madison, and the theater billed as “The House of Big Hits!” promises all-day and all-night movies, running from 2pm to 11:15 pm throughout the 1938 holiday season – showing everything from Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon in The Cowboy and the Lady, to a film called Straight, Place and Show with the Ritz Brothers and Ethel Merman, to Judy Garland in Listen Darling – all with Walt Disney cartoons and MGM shorts!

You can click on any of these images and see them in larger detail in your browser.

Finding these treasures of Albany’s past is extremely fun.  And as for the original handbills, I’m putting them in the mail and shipping them to Jay, c/o the Madison Theater, and I hope he can find a space or four on the Madison’s walls to display these pieces of the theater’s past.