September 14th, 2009
The HFA has a new display case in our office at the Carpenter Center. This month’s exhibit is from my present favorite, the Howard E. Burr Collection.
These boxes once housed films sold to the home market, and they fall into a few categories.
First, the newsfilm, newsreel, sports, or other newsy documentary film. These are generally serial or magazine -type films. The covers don’t have much variation from month to month.
Next up, the cartoon. Most of these cartoons are not one-offs, so the same cover could be used for all Happy Hooligan cartoons, for instance, with only the name (printed on the side) changing for each box.
Soundies are another example of a somewhat generic cover that could be used again and again, the only variation being the color of the box and the description of the content. Soundies were short musical films, a pre-cursor to the music video.
Several distributors, finding their content appealing and their name well recognized, chose to sell their films in a generic box almost all the time.
Of course, a generic box was also a cost cutter, as was re-using an image.
Many times, reduction prints of feature films had exciting covers showing scenes from the film.
To see these covers and more in person, drop by our office.