Blackbird [View Image]
an online journal of literature and the arts [View Image]Spring 2019 Vol. 18 No. 1 [View Image]
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PHOTOPLAY

The Great “Movie Jag”
Photoplay, February 1919

Page illustration for “The Great ‘Movie Jag’” [View Image]

Page illustration for “The Great ‘Movie Jag’”
(Illustration text bottom center reads “CLOSED BY ORDER OF THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT”
Photoplay, February 1919
  

QUESTION: “If one hundred out of every hundred citizens in your town are accustomed to spending an hour each day in a motion picture theatre; and if, due to the ‘flu’ epidemic, the theatres were all closed tighter than the pearly gates to the ex-kaiser—then what, at the end of the cinema famine, would be the condition of your starving citizens?”

It is unnecessary to print the answer, providing that the movies were closed in your town. But for the benefit of the people in those places not overrun by the Invisible Monsters, we’ll explain that almost the entire country went on a rollicking, cheering, film-eating mardi gras of movie-going—an orgie guaranteed not to shock a church mouse or to provide a dark brown taste the morning after. Aside from a touch of the blind staggers, the country was not harmed by its “movie jag.”

In Chicago, where we write, the armistice day celebration was a quiet Sunday in an Indiana hamlet compared to the wild processions up and down the rialtos the first night the movies were re-opened. Pompus members of the Fan Fraternity, never before known to spend more than twenty cents and one hour per day on the movies, leased boxes and balconies and brought their dinner with them, toward the end of satisfying the accumulated hunger for their daily feast in the thrill-and-romance palaces.

The accompanying picture is a facsimile of a scene along Chicago’s Madison street the first evening of the re-opening.

Page illustration for “The Great ‘Movie Jag’” [View Image]

Page illustration for “The Great ‘Movie Jag’”
(Detail, “NO FLU GERMS IN THIS THEATER,” “TO DAY VERA THE VAMP IN THREE SPASMS,” “OUR BOYS IN FRANCE.”
Photoplay, February 1919
  

Aside from the name of the vampire on the display sheet, it is true to life.

Thus the dismal past was reopened to us again. And we again know how it felt a decade ago to stagger along through a flickerless existence.

How did we ever do without ’em—the movies?   [View Image]


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