Taking Them by Storm

Well, how is this for an odd piece of cross-promotion: Linda Darnell selling face powder and a Hurricane picture. Did they really release Slattery’s Hurricane at the height of the season known for the weather phenomenon from which the film takes its title (no, not Slattery, silly)? According to the Internet Movie Database, the movie starring radio actor turned big screen tough guy Richard Widmark was indeed blowing into theaters during the month of August, back in 1949. Perhaps, these days that would be considered bad timing, a move to bring on a storm of protest for its lack of sensitivity. Besides, you try keeping your powder dry during a torrential downpour.

The pictured advertisement, featuring the alluring Ms. Darnell (who had earlier starred in Summer Storm), can be found in the August 1949 issue of Radio and Television Weekly, through the tattered pages of which I am currently leafing. Now, I have not seen the motion picture, which was radio-readied for Lux (rather than Woodbury) on 6 March 1950, with Maureen O’Hara in the Darnell part. Never mind that now. More interesting to me is that Slattery’s Hurricane was written by none other than Herman Wouk, the aforementioned radio writer whose first novel, Aurora Dawn (1946), was a satire of the advertising game and commercial broadcasting in America:

Aurora Dawn! 

[. . .] was the name of a soap; a pink, pleasant-smelling article distributed throughout the land and modestly advertised as the “fastest-selling” soap in America. Whether this meant that sales were transacted more rapidly with Aurora Dawn soap than with any other, the customer snatching it out of the druggist’s hand with impolite haste, flinging down a coin and dashing from the store, or whether the slogan was trying to say that its sales were increasing more quickly than the sales of any other cleansing bar; this is not known. Advertising has restored an Elizabethan elasticity to our drying English prose, often sacrificing explicitness for rich color. 

[The hero’s] purpose was [ . . .] to make the fastest-selling soap sell even faster. [He, one Andrew Reale,] was [. . .] employed [. . .] by the Republic Broadcasting Company, a vast free enterprise rivaled only by the United States Broadcasting System, another private property. These two huge corporations monopolized the radio facilities of the land in a state of healthy competition with each other, and drew their lifeblood from rich advertising fees which assured the public an uninterrupted flow of entertainment by the highest priced comedians, jazz singers, musicians, news analysts, and vaudeville novelties in the land—a gratifying contrast to the dreary round of classical music and educational programs which gave government-owned radio chains such a dowdy reputation in other countries.

Meanwhile, no cross-promotion could save Arctic Manhunt (1949) from obscurity. Announced in the same issue of Radio and Television Mirror, it was meant to convince both the “man-hunting brunette” and the “girl whose man needs—a little encouragement” that lipstick was indispensable to the survival of the species. As yet, no five people of either sex could be found who saw and care to cast their vote for Arctic Manhunt on the Internet Movie Database. Whether or not the advertised product “lasts—and LASTS and L-A-S-T-S,” especially under the conditions endured in the forecast melodrama, I am in no position to say; but memories of those promised “pulse-quickening” scenes certainly faded fast. It takes more than corporate windbags to take them by storm.

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