Cinegram is a series of souvenir programs that, for the price of a penny, were sold at British movie theaters during the late 1930s. Each sixteen-page booklet contains black and white images of scenes from the film, a castlist, portrait shots and signatures of the leading actors, tidbits about the players (and, occasionally, star directors), as well as a summary of the plot.
While most of the eighty-six programs in the series are for Hollywood pictures, British titles include Alfred Hitchcock’s Young and Innocent, Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard, Bank Holiday, directed by Carol Reed, and the George Formby vehicle I See Ice. The very first issue of Cinegram was devoted to a British movie: Victoria the Great.
A small number of the films thus promoted became classics; among them Bringing Up Baby, Stage Coach, and Wuthering Heights. Many more, though, are run-of-the-mill productions, the screening of which each Cinegram helped to elevate to the status of an event worth commemorating. Some were lesser sequels (Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Son of Frankenstein, and Topper Takes a Trip). Others, like The Mind of Mr. Reeder, are forgotten today, which turns the ephemeral keepsake into a nostalgic tease, a rare glimpse at something lost and therefore desirable. For all that, Cinegrams are remarkably affordable pieces of memorabilia, especially considering their age and interest to film enthusiasts.
There are currently seventy-five numbers in my collection; in addition, I have sixteen issues of Cinegram Preview, the magazine succeeding Cinegram; they are all displayed here in chronological order. Some of them were featured in (Im)memorabilia, an exhibition of my collection of ephemera I curated at the School of Art Museum and Galleries, Aberystwyth University, in 2014-15.