Sunday, 19 April 2015

An Old Ad

An ad in the Daily East Oregonian newspaper (19 Apr 1915), page 8 (the back-page):

"Backtime (the theater)

A queen without a home; A king without a throne

Today's last chance

Elinor Glyn's

"Three Weeks"

in five parts

Sensational drama of thrilling love and royal intrigue in two-hundred-and-eighty scenes.  Passed by the National Board of Censors"
Around this period of 1915, because of advancements in technology (marketing of trampy magazines, silent movies, and public interest in racy material).....we were advancing into a territory where people had lusty thrills and censorship needed to be a daily task.

Along came Elinor Glyn.  She was born in 1864 to a simple middle-class family.  Her father would pass on in her youth, and mom relocated the family from the Channel Islands (off the UK) back to Canada.  Fairly well educated.....Elinor found herself at age twenty-eight with limited suitors and would eventually marry a successful British lawyer who was seven years older than her but fairly well known for being a spendthrift.

Spendthrift isn't a term that most Americans deal with today.  If you were going to make a template and use it with today's society.....then a spendthrift is a guy who goes to buffet discount restaurants (the $6.99 dinner), drives a seven-year old car, would never spend more than $100 for a suit, shops mostly at Wal-Mart, drinks only tap-water and not the $3 bottles of French glacier water, and still wears clothing from two decades ago.

Writers tend to say that Elinor and her man (Clayton Luis Glyn) were a total mismatch.  Her husband had a family history.....his father was a Lord Mayor of London, and he had various connections which meant invitations to parties and dinners.

By the age of thirty-six......Elinor was fairly bored with things and enjoying various relationships on the side.  She wrote a book based on some letters she'd written and found a small audience of readers.  A year or two later, she sat down to write "Three Weeks"....which is mostly a semi-fictional....semi-fact piece....over a highly sexed queen from the Balkans who gets all hot and bothered with a young British lad (at least fifteen years younger than the queen).

For some reason, "Three Weeks" turns into some hot lusty curiosity piece.  Around this same time period......Elinor finally came up with a worldly phrase....."IT".  It was supposed to be lust and charm all rolled into one.  When some gal walked into a room in a skimpy gown.....and guys gawked at her....then she had "IT".   "Three Weeks" was about "IT".

The book got Elinor noticed and brought in some revenue.   Seven years would pass....her husband's health was failing...his income was limited....and Elinor became a book-a-year writer.  As the silent movies arrived....the production teams were on the prowl for books and themes for their movies.  Elinor's passions, writing skills, and creativity were a perfect match.

After the husband died in 1915 and movie production went into high gear after WW I....Elinor packed up and moved to Hollywood, California.  At the age of fifty-six (1920), she became a big-time screen-play writer, producer, and director.  In 1926, she took a twenty-year script idea of "IT" and combined with Clara Bow....making "Red Hair".  Sex appeal, lust, and censorship all played together for it's success.

As for the ad in the Oregon newspaper?  A guy sitting off in rural parts of the nation in 1915 was fairly desperate for risky weekend fun, and "Three Weeks" played into that effect.  Toss in the notice of being censored to some degree, and it meant that it just barely made it out of censorship (many people would think that anyway).