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Claudine Viens
February 11th - April 18th, 2021

Of the 28,000 posters kept at the Cinémathèque québécoise, thousands are lobby cards. Smaller, they are no less eye-catching! With Vertigo, Citizen Kane or Pinocchio, Allons aux vues rediscovers these promotional items from another time.

Talking Pictures, The Avengers, affichette du projectionniste ambulant William Shaw (1933). Collection de la Cinémathèque québécoise

Cinema charms us, makes us dream, informs us and entertains us. As desire is no stranger to the cinematographic universe, the industry uses all means at its disposal to appeal to the audience. And indeed, posters seduce us. Their eye-catching visuals, revealing the names of the stars and the tone of the film, are careful not to give away the plot. It does not take more mystery to arouse our interest.

But who remembers their little cousins, the lobby cards? Stapled to movie theater billboards, they would sell us the next novelty. Their distinct aesthetic emphasizes detail and features photographs of notable scenes. At the beginning of the 20th century, the putting up of promotional posters was all the more anticipated as it was aimed at city dwellers as well as rural residents. The screening took place in movie theaters, in church basements, at agricultural fairs and in parks that hosted actual film tours.

Alongside the lobby cards, loose sheets would announce the arrival of a traveling projectionist, as there were many from the end of the 19th century until World War II. Members of a forgotten profession, these screening pioneers roamed villages and hamlets in need of entertainment to present silent and talkies. Almost a century later, it may seem surprising to observe the price of a movie screening: 10 to 25 cents!

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