Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Advertising Strips: Dulcy the Beautiful Dumb-Bell
Movies have advertised themselves by way of comic strips practically since the two mediums were initially popularized. In the early 1920s and before, the tendency was to advertise the characters rather than the movie plot per se, and Dulcy the Beautiful Dumb-Bell follows in that direction.
The 1923 silent film Dulcy starred Constance Talmadge as a scatterbrained young beauty who tries to help her husband get ahead in business through a wacky scheme. This scenario is about as tired a plot device as you can imagine, but in the hands of George S. Kaufman, who co-wrote the original play, and Anita Loos, co-screenwriter, I imagine it was a fun film. Sadly, the film is now considered lost.
The advertising comic strip, which seems to have run for 24 installments, or four weeks of dailies, advertises the character of Dulcy by trotting our some of the most basic jokebook 'dumb blonde' jokes and managing to execute them badly. The joke writer, whoever it was, plays a mean trick by assigning writing credit to movie star Talmadge, who should have sued for defamation. Luckily, the strip looks fabulous. Lauren Stout has never been on my radar before, but the lively and highly stylized art on these strips makes certain I won't soon forget his name.
Although these ad strips were handed out to newspapers for free, I have yet to find a paper that could stomach running all 24 episodes. The earliest appearance I have found is in the Harrisburg Evening News, and based on that appearance I assign 'official' running dates of July 31 to August 27 1923, though don't hold your breath looking for such an actual appearance.
(I'd love to see a long post or two on early flip takes!)