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By Woolsey Ackerman

Once a film has gone through its’ conception, various script drafts, pre-production, filming and post production, it is time for what many film makers see as the real work—- promotion!

In the hey-day of the golden era of movies, each studio had a labor intensive, overly creative and overly worked department for the promotion, advertising and merchandising of each of their movies, as well as for their individual contract personalities. 

The campaigns for those opulent million-dollar films was extravagant.  

The public audience of the 1930s, weary from the economic and emotional Depression, sought out the movies.  Movie makers gave them the entertainment they wanted, often presenting extravagant promotions as major as the movies themselves.

By the late 1930s, as the world economy improved, movie studios began producing expensive fantasy films.  The studios would create wild campaigns for movie magazines, magazine articles and ads, newspapers, radio, theatre lobby, entrance and marquee displays, posters, billboards, contests and merchandising of all kinds— including publications, music, records, games, toys, dolls, clothing and jewelry lines.  These would all be presented in a tremendous studio publication, a campaign book. 

When Walt Disney shorts’ characters, Shirley Temple and other child stars, Disney features such as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA, Paramount’s GULLVER’S TRAVELS and MGM’s THE WIZARD OF OZ all proved to be bonanza, not just for the box office but for merchandising , other studios ventured into this new realm.

In England, Alexander Korda jumped on the Technicolor fantasy bandwagon with THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. With the onset of the Second World War, it became dangerous to continue filming in England, so the entire enterprise was brought to Hollywood to continue production. 

When it came time to promote the film, Korda did so in the style of his American brothers — merchandising his film in a manner as opulent as the production itself.  The dolls and their costumes and jewels that were created have never been surpassed; and that jewelry line bearing the Korda name on each piece is today among the most sought of its type.  

Thief of Bagdad Promotional Brochure

Thief of Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief of Bagdad promotional tour
Thief of Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief Bagdad promotional brochure
Thief of Bagdad promotional tour

Imagine, in 1940, any of these dolls beneath your child’s Christmas tree.  Today many of us are thrilled with pieces inspired by our favorite films.  What child doesn’t want a toy from their favorite film?

Campaign books too are highly sought by collectors, and Walterfilm often features them.  For this holiday offering we present the story of the toys made for this special film and a pictorial look at the extravagance of how a classic golden age film was presented and promoted. 

THIEF OF BAGDAD Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1940