adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 29 20:12:15 UTC 2010
Newspaper Archive has a citation for "sneak preview" in the same year,
1932, as the Los Angeles Times cite that you found.
Citation: 1932 October 15, San Antonio Light, Jean Harlow's Latest
Given Approval by Harriet Parsons, Page 3A, San Antonio, Texas. The
Internet Movie Database (IMDB) says that Rackety Rax mentioned in the
cite came out in 1932.
All of Hollywood turning up at what was intended to be a sneak preview
of "Rackety Rax" in Riverside.
Victor Steinbok wrote
> There are two entries for 1932 and the first one is similar to the 1931
> ones. The second, however, appears to be from the LATimes for 12 June
> 1932. [pasted from multiple sources--Google and ProQuest]
>> Jun 12, 1932 -
>> Warning to all preview chasers! They are reviving the "sneak preview"
>> with a vengeance. Precious Celluloid 'Sneaked. Into Village Shows.
>> Studios Hard Put to Obtain ... Recently a picture was given a sneak
>> preview in one of the sub- urban houses. During the second reel, the
>> head cutter (the man who pieces the film ...
> This is almost shocking to me. On one hand, the clip features "sneak
> preview" in quotation marks, which suggests that the term was still
> relatively unfamiliar. On the other hand, it claims a "revival" of sneak
> preview, which suggests that it must have been popular *much* earlier.
> Either way
I think that the paucity of search results before 1932 may be due to a
change in terminology. The following cite claims that a "sneak
preview" was also simply called "major studio preview" or "studio
preview" on the theater marquee. The word sneak was omitted.
Citation: 2002 (1952 is first copyright), Picture by Lillian Ross,
Page 182, Da Capo Press. (Google Books limited preview)
It was a modern, comfortable theatre, and on preview nights the lights
on the marquee always read, "MAJOR STUDIO PREVIEW TONIGHT." The
purpose of a preview – usually called a sneak preview – is supposedly
to spring a picture on an audience without warning, in order to get an
uninfluenced reaction. Many previews are advertised on marquees, in
newspapers, and by word of mouth, but even these are known in the
trade as sneak previews, or sneaks.
Searching for "studio preview" in Newspaper Archive matches an
advertisement in 1925. (The phrase "sneak preview" does not appear.)
Citation: 1925 August 25, Van Nuys News, Advertisement for Van Nuys
Theatre, Page 6, Col. 1, Van Nuys, California.
Studio Preview Night
THESE PREVIEW PICTURES ARE SHOWN HERE BEFORE THEY ARE SENT TO NEW
YORK. FOR SHOWING IN THE BIG HOUSES. THE PREVIEW PICTURES ARE SHOWN IN
ADDITION TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAM.
A BIG DOUBLE BILL WITH NO INCREASE IN PRICES
Apparently the title of the movie is withheld and the marquee says
something like "Studio Preview". Here is a description from 1927 found
by searching for "preview hunters".
Citation: 1927 November 7, Salt Lake Tribune, Sidelights of the Stage
and Screen by Wade Werner, Page 10, Col. 4, Salt Lake City, Utah.
The night sky hereabout frequently looks like naval searchlight drill
on the high seas. Several exhibitors, knowing the eagerness of film
folk for previews of new pictures in which they or their friends may
appear, use the beam of a searchlight as a signal to preview hunters
that some film is about to be given its initial showing before an
audience. After motoring to the base of the pencil of light the hunter
may find that the new picture, which is never named on the electric
sign in front of the theater, is only a two-reel comedy Instead of the
super-feature he had hoped to intercept: but that is all a part of the
A description of the preview system used in 1932 is available through
the Google News Archive. The article was found by searching for
Citation: 1932 June 16, Gettysburg Times, Hollywood Sights & Sounds by
Robbin Coon, Page 3, Col. 3, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Google News
(Here is an excerpt.) Preview-hunters of filmland are becoming almost
as selective in their "shopping" for new films as movie patrons over
the country have demonstrated they can be. …
One way of telling in advance, or at least guessing, what the preview
attraction will be on any certain night, is to stand in the lobby a
while before the show begins and see who comes. Of course that means
that if you do find out and don't care for the picture your preview
night is wasted, but at least you're spared seeing something you're
pretty sure is dull. …
The star will arrive, in company with studio executives, perhaps; a
featured player will hurry in, or a leading man; the director will be
Much depends on a preview, and the reaction of the "typical audience."
For autograph-hunters and preview-chasers the preview may be a picnic,
but for those who made the picture it's a court of public opinion and
its verdict is important.
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