As early as the 1910s, studios sent “pressbooks” to newspapers and exhibitors. These illustrated trade publications contained ads and movie plots, and suggested to movie exhibitors how best to market specific films, which often included crazy gimmicks. They would also offer other film accessories, including posters of varying sizes, to purchase. Shown here are pressbooks for Monna Vanna and Jailhouse Rock.
This pressbook was issued for the 1923 German adaptation of Monna Vanna, a play written by Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949). It was proclaimed by the European press at the time to be the “most stupendous production in the history of motion pictures.” The film was directed by the German filmmaker Richard Eichberg (1888–1953), and starred his wife Lee Parry (1901–1977) in the leading role. Parry was a German film star of the silent and early sound era who also sang in Viennese operettas in the 1930s. She was touted as the “handsomest woman ever on the screen!”
Check out the musical score for the opera Monna Vanna.
Titled after his 1957 number one hit song, Jailhouse Rock was Elvis Presley’s (1935–1977) third film. In it he plays convict Vince Everett, who is imprisoned after accidentally killing someone in a bar fight. In jail, Everett learns to play the guitar. He pursues a music career once he is released.
Presley’s prior films were usually made in Technicolor to distinguish them from black-and-white television shows. Jailhouse Rock, however, was shot in black and white, perhaps to underscore the film’s subversive edge with its suggestion that a convict could become the hero in the film.
The song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and released in 1957. This song is listed as #67 on the Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time and named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Check out the DVD and watch the famous dance sequence where Elvis Presley sings the song "Jailhouse Rock." This film was inducted into the United States National Film Registry in 2004.