Saturday, January 02, 2016

30 Days of The Fade Out: Movie Story Magazine.

Before we turn our eyes to The Fade Out #4, we'd like to bring our readers' attention to one tiny detail in issue #3:  Movie Story Magazine, a real publication that makes a brief cameo appearance.  In a flashback, we see Maya holding a copy while she waited on her final audition and introduced herself to her Val, and another copy (or two) lies on the coffee table.

I couldn't find the full article freely available online, but a 2003 essay from the University of Texas Press' Cinema Journal reviews the "seldom studied but long-lived and robust ancillary product of classical Hollywood cinema, the monthly movie story magazines devoted to article-length fictionalizations of feature films.  These magazines flourished in a variety of forms from the late 1920s through the 1970s."

The genre reminds us of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, which would abridge popular books and collect several works in a single hardcover; they aren't in great demand at our local used bookstores, and they are now valued more as decor than as literature.  Short fictionalizations have vanished along with magazines that focused on short stories, but we do still see the occasional novelization -- and we've read that the novelization for the new Star Wars movie answers questions that were raised by a plot that emphasized action over clarity.

The movie-story magazine may strike some of us as odd, but it makes a lot more sense in a world without television and home video, to say nothing of the Internet and streaming movies:  if a movie wasn't in the theater, it wasn't available.

At the Galactic Central website dedicated to magazine indexes and bibliographies, we see that Movie Story Magazine published 206 issues between 1933 and 1951, with the first three years released under the title Romantic Movie Stories.

The website's comprehensive checklist has cover art for almost every issue -- perhaps this is where Sean Phillips got the images? -- and we're guessing that the particular covers chosen for The Fade Out were more for aesthetics than strict accuracy for what was likely to be found in a studio waiting room around 1948.

The issue that Maya holds, seen above, is #143 from March 1946, featuring a cover story on The Postman Always Rings Twice. The issue on the coffee table appears to be #59 from March 1939,with a cover of Clark Gable, who has a cameo in the subsequent issue of The Fade Out.

We wondered if the magazine was devoted more to celebrity gossip than the movies themselves, and we find the concept fascinating, of magazines that feature short novelizations of recent films.  Between the film crew and the PR department, Hollywood has made a tremendous fortune telling stories, both stories that are clearly fictional and those that are presented, however misleadingly, as biographical.

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