Shirley Temple was not just any movie star; was all the rage through the depression. Miss Shirley Temple was more popular than William Powell, Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford.
The Great Depression that audiences flooded the cinema by the millions to see her movies.
One of the highest-grossing stars of the day, with films like “Curly Top,” “Dimples” and “The Little Colonel,”; it is rumored that her movies single-handedly keeping the newly formed 20th-Century Fox studio solvent through the Depression years. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “It is a splendid thing that for just 15¢ an American can go to a movie and look at the smiling face of a baby and forget his troubles.”
There were plenty of movies to see, but because of the bleak world around them, the general public wanted not only cheap entertainment, but a very specific genre of entertainment. It was all about tap dancing, never giving-up and optimistic future at 15¢.
The Shirley Temple effect are fairly straightforward the general public is willing to pay for inexpensive entertainment in the worst of economic times if Hollywood produces films which the general public want to see. During the depression Hollywood studios didn’t have technology that instantly showed ticket or DVD sales, the studios found out weeks later if a movie was a success.
Hollywood still doesn’t listen to the general public with its many sequels, redundant storylines, movies by committee and its addiction to mediocrity.
Television [TV] and streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Seeso (plus many more) have been taking advantage of scripted series and movies. Viewership for TV and streaming services have come to dominate the cultural conversation much more than anytime before in entertainment history. Netflix is steadily growing with a report soon to have 100 million subscribers, monthly subscribers. That is 1.2 Billion Netflix subscriber a year for minimal $9.6 Billion gross.
Compared to Netflix’s $9.6 Billions year vs Hollywood’s 2016 $11.3 Billion for all movies combined I would say that Television is winning.
Svengoolie is a hosted horror movie show. The show’s title is taken from the name of the character host. The show is a long-running local program in the Chicago area and in recent years expanded nationally, airing Saturday nights on MeTV.
The show generally airs low-budget, horror and science-fiction movies, with host “Svengoolie” – a telescoping of the words Svengali and ghoul – played by Rich Koz, who wears thick makeup around his eyes, a moustache and goatee, a fright wig, all black, and a black top hat, along with a tuxedo jacket over a bright red open-collared button-down shirt.
Just before and after commercial breaks, Svengoolie presents sketches, tells corny jokes, performs song parody spoofs of the film being aired and (my personal favorite) information on the cast of the movie.
Now the show has viewers comment simultaneously with hashtag #svengoolie.
September 2016 Svengoolie, according to the Nielsen NTI ratings, peaked at over a million viewers!
We need to laugh.
The Svengoolie effect are fairly straightforward. The general public needs desperately inexpensive entertainment during this unprecedented political upheaval. Hollywood studios won’t change their direction; they have not changed for viewership (although the majority of people who go to the movies are women), remakes of classics (cheaper and less creative than movie from scratch – yet none seem to be profitable), sequels (especially superhero movies) and redundant plots (though Hollywood studios develop films separately some movies that are eerily similar within the same calendar year).
Svengoolie isn’t Hollywood; in fact, this is a homage to that low budget Hollywood creativity looked over while Shirley Temple career boomed, peaked and slid into a long successful political career.
These movies passed the test of time. These films deserve our laughter and attention to which I am thankful for Svengoolie, the new “Shirley Temple Effect”.