The St Andrean film poster for Twinkletoes (Charles Brabin, USA, 1926), My Best Girl (Sam Taylor, USA, 1927), and Metropolis (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1927) signifies the rise of the star system and film production companies. Furthermore, it touches on the broadening of the local theatrical audience, the decline of the internationality of film, the popularity of female sexualization, the continued interest in spectacle, and the growing interest in the modern and futuristic. Additionally, the poster mentions the beginnings of a shift from focus on spectacle to narrative.
Firstly, one of the most notable of the features of the poster is the names of starring actresses. Unlike previous posters, the prominence of “Co[l]leen Moore” and “[M]ary Pickford” indicate the emergence of the star system, which gains momentum in the 1930s, soon after the release of these films. The poster also specifies that this is Pickford’s “only appearance this year” in an attempt to entice her fans, otherwise unable to see her theatrically. Moreover, the name of the production company for Twinkletoes is also foregrounded. Although the Universum Film AG logo and the local distributor for Metropolis are less stressed, they are still present. Together, these two instances reveal the growing importance of production and distribution companies in the industry.
Secondly, by combining three distinct genres, the romantic comedy, the romantic drama, and sci-fi, the poster broadens its local audience, attracting viewers of different tastes. However, the celebrities advertised in large, bold font are both from English-speaking countries, Canada and the United States. Though Metropolis possesses a famous leading actor, he remains unadvertised because he is German, unlikely to be recognized by a Scottish audience. Similarly, the poster emphasizes the First National Pathe production company, but minimizes the German UFA logo, including the caveat “Controlled by Wardour Films,” a British company. This emphasis on locality signifies the decline of film as a universal language, divergent from previous film and cultural history.
Finally, the advertisement for Metropolis occupies over half of the poster, signifying the film’s position as the main attraction. The image of futuristic equipment and a sexualized “Robot Woman,” replicates a comparatively insignificant scene in the film. The sexualization of the female character, particularly compared to the fully clothed male, marks an interest in objectification of the female body, still present in recent film posters. The rest of the image as well as the taglines emphasize the “spectacle” and “modern” aspects of the feature. While spectacle has been popular since film’s inception, as evidenced in Georges Méliés early films, Metropolis is arguably the first feature length sci-fi film. By highlighting its modern and futuristic aspects, the poster signifies the arrival of a new genre and an interest in its themes.
Although spectacle is still the...