Famous Adverts of Filmland (2)

Last time I talked about the American magazines which appeared in Albert Taylor’s newsagent’s shop from time to time during the early 1960s. They all had one thing in common. They had advertisements for what we all thought were rather bizarre products which were largely unobtainable in England. On the other hand, had a lorry arrived in our village, full of “Crawling Hands”, we would have been fighting each other for the chance to purchase this amazing toy for only $4.95, plus an extremely reasonable 50c for postage and handling:

Wow and double wow!! It walks across the room and the ring on the third finger sheds light over the floor. What a bargain.  I wondered how much $5.45 in 1960 might be worth today. Well, it’s between $45-$50. In English money, that’s around £34-£37. I repeat. What a bargain!

I’m not so sure about the next one though.  A whistle for dogs?

What kind of trick is that? You can’t hear it but the dog can? What rubbish. How do you know if it works?

And how will you know the dog has heard it if he is habitually disobedient? And why should he obey a whistle that you cannot hear when he can pretend he hasn’t heard it and you are none the wiser?? He’ll just carry on in the same old way and you’ve wasted your money.

This is a much better product. While my friends join the Boy Scouts, I can put on my black mask and become a member of the Judean People’s Front, or perhaps the Judean Popular People’s Front, or even the Popular Front of Judea.

What have the Romans ever done for us ? “Romanes eunt domus“:

As an adult, I can see now that the majority of the adverts appeal, for the most part, to two categories of customer. The first category is that of the person who is perhaps less intelligent, shall we say? He does not know the names of the simplest dinosaurs. He needs pictures to distinguish between a cave BEAR and a Giant BIRD, or between a GIANT WOOLLY MAMMOTH and a thirteen inch long JUNGLE SWAMP :

In the intelligent section of the magazine, however, much more technical language is used. And if you’re intelligent enough to know what a Styracosaurus is, you’ll definitely want one with a wind up motor :

It isn’t the most intelligent kind of person, though, who will pay money for an authentic fingerprint kit, but is unaware that it will be completely useless without access to the FBI fingerprint database and three years at Police College:

Other adverts just offer products for customers who want to frighten people. They want to scare the living daylights out of the last few friends they have. Perhaps they’ll do it with a monster fly:

They’d like a mask that makes them look like their movie heroes:

Or, the only full colour advert that I could find, a zombie mask:

Presumably, they will wear their mask with their eyeball cufflinks:

And what a slogan.


Surely that has a future with a publicity hungry plastic surgeon. It’s certainly better than this excessively subtle 1950s ad :

I borrowed that advert from a website which boasts 39 more. Take a look. It certainly shows how attitudes towards women have altered over the years.

Or have they?


Filed under Criminology, Film & TV, History, Humour, My House, Personal, Science, Wildlife and Nature, Writing

24 responses to “Famous Adverts of Filmland (2)

  1. Neil Grantham

    Ha, I remember seeing these sort of adverts in weekend newspapers in the 60’s and 70’s. The ‘X Ray spectacles’ always intrigued me!

    That shadow mask is rather menacing!

    • Yes, it is. I suppose that in the early 1960s the shadow mask was offered in all innocence to little boys for their games, but within twelve years the monsters of the PLO were all wearing them.
      I always thought that X Ray specs were difficult to fathom. They couldn’t possibly work, so presumably, they went from packaging to rubbish bin fairly quickly, unless, of course, you could sell them to your stupidest friend.

  2. GP

    They’re not real, but they look it. Surely that has a future with a publicity hungry plastic surgeon. I Love it!!
    As kids we could fall for anything, I think.

    • You are right. But when kids buy something silly like that, it never seems a major crime…..as you say, many of the things for sale do actually look quite realistic.
      There was a type,of innocence in the air in those days. I certainly can’t imagine a man who has made his living selling crawling hands for $5 each, moving on to rob old people of their savings via an internet scam.

  3. ‘ironised yeast’ or ionised? I’m so disappointed that we never saw these magazines. Now I remember why my childhood was so lacking in mental stimulus.

    • I think it would be “ironised”. I don’t think that the chemistry syllabuses of schools of this era would have introduced “ionised” by 1960.
      If “ebay” stretches to Australia you can get all of the “Famous Monsters” magazines on digital DVD, although prices have shot up because of the pandemic.

  4. Jan

    I remember wanting to buy something that was only available in the USA – it was 1989 so not exacly the olden days. It involved a visit to Nottingham’s Central Library to check the NYC Yellow Pages (a massive tome that came in five doorstep thick volumes); pick out half a dozen likely candidates (with fax numbers) and then send off a message courtesy of the local print shop’s fax bureau. Await a reply, then follow up with a phone call, a credit card purchase and a further six weeks for delivery. Now we have Amazon, Yellow Pages is long gone and I haven’t used the reference library for nigh on twenty years.

    • Yes, the progress in communication is truly amazing. I have bought a number of Amazon articles from the USA although my scariest purchase was buying “Kill Bill 2” from Japan. I guessed, correctly as it happens, that all of their forms would be exactly the same as ours….and they were!

  5. Of course in the shadow type mask they failed to include “ emulate your favourite bank robber / terrorist and get yourself arrested!”. These are the stuff of boyhood dreams.

    • It says a lot for the early 1960s that there was no such thing then as a terrorist. Bank robbers always used to wear coats with very big collars to pull up over the sides of their faces, and on the way out, an old man or woman would invaruiably trip them up with their walking stick.
      You are so right, though. This is the stuff of boyhood dreams. I wonder if there are any Americans out there now who bought any of these things and might remember what they were like.

  6. atcDave

    Wow do those bring back memories! Like that distinct smell of rubber and plastic that was overwhelming when the product was brand new! I loved all that stupid stuff, and oh did my mom hate it!

    • You are absolutely right. Mothers were always the brake on boys’ ill-advised purchases when it came to buying things from magazines.
      Back in the 1950s, British made cars, even quite ordinary ones would have a walnut dash and leather covered seats.
      And then my Dad bought a 1959 Ford Anglia. It was black with red upholstery. All of us, my Dad included, were entranced by the wonderful smell of those red seats. We were so innocent. That was the smell of plastic, which very few British cars had at that point. But the bright scarlet red, and the wonderful smell persuaded us to buy that instead of something with leather!

  7. Great post John. I always wanted the 1,000 piece American Civil War set but had no hope of ever ordering it. I didn’t know what a Zip Code was!

  8. Thank you. I’m certainly doing my bit to lift spirits in the face of this dreadful disease.
    I always wanted the long range binoculars (“You can see the moon with these!”) or the werewolf set where you got a furry head with fangs and two furry hands with claws. Furry feet were extra!

  9. Chris Waller

    These adverts make me aware just how much society has changed over the last 50 years. I suspect that wearing the ‘Shadow-Type Mask’ these days would risk the wearer being shot on sight by the Met’s Anti-Terrorism Branch.

    • Well, the police certainly can be a little “itchy fingered” on the trigger nowadays, especially if the weapon happens to be a taser. Every month or so, there seems to be a report in the news of some poor individual who has been tasered by mistake. In some cases they are the most unlikely of criminals such as people on crutches or sitting in wheelchairs.

  10. Looking back, the ads seem so funny. I was smiling as I was reading them. But they must have fascinated so many in the days. 😊

    • Yes, they certainly are ridiculous things but when they are nine or ten years old, little boys are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to many silly things for sale in magazines . As you say, they are fascinated by real astronaut suits and fingerprint kits and don’t doubt for a minute that they are worth the money.

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