Or so I thought.
That was until I came across these three slides featuring Vitagraph program releases from late 1915 and early 1916. These professionally produced slides from the Manhattan Slide and Film Company advertise "Personally Picked Programs" of paired titles from Vitagraph's weekly output.
As it happens, these three slides represent Vitagraph programs for three consecutive weeks. Each program pairs a drama with a comedic short, and in each case it is the featured drama that dominates the advertising. The hand colored still photograph depicts a scene from the drama, and names only the actors and producers from the featured title.
The first of the three "Personally Picked Programs" is from December 20, 1915 the date on which Vitagraph released the dramatic mystery On Her Wedding Night as well as the comedy short The Patent Food Conveyer.
|Coming attraction slide for On Her Wedding Night and The Patent Food Conveyer, both released December 20, 1915|
It should be noted that Vitagraph released two other titles on this date as well, the comedy What Happened to Father and the short He Got Himself a Wife. In fact none of the titles in these "Personally Picked Programs" represent the only Vitagraph releases for the week.
Why were these particular titles were paired as a Picked Program? The answer is unclear to me, though it must have been part of Vitagraph's overall marketing strategy since these programs appear to have a unique branding logo - the square pattern that is repeated six times on each slide. Looking closely you can see that it is a large stylized "V" flanked on three sides with a letter "P" which I can only assume represents Vitagraph Personally Picked Programs.
|Coming attraction slide for The Making Over of Geoffrey Manning and A Pest Vamooser, both released December 27, 1915|
|Coming attraction slide for Who Killed Joe Merrion? and When Holligan and Dolligan Ran for Mayor, both released January 3, 1916|
The Vitagraph design almost begs to be interpreted as a Victorian metaphor: Individuals boxed within rigid right angles, painted interior settings, and actors melodramatically gesturing within the confines of their overly ornate frame. Even if the films were not relics, these slides must surely have given the impression they were.
By way of comparison, consider the slide Lubin's feature The Great Divide which was released December 20, 1915, the same date as On Her Wedding Night (the first of the Vitagraph slides pictured above). Obviously not all 1915-16 film advertising was as boring as the Vitagraph slides would lead you to believe.
|Coming attraction slide for The Great Divide released December 20, 1915|