Monday, April 26, 2010

A Cigar for the Battered Husband

The P. Lorillard Company advertised these "little cigars" with an amusing ad campaign. While the name "Between the Acts" suggested a person who wanted a quick smoke during a theater intermission, the advertisements focused on more entertaining moments when the protagonist had very little time to spare.

I can't remember any of the previous ones right now, but I get a kick out of this one from May 17, 1930. There are so many cute symbols involved. I'm not sure why he has a feather in his tophat, but he's obviously the drunk husband coming home and trying to sneak into the apartment without his wife seeing him. He's holding his shoes in his hand so he can move silently, and because he's smoking a "Between the Acts" cigar we know he only has a few seconds before his wife clobbers him with her rolling pin.

I particularly like the way she's rolling up her sleeve in the background, and the fact that you can't see her face. This is such a fun, ominous, and perfectly-designed image!

PS: When will people stop recognizing the rolling pin as a weapon wielded by disgruntled housewives? I'm not even sure how *I* recognize it, except that it was probably a staple of cartoons throughout the '40s and '50s. Like so many symbols of the times, the cartoons serve as an unintended method of feeding the public consciousness. Someday children will only recognize trees because they saw them in Merrie Melodies.

PPS: Who was the mysterious artist "F.G.C."? I'm unable to find out. I've certainly seen his/her work elsewhere in the magazine, and you can find a few references to his advertising copy online, but other than that...


Gary said...

Reminds me of some of your earlier postings on advertising of that era: the upper-class cigarettes, and those oyster crackers.

Same overall feel and copywriting style, if not the artwork itself.

Regarding the trees: who sang something about "pave paradise, and put up a parking lot"? One of the lyrics was about seeing the trees in a museum

Adam Thornton said...

The oyster crackers! I assume the stock market wiped out that company (or -- more likely -- decimated the classes that ate their product).

"Pave paradise" was "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell. Our trees aren't in a museum yet...yet...

Brian Busby said...

A tardy response. The advert reminded me of Bringing Up Father (a/k/a Jiggs and Maggie), which I'd read in the Saturday Montreal Star when Shazam! cut to commercials. Jiggs, dressed in tuxedo and top hat, shoes in hand, was forever trying to sneak in drunk. Maggie, his wife, would stand at the top of the stairs, rolling pin in hand. Other times she'd throw a vase.

Okay, so this didn't happen in every single strip; there were some in which he was trying to get out of going to the opera.

Or at least this is what I picked up before The Secrets of Isis came on.

Adam Thornton said...

Oh, for that easy type of humour that relies on ANTICIPATING the inevitable climax, instead of wondering what it will actually be!