The Movie Queen (1939)

Boston-based itinerant filmmaker Margaret Cram (Margaret Cram Showalter) traveled to towns in New England making “Movie Queen” films.  Local townspeople were cast in the films that document a movie queen on a return visit to her hometown as the whole town shows up to welcome her. (This one features twenty-five year old Vera Sleeper from Bar Harbor as the movie queen).The film then follows her visits to local stores whose owners invite her to admire their merchandise.  Some have speculated that merchants were asked to pay the filmmaker a small fee to be included in the film, possibly the first example of “product placement.” Cram’s movies all include a scene in which the movie queen is kidnapped (with the local dignitaries playing the roles of kidnappers) and then rescued by a handsome hero. The films were usually shot over the course of a week, returned to Boston for processing, and then projected unedited on the following Saturday night when large crowds turned out and paid the price of admission to see themselves, family, and friends on the big screen.