"It Pays To Advertise" isn't one of Carole Lombard's best-known movies; if film buffs remember it at all these days, it's for its opening sequence featuring Louise Brooks as a flighty actress (she isn't seen for the rest of the picture, and she has no scenes with Lombard -- it's entirely possible they never met during this production). However, it does have a distinction of sorts in that it was the film featured on opening night, Feb. 20, 1931, at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, Tenn., on the other side of State Street is Bristol, Va.
Note her first name is spelled "Carrol" on the marquis, proof that her name change from the briefly-used "Carol" in her Pathe days hadn't taken a complete hold yet.
We've noted that Lombard movies opened a number of theaters, including ones in Morristown, N.J., and Salt Lake City in late 1937 (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/62148.html). The Paramount Theater in Lynchburg, Va., where I currently live, opened its doors in 1930 with "Fast And Loose," where Carole played a supporting role as Miriam Hopkins and Frank Morgan co-starred. Alas, the Paramount -- at least the Lynchburg version -- is long gone.
Its Bristol equivalent has had a happier fate. It continued thriving, and hosted a local singer who went on to national fame on both the country and pop charts -- "Tennessee" Ernie Ford, making an appearance in 1949. (Bristol is nicknamed "the birthplace of country music," with its roots dating back to the 1920s.)
When hard times hit downtowns, the Paramount struggled for a while, but 20 years ago it was refurbished as a performing arts center, which it remains to this day. Looks like a lovely venue.
On Sept. 24, the Paramount is holding a celebration of its eight decades, "Puttin' On The Ritz." There will be silent and live auctions, music (including a Wurlitzer organ) and a movie -- "It Pays To Advertise," of course.
You can learn more about the event at http://www.theparamountcenter.com/index.html, and there's a story on the anniversary at http://www2.tricities.com/entertainment/2011/jul/24/paramount-celebrating-80-alluring-years-ar-1194194/.
This promises to be plenty of fun; if you're in the neighborhood, drop by.