Master Showman - Kroger Babb Dwain Esper

This beauty is from the incredible Kroger Babb, the master showman himself. Written by Babb's wife Mildred Horn, this was the type of book you could purchase if you went to see his classic Mom and Dad (1945) directed by drunken William Beaudine. This book has a chapter called "Children's Early Sex Problems". No, you don't want to know. Babb and Beaudine would go on to release some Christ-sploitation, The Price of Peace (1948).

Crowd photo used to promote Mom and Dad in 1947.

 I've been collecting rare books since the mid 70's. I have some truly incredible material in my library. Most of you who know me know that I'm obsessed with Dwain Esper and his re-release of Freaks. Aside from my 16mm print of the Dwain Esper credited Freaks, I also have these two books penned by Espers wife Hildegarde Stadie. Of interest, though these books appear to be different volumes made for men and women they are not, they are the exact same book with a different cover on it. Both books are dated 1945. They would sell then during the screening of one of their "Modern Motherhood" films, so not only did they clean up with the film but they racked in even more money with the books. From the days of showmanship. Being ripped off by these guys was an honor. Getting ripped off by doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs is a disgrace!

Dwain Esper had optioned Freaks (1932) from MGM in 1949. This gave him a ten year lease of which he continually re-released Freaks often with title changes. It was also known as The Freak, Natures Mistakes, and at one point was even titled The Love Life of Freaks. Here is an original hand bill distributed in 1949 announcing the Dwain Esper re-release. When I was giving a presentation in Fall of 2017 on the subject of Tod Browning, a woman in the audience recalled seeing it in 1949 as a youth. It impressed her so much that in the 1960's there was a showing in Manhattan and she dragged her husband to see it.

The following is from Esper's roadshow of Hitlers Captive Women (which was actually a well budgeted Monogram propaganda film from 1943 called Women in Bondage) and a newsreel of Soviet Russia that was given the far more exploitative title of Slaves of the Soviet or Slaves of Stalin. This roadshow played continuously through the 1950's, as the cold war raged on and the curiosity about WWII atrocities was gaining strength.

Here are some postcards advertising Esper's dips into anti-drug and sex arena. These are of course "Warning" films that actually exploit the subject matter which in turn makes thew message implied by the film to be a mute point! 

Not Esper or Babb but actually Ron and June Ormond, who harken back to the 1940's and the Golden era of exploitation. This title, The Burning Hell (1974) is a later addition to their stable of titles, these films being specifically funded by Fire and Brimstone preachers and aimed at the religeous crowd. Ron Ormand survived a plane crash when his private plane took a nose dive in the late 60's. He decided to dedicate the rest of his time on earth to God, and released titles such If Horses Tire, What Will Footmen Do? (1971) and others that have religious themes. Regardless, these films are pure exploitation, not if's end's or buts about it.

This film is also not Esper though he may very well have had states rights for it. Long lost jungle film that featured nude native women (actually Los Angeles prostitutes)  being carried away by an idiot in a gorilla suite. The film hails from 1930, but played for decades on the grind-house circuit. Believed to be lost, the sound tubes exist and can be accessed on YouTube. The film itself is part of the Library of Congress so a print does exist, getting it screened is a whole other problem. I believe this film was at one time the property of Sonney Amusements.

Also not Esper but in the same league of "issuing warnings" to the pubic about immoral lifestyles. This Ad I have is for the silent  1928 version, not the 1934 remake. It was directed by Norton S. Parker. 

Ok, I could be wrong but this 1947 Newsreel reeks of Dwain Esper. Remember, Esper was responsible for the March of Crime newsreels of the 1930's, and he sold the material in the same lewd fashion that was used to sell this reel of Nazi concentration camp footage. This from the collection of Charles P. Kilgore.  

 Another vintage roadshow, this one plays the Summerville Drive-In in South Carolina. Double bill with Girls For Sale. White Slave Girls was still playing in 1965. Goes to show the longevity of these type of films.

 Escort Girl (1941) produced and distributed by J.D. Kendis. Also known as the Scarlet Virgin. What goes on behind the doors of an Escort Bureau?

 Test Tube Babies from 1948. Produced by future Ed Wood associate George Weiss. Also know as Blessed Are They, Sins of Love and The Pill.

The back page of a promotional picture book showing natural child birth. The pictures are from the french film of 1957 called The Case of Dr. Laurent. It starred Jean Gabin. The film was passed off as an exploitation film when it was released in the states.

 Also not from Esper or Babb, this is an example of a "kiddie" show, most likely held in 1972. Though "kiddie" shows were usually the domain of K. Gordon Murray, we still felt this ad is best served in this section.  This is likely a Philip Morris show (Dr. Evil, Morris Costumes). Popeye was his first big license and many others followed. I found this out from a Facebook friend.