Last night Turner Classic Movies showed my second favorite advertising movie, The Hucksters (1947), starring Clark Gable, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Sidney Greenstreet, and the horrid Adolphe Menjou. The scene below (bottom and here) is without a doubt the most stinging indictment–in the Adbusters sense–of modern advertising. Mad Men doesn’t hold a candle.
My first favorite advertising film is Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) (with the best color spec sequence in any film), and lo and behold, in the clip from The Hucksters at the Kimberly Advertising Agency, while Gable is waiting in “Kim’s” anteroom, he views a vitrine with “A Kimberly Client” called Wham!!. Now, that was the ham Cary Grant was trying to devise a slogan for in Mr. Blandings. “If you ain’t eatin’ Wham, then you ain’t eatin’ ham.” Now ain’t that a coincidence?!
So what’s your favorite movie about advertising or huckstering or graphic design or pork products? Tell me in the comments.
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →