#480) Let’s All Go to the Lobby (1957)
OR “Snacks Haven”
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Song Lyrics by Jack Tillar
Class of 2000
The Plot: You’re at the movies circa the late ’50s-early ’60s and you still have some time to kill before the main feature. What do you do? Well, these four singing concessions have a great idea: Let’s all go to the lobby and get ourselves a treat! Why these four are encouraging you to eat their own kind I don’t know, but how about that song!
Why It Matters: The NFR calls it “probably the best known ‘snipe’ or theatrical movie trailer ever produced”. There’s also an essay by animation expert Thad Komorowski.
But Does It Really?: “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” is not the first (or in the NFR’s case, 300th) American film that comes to mind when you think “preservation-worthy”, but once it does, it’s an obvious choice. “Lobby” doesn’t so much represent the movies as it does the movie-going experience. Seeing this film immediately brings to mind images of the popcorn and hot dogs in a classic movie palace lobby, and settling in for your feature presentation. Part of preserving art is preserving how that art was viewed, and “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” equals (and in some cases surpasses) the cultural importance of its fellow NFR entries.
Every Chicago-Based Company Gets One: Very little is known about the production of “Lobby” (even the 1957 release date is debatable), but we do know it was made by Chicago’s Filmack Trailer Company. Founded in 1919 by Irving Mack, Filmack specializes in making “snipes”: the short scenes that play before a movie, such as courtesy slides or commercials for the theater. Although Filmack faced some tough times when theaters started converting to digital projectors, the company is still going over 100 years later! That being said, their website is in desperate need of an update. It might as well be on GeoCities.
Title Track: No incredible masterstrokes of genius here; as composer Jack Tillar recalled years later, “I [wrote the song] in about five minutes”. The reason that jingle is so catchy is because you already know it: it’s “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” (or “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”, if you prefer).
- “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” was one of a series of shorts commissioned by Filmack to advertise a theater’s concession stand (the film’s official title is “Technicolor Refreshment Trailer No. 1”).
- As best we can tell, “Lobby” was directed by Dave Fleischer, who directed many of the Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons of the 1930s. After resigning from Fleischer Studios in 1941, Dave worked at various other studios’ animation departments, and found himself moonlighting at Filmack in the early 1950s, where he made “Lobby”. Fleischer ended his career as a “Technical Specialist” at Universal.
- I have a bone to pick with the Komorowski essay. At one point Thad mentions that after writing this film’s song, Jack Tillar went on to “a brilliant career that earned him an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Grammy”. I cannot find a single other source that could confirm any of these wins. Sure, information regarding local or regional Emmys can be hard to find, but it’s a lot trickier to fake an Oscar or Grammy win. What’s your source, Komorowski?
- There’s a dispute over what exactly the concession on the far left is. Some (including the NFR) say it’s chewing gum, other say it’s a candy bar. The concession’s label is mostly incomprehensible, but it could easily read “Candy Bar” if you want it to. Whatever that giant box contains, it is clearly the group’s leader.
- I couldn’t find definitive information about how much movie theater concessions cost in 1957, but according to this article, you have always been overpaying for movie popcorn. (Appropriately enough, the article begins with a GIF of a scene from “Lobby”!)
- Can you imagine this playing during the intermission of some prestige roadshow picture like “Lawrence of Arabia” or “2001“? It would definitely “break the spell” of those movies.
- Filmack estimates that over 80% of all movie theaters have shown “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” at one time or another over the last 60 years.
- Given its catchy song and cheap animation, “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” is easy to reference and parody. Geico made an updated version a few years back, there was a recent quarantine-specific remake about going to your kitchen, and yes, even a classic “Simpsons” had Mr. Burns warble the tune.
- Snipes are still commonplace in the movie-going experience (provided the movie-going experience resumes at some point). Everything from trailers to Maria Menounos to the M&M’s telling you to silence your phone are part of this film’s cultural lineage.
- For the record: my favorite movie snacks are Red Vines and Reese’s Pieces. And if I’m going with another person, I’m willing to split a large thing of popcorn. My movie beverage of choice is Dr. Pepper, but the key is to use the bathroom before sitting in a room for 2 1/2 hours.
Further Viewing: Filmack’s other famous snipe – “Variety Show” – is a ten-minute intermission countdown featuring all the wonderful food you can buy at the concession stand! You may recognize the somewhat suggestive “hot dog jumping into a bun” sequence from its appearance in “Grease“.