Sunday, November 11, 2012
Movie Ads of the Week: COCKFIGHTER (1974), WILD DRIFTER (1974) and BORN TO KILL (1975)
Monte Hellman's COCKFIGHTER (1974), based on the 1962 paperback original by Charles Willeford, was never going to be an easy movie to market, but producer Roger Corman changed the title three times in less than a year and still couldn't come up with a campaign that attracted many ticket buyers. Jim Hillier and Aaron Lipstadt's 1981 book Roger Corman's New World (BFI Dossier #7) gives a release date of June 27, 1974 for COCKFIGHTER, but our research is more in line with Variety's, which reported in June of 1975 that the movie had debuted in the southern U.S. in August '74. We've confirmed playdates for that month in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Carolinas (The above ad is from August 16, 1974 in Statesville, NC).
Undeterred by the movie's failure at the box-office, Corman changed the title to WILD DRIFTER, then GAMBLIN' MAN, for test dates like the one above in Joplin, Missouri on October 25, 1974. BIG BAD MAMA, a recent hit for New World, was the wisely chosen co-feature.
By March of 1975, the title was BORN TO KILL and car crash-and-burn footage from NIGHT CALL NURSES and CANDY STRIPE NURSES had been cut into the film as a dream sequence to justify its use in the new action-packed trailer. BIG BAD MAMA was still the co-feature for drive-in dates...
...while the ad campaign above was probably intended for general indoor, arthouse and college bookings following the film's appearance on Sight & Sound magazine's "best of" list for 1974.