The Battle Cry of Peace in Klamath Falls

Houston's Opera House ad, 1916
Klamath Falls Evening Herald. February 15, 1916. p. 4. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

Throughout February 1916, Houston's Opera House in Klamath Falls repeatedly placed the above advertisement in The Evening Herald. The advertisements were primarily informative, and appear to simply be intended to inform the public of what films are available to view at the theater. It includes information such as titles, screening dates, and admission cost.

Interestingly, the information for The Battle Cry of Peace includes additional information which positions this specific film as unique from other films that were being shown at Houston's Opera House. Unlike Klamath County Movies and Salisbury's Fish and Game PicturesThe Battle Cry of Peace is more of a traditional "feature film" and similar to the 21st century notion of what constitutes a traditional theater film. It is advertised as a nine-reel Vitagraph feature, which means that it is multiple hours in length. Additionally, Houston's Opera House offered reserved seating (at a higher admission price) which further indicates the unique status of this film compared to others that were being shown at the time. This information from the advertisement suggests that while the film itself was certainly an important part of the moviegoing experience, other aspects such as the novelty of technology, and the space of the theater itself were also key factors that enticed audiences to go to a movie theater.

One day earlier, the same newspaper also printed a short review of The Battle Cry of Peace which highlights this particular film and the manner in which it is indicative of general trends in audience and exhibition of the early 1900s. The film review was taken from Amusements, described as "the Middle West's biggest motion picture publication."  Unlike modern film reviews, it does not hold back in providing details about the film. It describes in great detail the film's plot, praises specific scenes–such as the sinking of dreadnaught ships, and a New York City night scene–as well as continually repeats the film's moral and promotion of a sense of American preparedness. This is greatly different from 21st century film reviews in newspapers, which generally remain vague in providing film details so as not to "spoil" the contents of the film. Today, if a newspaper reveals too much information about a certain film, there may now be less incentive for an individual to actually see the film in a theater.

Houston's Opera House news item, 1916
Klamath Falls Evening Herald. February 14, 1916. p. 6. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

However, in the early 20th century, the motivations for an individual to visit a movie theater were significantly different. It wasn't just about going to see a movie, but rather about the entire experience of going to the movies. This includes the theater space, the novelty of the technology, and the overall spectacle of the cinema. These factors largely overshadowed the specific film text itself, so the "spoiling" of information in newspaper reviews was less significant. The Evening Herald's treatment of the 1915 film The Battle Cry of Peace highlights these trends and tendencies of 20th century movie-going, and demonstrate some of the ways that our contemporary notion of going to a movie has changed significantly from that of the early 20th century.