After my last post,” Photo Mix 41”, I found this great colour video (see end of post) of the premiere of Errol Flynn’s Dodge City which took place in April 1939 in Dodge City,Kansas.
Warner Brothers chartered a train to the city for the world premiere of the film.
They loaded up the train with as many stars as were available, whether they were in the movie or not. Also film crew, executives and media.

And they sent a techicolor crew to film the event, giving us this wonderful colour video.

it’s amazing to think how much money Warners splashed out on this premiere. But advertising always was a big part of the costs of making a film.

Olivia De Havilland left the train at Pasadena as she was due to start work on GONE WITH THE WIND.


Olivia De Havilland, John Payne, Anne Shirley ,Hoot Gibson.

John Payne and Anne Shirley were married at this time.


The chap at far left is Leon G.Turrou who worked for the FBI for a period in the 30s.
The Edward G. Robinson film, “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” was based on articles that Turrou wrote and was soon to be released.


Dodge City at the time had a population of 11,000. Crowds that day swelled to nearly 50,000.


Husband and wife Humphrey Bogart, Mayo Methot next to Errol Flynn.


Errol Flynn gets the key to the city. John Garfield snatches a pic. The Bogart couple dress in black.

Errol Flynn in the parade through town.


A ticket for the premiere at the ‘Cozy Theatre’. $1.12. The film was screened at three cinemas.


Ann Sheridan shoots a grin at the cameras as she and Errol Flynn witness the wedding of a local couple.


Frank McHugh signs the hat.


This hat was signed by lots of the stars. Wonder where it is now, or if it survived.




This photo  is similar to the on in my Photo Mix post, but you can see Alan Hale far right. The figure at  centre back row, to the left of Errol Flynn is Jack Warner.

Lya Lys is far left ,next to Gilbert Roland. (Lya was in “Confessions of a Nazi Spy.”)

Sitting between Hoot Gibson and Guinn Williams is Buck Jones. Front row centre.

Below Errol Flynn is Lee Lyles, Vice President of the Santa Fe railroad.


What an event, maybe even bigger than the GONE WITH THE WIND premiere.



Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn.


10 responses »

  1. Such a great article I thank you! One weird detail I can’t figure out.

    Bogart was in “Virginia City” in 1940 with Errol Flynn (Bogart’s attempt to play a bandit was appallingly bad acting – quite possibly the worst performance in a career of notoriously uneven quality).

    He wasn’t in “Dodge City.”

    Yet here he is on the promotional tour. It isn’t a sort of mistaken identity of the photographs, either. In the photos certainly, one can see the town’s monogram DC, and also the movie logo behind the ensemble.
    Maybe they were promoting both films?

    • Lots of the stars who attended the premiere in Dodge City were not in the film. Warner Brothers wanted it to be a very big event and included many Warner’s contractees whom the public would know. Including Bogie and his wife, Jane Wyman, John Payne, John Garfield.
      And yes, no doubt promoting any upcoming films was part of the event.

  2. Warner Brothers article:-

    The trailer (0:50) says the crowd was 150,000 strong; and at 1:56 Jean Parker, who wan’t in the film appears on a horse.

    The hat was sold in 2011.

  3. It was Cecil B. DeMille who started the vogue for holding world premieres in the places where the movies had been shot. He launched The Buccaneer in New Orleans and brought down a trainload of journalists from New York all-expenses-paid. Until then, the bulk of premieres had taken place in NY or LA. The DeMille launch was such a spectacular success that the rest of Hollywood followed suit. Cities holding premieres would announce local holidays of two or three days and hundreds of thousands of people would flock to the opening to see the stars. This was especially amazing because many cities were at war with studios over censorship and issues relating to exhibition but when Hollywood came knocking they dropped all these complaints and complied.

  4. My Great-Uncle, Robert D. Harpole, was the owner of the Cozy Theatre in Dodge City where the Premiere was held. Thank you for this great re-cap of what must have been one of the more exciting days in his life.
    Any idea where I could find an original (or copy) of the premiere promotional movie poster?

    John Harpole

    • How interesting. Thanks so much for getting in touch. An amazing day for Dodge City and the Cozy Theatre. Sorry I can’t help about the poster. Maybe try EBay?

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