More About Don Rugoff and Cinema 5

Film Comment, May/June 1975In my speech at the Art House Convergence, I talked a great deal about Don Rugoff, who was a crazy, arrogant, difficult genius, and was my first boss in the movie business. Given the impact the man had on the business, it astounds me that he is almost a forgotten figure at this point. Reid Rosefelt wrote about him back in 2011, and ignited my urge to share more of what I knew about the man. So for those of you who would like to know more about the history of independent film marketing, here is a bunch of material to chew on.

This first piece is an audio recording of a seminar that Don did in 1976. It was moderated by Julian Schlossberg, who at the time was a VP at Paramount and had a radio program called “Movie Talk.” You’ll notice that during the Q&A, some of the questions from the audience were not intelligible, so whoever put this tape together dubbed them in. This is a fascinating glimpse into Don’s way of looking at the distribution business, the exhibition business, and mostly about his unique take on marketing specialized films. This was the school I went to, where I learned just about everything I’ve used throughout my career.

Next, check out this extensive article about Don from the May/June 1975 issue of Film Comment (reproduced with the permission of the Film Society of Lincoln Center).

“Ballyhoo with a Harvard Education,” Film Comment, May/June 1975 (PDF)

Finally, here are some of the actual radio spots that were produced by Cinema 5 under Don’s direction. The sexy female voice you hear on most of them is Susan Gary, who was “the voice of Cinema 5.”

“Pumping Iron” Radio Spot, Version 1

“Pumping Iron” Radio Spot, Version 2

“Viva Italia” Radio Spot

“A Slave of Love” Radio Spot

“A Special Day” Radio Spot

“Outrageous!” Radio Spot, Version 1

“Outrageous!” Radio Spot, Version 2

“Outrageous!” Radio Spot, Version 3

And finally, the actual “America at the Movies” radio spots that I talked about in my speech. You can hear for yourself if my Rugoff impression is accurate. Yes, this is Don Rugoff himself, not me imitating him.

“America at the Movies” Radio Spot, Version 1

“America at the Movies” Radio Spot, Version 2

As I uncover more artifacts from my Cinema 5 days, I’ll keep posting, so stay tuned.


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