The trailer for RW currently available to us—on DVD and YouTube—is obviously not the original that played in cinemas in 1954. Two references to Psycho tip us to the fact that this is the re-release trailer from 1960. I don’t know why the ’54 trailer is MIA. Happily, this article at sensesofcinema provides us with transcriptions of both the original and re-release trailers, and it turns out there isn’t actually much difference between them. Besides the absence of talk about Psycho, the only other significant change is that Stewart originally had more of the lines later spoken by the anonymous narrator. But those lines are pretty much as they were from the beginning—pretty wacky.
Anyone who’s seen the movie has to take exception to some or all of the following.
- Miss Lonelyhearts, so lonely that even death seems like a friend. [erm, okay. . . . ]
- These are the newlyweds, on a honeymoon no one will ever forget. [No one? How many people are on this honeymoon, anyway?]
- The songwriter who plays the same melody over and over again. A genius or insane? [If you’ve heard Bagdasarian’s “The Trouble With Harry,” you know.]
- This is the traveling salesman and his invalid wife. Out of their arguments and nagging comes a weird kind of love. [Say, what?]
As nutty as the trailer is, it actually has pedagogic value. On the few occasions I’ve been privileged to introduce RW to students, I’ve found that prepping them first with the trailer works wonders. Setting, characters—all are known to them before the movie even begins. And more than fifty years after the fact, sometimes the trailer can still do what it was intended to do from the beginning: get new viewers excited.