Cinema: The Plug Lobby

Simply by wearing a cap in his pictures, the silent screen's Wallace Reid started men rushing to buy caps of their own. Clark Gable almost wrecked the sale of men's undershirts by appearing without one in 1934's It Happened One Night. Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne toasted each other with pink champagne in 1939's Love Affair, and the day after the Manhattan opening, romantic moviegoers snapped up Macy's whole stock of the stuff.

Last week, as they have for years, high-powered Hollywood lobbyists were subtly slipping their wares into the screen's magic showcase. With tireless insistency they pushed plugs for automobiles,...

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