Shaw Marketing & Publicity Department
It helped that Shaw owned amusement parks and live show theatres as these could be utilized to promote films.
Popular live stage shows like dances, game contests, magic shows, comedy shows, fashion parades as well as band performances preceded the screening of movies.
Some stage shows featured local or visiting celebrities, but most of the time they were performed by amateurs or semi-professionals. The shows were often sponsored by various products which had promotional tie-ins with the films. These type of staged publicity events lasted two decades in Singapore and Malaysia.
Comedians Aziz Sattar and Ibrahim Pendek in Lido, Singapore, 1965
Live show, Capitol, Kuala Lumpur
Viva Maria bikini show, Lido, Singapore, 1965
Staged contests never failed to attract eager participants and spectators in Singapore. There were traffic stopping ones such as the game held for 'The Unholy Wife' (1957) at the Rex and the 'Up the Chastity Belt' (1973) contest at the Capitol. The former saw dozens of women measured up to the vital statistics of actress Diana Dors, while the latter had contestants attempt to 'unlock' a mini-skirt off a model while wearing sunglasses.
Some contests tested physical skills such as the one at Capitol where patrons tried to open a chubb safe to win $5,000 in conjunction with 'Topkapi' (1965). Another one was the 'fastest draw' contest for 'Hannie Caulder' (1972) where patrons staged a gunfight on the Capitol stage. Other contests challenged mental trivia skills such as the 'Quiz of Fear' held at the Lido in conjunction with the 'Circus of Fear' (1967).
Performance before the film Taqdir, Kuching, Borneo
Medeka studio stars in Terengganu, Malaysia
Up the Chastity Belt contest, Capitol, 1973
Circus of Fear quiz, Lido, Singapore 1967
Live Show in Lido Sibu, Borneo
Hula hoop contest, Penang, Malaysia, 1959
'Girls in a Bikini' show , Ipoh, Malaysia, 1959
Then there were the contests based on fads. In 1959, when 'hula hoops' were all the rage, contests were held all over the circuit. A six year old boy, Sim Dock Shye won the top prize of $250 at the Sky, Singapore, in conjunction with 'Paris By Night' when he beat adults three times his age.
In the New World Park, Penang, a 5 year old girl, Woon Mu Koon, won the hula hoop contest.
Depending on what was popular at the time, dance contests were held regularly. In 1956, with rock and roll sweeping the film world,
a rock and roll contest was held at the Great World Caberet to promote 'Rock around the Clock'. In 1957, the same venue was used for the cha cha cha contest to promote the film 'Cha Cha Cha Boom'. In 1963, with 'twisting films' increasingly popular, a twisting contest was held at Sky.
Cha Cha contest, Great World, Singapore, 1957
Rock and Roll contest, Rex, Singapore, 1956
But where it came to the most imaginative contests, the Federation theatres were second to none. Among the most interesting were the 'physical appearence' contests. Memorable ones include the 'fatty contest' held at the Rex, Ipoh where patrons were weighed to select a winner for 'When the Peach Blossoms Bloomed' (1961).
Another was the 'bald head' contest at the Madras, KL in conjuction with 'The Warlord' (1973) where patrons subjected themselves to a public shaving for a fridge worth $650. Bodybuilding contests such as the one at the Rex, Ipoh for 'Revolt of the Gladiators (1959) were also popular.
Like Singapore, band playing contests were held regularly as a form of promotion all over the Federation circuit.
A typical example would be the 'music makers' contest held at the Rex, Malacca for 'The World By Night' (1961).
Run Run, Runme, Mrs Run Run, Mrs Runme enjoying a stage show, Singapore
Twist contest, Rex, Kota Bahru, 1961
'Bald head' contest, Madras, KL, 1973
'Fatty Girl' contest, Madras cinema, KL, 1961