POP CULTURE AND MOTOMETERS
IN FILM, MOVIES AND TELEVISION
Pop culturists latch on to anything or anyone they think an advantage may be gained by doing so or that they believe epitomizes a certain period of time. Pop culturists call these symbols icons . . . be they animal, mineral, vegetable, a concept or image. The BOYCE MOTO-METER and its readily recognized round shape at the front of 1920s automobiles became such an icon of the “Roaring Twenties.”
More than any other symbol of the 1920s, with perhaps the exception of men’s flat top straw hats; close skull-fitting flapper girl hats; and, the Charleston dance, the BOYCE MOTO-METER was and still is prominently used to represent the era and its automobiles.
Various automobile and associated product manufacturers wanting to be seen as trendy during the time depicted their products with or in close proximity of a motometer in their advertisements. (See the below ads from the U. S. Rubber Company, Stromberg Motor Devices Co., Klein Pliers, Frontenac Motor Company and, Talbot Motor Car Company - Click to enlarge the image(s)
Cinematographers leapt on the concept of including a BOYCE MOTO-METER on a period-appropriate vehicle to re-enforce the notion of being in the Roaring Twenties through prop product placement . . . and, it has worked!
Modern movie and films have included motometers (BOYCE Brand) in the 1959 Richard Fleischer directed and Orson Welles starring “Compulsion,” 1974 Jack Clayton directed “Great Gatsby” set in 1925 starring Robert Redford and 1978’s Daniel Petrie directed “The Betsy” starring Laurence Olivier. More recent movies include Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” starring Harrison Ford; Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” and “Cars II”; the 2013 remake of the “Great Gatsby; and, 2016 “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” among other movies.
Scenes from "The Betsy" A scene from"The Great Gatsby (1974) Scenes from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
Scenes from "Cars"
Television has been no stranger to focusing a little bit of attention on motometers with the leading automotive program show series “Chasing Classic Cars” hosted by Wayne Carini. Those familiar with Wayne’s show know that he specializes in Pre-War and numerous episodes have included shots of motometers on period autos.
Wayne Carini "Chasing Classic Cars"
Other TV shows that we have noticed including a motometer in them has been a 1971 episode of “Nichols – The Deer Crossing (Original air Date September 20, 1971; the History Channel’s 2014 miniseries “Houdini,” (Part Two Originally Airing September 2, 2014 featured a motometer on a touring car transporting Harry Houdini), Modern Marvels: “Chrome” show program (Season 15, Episode 7, Original Air Date: Mar 2, 2010) featuring Don Summers exhibiting and making reproduction automotive mascots.
"Nichols - The Deer Crossing" "Houdini" Don Summers Collection - "Chrome"
The History Channel’s miniseries “Men Who Built America” Part Four – “Bloody Battles,” featuring a segment on Henry Ford and Alexander Winton with an Original Air Date of Oct 23, 2012 contain compounded errors on the appearance and use of motometers – depicting them on the supposed 1903 racing autos of Ford and Winton.
Scenes from "Men Who Built America"
Even the show “River Monsters” hosted by Jeremy Wade have had occasion to show a Wilmot-Breeden Calormeter motometer on a vehicle.
“American Pickers” program has featured its greedy and overly ambitious hosts grabbing at motometers and over estimating the worth and value of their “rusty gold.”
Eagle motif Radiator Cap and Reproduction Motometer from "American Pickers" shows
Even the 1960s television program "The Munsters" got in on the motometer phenomenum when in an episode Grandpa Munster is shown attaching a BOYCE MOTO-METER™ Radio-meter Type model to the George Barris created Munster-mobile (shown below).
A PBS biography of Walt Disney, that originally aired on September 14, 2015 showed a quick frame or two of Walt standing beside his mid ‘20s Moon automobile with a GideLite Radiator Cap motometer.
Walt Disney, his 1920s Moon with GideLite Motometer
Other recent movies include Ron Howard’s 2005 “Cinderella Man” and Joe Johnston’s 2011 “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
If you decide to watch these films, movies and television programs you will need a very quick and keen eye to see the motometer images in the very limited frames or be ready to work your DVD or DVR’s rewind or frame –by– frame button(s), but the image(s) are there.
Motometers do appear in more places than just on antique automobiles at auto swap meets or in magazines and old books. Many films and television shows do, however use or show reproduction BOYCE MOTO-METERs either out of convenience, ignorance, because they appear shiny and new or because the prop wrangler, production manager or director do not know the difference and think that it provides an authentic look. But, we know the difference and now so do you.