One of Bryan’s favorite concepts is metatheatricality — those moments when a play seems to be aware of its own status as a piece of theater and comments on it. Bryan talks about the concept in our “Writing New York” course and in his contribution to our Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York, using an example drawn from Royall Tyler’s play The Contrast.
Well, here, for your viewing pleasure is a metatheatrical trailer — designed to promote what would become one of the most famous and beloved Christmas movies of all time. The problem was that the producer, Darryl F. Zanuck, was determined to release the movie in May, because he felt that people were more inclined to go to the movies at the beginning of the summer rather than at the end of the year. So this trailer is designed to promote the film without revealing that it’s actually a Christmas movie. It depicts a fictional producer complaining about the trailer he’s just seen, which promises too many things: “hilarious, romantic, tender exciting — make up your minds, it can’t be all of those things!” He then proceeds to the back lot where he meets a series of stars