Flyer printed on fragile brown paper, announcing the showing of 'Two Great Keystone Comedies': 'Fatty and Mabel's Washing Day' (the correct title is 'Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day') and 'Love and Gasoline'. They are to be shown in the Anzac Hostel, a 'club for soldiers in Cairo...providing all the conveniences of an up to date Hotel'. The shows are scheduled for 20-21 July 1916. The flyer also advertises a 'Grand Concert' by the Anzac Hostel Concert Party on 22 July.

'Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day' and 'Love and Gasoline' were short silent comedies produced by the Keystone Film Company. 'Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day', directed by Roscoe Arbuckle, was released in early 1915. Its cast comprised Mabel Normand (Mabel), Roscoe Arbuckle (Fatty), Harry McCoy (Mabel's husband), Alice Davenport (Fatty's wife), Joe Bordeaux (Joe Bordeau) and Luke the dog. It tells the story of a frienship between a wife and a neighbouring husband that begins on a wash day. A print of the film still exists.

'Love and Gasoline', known as 'The Skidding Joy Riders' in the USA, was directed by Mabel Normand, and was released in early 1914. Its cast comprised Mabel Normand, Mack Swain, Phyllis Allen and Alice Davenport. It is not known to survive.

The bottom of the flyer includes the logo of tobacco company Maspero Freres Ltd, which had been bought by Eastern Tobacco in 1907; its logo was apparently registered in or around 1912. Refer Alexander Kitroeff, The Greeks in Egypt, 1919-1937: Ethnicity and Class, for further information.

According to The Register (Adelaide), the Anzac Hostel had been recently established (by April 1916) to provide Australian and New Zealand soldiers with a place of recreation during 48-hour leave from their World War I service in the Suez Canal area. It included accommodation, an outdoor roof garden hosting 'a cinema show every night' - such as the 'two great Keystone comedies' - and a concert hall with domed ceiling located on the ground floor that could seat 800 (a further 400 if needed could be crowded in). By July 1916, the West Australian was described the Anzac Hostel in Cairo as 'now the rendezvous of all troops in the capital' (6 July 1916, p.7). The hostel was still operating in 1920.

The provenance of this particular flyer is unknown.

Physical Description

Single-page flyer, printed on thin mid-brown paper in blue with red highlights. Vertical edges bordered with linear stem pattern, extended to floral motifs at top and bottom. Extensive text broken mid-way by horizontal lines. Red motif at bottom centre featuring head with elaborate headdress and words 'MASPERO FRERES LTD. / CAIRE EGYPTE' and in banner beneath 'CIGARETTES EGYPTIENNES.' Has been folded in four; now very fragile.


Statement of Signifance:

This flyer is a particularly significant relic of World War I. Records of soldiers' experiences of their time in the Middle East are largely confined to photographs, postcards, letters and tourist souvenirs, and less often personal possessions. The flyer is a rare document of the social lives of soldiers on leave. It is highly ephemeral, advertising just three nights' worth of entertainment at the Anzac Hostel in July 1916, and is printed on cheap, thin paper. It was made just months after the Anzac Hostel was opened in Cairo - apparently a much-needed facility with thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops visiting Cairo for recreation, and notoriously creating havoc for local businesses and residents (see, for example, Peter Stanley's 2010 book Bad Characters).

According to The Register (Adelaide) (13 May 1916, p.10), the Anzac Hostel was established (by April 1916) to provide Australian and New Zealand soldiers with a place of recreation during 48-hour leave from their World War I service in the Suez Canal area.The Cairo Stock Exchange, in a building called The Bourse, was taken over for the purpose. The military authorities gave the YMCA just two weeks to re-purpose the Bourse into the Anzac Hostel. Staff officer Captain Bailieu was appointed Hostel director. Intended to resemble 'club-rooms at home, but on a much larger scale', 350 men could be accommodated each night. Staff met the midnight train from 'the Canal' to arrange bookings and place the soldiers safely into cabs for the journey. A hot buffet awaited the hungry arrivals, made by four French chefs 'supervised by a capable English chef' - in one case a soldier ordered five omlettes and four cups of coffee. After dining, beds with sprung mattresses and clean sheets awaited guests, showers were available on each floor, and guests could sleep in - all uknown luxuries for soldiers in camp. A roof garden with matting roof was divided into sections named after sites in Gallipoli, such as Shrapnel Gully and Quinn's post. The roof garden hosted 'a cinema show every night' - such as the 'two great Keystone comedies'. A concert hall with domed ceiling was located on the ground floor. It could seat 800 (and a further 400 if needed could be crowded in).Other hostel facilities included a library, a barber's shop, 'bootblacks', baths and billiard tables. Reports proudly boasted that 'the behaviour [of the soldiers] has been excellent'.

The Hostel assumed considerable symbolic significance as soon as it opened - it was not merely a place of physical rest and recreation. It was the site of the Anzac memorial ceremony in Cairo in April 1916, after which soldiers marched to the Old Cairo Cemetery to place wreaths on the graves of fallen comrades. The Australian War Memorial holds several photographs of the Hostel during this event, including one showing British, Australian and New Zealand troops (A03811), and another showing soldiers gathering to march to the Old Cairo Cemetery (C01785). The Australian War Memorial does list any further material relating to the Hostel on its web site, further suggesting the rarity of the Keystone comedies flyer.

Finally, the flyer documents the entertainment offered at the Hostel over three nights, providing an insight into what were considered appropriate films for soldiers. Much further work is required into entertainment offered to soldiers during World War I in Cairo.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Mr Michael Reason, 2011

  • Place & Date Used

    Anzac Hostel, Cairo, Egypt, Jul 1916

  • Inscriptions

    Printed: 'SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. / THE ANZAC HOSTEL / A Club for Soldiers In Cairo, / Providing all the conveniences of an up to date Hotel / (Between A.I.F. Headquarters and Savoy Hotel) / THURSDAY & FRIDAY 20th. & 21st. JULY 1916 AT 7.15 p.m. / Two Great Keystone Comedies / Fatty and Mabel's Washing Day / Love and Gasoline / Dont forget the Date. / Thursday and Friday 20th, 21st, at 7.15 p.m. / GRAND CONCERT / BY THE / Anzac Hostel Concert Party / SATURDAY 22nd JULY AT 7.15 p.m. / Admission N.C. O's & Men Free / Reserved Chairs 5 P.T. / PLAN AT HOSTEL PHONE 19-57.' Logo beneath: 'MASPERO FRERES LTD. / CAIRE EGYPTE / CIGARETTES EGYPTIENNES.'

  • Classification

    Military history, Service, Recreation & tourism

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Primary support

    203 mm (Width), 307 mm (Height)

  • References

    Chaplin at Keystone web site [Link 1] and [Link 2] accessed 6/7/2011.

  • Keywords

    Comedy, Films, Performing Arts, World War I, 1914-1918