Original Movie Posters to Trade

These posters are for trade purposes only and are not for sale. Please refer to my want list for things that are of interest.

1900-1919 1920-1929 1930-1945 1946-1964 1965-1979 1980-Present

1921 - 1929:

The 1920s saw it all, from unparalleled economic growth to deepest depression (hmmm, why does that sound familiar?), and the movie industry also experienced as radical a change. Artists and craftspeople like F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, and others (not forgetting about those early women directors like Olga Preobrazhenskaya) proved silent cinema to be a legitimate form of artistic expression with films like "Sunrise," "Metropolis," and scores of other masterpieces.

The decade closed not only with the start of the Great Depression, but with the advent of talking pictures. And boy, did they talk. Burdened by enormously clunky cameras, microphones, and sound recorders, all the progress made in the previous years virtually disappeared as the early talkies were stagebound and enamored with the sound of their own newly audible voices.

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Photo Title/Description Price

EXECUTION DE MACISTE (aka MACISTE IN AFRICA?) (c. 1920s) - Whitey's worst nightmare.

This was sold to me as "Maciste in Africa," and OK, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. This distributor has a couple of other posters that I've seen for titles that are also impenetrable. I suspect they took films and repackaged them under completely different titles, very possibly without the original owner's express written consent.

'E'er 'tis, 'tis spectacular, particularly in person and on the wall.

Trade Only (T.O.)

BRANDED WOMAN, THE (1920) - Oh, woe, woe! is poor Norma Talmadge. Born of a harlot mother who runs a gambling house, she is spared the associated indignities by being raised by her puritanical grandfather the Judge, who has forbidden her mother, Dot, from ever seeing her again. As should be expected, in an effort to get back at the Judge, Dot visits Norma at her very proper boarding school, is recognized as a fallen woman and as a consequence Norma is expelled for her mother’s indecency. Rescued by the Judge from Mom’s gambling den and all the loathsome activities her mother is involved with, he sends Norma to Europe where she falls in love and marries, not telling her husband of her indecent past. Once hubby discovers Norma’s shame, he casts her aside.

These are just the sorts of stories (in this case, co-written by Anita Loos), that made Talmadge’s career so successful. What is most interesting is the insight they give us into the pre-flapper era mindset of society towards women, ‘branding’ children with the indiscretions of their parents, and as a highly visible relic of both Victorian morality and a pre-Marx class system that pervaded the culture at the time.

Original Swedish one sheet, dated 1923 in the image, art by Håkansson.

T.O.

CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, THE (1920) - Whether it was a function of artistic intent or having no budget, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set the standard for modernist design in both its staging and its posters. Artist Marcel Vértes was the perfect match for the film, eventually triumphing in both media, among many others.

Vértes was born in Hungary but like many others of his generation began a search for something different after his experiences in The War to End All Wars. Prior to landing in Paris, he spent a couple of years in Vienna where he managed to secure work as an artist, including several designs used to promote Caligari. His fluid, yet manic and expressionistic style was in perfect sync with Robert Wiene’s vision for the story of Cesare the somnambulist and the doctor who keeps him as a sideshow attraction. Rarely was such explicitly avant garde artwork used in western film posters, and as such, having one in the collection is a real treat. Eventually Vértes would find his way to Hollywood where he would win Oscars for Costume Design and Art Direction for John Huston’s Moulin Rouge, thus completing the artistic circle.

Little is readily known about composer Otto Weber. He published several songs around the time of the Great War, then drops into obscurity. I’ve only been able to come up with one recording of the Caligari Foxtrot, a 2001 effort put out by the Film Museum Berlin, Musik zum deutschen film, Vol. 1 1900 – 1945, but have not been able to secure a copy. If anybody has access to one, I’d love to hear this track. Alternatively, if anybody has the capability of recording it I’d be happy to make the score available.

T.O.

HIGH AND DIZZY (1920) - One of Harold LLoyd's "thrill pictures" that made him so famous and popular. Set at the start of prohibition, Harold and his dentist pal get into some home brew, (strictly speaking, filing cabinet brew) and are off on a tipsy good time.

The lobby card features a fantastic shot of Harold, his real life friend Roy Brooks (who would later become his assistant at his estate), and his future wife, Mildred Davis. It is the entire Harold Lloyd inner circle in a very early Pathe card. Restored borders.

T.O.

ON WITH THE DANCE (1920) - “A remarkable story of reckless husbands, pleasure seeking wives, shimmy dancers, [and] jazz bands…”, On With the Dance was former Follies girl Mae Murray’s first film for Famous Players-Lasky in New York. Mae stars as a dancing Russian orphan who plunges into the lifestyles of the rich and famous among Broadway’s swells, ending up on trial for the murder of one of her admirers.

Created by the husband and wife team of George Fitzmaurice and his screenwriter wife, Ouida Bergère, the couple was prolific in the late teens and early ‘20s working with most of the major stars of the day. The team would not last though as Bergère grew tired of life in her husband’s shadow, feeling that wives who subsumed themselves for their husbands were “high grade morons.” Taking a job with a rival company, Bergère dumped Fitzmaurice and took up with a dashing young actor named Basil Rathbone. They would marry and become one of the most prominent couples in Hollywood, with a marriage that lasted an astonishing 41 years.

This is an original release window card, in rough, trimmed condition, but still quite stunning.

T.O.

SICK ABED (aka KÄRLEKS PATIENTEN) (1920) – An early romantic comedy where, to keep from having to testify in a divorce case against his client, Wallace Reid has to come up with a phony illness that will trick his doctors enough to keep him in the hospital and away from the courtroom. As inevitably happens, Wally falls in love with his nurse, the delightful Bebe Daniels, in the process.

This is an original Swedish poster (dated 1922 in the plate) that is filled with unintended irony and pathos. Reid, one of the major stars of the late ‘teens and early ‘20s, had suffered a horrific accident during the filming of 1919’s The Valley of the Giants and, thanks to the studio doctor that was more interested in keeping the production going than in Wally’s health, was prescribed morphine, which the actor became a notorious slave to for the remainder of his short and tragic life. It’s hard to know if the poster artist has portrayed Wally as so vigorously chasing Bebe or the spoon and “medicine” she’s carrying.

In the end it was the “medicine” that caught Reid though. He died in a sanitarium in 1923 attempting to recover from his addiction.

T.O.

SOFT BOILED YEGG, THE (1920) - In 1920, after his exit from Mack Sennett’s studio, silent comedian B-lister Chester Conklin made three extremely rare films, Home Rule, The Soft Boiled Yegg (working title: Who Am I?), and His Model Day. Virtually unknown today, they were the result of Chester attempting to stretch out on his own by partnering with West Coast stage producer/director A. Lincoln Hart and the dodgy associate of Thomas Ince, J. Parker Read, Jr. and his doomed Special Pictures distribution company.

Hart had apparently hooked up with Read via an association with actress and ‘teens sensation Louise Glaum. Read had produced many of her films, including the smash hit Sex, and it’s possible Hart knew Glaum from her stage roles. Unfortunately it was a disaster for all involved as Read never paid Hart what was due for the Conklin films and the producer had to sue. Things didn’t work out much better for Louise as she eventually ended up suing Read as well, only for substantially more. Read, in true Hollywood fashion, allegedly ducked Glaum’s subpoenas by pretending to be a coal stoker on a boat for Europe, where he hid out until things cooled off. Further complicating the situation, Read’s soon-to-be-ex-wife claimed he had been nailing Glaum all along, which no doubt had slowed her reaction to Read’s deadbeatery.

Ultimately these complications have apparently been lethal to the survival of the three Conklin films as they have been almost entirely forgotten, although this film does exist at the Library of Congress. Even paper on them is extremely rare, therefor having this wonderful scene showing Chester as the not-so-good yegg is a treasure.

T.O.

TIGER'S COAT, THE (1920) - This original release lobby card is as remarkable as the life of the film’s star, Tina Modotti. The story concerns switched identities when Tina, a poor Mexican peasant, is mistaken for the daughter of the friend of a rich department store heir, who takes her on as his ward and eventually his bride-to-be. The scene shown portrays Modotti dancing at her wedding party in a costume she reportedly designed herself and is notable as her only featured role in a very short career in Hollywood.

This brief flirtation with stardom would perhaps be the least interesting aspect to this extraordinary woman. Moving from boho Hollywood, Modotti would become the lover, model, muse, and student of not only one of the most important photographers in the US, Edward Weston, but after moving to Mexico (synchronicity!), to muralists Diego Rivera and Xavier Guerrero.

Under Weston’s tutelage, Modotti became an accomplished photographer on her own, and in fact for a time one of her photographs held the record for the highest price ever achieved in that medium. She also became an avowed and unashamed communist, who after being expelled from Mexico, travelled the globe as an agent for Stalinist Russia, including stints in both Moscow as a bureaucrat and Spain as a spy in the Civil War. Eventually coming to the same conclusion as Rivera about Stalin – the non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany apparently finally doing the trick – she met the same fate as earlier Trotskyites J. A. Mella (and Trotsky himself), assassination in Mexico.

To call this lobby card extremely rare would be doing it an immense disservice.

T.O.

TWILIGHT BABY, A (1920) - Actress, model, fashion designer, whatever, Virginia Rappe was at the center of arguably the biggest and most controversial event in the history of motion pictures – the ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle trial for her “murder.” Vilified by Arbuckle fans as a syphilitic skank, immortalized by militant Women’s Vigilance Clubs as a powerless victim, Rappe was none of those things. What is certain is that after a drunken mid-day party in the suite of Roscoe Arbuckle she died from complications of a ruptured bladder, ending her life and Arbuckle’s acting career. One of the first fashion models that could be recognized by name in the 20th Century, Rappe was adept at keeping that name in the papers, so as she started to age out of modelling, (she routinely dropped 5 years from her birthday), it was only natural that she would make her way to Hollywood for film stardom. Sadly, it didn’t work out, although her continuing fame is assured.

What this original release lobby card does show is that Virginia Rappe was more than the mere extra her detractors tried to paint her as. Granted she was getting her parts by being the girlfriend of the director, in this case comedy stalwart Henry Lehrman, but this was no different from many other actresses, then and now, including the wives and girlfriends of both Arbuckle and Harold Lloyd, although at the time of the deadly party Rappe and Lehrman were separated. Lehrman had created his own mini studio and production company specializing in comedy shorts and Rappe landed the leading female roles in four of them, A Twilight Baby being the first of the series. Telling the tale of a baby abandoned by his ne’er-do-well father who is initially raised by kindly farm animals only to become a bootlegger (Hamilton) who clashes with other bootleggers when his girl (Rappe) uses them to make him jealous, the film received positive reviews although more praise was heaped on the animals than the actors.

Rappe’s co-star, Lloyd Hamilton, is one of the forgotten footnotes of silent comedy despite being highly regarded by his peers. Half of one of the first film comedy duos in cinema history, “Ham and Bud,” (partnered with Bud Duncan), Hamilton went on to star by himself in scores of shorts throughout the ‘20s before drinking himself to death in 1935.

What’s intriguing is that while Hamilton and Rappe were making A Twilight Baby at Lehrman’s studio, none other than ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle was there as well shooting two films, (he claimed it was the only way he would have ever have been repaid for a debt owed to him by Lehrman). In one of the more dubious allegations made at his trial a Lehrman security guard claimed Arbuckle had tried to get the key to Rappe’s dressing room - presumably for nefarious reasons - although in the unlikely event it had actually occurred it probably had more to do with Arbuckle’s love of practical jokes over forcible sodomy.

The most intriguing aspect of it all is that after the trials, and his eventual acquittal, Arbuckle was able to resume his career as a director and in 1925, just 4 years after the death of Rappe, he began directing films starring this very same Lloyd Hamilton. One wonders if the subject of Rappe ever came up – as Arbuckle and Hamilton must have surely spoken to each other when they were on the lot together with her in 1920, even if only as fellow comedy stars acknowledging each other? Or was the subject of the dead starlet the Arbuckle sized elephant in the room that both men desperately avoided? Alas, we’ll never know. What we do know is that this Virginia Rappe lobby card is one of the rarest of rarities in movie poster collecting.

T.O.

GIRL WITH THE JAZZ HEART, THE (1921) - Hey, her eyes are up there - and that ain't her heart.

Magnificent 22x28" that features a dual role for star Madge Kennedy. One of the last Goldwyn movies shot in New York before Sam moved all operations to Hollywood, it tells the tale of a young Mennonite woman who tries to escape her upcoming wedding by going to the big city, where she encounters...JAZZ MUSIC, and pals around with Madge's other role, a flapper phone operator who is crazy for the jazz.

Rather astonishingly, this poster also features the small part played by Gilda Gray, who is credited with introducing "the shimmy" to modern dance, bless her slutty soul. Guess which one she is? (Hint: she's not dressed like a nun.) If anybody epitomized the jazz age in these, its earliest days, it would be Gray. Syncopated, liberated, and fueled up on bathtub gin.

The Roaring '20s were starting to roar.

T.O.

JUST AROUND THE CORNER (1924) - A Frances Marion production, Just Around the Corner was set in the tenements of New York and told the tale of young dreamer who falls in love with a chiseler who wants nothing to do with her or her family. Marion was perhaps the most important early female screenwriter and director of the U.S. silent era. She had the clout to do basically whatever she wanted and it’s a shame she doesn’t get the respect she deserves today as her output was as literate and intelligent as it was successful.

Swedish star Sie Holmqvist (aka Sigrid Holmquist) was brought to the States and given the nickname “The Swedish Mary Pickford,” a title, as might be expected, she despised. Naturally she would rather have been known for her own talents rather than being seen as a knockoff of the biggest star in America. Holmquist never really caught on with the public despite a few critical and financial successes.

This original Swedish one sheet has lovely graphics, which nicely captures the pathos of a girl from the slums.

T.O.

MOONLIGHT FOLLIES (1921) - One of the forgotten stars of the silent era, who, if she's remembered at all, it's for her appearance in Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon" as the drunken starlet who got eaten by her dog.

Marie Prevost started out as one of Mack Sennett's "bathing beauties," until she was plucked out of the chorus line by none other than Carl Laemmle. This lobby card is from right at her beginnings with Laemmle when her career seemed so promising. Sadly things didn't turn out so well. Her "full figured" frame, which was such an asset in the first 20 years of the century when that was the feminine ideal, proved to be a disadvantage in the later half of the roaring '20s, and the good roles started drying up. In the spirit of the times, Marie turned to booze, crash dieting, and purebred dachshunds for solace.

By the time she drank herself to death in 1937, among other things, she had resorted to borrowing funds from her friend Joan Crawford to keep afloat. Authorities were alerted to her demise by neighbors who complained about the incessant barking from her dog. Entering her apartment, she was found in her bed with bite marks all over her arms. The better story of course is that the dog was eating her to stay alive, but in truth, it's more likely that it was just biting her in an attempt to revive her. Ahh, Hollywood!

A very poignant card for an actress who deserves better.

T.O.

SMALL TOWN IDOL, A (1921) - Ben Turpin was one of the top silent comedians of the teens and twenties, yet his shtick goes further back into the theater variety acts and "vaudeville" of the late 19th century. Along with other B-list comics such as Snub Pollard, Chester Conklin, and others, Turpin used his outlandish physical appearance, in Turpin's case, his crossed eyes (said to be the result of a knock to the head), to create comedic empires for themselves.

In "Small Town Idol," Turpin returns to a story he would remake several times, a local boy who breaks into movies. In this case, merciless bullying by the local bad guy forces Ben to flee to Hollywood where he becomes a star. I suspect this scene is where Turpin, decides to go to Hollywood to meet his favorite film star, pictured in the "poster" shown.

Unique in that it is a very early "movie poster within a movie poster," it's also interesting in that the star on the poster Ben so admires is none other than Sennett regular Marie Prevost, getting a better part, but still in the costume from her Bathing Beauty past. This was one of her last roles for Sennett before she was "discovered" by Carl Laemmle.

T.O.

WONDERFUL THING, THE (aka FREDAGEN DEN 13DE) (??) (1921) – This is apparently for the 1921 Norma Talmadge vehicle, The Wonderful Thing, although I’m relying strictly on the knowledge of the seller as there are no other clues on the poster beyond the equally enigmatic Swedish title of Friday the 13th to identify it as such. The poster is dated to 1923 in the image, so it is certainly quite an early release no matter what it is.

What is indisputable is the beauty of this original Swedish poster by the prolific artist ‘Håkansson.’ Norma is at the height of her ‘20s persona, stylishly dressed with a long string of pearls, virtually epitomizing the era that was coming on with a roar.

T.O.

ROBIN HOOD (1922) - Original release lobby card.

One of the most influential actors of the 1920s, Douglas Fairbanks created a film empire as the ultimate swashbuckling hero, pre-dating Errol Flynn by more than a decade. "Robin Hood" was among the first of these films and clearly set the standard for all future incarnations. Fairbanks later joined with his wife Mary Pickford, director D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin to create the enormously successful independent production and distribution company, United Artists.

This card shows the other side of Fairbanks, and that was the lover who made flappers swoon. While over-done bleaching has done this card no favors, I simply adore this scene. Beautifully composed, it has a fairy tale quality which really evokes a nostalgia for a time when it was clear who the good guys were - and they always got the girl.

T.O.

BLACK SHADOWS (1923) – Edward A. Salisbury was one of the preeminent early ethnographic filmmakers of the 20th Century. Outfitting his yacht the Wisdom, and then later the Wisdom II, with its own film laboratory, he went about filming the far corners of the world. Setting off from his home base in Los Angeles in 1920, he spent 18 months sailing among the islands of the Southwest Pacific in search of “headhunters.”

The remarkable thing is he actually found them. One of the warring tribes of the Solomon Islands obligingly fit the bill, lead by their warrior Chief Gau – footage of whom would later be spliced into the infamous “Gow the Head Hunter.” The grisly results of one of their raiding parties provided the finale for “Black Shadows.”

This extremely rare original release lobby card shows Chief Gau and the rest of his army coming back with their “trophies.”

T.O.

HUMAN WRECKAGE (1923) - Mrs. Wallace Reid, aka actress Dorothy Davenport, tackled the perils of morphine addiction on the heels of hubby Mr. Wallace Reid's recent, and notorious, demise from the very same. Whether done out of genuine altruism, guilty penance, or simply an Esperian love of making money, "Human Wreckage" is one of the founding films of exploitation cinema. Sadly, it is another of our lost treasures as no prints are known to exist.

This is an original release slide. Used as filler before and between features, these were the forerunners to the movie trailer or coming attraction. Any material from this film is extremely difficult to come by, and I'm grateful to have this.

T.O.

SALOME - (1923) - Original release lobby card features Aubrey Beardsley style border art.

Alla Nazimova was one of the true forces of nature in early cinema. Moving from the Moscow Art Theater, to Broadway, and finally to Hollywood, Nazimova was as revolutionary in her creative choices as she was in her personal life. Personally financing many of her own films, much to the horror of her accountants, she was constantly pushing the creative limits of both the stage and screen.

Her version of "Salome," coming a mere 5 years after Theda Bara's mammoth production, is perhaps the closest Hollywood ever got to the expressionistic cinemas of Europe and the Soviet Union. Owing much to "The Cabinet of Caligari," while at the same time also possibly influencing such films as "Aelita, Queen of Mars," (although it might just been a reflection of Russian stage craft absorbed during her training), Nazimova pushed the boundaries of film stylization with sets and designs by Natacha Rambova, Rudolph Valentino's "wife," and her (rumored to be) all gay cast.

Regrettably, ma and pa down on the farm had little to no interest in her cinematic explorations. Her films bombed and Alla was eventually forced to sell her legendary love nest, The Garden of Allah, and resorted to small roles in talkies, although she did triumph again on the New York stage. A true original in every sense of the word, Nazimova is another of Hollywood's unjustly forgotten stars.

T.O.

STAGE FRIGHT - (1923) - One of the longest running comedy series in film history, Hal Roach’s short subjects featuring an unapologetically racially and gender mixed cast, the Rascals went through many generations of young actors as they aged out to be replaced by a younger members. This original release title card features the best of the first generation Gang including Joe Cobb, Ernie Morrison, and of course, the delightful Farina.

Stage Fright gets off to a rocky start with poor Ernie and Farina being used as native dancers by a con man out to swindle the local dames. Later the kids ‘put on a show’ with predictably disastrous results.

T.O.
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