These posters are for trade purposes only and are not for sale. Please refer to my want list for things that are of interest.
From the depths of the depression to the end of the Second World War, movies quickly mastered the art of sound and created some of the most timeless films ever made. Spanning the anything goes pre-Production Code era, through the keep-your-shirt-on-bad-people-don't-prosper times, to finally starting to grow up once the realities of World War and the atrocities seen right on the local movie screen begin to seep into the public consciousness.
The re-awakening was still to come, but the groundwork was set.
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|COCAINE, THE THRILL THAT KILLS (c. 1930s-1940s) - It's impossible to know, but this is possibly some version of
"The Pace That Kills."
This poster represents a true exploitation stock poster. Essentially printers would have a supply of a certain generic poster with the title area blank, when a roadshow man would need some posters for his next outing he could have the title of his movie printed in the opening. I have seen this stock art also used for "Human Wreckage" (aka "Sex Madness") so the printer who created it was definitely on the regular route of fourwallers. The artwork is decidedly 1930s, and while it has the same title as a c. 1951 US release, I don't think this is a one sheet for "Lettera all'alba."
|HEI TIKI (1935) - Produced in 1929 and 1930, the film didn’t find a distributor until early 1935, this is an original release US lobby card showing stars Ben Biddle and Ngawara Keriti.
Alexander Markey’s obsession with making a film about the Maoris of New Zealand began after a visit to the country in 1925. Fresh from driving the US branch of Pearson’s Magazine into bankruptcy as its final editor, Markey arrived promoting a quack medical cure for cancer but he ended up falling in love with the people and the country. In 1929, Markey was somehow able to persuade Universal’s Carl Laemmle to front him $50,000 to make a film using an all Maori cast, however, after blowing through most of the budget and 28,000 feet of film he was still only half way through his story. Markey was summarily replaced by assistant director Lew Collins who finished what would eventually become “Under the Southern Cross” (aka “Devil’s Pit” in the USA) on his own.
Undeterred by his lack of success (or visible talent), Markey got some local financing together for his vision of the Maori epic and began all over in 1930. Moving south to the Lake Taupo area for filming, Markey renewed his von Stroheim-esque quest for cinematic glory. As was usual with these sorts of films and the men who made them, the locals were left with a pile of unpaid bills after the producers buggered off back home to America to slap together what would become “Hei Tiki.” Despite his personal condescension towards them, Markey was instrumental in creating two of the earliest native New Zealand feature films using exclusively Maori talent.
|KLIOU (THE KILLER) (R-ca. 1943) - Along with Legong (see below), Kliou was one of the last two-strip Technicolor (and silent) films ever made, and both were the creation of Marquis Henri de La Falaise, husband to the stars, in this instance Constance Bennett although he had earlier found a home with Gloria Swanson.
Filmed in the former French protectorate of Annam, (present day Vietnam), it tells the usual tale of a local heathen boy falling in love with a seemingly unattainable local heathen girl and the tiger that will finally bring them together, courtesy of mauling dear old Dad.
This original one sheet is likely from the early 1940s, when the war in the Pacific had provided a second life for ethnographic films of the ‘30s from areas that were now on the front lines. In 1941 agent Rex Cole had been assigned the rights to the film (as well as Legong) by the Bennetts and had to sue former distributor Du World to get the prints back. The suit dragged on for over two years and while this could be a case of Du World sticking it to the man while the lawsuit was litigated, it seems more likely given the lack of any Du World credit it came after the case was resolved but before Annam became more commonly known as Vietnam in 1945.
|LEGONG (1935) - One of the last two-strip Technicolor films ever made, filmed by actress Constance Bennett's husband,
Henri Le Bailly de La Falaise, Marquis de La Coudraye, "Legong" is the epitome of the cynical 1930s ethnographic film. While the filmmakers might have
actually had noble thoughts about preserving disappearing cultures and so forth, once the celluloid hit the States, it was about the nekkid wimmin.
Since it was decidedly not OK for white wimmin to show their dirty pillows on screen, it was convenient that it was OK for the heathen
savages to flash theirs. Several generations of men are thankful for that loophole.
These lobby cards are well used, but also provide some beautiful shots of Bali, the Balinese, and the Balinese breastuses.
|SUDAN (aka STRUGGLE FOR LIFE) (ca. 1935) - Title card for early ethnographic film.
Most likely 1935's "Struggle For Life." Maj. C. Court Treatt and his wife spent good parts of the '20s and early '30s driving around Africa making movies. As was common among these ethnographic films, ham-fisted stories were concocted around the footage they had shot. Later, they would barnstorm these films across the country, offering a unique opportunity for the local mouth-breathers to get a peek at nekkid savages. The significance of that fact will remain uncommented on, suffice to say, fortunes were made.
|JAWS OF THE JUNGLE (1936) - Another poster that must be seen to be believed. The stone litho colors are positively 3
dimensional, and the bad kitty and crazy bat practically leap off the paper.
Vampire bats attack a Ceylonese village (don't ask...), and other equally unethically treated animal scenes make up the bulk of this cross between a jungle movie and an ethnographic film. With such a great poster though, much can be forgiven.
|UNTER HEISSEM HIMMEL (1936) - Telling the story of a noble German sea captain who is lured into transporting pianos to
Africa, but the pianos turn out to be guns! Imagine the embarrassment! Given the political situation at the time,
the Reich would be aghast at such confusion.
This Japanese poster for the German film reflects a very interesting series of intersecting paths. The cinematic co-operation of having a Nazzy produced film screened in soon-to-be Axis partner, Japan, I think clearly shows the hand of Goebbels priming the propaganda pump. For the Empire of Japan, showing the military credentials of your future partner would also be a benefit.
There are ambassadors of film, and then there are ambassadors of film.
|MARIHUANA (WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL) (1936) - The reefer movie Dwain Esper actually directed.
This is an original release, "Pacific Show Print" one sheet. There are a LOT of different versions of this poster out there, but there is only one original release and this is it. From the '30s hairstyles, to the wisp of smoke which is not present on any other versions going forward, there is no doubt in my mind, this is the first state of the classic poster that Dwain created in 1936, and first went out with him on the road.
After a hard day, there's nothing like injecting a little reefer to kick off the shame and despair.
|MARIHUANA (WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL) (1936) - Original "Pacific Show Print" window card, paper backed.
This is the original 1936 release window card art. Notice the similarities to the one sheet, but also notice the differences. This was clearly a second set of art work, that was just as clearly done by the same artist at the same time as the one sheet. Again, the smoke from the poor woman at the bottom stops appearing on any other artwork from this point forward. As the clothing and hairstyles change on the subsequent art, it's obvious that the roadshow men were updating their material, while keeping the highly successful, basic artwork alive. I suspect that random printers were utilized as supplies ran out, as Pacific Show Print stops getting credit on the subsequent print runs.
|MARIHUANA (WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL) (1936) - I suspect this is a little further down the road in the life of "M-WWRIH," since
this is definitely a roadshow type card. Based on generic (and saucy!) border art, 8x10" photos could be fit into the blank openings.
This allowed the roadshow men the ability to customize the lobby cards based on the tolerance levels of each theater's town.
Excellent condition, with a great image of the roman hands of 20-something "teenagers."
|REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES (R'47) - Original re-release tri-fold (no vertical fold) one sheet.
"Revolt of the Zombies" is the unofficial, can't-legally-be-said-to-be-sequel sequel to the seminal "White Zombie." Written and directed by "WZ" creator Victor Halperin, Halperin was sued into submission by his original "White Zombie" distributor and prevented from referencing the previous film in his publicity. Crafty Halperin did manage to slip in footage of Bela Lugosi's piercing eyes, thereby screwing not only the distributor, but no doubt Lugosi as well, since he doesn't appear in the film in any other way, or, needless to say, in the credits.
With the exception of Lugosi's eyes, the film bares utterly no resemblance to the 1933 masterpiece of horror in story or technique. Instead of Haiti we get the jungles of Angkor Wat and the battlefields of Europe as the stomping grounds of the not-quite-dead. While one doesn't ordinarily think of Cambodia when it comes to zombies, who are we to argue with the man who essentially created the genre?
This re-release poster is quite nice and will ultimately have to suffice since the film was quickly pulled in 1933 after the legal troubles, surfacing again briefly in 1941 as a part of the renaissance of South Pacific themed films due to the coming war, and then ultimately in the late 1940s and '50s as the bottom half of double features. Original release material is extremely rare.
|GAMBLING WITH SOULS (ca. 1937) - Oh, father, what can be done about daughter?
Capitalizing on the notoriety of the 'recent' arrest of notorious gangster Lucky Luciano, "Gambling With Souls" provided valuable educational information to keep our virtuous young women informed about the perils of harlotry, and if this didn't scare the virginity back into the promiscuous souls of wayward tarts-to-be, nothing could. Truly dramatic poster for one of the all-time early sleaze classics.
Frankly, I know of no better deterrent for use on rebellious youth than an old geezer waving a disapproving finger at them. Problem solved!
|HOW TO UNDRESS IN FRONT OF YOUR HUSBAND - MARCH OF CRIME - STRANGE ADVENTURES: DWAIN ESPER TRIPLE BILL (c. 1937) - A classic
Dwain Esper triple bill. Dwain would get some films and some posters, load 'em in the trunk of his Caddy, and barnstorm the country "four walling"
local theaters. Basically renting the theater for the night, he'd take most of the gate and provide all his own advertising materials. He
had a very short interval to get people into his screening, so the posters had to strike the potential audience in the lizard parts of the brain.
This one sheet does that magnificently. What could possibly be more enticing than watching the ex-wife of a famous celebrity take her clothes off - but in such a tasteful way that it can serve as instruction for those ladies who lack experience in such matters? The "March of Crime" films ensure those attracted more to the grisly are enticed, plus the Esperized version of "Inyaah" (a fairly legitimate ethnographic film) to enrage the anti-miscegenation goobers guaranteed that his little show would attract a lot of attention, very quickly.
I'm probably the only person on earth who sees just how rare and special this poster is, but it is.
|MOUNTAIN JUSTICE (1937) - Directed by Michael Curtiz.
This lobby card is one of the mysteries of the post-Code era, as it breaks any number of the rules. Perhaps hillbillies fell under the same loophole as naked savages, in that since they weren't "real" people, anything goes. Whatever the case might be, Daughter is forced to undergo beatings from her domineering father, until she escapes and becomes a nurse, only to return for more abuse.
What more could you ask in a film? Mountain folk, child brides, whippin's? Hard to believe Curtiz is remembered for "Casablanca" instead of this.
|ZAMBOANGA (1937) - Directed by Eduardo de Castro, and produced by Americans George Harris and Eddie Tait.
Significantly, "Zamboanga" is the earliest surviving feature film produced in the Philippines and is actually a fairly worthy piece of cinema to
hold that honor. Differing from the majority of the "ethnographic" films of the decade, it is mainly a film for local consumption that
was twisted into exploitation fodder upon reaching the States by Edward Alperson and his doomed Grand National studio.
Battle scenes that are almost epic in nature, coupled with some competent production work - including a surprising tracking shot - separate this from other more primitive regional productions of the time. Equally surprising is its almost blasé view of Islam, not made particularly fun of compared with what we get today, although the lovers do manage to sneak off to frolic during afternoon prayers. The conservative locals where it was filmed, combined with a local target audience less interested in lurid topless savages than worthy storytelling, regrettably left a dearth of 'interest' for local American males, and the film sank quickly in the US.
Star Fernando Poe didn't fare much better. Shown prominently on this original release title card with actress Rosa del Rosario, Poe was a major star in the Philippines but his end was as painful as it was odd. After letting a stray dog lick wounds acquired during filming of a later production, Poe contracted rabies and died from it, certainly making him one of the disease's most famous victims.
|BURNING QUESTION, THE (aka REEFER MADNESS, aka TELL YOUR CHILDREN, aka DOPED YOUTH) (1938) - As noted below, Reefer Madness had an incredibly twisted ride into the psyches of the American public - being seen across the country with at least 4 different titles depending on which film exchange it was booked out of. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the film really reached its…ahem...high point, with its discovery by filthy hippies, bongo playing beatniks, and assorted slackabouts. No longer was it a cautionary tale of woe, it had become the quintessential midnight movie, eclipsed only by The Rocky Horror Picture Show a few years later.
Almost certainly designed for the over-the-top lobby displays that were quite common in the ‘30s and ‘40s, this rare, original release horizontal exploitation sized one sheet would have been just a piece of the bait used to entice the audience of society ladies, educators, and village elders who would be forced, FORCED to view the projected images of beautiful bodies in all of their debauchery to protect the youngsters in their charge from such filth.
|BURNING QUESTION, THE (aka REEFER MADNESS, aka TELL YOUR CHILDREN, aka DOPED YOUTH) (1938) - It seems unlikely that a single film could have a more tortured or misunderstood release history. The film was originally created by low budget producer George Hirliman and known initially as Tell Your Children, as was announced in June of '38 in the trade magazine Variety, and not as it is so often erroneously attributed to 1936. This confusion seems to come from very early sources which conflated Tell Your Children with Dwain Esper’s Marihuana, no doubt compounded by the fact that Dwain incorrectly (and as he did almost habitually) claimed this film as his own in later lawsuits – which he lost.
The film was sold into at least 4 territories for its initial national release. Where the confusion really begins is each territory used their own title for what was the same film. Apparently the first region to get it in mid-1939 was the south, where it went by the original Tell Your Children title. West of Denver, Colorado, the film was generally known as Doped Youth. In the extreme northeast, the film was known as Reefer Madness, while the Pennsylvania/West Virginia region received it as The Burning Question.
That said, this set of 8 original release lobby cards is in superb condition, although the "title" card (actually the card with the actor credits) has been slightly mis-printed. Hardly worth jumping out the window over...unless you're "high" on the reefer!
|TELL YOUR CHILDREN (aka BURNING QUESTION, aka REEFER MADNESS, THE, aka DOPED YOUTH) (c. 1940) -
Original Belgian release, trimmed borders.
Surprisingly, "Reefer Madness," (aka whatever, see above), made it to Europe. Clearly producer Hirliman was able to sell it abroad and is using the southern title of "Tell Your Children," although I prefer the French, "Narcotics" or even the Belgian (roughly) "The Deadly Poison." They're all good! It's something to ponder whether or not "reefer madness" had taken hold as fast on the continent as it did in the USA?
As usual, the Belgian artist beautifully captures the essence of the film, and it even features the deranged piano player having his way with the poor "doped" woman. Surely death will be welcomed over enslavement to the demon weed!
|CHILD BRIDE (1938) - Original one sheet from the exploitation classic.
Justifiably infamous, "Child Bride" must be seen to be believed, and of course THE scene is what's not to be believed. Barely pubescent Shirley Mills, who later appeared in "Grapes of Wrath" for John Ford, does a graphic, but innocent, (although "innocent" strains the definition) skinny dipping scene that would be sure to het up the cousin marriers and child molesters in the audience. Add gratuitous dwarf fights, creepy leering, and nip-slips and you have the makin's of a long run on the "four wall" circuit.
Of course, the truth of the matter is the film was yet another cautionary tale designed to enlighten and warn the quality youth of the follies of marrying 13 year olds to dysfunctional old moonshiners. If only they would learn...
|HUMAN WRECKAGE (aka SEX MADNESS) (1938) - Original release lobby card.
Dwain Esper is often credited as the director of this VD classic, but it is more likely that it is actually a creation of Joseph Seiden and his Cinema Service Corp. Seiden, based out of New York, was a prolific producer of Yiddish films and this would seem to be one of the only exploitation films he ever made. Perhaps he had a "protégé" that needed some work, or maybe he had a deep concern for the genital regions of the youth of today, whatever the reason, the film is one of the classics of the genre.
Once again, decent youth are led astray by the syphilitic showgirls pictured here. Needless to say, their harlotry ruins the procreative lives of the heroes of this cautionary tale.
Once again, I believe IMDB has the sequence of titles listed incorrectly and that "Human Wreckage" is obviously the first release title. "Sex Madness," an easy tie to "Reefer Madness," would only have appeared later, after "Reefer Madness" entered the language of the hip.
Original release material for this title is very difficult to find.
|MARIHUANA (R. 1949) - Fantastic window card with...dramatic artwork. This could be for any of the reefer movies that
were out in the late '30s and early '40s, but of course, the most likely candidate would be Esper's "Marihuana - Weed With, etc." It hardly
It would seem that whoever printed these up might have been attending a tea party or two, either that or they were just a little "sensative" that day.
|MARIHUANA (c. 1930-1940s) - One sheet on linen.
A fantastic stock poster put to good use with one of the reefer movies from the '30s and '40s, most likely Esper's "Marihuana - Weed With Roots in Hell." The allure of this poster is obvious.
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