These posters are for trade purposes only and are not for sale. Please refer to my want list for things that are of interest.
With the war over, the baby boom was on. Times were good, but the memories were bad. The wholesome artificiality of the Production Code that made everything so shiny and clean now seemed a mockery of the death, rot and corruption those mid-west farmboys and girls had just survived. The war had forever changed the American psyche, and the films mirrored that change.
Gradually, filmmakers started testing the boundaries of what was allowed, subverting cliches, and reaching back into territory that hadn't been visited in almost 20 years. The advent of television and the collapse of the studio system hastened the end of the Production Code as Hollywood was forced to tackle stories that would never be allowed on TV. Fully "mature" films were being made once again in Europe, but the US film industry was quickly catching up.
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|BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) - This original release US title card nicely captures the wound-up tension in the Powell and Pressburger classic.
It's hard to believe such a staggering movie could be created by such an unlikely story. "Black Narcissus" is the penultimate expression of the power of old school Technicolor in the hands of true masters.
|WOMAN ON THE BEACH, THE (1947) - Once again, the poster master at RKO puts out another winner with this precursor to the
classic 1950s bad girl one sheets.
Just to get it out of the way, Joan Bennett is no good in Jean Renoir's film noir story of sadistic blind artists, recuperating Robert Ryans, and cheatin' women on the beach.
|COCAINA (aka LETTERA ALL'ALBA, UNA) (c. 1948) - Telling the gritty story of a Milanese cocaine dealer working the
post-war streets, the film is considered a forgotten Italian noir classic.
This appears to be a Spanish poster of some sort.
|COCAINE, THE THRILL THAT KILLS (aka LETTERA ALL'ALBA, UNA) (c. 1951) - I finally figured out that this is NOT a re-release of
Willis Kent's "Pace That Kills," but is in fact the US release of the Italian noir about the trials and tribulations of
a cocaine dealer in post-war Milan. Completely over-the-top graphics make this a classic poster of the genre.
Original US release window card has been paperbacked to perfection.
|TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, THE (aka TRESOR DE LA SIERRA MADRE, LE) (c. 1948) - It's a shame that such a great movie has
such dreary domestic posters. Suffering the full brunt of the craptacularity Warner Brothers lent their late '40s artwork, it's down to the
lobby cards before anything becomes at all appealing.
So I was left with looking to foreign material for something to be representin'. This post-war Belgian is, to my eyes, the best thing available on "Treasure..." As always, beautiful artwork by Wik of the 3 principals, plus the shootout with the banditos in the background.
|DEVIL'S SLEEP (1949) - One of the first completely unabashed pill movies, this poster came in at least two different colors,
green and brown. Both seem contemporary with each other so who knows whether one is earlier than the other.
Telling the tragic story of a judge's daughter who gets hopped up on goofballs - even decent people can be lured into drug addiction! Starring the former wives of two major silent comedians (Chaplin and Lloyd), the brother of Robert Mitchum (who was alleged to have a bit of reefer problem of his own), with that much osmotic talent, how could this not be good?
On the upside, they certainly nailed the poster.
|GEFAHRLICHE JAGD (aka DANGEROUS HUNT) (1949) - Almost right out of the gate, the German film industry takes up jungle movies
from nearly where they left off. There's precious little information about this film, it's possible it could be recut or re-released
footage from some of the earlier ethnographic movies.
The graphics on this are just superb, the unknown artist has composed an image that practically throws your eyeball off the poster with the tiger's dramatic pounce. I suspect the artist was one of the old timers, it has a very 1930s look.
|SHE SHOULDA SAID NO (aka WILD WEED, aka DEVIL'S WEED) (ca. 1951) - Lila Leeds was able to leverage her participation in the Robert Mitchum marihuana
arrest into a lead role in the next generation of "modern" reefer movies. Degradation, insanity, and death naturally result from poor Lila's
experiments with the wild weed. Still, a girl had to work.
The fates were not as kind to Leeds as they were to Mitchum, post arrest. While in prison she became addicted to heroin, and found herself unable to find legitimate work, leaving her with this magnum opus as one of her only contributions to filmdom. Finally coming off the junk after a spiritual vision in 1966, she ran a ministry for other drug addicts out of her tiny Hollywood apartment in the early '70s.
This original 30x40" is for Kroger Babb's attempts to sell the film as a midnight movie, and is the first such poster I've seen that does that. Happily, lovely Lila is prominently pictured.
|WEISSE FRACHT FUR RIO (aka CARGAISON BLANCHE aka WHITE CARGO) (R1950) - Post-war German re-release of the 1937 French film.
Directed by Robert Siodmak, there's nothing to revitalize the spirit of a defeated nation like a white slavery movie. This has it all, plucky reporter, killer pimp, and nekkid bathing scenes. The poster nicely captures the spirit of pale skinned virgins accosted by grabby Brazilians.
Ach, mutter, can the fraulein's dignity remain intact?
|MARIHUANA, EL TABACO NEGRO DEL DIABLO (aka MARIHUANA STORY) (1950) - Excellent Mexican poster for the Argentinean film,
directed by Leon Klimovsky. There's a good possibility this is for a later re-release.
Still, it's nice to see el diablo takes as much interest in luring our friends from south of the border as he does with English speakers.
|GUN CRAZY (aka DEADLY IS THE FEMALE) (1950) - Like Edgar Ulmer before him, Joseph Lewis was able to completely re-invent
what was possible in a low budget production. Racy stories with clear "adult" overtones hint at the advances independent films would make just a
couple of decades later, putting the '50s poverty row productions at the forefront of cinematic growth.
This lobby card so perfectly reflects the gritty, Weegee-like aspects of "Gun Crazy," as exemplified by the virtuoso single take bank robbery scene, that it is arguably the best scene in the set. Cinema verite before there was cinema verite.
|ORPHEE (1950) - Original French release. Substandard linen backing.
Jean Cocteau's masterpiece of post-war cinema sets the stage for much of the experimental filmmaking that was to come. With his dream-like imagery, Cocteau invokes all the tricks from the avant garde to provide a jaw-dropping experience for 1950s sophistos, and must have certainly provoked John Wayne to apoplexy.
|ACE IN THE HOLE (aka THE BIG CARNIVAL) (1951) - Quite possibly the most cynical movie from the most cynical filmmaker of the
golden era of Hollywood. Who would think that media types would manipulate a crisis for their own career and ratings motives? What
strange times the '50s were, thank goodness the media of today doesn't engage in these sorts of questionable practices!
Kirk Douglas and Billy Wilder at the top of their game. Unfortunately, the "Ace in the Hole" title was considered to be...inappropriate, so the studio went out with "The Big Carnival." It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the kids and families who went to this film thinking it was a circus picture were left disappointed, and the movie tanked.
An underappreciated gem. Seek it out.
|NATIVE SON (aka SANGRE NEGRA) (1951) - It is extremely rare for a novelist to make an appearance in the film adaptation of one of their novels,
(Mickey Spillane being the only other one that comes to mind), but to have an author of such importance and notoriety as Richard Wright whose
groundbreaking novel "Native Son" was the first major work by an African American writer to break the color barrier and gain widespread readership in the US is nearly unprecedented. It would be the equivalent of Ernest Hemmingway starring in "The Old Man and the Sea" or John Steinbeck taking on
the role of Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath." While Wright was almost certainly miscast - he was a far better writer than actor and was at least
a decade too old for the role, it was the only way the film was going to be made, and a more unlikely way to make a film has probably never been tried!
Beyond the novels thematic problems - a black man killing a rich white woman - Wright was also mired in the House Un-American Activities Committee witch-hunts due to his flirtation with the Communist Party as an editor of one of their rags. It would have been simply impossible to get the film made through a Hollywood studio, and in fact was impossible to even film in this country. Producer Walter Gould enlisted the help of French director Pierre Chenal and eventually chose Argentina to replicate the gritty streets of Chicago. Unfortunately for the film, the local actors were unable to say their lines with any sort of convincing American accent so desperate measures were taken and basically any expatriate who could utter a coherent syllable was enlisted to re-dub the soundtrack. The combination of amateur actors with the Argentinean professionals was nearly fatal, however Chenal did manage to create what is considered to be one of the first African American "noir" films. The movie was further mutilated by about one third when it did finally reach the US, as virtually any 'controversial' part of the film was removed so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of the locals.
In spite of all this, Wright's adaptation represents a true milestone in the cinema, as well as on the road to desegregation. It would take another decade before the country would even begin discussing the "racial problem" in any meaningful way, and Wright was at the forefront of making that discussion possible.
This is the original release, country of origin (so to speak) Argentinian one sheet. For more information on the amazing story of the film and posters, click here. Well worth translating.
|DIARY OF OHARU (aka SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA) (c. 1952) - Original Italian release locandina.
Director Kenji Mizoguchi is one of the founding fathers of Japanese cinema, and one of the first to be recognized in the west for his astonishing abilities. The "Life (or Diary) of Oharu" was Mizoguchi's dream project, filmed at great personal expense, but is one of his true masterpieces, which along with "Ugetsu" the following year, put him at the center of the world soundstage.
Period Mizoguchi Kenji posters are always desirable, and difficult to come by.
|BIG JIM MCLAIN (aka MARIHUANA) (1952) - Clearly, different cultures have different perspectives on "current"
events of the day; this poster captures that difference beautifully. While for the US, consumed with cold war paranoia, the story concerned
our man John looking for commies in Hawai'i, the foreign markets changed his search to the dreaded reefer. I'm not sure which makes more sense.
That aside, this difference makes for some spectacular foreign posters for "Big Jim McClain," this original release German among them. If anybody needed to find marihuana, it was John Wayne. Perhaps we would have been spared "The Green Berets" if he'd actually found some...
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