A one sheet movie poster for the 1923 Paramount Pictures release, Hollywood, realized $89,625 in an auction of Vintage Movie Posters at Heritage Auction Galleries, July 23-25. The graphically stunning and downright bizarre poster depicts the head of a large male, with the word “Hollywood” in relief across his forehead, as a daisy chain of females dance toward his open mouth. All prices include Buyer’s Premium.
The decidedly peculiar poster does little to convey the story of Hollywood, one of hapless wannabe actress Angela, who comes to L.A. – grandpa in tow – and fails to find any work in Tinsel Town while seemingly every one of her relatives get snapped up for the movies. Short on story, the movie was more importantly a showcase of virtually every major movie star of the silent era as Angela, in her rounds of every casting office in town, encounters star after star in her own unsuccessful bid for a slice of fame’s pie.
“This is a simply gorgeous movie poster and certainly one of the more desirable pieces in the hobby,” said Grey Smith, Director of Movie Posters at Heritage. “From “Fatty” Arbuckle, to Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Zasu Pitts and Gloria Swanson; you name the star and they made a cameo.”
One of the most iconic and recognizable posters in the film noir genre, 1946’s Gilda, with a sultry, smoking Rita Hayworth as the title siren, showed the continued popularity of the film, the star and the great graphics of the classic poster as it brought $33,460 from a savvy collector. An exceedingly rare poster from MGM’s first –and arguably most important – musical, The Broadway Melody, came in at just more than $31,000.
“The importance of The Broadway Melody as a movie cannot be overstated,” said Smith. “It’s largely credited with starting MGM’s Golden Age and lifting the studio to the very top of the pile. The deco themes and wide open white spaces make this poster as much a work of art as an important piece of pop culture.”
A trio of opposing genres posted strong showings in the auction, with rarity being the binding tie: a rare one sheet poster for Walt Disney’s Lonesome Ghosts, released by RKO in 1937 – with Mickey, Donald and Goofy as a trio of intrepid “Ghost Exterminators” – realized $21,500; a wonderful one sheet for This Gun For Hire, the 1942 noir classic featuring the first pairing if Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, came in at $21,500, while a very rare 1954 three sheet from one of the most important monster/horror movies of all time, Creature from the Black Lagoon, brought $19,120.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
The Ghoul (Towa, 1933). Pre-War Japanese: For years, The Ghoul was considered to be a lost film, until a print turned up in the Czech National Archive in Prague. Boris Karloff stars as an Egyptologist who seeks immortality by being buried with an ancient jewel from a tomb. After his death, he returns from the grave to seek those who nabbed the jewels. The film drew inspiration from The Mummy, which had been released by Universal the year before, and was inspired by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. This is a glorious and very rare, pre-war Japanese poster which is assuredly unique.
The Lady Eve (Paramount, 1941). One Sheet: In the era of screwball romantic comedies, Paramount studios created one of the best when they teamed their top-tier stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda with director Preston Sturges. Already an Oscar-winning writer, Sturges was just getting started on his way to becoming a highly successful director, and with this gem, he began a long line of blockbusters. With delightful, fast-paced dialogue, con artist Stanwyck and father Charles Coburn make short work of the wealthy and naive Fonda.
La Dolce Vita (Cineriz, 1959). Italian 4 – Folio: Few directors are as revered and imitated as Federico Fellini, a true artist whose style of film-making mixed dreams and gritty reality with a touching sense of humanity. After struggling financially with his early films, La Dolce Vita broke all box office records and garnered world-wide acclaim, marking this as one of many Fellini masterpieces. Filmed mainly at the Cinecitta studios, we follow star Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni as they escape the paparazzi through the streets of Rome.
Dead of Night (Eagle-Lion, 1945). British Quad: A chilling horror anthology, this film is made up of five stories of supernatural terror united by a simple framing device: a group of strangers inexplicably gathered at a country farmhouse, each compelled to tell a story of supernatural happenings. Several of the stories, like the story of a bizarre driver with “room for one more,” and a ventriloquist whose mind begins slipping away as his dummy comes to life, have become nearly legendary in their own right, and the structure of this classic film inspired countless imitators in the ensuing decades.
If you are interested in consigning to an upcoming Internet or Signature Vintage Movie Poster Auction, call Grey Smith at (800) 872-6467, ext. 1367, or email [email protected].
Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s third largest auction house, and by far the largest auctioneer of rare collectibles, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 450,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com