Saturday, October 22, 2005


A pair of major auctions loom on the horizon: The Heritage Vintage Movie Poster sale on November 10th and 11th and the Christie’s (London South Ken) Exploitation Poster Art event.

First, the Christie’s sale: the venerable auction house is taking a bit of gamble, devoting an entire sale to what might be considered, at first glance, tawdry promos for guys in raincoats movies. But several factors lead me to believe that they might be onto a runner here. Firstly, this isn’t just any group of flea-pit/drive in posters. The sale is based on a book published this week, Exploitation Poster Art by well known London based film poster dealer and author of many books related to the field. Actually, the book is the basis of the auction, which is properly titled: Exploitation Poster Art: The Tony Nourmand Collection. The sale features over 300 pieces and many are featured in the book. Secondly, there are some amazing posters on offer, including a double crown (30 x 20 inches) for Andy Warhol’s and Paul Morrissey’s Chelsea Girls ( 1966)with art by Alan Aldrige; the Italian quattro (79 x 55 inches) for Marijuana (Big Jim Mclain - 1952) starring John Wayne with art by Luigi Martinati and and a U.,s. one sheet (27 x 41 inches) for one of the classic psychedelic poster images, The Acid Eaters (1967..) Add up the impressive credentials of the collection’s source, the prestige of the venue, the surprising quality of the posters included and the massive publicity campaign undertaken (the book/auction have their own - very well produced - web site with background, images and links: and I think there will be some surprising events. Barbara and I will be at this auction and I might note, as a merely anecdotal indication of the auction’s potential success, we have been commissioned by several of our customers to place substantial bids on some of the more interesting lots.

The Heritage sale will take place at their Dallas headquarters. The entire catalog is on line at (and bidding can be done on the Internet as well as the traditional format - left bid, phone etc.), but as with previous sales, I strongly recommend one purchase this catalog as a reference work. It runs over 300 pages and the comments on each poster, written mainly by Grey Smith and Ron Moore, contain often never before revealed gems of information about either the subject poster or the film it promotes. There are over 1000 lots in this auction and one is hard put to pick out highlights, so I’ll go with some personal favorites: the six sheet (81 x 81) for Laura (1944); Wings (1927) one sheet: Italian quattro for Assalto Al Cielo (Chain Lightning 1950) with fantastical futuristic artwork by Martinati and a stunning one sheet for Thief of Bagdad (1924.) This is just a bare taste of the 1000+ lots. There is a massive Humphrey Bogart section, some major horror and sci-fi pieces and a nice selection of 30s Disney material. Warning, once you hit the website and start looking at lots, you’ll be there for hours.

There are a two books just issued that deserve some attention. First is The Star Wars Poster book by Steve Sansweet and Peter Vilmur(Chronicle Books.) Until now poster dealers and collectors have had to rely on scattered sources of information about the Star Wars posters produced. There are web sites, auction catalogs, such oddities as the Star Wars Checklist (which was invaluable) and oral history from grizzled ex-projectionists, movie theater managers and ushers who actually handled the posters when they were issued. Well now there has appeared what I believe will be the definitive work in the field. This large format 300+ page hardcover book displays 288 images of star wars posters from all six of the films. It is exhaustive in its coverage of U.S. and foreign posters, tie-in promotional posters, special issues, etc. Each posters has descriptive text and the quality of the visuals is exceptional. I’m fairly sure that from now on we will be referencing Star Wars posters by the page numbers in this book. Steve Sansweet has long been known to Star Wars poster collectors as someone you could e-mail with a tough question and always get a response from. His knowledge and that of his co-author, drench each page. There is a great section on bootlegs and reprints (with a method for telling an original Star Wars Style D from fake a that will make your head spin the first time you read it. But it’s well worth memorizing -- don’t try to understand it, just how to repeat to yourself. It rivals attempting to understand the Italian poster re-release codes, the Belgian telephone numbers, the French printers and other arcane ways to date posters.) The back of the book contains 27 pages of miniscule type that lists every known theatrical release Star Wars poster; every known advertising and promotional poster and every know commercial poster. These pages are worth the price of the book ($50.00) alone.

The second book is Leonard Maltin’s 2006 Movie Guide. I reprint the review I wrote for Barbara’s site The site is devoted to reviewing mystery fiction, but every once in awhile, the publishers send along a movie book, aware of our other interests. Barbara has this strange compulsion to review just about every book sent her. Those books that don’t make it through the review process are the really badly written self published works. Once not too long ago, there were vanity presses for compulsive authors who couldn’t write and they are still around. I love to read the titles from the Exposition Press ad in the Sunday Times ( God Was My Co-Signer: Memoirs Of A Loan Officer). But now we have self publishing with print to order so not even the modest amount of money needed to self print holds back the flood of horrid writing. This is the kind of stuff that came in over their transom which first readers at publishing houses had to pour through in hope of finding another Gone With The Wind. Rant over. reviewing the evidence is an enjoyable site if you are a mystery fan and Leonard Maltin’s book is a joy to hold in both hands.

by Leonard Maltin
Plume, August 2005
1664 pages
ISBN: 0452286999

Reviewed by rudy franchi

When Barbara and I were writing our book, MILLER'S MOVIE COLLECTIBLES, we relied on a number of sources for release dates, plots, casts, names of directors, and so on. The imdb ( was invaluable of course as were Ephraim Katz's FILM ENCYCLOPEDIA and the various books by the late Leslie Halliwell. But the one work we kept by our side and referred to most often was Leonard Maltin's MOVIE GUIDE. Updated annually, this huge (1500+ pages) work not only contains information on 16,000 movies but its accuracy is amazing.

Mr Maltin is not just an expert on films old and new, he is steeped in a cinematic brew that seems to have penetrated his every pore. His love of movies, especially early comedy shorts and animated films, shows through in every entry and his comments on each film are a joy to read.

Even when he is forced to give half a star (or even his lowest rating BOMB), he finds something positive to say about a particular actor or scene or line of dialogue. I've always felt that he agrees with me that there are really no bad movies, just some bad editing that left out all the really good parts.

Aside from the thousands upon thousands of capsule reviews, the book has a few other interesting features. One my favorites is the directory of movie stars that lists the titles of all the films that are mentioned in the book. There is a similar index for directors, an addition dear to the heart of this unreconstructed auteurist.

One quirky page that I expect to disappear from every new printing is the Widescreen Glossary. The two columns of tiny type lists over 100 different formats and their exact aspect ratio. I have the feeling that Mr Maltin has stubbornly resisted the removal of this example of foofish* arcana. It proudly serves as the frontispiece to the first page of capsule reviews in this current edition.

*FOOF (archaic): Friend Of Old Film; term was popular in the 1960s, but an apt description of Mr Maltin

www.reviewingtheevidence. com

Barbara and I continue to enjoy the California sunshine, but not for long. We leave for London next week and plan to spend four months in the gloom of a British winter. We will watch some bad Brit TV, take in a few plays and concerts, eat out with old friends and occasionally tdp into the swirling waters of the London movie poster scene. We will visit some of the very upscale Cinema Poster Galleries, where price is never mentioned....not because of any remnants of British reserve, but rather because the owner is afraid the customer will faint dead away and mess up their newly installed parquet floor. Until next time, rudy franchi

rudy franchi/