Foreword by Richard Allen
During most of the movies' 100 year history, posters were the principal way people found out what was playing at their local theatres. Posters were designed to attract attention, create desire and entice the movie-going public into buying tickets and seeing the show. Happily, these classic movie posters still have alluring qualities and continue to fascinate and enchant us.
Prior to television the motion picture industry depended heavily on poster advertising to promote its films. Even today, the motion
picture is the only commodity among all the goods and services produced in the world that has a poster created for each unit (film) produced.
Theatre owners were encouraged to use their posters and advertising
materials in creative ways and after a film had completed its run, the promotional displays were discarded.
With motion picture studios turning out on average a film a week and always being cost conscious, archiving films was never a priority. As a result many older films and the posters that promoted them were lost. Extensive usage, wars, fires and natural disasters have all helped to make vintage posters scarce.
After 30 years or so - a generation - movie posters, as artifacts of an earlier period are viewed in a different light. Time and scarcity add value as a collectable, which in turn creates opportunities for enjoyment and study. Posters are fun in their own right. They mirror the life and times when films were made. Beside collectors, historians, social scientists and graphic designers can find much to interest them.
Movie poster collectors have a variety of ways to enjoy their posters. for film buffs, posters bring back nostalgic movie-going memories. Others focus their attention on famous stars e.g., Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, or favourite films, e.g., Casablanca and The Wizard Of Oz. Collecting by genre, such as Westerns, Horror, Comedy or Science Fiction, is also popular.
Still others are attracted by the design qualities. Posters frequently incorporate the works of noted artists, but even for lesser films, designers often captured the film's story line in spectacular and compelling ways. More recently posters as art have come into vogue and are staples of interior decorators.
Historians and social scientists know that when films and their posters are chronicled, they provide significant insights into how our life style values have changed over time. Fashions, prejudices, propaganda, and social customs can all be found in poster art at one time or another.
Graphic artists also find much to attract them by studying movie poster design. The synergism, that comes from merging illustration, lettering, layout and colour to create the essence of a movie-at-a-glance gives the poster a uniqueness all its own.
The popularity of collecting and studying movie posters is on the rise. Each year more and more people are finding great pleasure and satisfaction in owning a part of their cultural heritage.
Co-author of Reel Art Great Posters From The Golden Age Of The Silver Screen.
February 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy charged 205 communists in the state dpartment
May 1953 Hillary and Tensing conquered Mount Everest
May 1954 U.S. High Court banned segregated schools
May 1955 Albert Einstein died
October 1957 Russians launched Sputnik, first earth satellite
January 1959 Fiedel Castro took Havana
In this context, the U.S. gave us Rock'n'Roll, Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. They were immortalised on the silver scareen in films like Jailhouse Rock, Rebel Without A Cause and The Seven Year Itch. The following posters depict these stars at the height of their fame.