AAA Vintage Posters – Movies By Decadeaaaposters
Hello friends. This is Gary Millea with AAA Vintage Posters and today we’ll be reviewing movies and movie posters from the 20th Century. Who doesn’t love walking up to a movie theater and seeing the intriguing posters of upcoming attractions? Movie posters have been used since the earliest public showings of films. Released in 1895, the French film L’Arroseur arrosé holds the distinction of being the first movie poster ever designed to promote an individual film.
I hope you enjoy these fun facts and fascinating tidbits of trivia. If you have a request or would like to be featured in next month’s newsletter, please let me know. Stay safe!
Hand Crank & Edison (Pre-1900’s)
In 1890, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson , commissioned by Thomas Alva Edison, built the first modern motion-picture camera and named it the Kinetograph. Monkeyshines No. 1 , the only surviving film from the cylinder kinetoscope, and apparently the first motion picture ever produced on photographic film in the United States. In October, 1892 the first public performance of a motion picture show was given in Paris by French inventor Charles-Émile Reynaud at the Musee Grevin. The hand-operated projected show (known as Pantomimes Lumineuses) was of color animated images that had been hand-painted directly onto a transparent strip of film. However, Theater still ruled the day as the national pastime.
The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) was reportedly the first shot using special effects. In the short silent sequence, Mary, Queen of Scots (Robert Thomae) kneels down and places her head on the execution block as the executioner raises a large axe. Using a dummy and a trick camera shot (‘stop trick’, as the axe was brought down, her head rolled off the chopping block to the left – where the executioner picked it up in the final frame and held it up.
The Kiss (1896) was the first film ever made of a couple kissing in cinematic history. May Irwin and John Rice re-enacted a lingering kiss for Thomas Edison’s film camera in this 20-second long short, reenacted from their 1895 Broadway stage play The Widow Jones. It became the most popular film produced that year by Edison’s film company but was also notorious as the first film to be criticized as scandalous and bringing demands for censorship.
Movie Poster of the decade:
A Trip to the Moon
Release Year: 1902
Who could forget the satirical image of the moon with a space capsule in its eye on the movie poster for A Trip to the Moon? This early film is an adventure story about a group of astronomers and their trip to the moon in a cannon-propelled capsule. When the group lands on the moon they ironically settle into its right eye. This iconic image of the Man in the Moon is one of the most well-known and referenced in film history.
Stunts & Talkies (1910’s)
In 1910, Dialogue titles began to appear with regularity and in that same year the first movie stunt is performed as a man jumps into the Hudson River from a burning balloon. Other kinds of stunts appeared when Carl Laemmle orchestrated a shameless but spectacular, high-profile ‘publicity stunt’ with rumors of the death of Florence Lawrence (“The Biograph Girl“) in a street-car accident in St. Louis, and her subsequent resurrection at the IMP Company’s St. Louis premiere of her first IMP film (The Broken Oath, aka The Broken Bath).
Pioneering French female filmmaker, the first female film director Alice Guy Blache, became the first – and so far the only – woman to own and run her own studio plant – The Solax Company Studios. It was the largest pre-Hollywood studio in America and from 1896 to 1920, she directed hundreds of short films (including over 100 synchronized sound films and twenty-two feature films), and produced hundreds more.
Movie Poster of the decade: A Daughter of The Hills
Release Year: 1913
Also known as ‘A Romance of the Western Hills’ this 1910 short silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith, starring Mary Pickford and Blanche Sweet is extremely rare. A print of the film is said to survive in the film archive of the Library of Congress.
8. Kuleshov & Cartoons (1920’s)
The discovery of the Kuleshov Effect, by Soviet director and film theorist Lev Kuleshov, served as the basis for Soviet montage-based film-making. It bolstered the idea that film editing (and the contextual sequencing and juxtaposition of various images) was of primary importance in the way that audiences responded to a film’s meaning.
Producer John Randolph Bray’s (and Bray Picture Corporation’s) The Debut of Thomas Cat was the first color cartoon, using the expensive Brewster Natural Color Process (a 2-emulsion color process), an unsuccessful precursor of Technicolor. This was the first animated short genuinely made in color using color film.
Movie Poster of the decade: Caught in a Cabaret – Charlie Chaplin
Release Year: 1925
Charlie is a clumsy waiter in a cheap cabaret and must endure the strict orders from his boss. He meets a pretty girl in the park and pretends to be a fancy ambassador but must contend with the jealousy of her fiancé. Mabel Normand was a silent film actress as well as a writer, producer, and director—which was unusual for the mid-1900s. She starred in 12 films with Charlie Chaplin, including 1914’s Caught in a Cabaret.
The Golden Age (1930’s)
The 1930’s was the era which has been predominantly referred to as “The Golden Age of Hollywood” by film critics and historians, and considered the apex of film history. (Some have extended the time period into the 1950′s). The “Golden Age” came to a close with the breakup of the studios and declining attendance from challenges brought by shopping centers and television.
The first feature-length prison film was released, MGM’s The Big House (1930), starring Wallace Beery in a breakthrough role (following the death of Lon Chaney, Sr. who was scheduled to be the main lead actor).
The first daily newspaper for the Hollywood film industry, The Hollywood Reporter, had its debut.
British director Alfred Hitchcock’s second all-talkie thriller Murder! (1930, UK) was the first film in which a character’s (Sir John Menier, played by Herbert Marshall) thoughts were heard in voice-over. The voice-over segment shot in front of a mirror had to be filmed with a recording of the lines and an orchestra hidden behind the set as it was not possible to dub the soundtrack afterwards.
Movie Poster of the decade: Top Hat – Astaire & Rogers
Release Year: 1935
This 1935 American screwball musical comedy film in which Fred Astaire plays an American dancer named who comes to London and meets Ginger Rogers. Top Hat was the most successful picture of Astaire and Rogers‘ partnership achieving second place in worldwide box-office receipts for 1935.
Hitchcock & Disney (1940’s)
Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film, Rebecca (1940), won Best Picture at the awards ceremony in 1941. It competed against another Hitchcock film, his second American film – Foreign Correspondent (1940).
Disney‘s groundbreaking Fantasia (1940), an outgrowth of the “Silly Symphony” series, was comprised of classical music pieces and matching animation. It introduced a “Fantasound” ‘stereo-like’, multi-channel soundtrack (an optical ‘surround-sound’ soundtrack printed on a separate 35mm reel from the actual video portion of the film). It cost about four times more than an average live-action picture. The film received a special certificate at the 1941 Academy Awards for its revolutionary Fantasound (early stereo or ‘surround-sound’).
“King of the Cowboys” Tom Mix, the first major western film star, died at the age of 60, in a freakish car accident in Arizona. Traveling at a high speed, he suddenly braked to avoid a construction zone and his car rolled over – he was instantly killed by a large aluminum suitcase (placed behind him) that struck him in the head.
Movie Poster of the decade: Foreign Correspondent
Release Year: 1940
It was filmed on July 5, and the real-life German bombing started on July 10, 1940. In a 1972 interview on The Dick Cavett Show (1968), Sir Alfred Hitchcock revealed that the plane crash scene was filmed by using footage shot from a stunt plane diving on the ocean, rear projected on rice paper in front of a cockpit set. When this movie was made, America was not part of World War II. This movie is one of a number of films made during the late 1930s and early 1940s that represented pro-American intervention in the war.
Paychecks & Paranoia (1950’s)
In 1950, James Stewart signed a precedent-setting free-lance contract to share in the box-office profits of the Anthony Mann western Winchester ’73. The first-ever back-end deal was negotiated by legendary agent Lew Wasserman. Stewart took no salary in exchange for a large cut of the gross profits which turned out to be a very lucrative deal. As a result, he was the industry’s top box-office star by mid-decade and for Winchester ’73 alone, Stewart earned between $500,000 and $600,000.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, the Cold War paranoia and the fear of complete annihilation gave rise to an unparalleled wave of alien invasion movies and apocalyptic space adventures. With a new age of technology and research, filmmakers grew increasingly interested in the cinematic interpretation of the extra-terrestrial and the boundaries of science.
Marlon Brando made his feature film debut in director Fred Zinnemann’s The Men (1950), a social conscience film with a message. He played the role of a paralyzed, embittered wheelchair-bound WWII veteran named Lt. “Bud” Ken Wilozek, who experienced physical and emotional trauma (including sexual impotence) due to his serious injuries as he attempted to re-enter society. It was the first instance of Brando’s “Method” acting and style.
Movie Poster of the decade: On The Waterfront
Release Year: 1954
The idea for the film began with an expose series written for The New York Sun by reporter Malcolm Johnson. The 24 articles won him a Pulitzer Prize and were reinforced by the 1948 murder of a New York dock hiring boss which woke America to the killings, graft and extortion that were endemic on the New York waterfront. Marlon Brando was thirty years old upon winning his Oscar for Best Actor, making him the youngest person ever to win the award.
Epics & Heartache (1960’s)
The epic costume drama Spartacus (1960), originally to be directed by Anthony Mann, was a highly-successful production by star Kirk Douglas. 31 year-old director Stanley Kubrick had been brought in to salvage the film. It was auteur Kubrick’s sole work for hire – he was able to avoid Hollywood almost completely afterwards, and began to direct movies on his own.
On November 16, 1960, a few weeks after completing filming of John Huston’s The Misfits (1961) opposite Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable (known at one time as “The King of Hollywood”) died of a heart attack (and coronary thrombosis) at the age of 59. It was the last screen appearance of both stars. Some attributed his death to the physical exertion required for the role, and to his crash dieting for the film. He was also a heavy smoker and drinker.
The master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock‘s psychological horror-thriller film Psycho (1960) terrified audiences. It opened in theatres amidst great secrecy, and instructions that no patrons would be admitted once the film started. It served as the “mother” of all modern horror suspense films, featuring Bernard Herrmann’s famous and memorable score with shrieking, harpie-like piercing violins, and the notorious shower scene. It was the first American film ever to show a toilet flushing on screen. It was also the first major motion picture to show the female protagonist (Janet Leigh) in the opening sequence, wearing only a white bra and white half-slip during a mid-day tryst.
Movie Poster of the decade: Psycho
Release Year: 1960
Arguably Hitchcock’s best piece of work, 1960’s Psycho is praised as one of the greatest films of all time. To match its boundary pushing story, Psycho’s theatrical release poster was exciting and dramatic. Appealing to horror and thriller fans alike, this psychological-thriller is a must-see for any movie buff.
Love & Disaster (1970’s)
The popular landmark tear-jerker and commercially-successful film Love Story (1970), adapted from Eric Segal’s screenplay and thin novel, was the first modern romance film blockbuster. Its story of a rich boy/poor girl romance, was backed by Paramount’s fast-living head of production Robert Evans. It averted the struggling studio from financial collapse, and beautiful Ali McGraw (Evans married the starlet) was put on the January 11, 1971 cover of Time Magazine. Evans later made the equally-successful The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather, Part 2 (1974) films and Chinatown (1974) in the early 70s.
Let It Be (1970) was released, the last film starring the Fab Four. This effort chronicled the Beatles recording their last-produced Apple studios album – a comeback attempt that actually led to their breakup.
Movie Poster of the decade: Flesh Gordon
Release Year: 1974
Produced during the short-lived porno chic period of the early to mid-’70s, Flesh Gordon was a (relatively) big-budget, adults-only parody of the Flash Gordon series. Although the film only runs 78 minutes, it contains an intermission card about halfway through its running time, a fun gag that spoofs epic-length films.
Sci-Fi & Schoolkids (1980’s)
The highest grossing (domestic) film of 1980 was the sci-fi fantasy, the second film in the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), at $209 million, besting comedy 9 To 5 (1980) in second place at $103 million. It eventually earned $290 million (domestic lifetime gross) and was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Friday the 13th (1980) debuted – it was the first segment in one of the longest running, most prolific and financially-successful horror film series of all time. It was one of the first splatter-films to be picked up as a franchise by a major studio – Paramount Pictures.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) follows a group of Southern California high school students are enjoying their most important subjects: sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Pheobe Cates, at 19 years old, will always be remembered for the seductive pool scene which fast became every boy’s dream.
Movie Poster of the decade: The Blues Brothers
Release Year: 1980
An undeniable cult classic, The Blues Brothers film poster perfectly portrayed the cool exterior of “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues. This popular musical comedy was adapted from the Saturday Night Live musical sketch by the same name. The R&B, soul and blues soundtrack was an unforgettable compliment to the relentless adventure in The Blues Brothers.
Gangsters & Geeks (1990’s)
Johnny Depp‘s breakout hit film was Tim Burton’s fantasy romance Edward Scissorhands (1990), co-starring then-girlfriend Winona Ryder, and featuring the final film appearance of Vincent Price as his Inventor/father. It was the first of many collaborations between Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton.
Martin Scorsese’s mob crime classic GoodFellas (1990), a biography of mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), was a grittier take on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather films, and the precursor to the popular 1999 cable TV series The Sopranos. It was a follow-up film to Scorsese’s own Mean Streets (1973), and for the sixth time again reteamed the director with his favorite actor, Robert De Niro, who had appeared in Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), and The King of Comedy (1983). It has always been considered one of the best mobster films ever made.
Actress Barbara Stanwyck died at the age of 82, of heart failure. Some of her best-known films included Stella Dallas (1937), All I Desire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry Wrong Number (1948). She received four Academy Award Best Actress nominations during her career but never won.
Movie Poster of the decade: Edward Scissorhands
Release Year: 1990
One of Tim Burton’s most imaginative and praised films, the story of Edward Scissorhands is both romantic and dark. Despite his shocking exterior, Edward was virtually harmless and full of love. Once brought from his abandoned castle to civilization, he won the hearts of everyone he met. The strong imagery on this film poster perfect represents the emotion captured in this iconic film.
Big Budgets & Adaptations (2000’s)
Film making studios realized that lucrative profits could be scored by cheaply remaking, adapting, or ‘re-treading’ classic TV shows or most prominently — horror films.
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) was one of the worst flops of the year, at only $21.5 million (domestic), with a production budget of $73 million. Star John Travolta waived his $20 million salary, and instead reportedly took home an upfront pay cut, netting only $10 million. He was promised an incentive – another $15 million bonus if the film passed the $55 million mark – but it didn’t.
The most expensive shoes from a film sold at auction were Judy Garland‘s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939) that were auctioned off by Christie’s, New York in 2000 for $666,000. The same pair was previously sold by Christie’s in 1988 for a then record of $165,000.
Movie Poster of the decade: Cast Away
Release Year: 2000
Who can forget Tom Hanks’ ground-breaking dramatic performance as a modern day Robinson Crusoe stranded on an uninhabited island after a plane crash, surviving only by relying on the remnants of the destroyed plane? The film was a smash hit, grossing $429 million at the box office and earning Hanks an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The movie poster shows a desperate and bearded Hanks stranded and fighting to stay alive.