From Citizen Kane to King Kong, Posters from Extraordinary Films Throughout the History of Cinema

Launch Slideshow

From a restituted poster of Tom Sawyer from 1917 and Disney’s first feature animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, to celebrated classics Citizen Kane and King Kong, poster collector, expert and founder of the Reel Poster Gallery – a world-leading destination for original film posters – Bruce Marchant selects 10 extraordinary highlights from the forthcoming Original Film Posters Online sale (11-21 March), many of which marked seminal moments in cinematic history. Click the image above to view the slideshow.

From Citizen Kane to King Kong, Posters from Extraordinary Films Throughout the History of Cinema

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Poster, US, Estimate £10,000–15,000
    This wonderful poster features the full cast with the dreamy castle in the background. This was Walt Disney's first feature animation and when released in 1937 was welcomed as a magical marvel. Disney estimated the cost of making this animation at $250,000, which was already ten times as much as making one of his short animations. However, it ended up costing a staggering $1.5 million, with Disney having to mortgage his home to help finance the film. The castle from Snow White stayed with Disney and became the centrepiece of his two theme parks. Over the past 64 years almost 3 billion people have visited Disney World in California and Florida.
  • The Sheik / Le Cheik (1921), Poster, French, Estimate £7,000–10,000
    This poster is a very important piece of film history as it was Rudolph Valentino's most famous role, and one of the legendary silent-era titles, as well as being the only known surviving examples. It is understood that when it was first shown in cinemas women fainted in the aisles. This silent romantic film stars Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres. Valentino was a 1920s sex symbol and was known in Hollywood as the 'Latin lover' His early death at only 31 caused a frenzy among his fans. The film was produced by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation who were one of the main producers of films in the silent era. They would go on to become Paramount Pictures Corporation.
  • Tom Sawyer (1917), Poster, Swedish, Estimate £3,000–5,000
    This piece was originally from the Albertina Museum Collection, and was part of a collection of posters which were sold by an Austrian family fleeing their country during the Second World War. The museum believed that the collection had been acquired properly and with due process, but in subsequent years questions were raised about the nature of the original sale, and after a lengthy spoliation case, it was discovered that they had in fact been part of a forced sale under the Nazi regime. The museum was forced to forfeit the posters and they were returned to the family's descendants in the US. The family subsequently sold the collection. The artist Eric Rohman was a pioneer in poster design. He was largely responsible for the development of a distinctive style in Swedish posters during the first decades of the twentieth century. The simplicity of his graphics and his use of bold colours in two or three tones was ahead of their time. Over 100 years old, this is a genuinely antique poster.
  • Veronica Lake (1955), Emilio Vila, Original Painting Of Veronica Lake, Estimate £4,000–6,000
    This beautiful portrait is from The Emilio Vila Museum. Emilio Vila was a Spanish painter and illustrator born in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. He fled to France, where he found work as a portrait painter and poster designer. Vila was part of the Art Deco movement and though this portrait was done in a more classic Hollywood style, its warm palette and dreamlike quality are typical of his work. In the late 1940s Vila returned to his home town of Llagostera, where he opened an art gallery which later became the Emilio Vila Museum. Veronica Lake was an American actress, who was well known for playing femme fatale characters in many film noirs, as well as for her peek-a-boo hairstyle. She won the hearts of the public and critics for her role in the screwball comedy Sullivan's Travels (1941). She appeared in many films in the 1940s alongside Alan Ladd, including three classic film noirs - This Gun for Hire (1942), The Glass Key (1942) and The Blue Dahlia (1946).
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972), Original Artwork For The Film's Set Design, British, Estimate £4,000–6,000
    This is original painting, acrylic on art board, was for the film's set design. The artist Michael Stringer had a career spanning five decades and in 1974 was elected president of the Guild of Film Art Directors (now known as the British Film Designers Guild British Film Designers Guild).
  • King Kong (1933, Re-Release 1949), Italian, Estimate £12,000–18,000
    King Kong was released in Italy in 1933. However, it is believed to have been shown only in a silent cinema. Only a three colour - yellow, black and white - poster was produced. In 1949, after World War II, the film was re-released, and this is considered the first proper screening of this landmark film in Italy. This powerful poster by Giorgio Olivetti was created for the 1949 screening, and fewer than five of these are known to have survived.
  • Atom Man vs. Superman (1950),Poster, US, Estimate £10,000–15,000
    This is one of the best science fiction posters of the 1950s. Its striking artwork truly captures the superhero Superman hard at work. It was printed in two sheets, and designed to be pasted onto billboards, which at the time would have been a very powerful image to lure people to the cinema. This was the second Superman film to be directed by Spencer Bennet. As with the first Superman film in 1948, Kirk Alyn again played the cultural icon Superman, who saves the entire city of Metropolis from being destroyed by Lex Luthor, in his new identity as Atom Man. This is one of the rarest science fiction posters of the decade, and has only surfaced a few times over the past twenty-five years.
  • Citizen Kane / En Sensation (1941), Poster, Swedish, Estimate £8,000–12,000
    This atmospheric Swedish poster brilliantly captures Orson Welles in the title role as Citizen Kane. The American posters for this landmark film are unfortunately not the best artistically. Orson Welles at the age of only twenty-five directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in this remarkable film. This film has consistently been number one on the American Film Institute's top 100 American films. This poster is exceptionally rare, and to-date no other example has surfaced.
  • Notorious / Les Enchaines (1946), Poster, French, Estimate £12,000–18,000
    This exceptional Hitchock poster is not only one of Bernard Lancy's most celebrated works, but also one of the most striking film posters of the 20th century. Bernard Lancy was a prolific creator of film posters and created the artwork for many notable French and foreign films. Lancy’s artwork is simple yet extraordinarily moving with its subtle use of colour to convey a mood. This poster is extremely rare with only a couple having surfaced to-date.
  • Young Frankenstein (1974), Original Studio Concept Artwork, US, Estimate £10,000–15,000
    20th Century Fox commissioned a few different artists to come up with artwork for the film's poster campaign. This stunning artwork has a charming old-school feel, along with fantastic dripping typography, but the studio ended up preferring a more modern looking design.

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