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Vintage Lobby Cards 
...discovering old movies one poster at a time

Peruse the hundreds, maybe even thousands whenever I get around to it, of examples of Vintage Movie Lobby Cards spanning the era of silent films to modern slasher flicks, classics, movie monsters, and even foreign posters for favorite films - definitely something for everyone.   

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Harvey (1950)

Harvey (1950) is one of the first old movies I remember seeing... along with Sound of Music and Million Dollar Mermaid.  I had seen it one Friday night when my parents were out and the babysitter let me stay up to watch Classic movie Night on our local station. I thought it was awesome and I thought Jimmy Stewart was the coolest. Kids always think it's awesome when adults act childish and get away with it.

Anyhoo... my mom had seen the Mary Chase play at a regional theater in Little Rock when she was a kid, and she had the playbill tucked in an old scrapbook. Of course, in my fantastic eight year old imagination, my mom had seen the play on Broadway (you know Broadway is in Little Rock, right?) and eternally affable Jimmy Stewart was playing the lead. How would I have known any differently back in the days before cable television and the internet? I mean... the library was more than a bike ride away...

Harvey is the story is about a man whose best friend is a pooka named Harvey—in the form of a six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch tall invisible rabbit. Sound familiar? You may know the remake-of-sorts Donnie Darko. The Jake Gyllenhaal movie is definitely darker than it's original inspiration - the lighthearted farcical fare served up by Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow and Charles Drake. Not only is this a funny fable, it's got a touching, melancholy core beautifully embodied by the Oscar-nominated Stewart. A must see for any child at heart.

Below is a short narration of Jimmy Stewart discussing his recollections on the film (and play) that was featured on the 1990 VHS release of the film. The video showcases stills from the film while Stewart waxes poetic on the lasting legacy of this charming film.

Learn more about the movie at imdbBuy the movie at Amazon


All the King's Men (1949)

1949's Oscar-winning offering from Columbia Pictures, All the King's Men, is an adaptation of the 1946 pulitzer-prize winning novel by Robert Penn Warren which was itself loosely-based on the real-life rise and fall of notorious Louisiana politician, Huey P. Long. Yeah... follow that? I'll wait while you read it again.

Writer-director Robert Rossen purchased the film rights and cut a deal with Columbia Pictures to make his picture, maintaining significant control. He shifted the focus from Jack Burden, as it was in the novel, to Willie Stark for the movie. Broderick Crawford stars as Stark, a charismatic Southern politician who betrays his "man of the people" roots as he ruthlessly manipulates, lies and deals his way into ultimate power. John Ireland plays his right-hand man, Burden, a former newsman who hangs on to Stark's early idealism even in the face of his snowballing corruption. Rossen originally offered the starring role to John Wayne, who vehemently turned down the part finding the script unpatriotic. Crawford, who eventually took the role, won 1949 Best Actor Academy Award, beating out Wayne for his role in Sands of Iwo Jima

Interesting facts about the director... Rossen filmed in an unusual manner -  nobody in the cast had a script. What the wha? Rossen let them read it once and took it away from them and relied on loosely scripted improvisation. According to Crawford, "We really had to stay on our toes." 

I love the title lobby card in this set - the big brotheresque campaign signs and the hypersaturated colors compliment the melodramatic intensity of the stills on the three others. It feels like a hot campaign season in the south - sweaty politicians, fedoras and trenchcoats, overwrought emotions sprinkled with the stank of good old-fashioned lust for power. Sounds like a good movie to me. Below is a trailer a trailer!

Learn more about the movie at IMDB  •  Buy the movie on Amazon


Saratoga Trunk (1945)

I can't imagine paying money to go to the theater and plunk down my weekend spending money to see a movie called Saratoga Trunk. An adventure surrounding a suitcase? Sounds sexy, eh? I picture a piece of furniture stuffed with baby books, newspaper clippings and weird crocheted odds and ends from my grandmother's house, hardly the makings of a smash hit. However, 1945's Saratoga Trunk certainly sounds like quite the adventure according to TCM....

Beautiful Clio Dulaine arrives in her New Orleans birthplace with one goal: to exact revenge on her father's family, who exiled Clio and her mother to Paris years earlier. There she meets Texas gambler Clint Maroon, who is also looking for revenge. He aims to bring down the railroad baron who ruined his father. These two schemers are made for each other - but it takes them scrapping and sparring through an epic story of blackmail, lies, scandal, high finance and sudden disaster before they finally come together. Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, the stars of For Whom the Bell Tolls, reteam for a lush, lavish romance based on the bestseller by Edna Ferber (Cimarron, Giant). Big stars, big story - that's Saratoga Trunk.

Well, it's got all the ingredients needed to take you on a ride - blackmail, scandal, travel... complete with luggage! Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman are hardly hacks - and this is them in their heyday. If the posters tell the story, then they're definitely joined by a cast of interesting characters. 

Learn more about the movie at IMDB  •  Buy the movie on Amazon


Carry on Cleo (1964)

Presented in "Exoticolor", 1964's Carry on Cleo's alternate title is Caligula's Funniest Home videos. Why have I not seen this movie??... it sounds highlarious. "Infamy, infamy - they've all got it in for me!" Kenneth Williams' Julius Caesar is having a bad day  in this historical and hysterical take on the life and loves of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. 1960s British humor being what it was, you can guess the adventures of Sidney James' Mark Anthony as he cavorts with the gorgeous Amanda Barrie's sultry Cleopatra in ancient Rome.  

From 1958 to 1978 Sidney James and Kenneth Williams made 30 different "Carry On" films. Most were cheaply made, thinly plotted and hastily put together. This is one of the more "lavish" of these productions - with plenty of historical references to draw from. This is hardly a historical drama, in fact, the lobby card itself sums up the general feel of the flick with its' tagline, lol:

Bedlam on the Nile! While the characters and events in this story are based on actual characters and events certain liberties have been taken with Cleopatra. 

Take a peek at the trailer if you've got a minute - looks as cheeky as they come. I'll probably be buying this before it's all over. I'm such a sucker. I wonder if it's on Netflix...

Learn more about the movie at IMDB  •  Buy the movie at Amazon



Strange Fascination (1952)

These lobby cards caught my eye - probably because of the sexy Cleo Moore lounging in the foreground with that come hither look on her face. Strange Fascination, made in 1952, tells of a  European pianist who comes to America and falls for a dancehall girl. Written, directed, produced and starring Hugo Haas, the film has not fared well in our collective movie memories. All signs say the movie starts alright but "descends into hollow melodrama". I can't find any videos online for it - or it for sale anywhere... that says about all we need to know. However, the lobby cards are kinda snazzy.

 Learn more about the movie at IMDB  


Footlight Parade (1933)

Nobody does it bigger, better or more bodaciously than the master of the stage spectacle, Busby Berkeley. In 1933's Footlight Parade, James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler tap into their musical talents to bring us a pre-code classic that's as good of a movie as it is a musical. James Cagney channels Busby (who choreographs the stunning, kaleidoscopic dance routines) as a Broadway director who comes up with a scheme to break into movies through those very same kaleidoscopic dance routines. 

In an effort to stimulate the show business economy and his own personal economy, out of work theater director James Cagney comes up with a brilliant idea. Stage live relevant prologues to the movies that are being shown at the various movie theaters that are springing up overnight from the old theaters. Some other competitors get wind of it and the competition is on.

It's funny that the Cagney character stages these "live" productions that would never in a bazillion years fit on a theater stage. Huge pools, staircases, waterfalls..., um, I don't think so. Pre-code morals provide a certain sauciness that enhances the snappy dialogue, skimpy bathing suits, timeless tunes and over-the-top visuals in this fun musical. Worth a watch. Plus, filmed in Vitaphone!

Learn more about the movie at IMDB  •  Buy the movie at Amazon


Diabolique (1955)

The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women. The 1955 thriller/horror/noir film, Diabolique, is an intense ride reminiscent of Hitchcock at his Psycho best. Simone Signoret and Paul Meurisse star in this "Extraordinary new motion picture" with an ending best kept a secret for optimum enjoyment. Believe me, the sign says so. 

If this movie sounds familiar, you may be remembering the Sharon Stone version from 1996. The 90s setting and attitude isn't quite as intense, gritty or subversive as the 50s version - but if you're too lazy to read subtitles, it's always an alternative. 

Learn more about the movie at IMDB  •  Buy the movie on Amazon


Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

As the weekend winds to a close - my ritual is to turn on Turner Classic Movies and settle in for a good night's sleep with dreams fueled by melodrama, noir or musical doused with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Well tonight's feature is Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy from 1955. Ancient Egypt is the setting and ancient jokes are on the docket in this (the last movie the duo made with Universal) creature feature starring the slapsticky duo Abbott and Costello and their monster muse, The Mummy. Marie Windsor and Peggy King ride along for the adventure providing a catalyst for the typical A&C nonsense as well as some eye candy. 

"The fight the Goon of the Tomb!, The get clipped in the crypt! They're chummy with a mummy!" Sounds like business as usual for this wacky duo. 

Learn more about the movie here  •  Buy the movie on Amazon


Marihuana (1936)

Ah, who doesn't love a good propaganda film - fifty five minutes filled with nonsense and lies. 75 years after this film was made, the lies are still being perpetrated and propagated, but not in such a campy and entertaining manner.  Roadside Productions brings us this 1936 cult classic dubbed as the "most DARING picture ever made!"  Marihuana, "The Weed with Roots in Hell" has no stars, yet has no shortage of melodrama and scandal. Here's the official movie description from imdb - it sums it up better than I can: 

A young girl named Burma attends a beach party with her boyfriend and after she smokes marijuana with a bunch of other girls, she gets pregnant and another girl drowns while skinny dipping in the ocean. Burma and her boyfriend go to work for the pusher in order to make money so they can get married. However, during a drug deal her boyfriend is killed leaving Burma to fend for herself. Burma then becomes a major narcotics pusher in her own right after giving up her baby for adoption.

Read more about the movie at Imdb  •  Buy the movie at Amazon

You can watch the whole movie below. Be prepared for your mind to be blown - gather up your kiddos, board the windows, grab your guns and hunker in away from evils of Marihuana....


Clambake (1967)

By 1967, Elvis Presley was nearing the end of his movie career - having played a singing racecar driver, a singing cowboy, a singing Indian, a singing assasin, a singing doctor, a singing lifeguard, a singing soldier, and well, I could go on and on. In Clambake, he's up to his usual singing shenanigans - this time playing a speedboat racer/water ski instructor/oil baron. Little do the lovely beach babes including Shelly Fabares know that he's switched identities with a lowly water ski instructor at a tropical resort. You can guess the rest, boy meets girl, girl wants rich boy, rich boy pretends to be poor boy and tries to seduce girl, girl is interested in other rich boy that looks just like Bill Bixby, etc, etc... 

As lobby cards go, these are pretty uninteresting. Each one features a still from the movie and two black and white illustrations of Elvis. I do find it hilarous all those kids dancing on that tin roof in the first card. Methinks there may be some movie set magic happening there. Spoiler alert - if you do watch the movie - Corbin Bernsen is one of the kids in the playground scene. It's his movie debut!

Find out more about the movie at Imdb  •   Buy the movie at Amazon