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Chinese Bookies and Bodacious TatasOctober 15, 2014

I've counted no less than ten different styles of U.S. posters for Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. This one is quite unusual and especially hard to find. A Chinese friend tells me that the characters on the left literally translate to Murder of an Underground Boss, which makes sense because the killing in the film is a murder, and bookmaking is an underground activity.



Here's another style poster for Chinese Bookie. This particular one features the lovely and talented Azizi Johari, who also had a brief cameo in Kubrick's The Shining, in a poster seen on the wall of Scatman Crothers' apartment.



A screen shot from The Shining, and the poster in detail:



 
Legal Marihuana!July 22, 2014
A recent acquisition is this one-sheet movie poster for Dwain Esper's notorious exploitation flick Marihuana, Weed with Roots in Hell. In this 57-minute shocker we learn - from some of the oldest-looking teenagers you've ever seen - that smoking pot leads in very short order to skinny-dipping, pregnancy, heroin addiction and death. The acting is stilted, the camerawork murky and the dialogue laughable, but just like some of Ed Wood's film, this dated gem falls into the category of so bad that it's good.

When it was first released in 1935 this film had obvious shock value, but when viewed today it seems more camp than provocative. Horror... Shame... Despair! Weird Orgies... Wild Parties... Unleashed Passions! There are three very similar - but slightly different - versions of the one-sheet in circulation, and no one knows for sure exactly when they were produced. Peter Molitor does a heroic job of trying to date the various releases here. His analysis takes into account the items on the table, the subtle changes in wardrobe and the evolving hairstyle of the blonde at top, which ranges from a longish bob to permed curls to something approximating a WWII peek-a-boo style. As far as I'm concerned, they're all cool, and all paper from this title is quite rare.

As a side-note, this poster came to us from a small auction house upstate, in the unlikely sounding town of Cazenovia, New York. They shipped the poster via Federal Express, and we received an email from FedEx with the following text: Marihuana, 5 lbs, expected delivery Tuesday July 1st by 3pm. Warning: I've heard that collecting rare posters like this can become a habit, and sometimes even lead to an addiction to other high-end exploitation posters (the hard-to-find stuff).



 
A Tale of Two Snipes: A Silent Gem UncoveredJune 6, 2014
Last year we acquired a collection of Silent 1-Sheet movie posters dating from the early Teens. Included in the purchase were a couple of fairly generic looking posters all bearing the same title, The Passing Show. My first instinct was that these were essentially stock posters using nondescript artwork to advertise a recurring weekly newsreel, a common practice in the early days of cinema.

Much to my surprise, when I held one of the posters up to a bright light I discovered this was not quite the case. These posters had indeed been used to advertise a weekly newsreel, but they were not printed for that purpose. In this case, the theater had taken an older poster and simply pasted a snipe with the words The Passing Show over the original title, and in a similar fashion covered the studio information at the bottom with another blank snipe. I had my restorer remove the two snipes (at the top and bottom) and lo and behold, there was an original 1-Sheet for a 1910 Biograph film. And not just any Biograph film, but an early D.W. Griffith short starring Mack Sennett! Here are the before and after photos below.





 
From a thrift shop in South Philly...June 5, 2014
Well here's something you don't find everyday. In fact, you could search for decades and never find any material from this film. A pristine title card from Tod Browning's 1935 Mark of the Vampire, a sound remake of his lost Silent classic London After Midnight. Paper from this film is legendarily scarce. This turned up in a consignment / thrift shop in South Philadelphia.



 
R.I.P. The Bronze BuckarooMay 28, 2014
Herb Jeffries, the first singing cowboy in Black-cast films, passed away May 25th at the ripe old age of 100. Known as the Bronze Buckaroo to his fans, his career included not only movies, he also made Jazz recordings with the likes of Earl Hines and Duke Ellington.



 
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