My passion for classic movie posters began in high school. The head of our art department was a bit of a character and he loved collecting vintage posters from across the country. At first, his hobby was something my fellow students and I joked about, but after one particular trip, he came back with a lobby card from Wolf Song, a 1929 silent movie starring Lupe Velez and Gary Cooper. The atmospheric and moody poster spoke to me, and I instantly wanted it.
Of course, my teacher wouldn’t give up the precious piece so easily. Nor did he want cash. Like most film poster collectors, he said money wouldn’t tempt him…but if I found a suitable poster to trade, he would make the swap and give me Wolf Song. So began my journey. From walking up and down Hollywood Boulevard searching for forgotten prints left behind new prints on the theater walls, to calling old movie theater owners and even their relatives, I began to build my collection and expand my knowledge of the contemporary movie art collector world. From the beginning, I knew I wanted my collection to stand out in some way. Many people collect posters based on their love of a favorite actor or type of film—for example, some people collect posters of Bogart movies while others collect posters of film noire or horror flicks.
Personally, I decided to start a comprehensive collection that would include not one poster from each film, but a collection of posters in different languages and from different countries. For example, I have over 300 Clint Eastwood posters, including some from Japan and India to his Spaghetti Western days in Italy and The Godfather poster from Poland. Not only do these posters make my collection comprehensive and unique, but foreign posters are often more vibrant and powerful images as the artists needed to use the poster to tell the story to non-English speaking film lovers. Additionally, the artists for these films had more time to make the poster and watch the movie, while American movie posters were often conceptualized quickly, sometimes by people who didn’t even see the movie.
As my collection has grown over the years, so has my love of this art form and my passion for the hunt. Although the search for these now-forgotten films can be extremely difficult and frustrating, nothing is more rewarding that seeing your hard work pay off in the form of a rare poster. And, to think, it all began decades ago thanks to an eccentric art teacher!