Posters I Wish I Owned

This post is totally self-serving. I mean, they all are. There is absolutely no point to writing anything on SHADOWS WRITER unless I get something out of it. And being that I don’t make any money selling anything or that I am actively promoting anything, it’s really the only reason SHADOWS WRITER exists.

But this post is a new low.

It’s a wish list of sorts for film posters I would one day like to own. I’ve collected posters for a couple years now and even tried to make a side-gig out of it by launching CINE POSTER GALLERY. But that project was completely put on hold once Covid got as bad as it did.

I may try to restart it. I may not. I’m not sure yet. Being able to ship things on time without fear of catching a deadly virus in the process would be a good start.

In the meantime, I am faced with a different issue. If the posters are not to sell but to keep for myself, where the hell do I put them? A problem compounded by the fact that I live in a studio apartment and, ironically, am not a big fan of lots of stuff on the walls.

Yes, it sucks being me. In a time people are challenged with their very survival, physically and economically, I’m whining about wall space for my poster collection.

I have no adequate response to that. Other than….No, I really have no way of justifying such ridiculous complaints at the moment.

So, I will move on to the main point I really wanted to make, movie posters are cool.

I mean, the combination of reminding people of great movies and being beautiful art, in and of themselves….And the fact that relative to “real art” they are very affordable (most of the time)….they’re just cool.

By the way, the “affordable” part is subjective of course. You can actually find a lot of authentic theatrical posters, originally meant for cinemas, in the low hundreds of dollars (or even less if you get really good at searching the auction sites). And then framing which can be several hundred more, depending on framer and size.

Not exactly free, but within the grasp of most people if they decide they really want a great film poster on their wall.

Having said that, the really “blue chip” posters of bonafide classics get up into the thousands, tens of thousands or in a few rare cases, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase. I’m talking about rare, perfectly preserved, like-new posters of CASABLANCA from its original release and things like that. It does get crazy at the top end of the market.

Just for the fantasy escape, I may include some of those ultra-rare, ultra-blue-chip, investment grade, posters on my list. Maybe someday I will be able to afford to buy and frame whatever peaks my interest, valuable or not. Maybe someday I will completely clean out my closet and make it some sort of custom-built poster storage area. And maybe someday pigs will fly and breath fire out of their snouts….

Yeah, probably not gonna happen. The part about the posters, I mean. The pigs? Who knows? Given the times we live in, it wouldn’t surprise me.

But a man can dream. So, here it is. A few of the posters I admire and would one day like to have in my personal collection.

RED DESERT, 1964, Italian release poster

I love Antonioni’s early films; L’AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE, L’ ECLISSE and DESERTO ROSSO (otherwise known as The Adventure, The Night, The Eclipse and Red Desert). They were hugely important films to me in terms of how I looked at movies. I am also a huge fan of Monica Vitti. In fact, there are probably about four or five posters I would love to own featuring Antonioni movies with Vitti. This one is from the original release of Red Desert from its country of origin and features a fantastic image of Vitti. Sadly, the last I looked it also costs about $5,000.

ALPHAVILLE, 1965, FRENCH grande

Much like I would love any of several posters for Antonioni featuring Monica Vitti, there are a number of Godard posters I would like that feature Anna Karina. There are actually many cheap reproductions of this specific ALPHAVILLE poster available. I have nothing against such repros as long as they are not sold as original, theatrical posters. Often the only difference is their size and very subtle differences in their printing quality. But, part of the joy of film posters is thinking of them as historical artifacts. Things people saw on the streets announcing the arrival of some great movie they hadn’t even heard of yet. So, yeah, I want this one. A very large (45 1/2″ x 61″), original, French language poster for one of the greatest, weirdest sci-fi art films ever made.

This Gun for Hire, 1942, U.S. RElease

So, you can get a reproduction of this one for twenty bucks or you can pay around $15,000 for the “real one.” Since this is a wish list we’re going for the “real one,” of course. Great movie. Great image of Veronica Lake. If you’ve never seen THIS GUN FOR HIRE you’re missing a fantastic old crime movie and need to fix that.

Invasion of Astro-Monster, 1968, Japanese Release

See, it’s not all just about posters featuring beautiful actresses. I actually got into poster collecting because of Godzilla. INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER is not one of the best Showa-Era Godzilla movies. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch it all the time. But it’s no DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, GOJIRA or MECHAGODZILLA. However, I just love the poster. With the Ghidorah, Rodan and The Big Guy Himself all featured how could you not?

Chunking Express, 1996, Hong Kong Release

There are a lot of great posters for Wong Kar Wai movies. The one posted at the very top of the article is probably my favorite. It’s a Japanese poster for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. I actually have the small version of it. It’s gorgeous. The larger ones are available for a few hundred to up to $1500 depending on luck, timing, and who you buy it from. Someday, I hope to get one of those larger ones. However, I would also love to have the CHUNKING EXPRESS poster above. It doesn’t look as nice but it’s from the original Hong Kong release. Given that it’s a poster that not only honors Wong Kar Wai but the radically altered Hong Kong movie business (and for that matter, quickly changing nation as a whole) it would be a mighty neat thing to have.

Pale FLOWER, 1964, Japanese release

I should have avoided using the word “cool” in this post until now. PALE FLOWER by Masahiro Shinoda is it. The very definition of the word. Black and white, stunning images, nihilistic characters bored with life and an avantgarde jazz soundtrack….it doesn’t get much cooler. Which is why I’m really disappointed the original release poster is so damn conventional. Really? That’s the best they could do for such a great movie? Whatever. I still want it.

Manhattan, 1979, U.S. Release

I remember a time, long ago in New York, when the other version of this poster seemed like it was everywhere. It was in apartments and dorm rooms all over the city. The above version is the more rare (and less reproduced) horizontal or “half-sheet” version. As I’ve said in other posts, all personal feelings for the man aside, I still consider Woody Allen to be a great American filmmaker and this to be his best of his many great movies. Such a good film.

Get CARTER, 1971, U.S. Release

It’s kind of sad that one of the best British gangster films of all time was accompanied by really terrible posters in its home country. As a result, I think I would actually prefer the U.S. original release poster to the one from the U.K.. The Brits actually got it right with a pretty good poster for a rerelease in 1999 which might also be a contender. But there’s that whole historical artifact thing I was talking about earlier. This is a nice poster for one of the best crime movies of all time.

Parasite, 2019, SOUTH KOREAN RELEASE

This is the most affordable poster on this list. And I am sure that it will become a modern classic as a poster. The problem is the market is flooded with “commercial” versions and unauthorized reprints that are all but identical except for their size. However, if I could snag an authentic, theatrical release poster from South Korea in great condition, I would be thrilled. I’m pretty sure that someday one of these will be mine. In the meantime, have I mentioned that PARASITE is actually better in black and white? For real. Read the post.

There are so many, many more. Maybe if there’s any interest in this post I’ll do a Part II. But I’m not counting on it. Right now, I’m assuming this whole post will be seen for what it is. An act of wishful thinking and self-indulgence.

I hope I haven’t left the impression that only original poster from their year of release and country of origin are the only posters worth having. In my current collection some of my favorite posters are actually for the rerelease of great films. These were later releases which might have happened decades later than the debut screenings.

The same is true with the country of origin. Personally, I am a huge sucker for posters from Japan, no matter where the movie is actually from. They have a style I usually find much more exciting and visually interesting than posters from most countries.

In fact, I have to say, with a couple of exceptions, almost all American posters from the last forty years are dull as dishwater. Big pictures of the stars over lame backgrounds that are completely interchangeable with one another. Just so damn boring. They were actually a bit more interesting up until about the early-70s. But after that. Snoozeville.

I should also mention that there are also some video release and art posters that can be pretty nice. I have a few of those in my Godzilla collection. However, I do find it hard to give up entirely on something that reminds me of seeing movies in a cinema. They are also generally considered worthless to most collectors because of that lack of connection, btw. That whole historical artifact thing again.

Which brings me to my final point. There are movie collections that, in terms of resale value, are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and there are collections worth absolutely nothing. But my hope is that all collections, regardless of cash value, bring feelings of joy and nostalgia to their owners. I mean, why bother collecting anything if you don’t actually get some emotional reward from the experience? Investment? How lame would that be?

Now, if only I had more walls…