Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coming Soon: Fall Movies

While we are still in the last remnants of summer, the fall movie season is upon us, hopefully rescuing us from reality tv and into the theater. (Can the Housewives of Poughkeepsie be far behind?)

In the upcoming weeks and months I plan to post on cuisine in the cinema with Julie & Julia (and shamelessly plug a cover article!) along with the designs for It's Complicated, the new Nancy Meyers romantic comedy with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. As you recall, Meyers directed design rich films such as Somethings Gotta Give and The Holiday. I am interviewing Nancy and her design team next week and my article appears in the December issue of Traditional Home -- the Santa Barbara sets are beautiful and will not disappoint!

I will also cover the design duo of John Myhre and Gordon Sim on the highly anticipated Nine. Along with director Rob Marshall, they brought us the electric sets of Chicago and you will feel as if you are watching La Dolce Vita, 2009. The actress laden film (Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Dame Judith Densch, Marion Cotillard and Fergie!) will be out Thanksgiving. And yes, Daniel Day Lewis plays the starring role.

Nine and its all star cast

I will also report on Coco Before Chanel in September and the historical period designs for Amelia (as in Earhart with Richard Gere and Hilary Swank) and Sherlock Holmes with Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.

Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel

in the film Coco Before Chanel

Hilary Swank as the ill fated Amelia Earhart in Amelia

Photo Credits: Warner Brothers, Sony Classics, Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Art: Collecting Vintage Posters

While commercialism is often front and center in the design of a movie poster, the designs can also be works of art. Since the beginning of film, posters (also known as "one sheets") have been a primary marketing tool used to publicize a film and fill the seats. Vintage posters (along with stills and lobby cards) have become hot collector's items over the years and have been known to fetch anywhere from $500 to $20,000 or more at auction.

At a Christie's auction in London last November, a rare one of three Casablanca posters created for the American ad campaign drew $109,000 while Attack of the 50 ft. Woman sold for $23,900 and the Bond films such as From Russia with Love went for around $22,600. As with any collection, buy what you love and the older and more vintage, the better.

Whether classic or contemporary, the following have made many top lists for both design and popularity as a collectible:

With its iconic image of the little black dress and cigarette holder, the poster for Breakfast at Tiffany's is just as stylish today as it was in l961.

All About Eve (1950) depicts the film's wit and sardonic humor with this design...

Faye Dunaway's iconic image for the Chinatown (1974) poster became a classic...

as did the haunting face of Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski's 1968 horror Rosemary's Baby.

The design for The Graduate (1967) is one of the most instantly recognizable images in film....

while the simplicity and color of the design for Sullivan's Travels (1941) makes this a sought after poster.

Through film posters we can see traces of the styles of the times...

Orson Welles' The Lady From Shanghai was classic forties...

as was A Hard Day's Night in the sixties, Mahogany in the seventies and Moonstruck in the late eighties...

Experts recommend learning everything there is to know about the market and selecting a niche (for example, a genre such as film noir, etc.) and concentrating on that. Foreign posters tend to demand more (a German poster of Breakfast at Tiffany's went for $17,500). While vintage is certainly a hot area, consider how popular a recent release will be in the years to come. Posters can be found at auctions, ebay, and websites such as and auctions.

Two of the best books on the subject is the Art of the Modern Movie Poster (Judith Salavetz, Chronicle, 2008) and A Century of Movie Posters: From Silent to Art House (Emily King, Barron's, 2003) Both are available on Amazon.