Collectible Conversations: Movie Posters of the ‘50s & ‘60s

When buyers at our Flagship store recently acquired more than 250 original movie posters, mostly from ‘50s and ‘60s films, they realized they were looking at some pretty special pop culture treasures.

Many of the posters were science fiction, including Night Creatures, The Return of the Fly, and Barbarella. But they ran the gamut of genres: spy movies, Three Stooges comedies, disasters, and more. The visual imagery on many of these posters is often stunning and, is in some cases, iconic.

Dallas South District Trainer Ben Jousan and I will be hosting a Collectible Conversations presentation on the evening of Thursday, June 28, in which we’ll show many of the posters and discuss the collecting of movie posters.

I asked Ben a few questions about the bounty of movie posters.

How often do stores see vintage movie posters come in?
We get the occasional bedroom fare with contemporary films or video games promo posters, but we don’t often see original one-sheet poster art for movies. We don’t always have a dedicated space on our sales floor to feature posters, but when we see such an amazing group of unique items, it forces us to rethink our layout on the floor to inform customers of our unique product mix and encourage them to sell these kinds of things to us!

What are some of the highlights from this acquisition?
The posters that have appreciated the most over time are from mainstream classics – James Bond films, Elvis musicals, Disney films, Frankie and Annette beach party movies, etc. The collection spans many genres – classic horror and science fiction, academy award winners of the ‘50s-‘70s, and grindhouse/drive-in features that may never have seen a release on home video of any kind. The bulk of the collection are 27”x41” one-sheets, which would have been proc

ured by theaters through a rental service and displayed in a frame out front or in the lobby. There are a handful of complete 3- and 6-sheet posters that span 41”x81” and 81”x81,” respectively. Some of these are very rare and desirable to the collector.

Favorite movies or stars?
While I am certainly no arbiter of taste, I am personally drawn to the more obscure horror and genre films in the collection. Hillbillys in a Haunted House or Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory are titles that just can’t be denied. Some films that are “so bad they’re good,” like the 1976 Rock Hudson/Diane Ladd/Roddy McDowall clone-sploitation flop Embryo are worth checking out just to say you survived the experience. The poster then becomes an achievement badge.

Outstanding images?
There are so many dazzling posters in this collection featuring the hand-drawn style of the pioneers of the art form; there are too many to mention here. There are gorgeous lithograph images with rich Technicolor hues jumping off the page. I’ll mention two of my favorites, both ‘60s horror films, Night of Bloody Horror and Die, Monster, Die! These both have beautifully bright colors and detail and, for me, inspire a mysterious feeling of nostalgia for a time before mine.

poster 2

How would you describe the condition of the posters?
Many of these posters were stored extremely well, having been in their natural folded state and in a cool, dry place for decades. After ha

ving done some research, we believe many of these posters would receive some of the highest condition grades for 50 – 60-year-old pieces. A handful have common imperfections like pinholes, tearing along the folds, edge wear or adhesive from framing or display, etc., but are otherwise in Very Good condition or better.

What price range will there be?
Some of the titles will only go out for around $25, but a few of the most unique items may command a price over $1000. The bulk of the posters will most likely be priced in the $40-$75 range, including boards and bags for short-term display and storage.

Are you a poster collector? A movie buff?
I have a decent handful of posters I have collected over the years, but I have certainly padded my collection with a few of these beauties!

I am not totally unashamed to say I have a climate-controlled storage unit with a few thousand VHS tapes. Does that make me a “movie buff” or just a weirdo? It’s hard to know sometimes.

poster 1

There are a lot of wacky and wonderful blurbs on these posters. Do you have a favorite?
At the top of the Night of Bloody Horror poster there is a disclaimer that reads:

“If you should die of fright while watching Night of Bloody Horror…… WE WILL GIVE YOUR FAMILY $1,000 CASH!!!”

I can’t figure out how to feel about that.

Thanks, Ben! These posters are a real treat to behold! Our Collectible Conversation featuring the posters takes place on Thursday, June 28, at 6 p.m., in our Flagship store’s Collectibles section.

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