Auctions | March 12, 2019

Horror Film Rarities Grab Spotlight in Heritage Auctions' Movie Posters Auction

Dallas, Texas - An insert from the horror classic that has been called “the greatest sequel ever made” and a rare one sheet from a 1930s comedy classic will vie for top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions’ Movie Posters Auction March 23-24 in Dallas.

The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935) Insert (estimate: $50,000-100,000) casts a spotlight on the film now considered by many to be a monument of the horror genre. James Whale initially wanted no part of directing the sequel, and even after begrudgingly accepting the role, he felt Bride never could live up to the standard set by his 1931 classic, Frankenstein. So uninspired was Whale that he treated it as a farce, with elements of dark comedy … only to find that his approach was a huge hit with audiences. The film opened to rave reviews and was trumpeted as Whale’s “second masterpiece.” The offered insert is one of the most desirable posters in Universal’s now-legendary horror franchise, and one of very few copies known to remain in existence. The collage-style design features each of the main characters in a ghoulish light, which fits the film perfectly.

“What director James Whale was able to do with The Bride of Frankenstein is remarkable, as it became an enormously successful and popular film, and the images on the poster really capture the spirit of the film itself,” Heritage Auctions Vintage Posters Director Grey Smith said. “This is a must-have for any collector of horror film posters.”

A Red Headed Woman (MGM, 1932) One Sheet (estimate: $50,000-100,000) is a stunning piece around which serious collections can be built. Offered by Heritage Auctions for just the second time, this rarity represents an exceptional opportunity for collectors of pre-Code cinema. In this classic, star Jean Harlow trades in her signature platinum blonde locks for fiery red in her role as a conniving socialite. With a plot plucked from Katherine Brush’s 1931 novel of the same name, it was a hit with audiences, thanks in large part to Harlow’s stellar turn as Lil, the unrepentant gold digger with a balance of tackiness and charm. Once displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art, this rarity can be the centerpiece of any serious collection.

One of the most popular films of all time comes to life on this The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939) Half Sheet (estimate: $40,000-80,000). Produced in 1939, at a cost of $2.7 million during the Depression, it only earned just over $3 million at the box office, a modest return for the era. But a television revival of the film sent its popularity soaring, and it now is one of the most collected titles in the poster hobby. This is a very rare and beautiful poster with brilliant color and images commemorating a timeless classic film.

Whale’s classic sequel appears in another format in this The Bride of Frankenstein (Universal, 1935) Window Card (estimate: $30,000-60,000), which is so rare it never has been offered by Heritage Auctions before. A sensational find for collectors, this window card features a full-color image otherwise found only on the film’s Style H three sheet, of which none is known to exist. The image is dominated by Boris Karloff in his second run as Mary Shelly’s reanimated creation and is flanked by leading lady Valerie Hobson and the bride, played by Elsa Lanchester.

Amid dire financial troubles, there was talk in the 1940s at Universal Studios of abandoning horror film making, a strategy that thankfully was not pursued when it was realized that horror films were the studio’s only films sure to turn a profit. Lon Chaney, Jr., became the studio’s new star, and is featured on this The Wolf Man (Universal, 1941) Insert (estimate: $30,000-60,000). So successful was the film that it revived the studio’s horror cycle for another decade. Spotlighting a masterpiece that co-stars Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi and Warren William, this insert is considered the best format among the film’s posters, and it unquestionably is the most rare.

Other top lots include, but are not limited to:

The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939) Style B Half Sheet (estimate: $25,000-50,000)

Chain Lightning Original Art by Alfredo Capitani (Warner Brothers, 1949)  (estimate: $15,000-30,000)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Universal, 1923) Pre-War Belgian (estimate: $12,000-24,000)

The Man Who Laughs (Universal, 1929) Autographed German Posters (estimate: $12,000-24,000)

The Maltese Falcon (Warner Brothers, 1946) First Post-War Release French Grande (estimate: $8,000-16,000)