Fascinating movie

Movie Posters and Lobby Cards at the Center of the Colossal Chicagoan Collection | Chicago News

When your hobby turns into one of the most comprehensive movie poster collections in the world, what do you do for an encore? A local collector once owned 45,000 lobby posters and cards. He sold some, gave others away and kept the crème de la crème.


Marc Vitali: Based on a gigantic Spanish poster of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “North by Northwest”…

…to a rarity that features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit – the prototype Mickey Mouse…

…and enough lobby cards to fill the lobbies of a hundred movie theaters.

This is a collectible from the golden age of the big screen, when colorful movie posters made lasting first impressions.

Dwight Cleveland, Collector/Preserver: 100% of the advertising budget went into the posters, and they hired major artists, and they had graphic art departments that put them together. It’s the first thing people see, certainly back when movies started to evolve, it was the only form of advertising. It was supposed to grab you by the lapels and say “walk into this movie theater and watch this movie”.

Vitali: Dwight Cleveland has had a passion for posters and lobby cards since the 1970s. He works in 56 countries.

Cleveland: Back when a lot of these posters were made, the way distribution worked in foreign countries – and I own a lot of foreign posters because I feel like they have superior graphics – an artist stranger would have designed the poster. Thus, you would see different illustrations on the domestic poster than on the foreign poster. But now the campaigns are kind of global so if you even go to another country you’ll see the exact same piece of art that you’ll see here in the cinema so it’s really not as interesting to me.

Vitali: His collection was the subject of a book, “Cinema on Paper”, with an introduction by Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies.

Cleveland: I collect differently than most collectors, who collect by genre of film, or particular movie star, director, things like that. I first fell in love with posters and illustrations, then grew to love movies afterwards. So everything I own, I love artistically.

It’s hard to define in words. It’s more of a gut reaction that I get when I see something, and I just know I have to own it. He just talks to me and says “Take me home”.

Vitali: He started his collection as a teenager with the lobby card for “Wolf Song”, one of the first sound films with Gary Cooper and Lupe Velez.

A high school teacher was also a collector and asked him to look for posters on his “wish list”.

Cleveland:During the hunt for things on his list, I fell in love with other posters and just got addicted, and it’s been my drug of choice ever since.

Vitali: He continued to collect throughout a career renovating the historic Chicago

houses. He treats the history of cinema with the same care.

Cleveland: I started out as a collector, then learned about restoration, archiving, cataloging and all that, and now I’ve become more of an advocate for elevating the art form.

Vitali: Cleveland reduced its film inventory with donations to the Library of Congress, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other institutions.

Her collection is currently the basis of an exhibition on the role of women in film history at the Poster House Museum in New York.

His advice to budding collectors?

Cleveland: I guess the best advice I can give is to buy what you like. I mean, that’s what I did, and everything kind of fell into place. I think when you’re trying to buy art and meet the market and treat it like an investment, that’s really a difficult task, and it’s not something I would want to undertake. So just buy what you like and be very thorough and understand the concept of ‘caveat emptor’. This is very important in auctions and in relations with dealers.

Vitali: Now with a smaller collection, he looks to his future.

Cleveland: Most of what I own is one of a kind or only a few known, so it’s very hard to rate something like this, but I’d like to see it in an institution that will treat it right and put it up to date. the disposition of film specialists and the general public, and how it happens, I don’t know yet, but I’m certainly taking calls about it.

More on this story: There’s more from collector Dwight Cleveland, including his book “Cinema on Paper.” And if you find yourself in New York, her “Women in Early Hollywood” exhibition is open at the Poster House Museum until October 9.