I believe this is the final image that was submitted to the publisher for inclusion in the Ann-D book, but later sacrificed after I purchased a collection a Ann’s personal photos at the last minute. This shot of Ann with parrots was taken at, I think, the Agua Caliente resort in Mexico. The resort, which also included a racetrack, and located near the border was a hot spot members of the film community, particularly during the prohibition era. Since I was not 100% positive that this photo at the resort, it ended up being cut.
We’re going to have triple digits in Los Angeles the weekend, so here’s a fab photo of Ann keeping cool on the beach in the mid-1930s.
And no, I don’t think she rode the waves on this thing after the photo was taken.
Movie posters come in many shapes and sizes and they can vary from country to country. Over in Britain, they had something called a synopsis sheet which is similar to the American herald but is slightly larger, running around 8 1/2 X 11″.
When I was in London back in September 2002, I was able to visit a few movie memorabilia shops, all of which I believe are now closed. One of the shops called Flashbacks had a few British synopsis sheets from Ann’s 1930s Warner Bros. films. I bought every one they had and I think they were only 5 or 10 pounds a piece.
One of the interesting things about British synopsis sheets is that they bear no resemblance to the American artwork, so I am not sure who was actually designing these.
For some reason, my favorite of the bunch is the sheet from Massacre. I guess the red really jumps out, and I have used this on numerous occasions for various posts about the film.
The Murder in the Clouds is a close runner-up for cool imagery.
These are items that I have had for so long, that I have come to take them a bit for granted. Now that we’re revisiting them, I have to admit they are cool pieces of cinema and Ann Dvorak history.
Racing Lady isn’t much of a movie, but at the very least it’s a rare starring turn for Ann Dvorak. A big plus to the film is that as the star, Ann is on most of the poster art, which means I have a lot of Racing Lady in my collection. In fact, my very first 1930s one-sheet from an Ann-D film was Racing Lady, but today we’re going to take a closer look at the insert.
For those of you who don’t obsessively collect movie posters like the rest of us, U.S. inserts measure 14×36″. The artwork can sometimes be markedly different from the rest of the pieces and is frequently more visually appealing. This is definitely the case with the Racing Lady insert which is much prettier than the one-sheet and lobby cards.
I bought this poster around 2004 from a man named Louis Leithold. I came across his name while thumbing through a telephone directory where he was listed in the movie collectibles section of the yellow pages. My friend Darin and I went to his home in Pacific Palisades and spent a memorable afternoon with him.
Leithold was a noted mathematician who wrote a seminole textbook on calculus. He was also a rabid movie poster collector and had the most amazing personal collection of memorabilia I have ever seen. His home had once belonged to an artist so one portion was a studio with high ceilings that was perfect for displaying large format posters. He didn’t stop with the studio and his entire home was floor to ceiling posters, including the kitchen. The items in his collection were premium – titles that even the most casual film fan would be familiar with. And everything was restored and framed. Not sure if it was because of calculus, but Louise had serious money and he spent it on his collection.
For some reason, the pieces I remember most were lobby cards from Private Lives and the six-sheet from All this and Heaven Too. And of course there was the Racing Lady insert. He sold it to me for $125, and considering it had been restore, was a fair price. I am fairly certain he didn’t need the money, and we walked away with the impression that we was just someone who loved to show off his collection and meet other collectors. He was a gracious and entertaining gentleman, and I feel fortunate to have spent some time with him.
Not too long after we me him, Louis passed away. I was surprised to find out he was so well known in the world math. He never mentioned it while we were at his home. This was probably because we were too busy discussing our love of classic movie posters. Even though I only met Louis once, and just for a couple of hours, it was an afternoon I will never forget. Once again, I have Ann Dvorak to thank for causing me to cross paths with a fascinating individual.
The last two days, we’ve taken a look at lobby cards from Ann’s two lost British war films, Squadron Leader X and Escape to Danger. We’ll spend one last day on these films with the half sheets from the latter.
With a tag line of “Super-Spy…Glamour Girl…,” I really feel like we are being deprived by not being able to view this one. My apologies for the lousy image on the second poster. It’s so awesome, I had to hang it up in the bedroom.
Yesterday, we discussed the lack of Ann Dvorak on the lobby cards for the “lost” British War-time film, Squadron Leader X. The same cannot be said of Escape to Danger, the other lost British war film distributed by RKO and starring Eric Portman. For this title, Ann is on five of the lobby cards and I am assuming she is also on the title card, which I have not seen.
This film looks like it had a lot of Ann, so hopefully, it will turn up some day.
When Ann Dvorak was in England during World War II, she made two films co-starring Eric Portman that were distributed by RKO – Squadron Leader X and Escape to Danger. Both films are considered “lost” and sought after, with former being on the British Film Institute’s list of most wanted films. I was once contacted by an RKO lawyer trying to find the film. Talk about desperate!
Even though both films were shown in American theaters, memorabilia from Escape to Danger seems to be much more plentiful. I have quite a few pieces from that film, including lobby cards, both half sheets, and a few stills. The one-sheet for Squadron Leader X pops up every so often, but I only have two photos and one of them was just purchased a couple of months back. About nine years ago, I had the opportunity to buy the entire lobby card set from Squadron Leader X and purchased it site unseen. Ann is one of the stars after all, so I figured she’d be good for at least three of the seven scene cards, and definitely the title card.
I remember the day the lobby car set came. My sister and I were leaving somewhere and we stopped off at the mailbox on the way to the car. My apartment was upstairs and the mailbox on the ground floor, so rather than going back up, we hopped in the car and I tore into the package. One by one we looked at each card while I kept shrieking from behind the steering wheel, “She HAS to be on at least one of these.” And she was…on ONE of them. Eight cards, and Ann Dvorak is only on one of them. Well, at least it’s a really pretty card.
The bright side of it all is that I have never come across this card again, so if I hadn’t taken the plunge and bought the whole set, I probably would not be able to share it now.
The Northwest Chicago Film Society will be screening a 35mm print of Heat Lightning at the Patio Theater on Wednesday, June 26 at 8pm. I have sung the praises of Heat Lightning many a time on this site, but have yet to see it on the big screen. This proves to be an exceptional evening, with Margaret Talbot, daughter of Lyle and author of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century on hand for a discussion and book signing.
If you’re near Chicago and don’t go to this, you’re a fool!
By the fall of 1936, Warner Bros. had pretty much given up on Ann Dvorak. She had not made a movie with them for almost year because of illness, suspension, and lawsuits. Her days with the studio were numbered, so it’s surprising they would so prominently feature Ann on the poster art for Midnight Court, her penultimate film with them. Like most of Ann’s film during her tenure in Burbank her role in Midnight Court was a leading lady one in support of the male star of the film – in this case John Litel.
It’s not a great film, but moderately watchable and features the ugliest costume of Ann’s career which I have gleefully talked about before. If nothing else, Midnight Court afforded this Ann Dvorak collector a pretty poster.
Here is another photo signed by Ann, but this one is a little different. It’s a portrait from the mid 1940s, around the time of Private Affairs of Bel Ami, which is one of the most glamorous sittings Ann ever did. The inscriptions reads, “With all my love, to Mama.”
I found this in an antique store on the North Shore of Oahu. The owner of the shop had acquired the contents of Ann’s storage unit a year or two after she died, and this photo was among the contents. Ann’s mom, Anna Lehr, had passed away almost six years before Ann did, and there is something rather sad about this photo being tucked away in a storage space. I’m certainly happy it’s now part of my collection.
I was actually going to use this photo in the last chapter of the book. However, once I received images of Ann towards the end of her life, this one was sacrificed. I was torn to see it go, but in the end I think it was the right decision.