Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lobby Cards

Lobby Cards have become a rare sight. These 11” x 14” marketing images are hopelessly out of scale with today’s cavernous multiplexes. But there was a time when these little gems were a vital part of motion picture advertising. I grew up in a small town and our tiny movie theatre had so little street frontage that the manager had to use lobby cards instead of full sized posters to announce coming attractions.

Lobby Cards have been used since the earliest days of commercial cinema:

Tinting the photos soon became popular, even though the idea of a color movie at that time was preposterous.

However some of these tinted cards now seem like a defacement of iconic imagery:

Lobby Cards peaked during the monster movie craze:

Often they were more interesting than the actual movie:

There was a new Lobby Card for each episode of a serial. For example, in episode 12 of King of the Rocketmen, a wave of disaster strikes when Rocketman’s pants spontaneously combust:

But mainstream films had Lobby Cards as well:

Who can forget the hall of mirrors scene from Lady From Shanghai?

And this offering from Vertigo is a masterful visualization of Jimmy Stewart’s haunting by Kim Novak:

Since the 1970s, Lobby Cards have generally gotten simpler and less concerned with hype:

On the other hand, who can resist a catfight featuring Raquel Welch?

Simpler is not necessarily more accurate. This still from Taxi Driver makes the film look like a sunny teen comedy:

These days, Lobby Cards are basically just horizontally-oriented versions of the film’s main poster:

While they are rarely used in cinemas, there is still a market for Lobby Cards with collectors and home theatre enthusiasts.


Retro Hound said...

I love lobby cards. I don't have any because of the cost and I don't have anywhere to display them. It's amazing actually that I don't have any. I seem to have a collection of almost everything else, as you can tell from my blog. And my wife certainly thinks I have too many collections.

Paul van Yperen said...

Beautiful selection. The Vertigo lobbycard is my favorite. Very could idea all these Kims buzzing around Jimmy'head.

There is a very nice collection of lobbycards in the Eye Institute in Amsterdam. I do hope they will exhibit them once.

I wonder if the French and the Brits see their more recent posters in your post also as lobbycards. I think it's a rypical American genre. However, they are both also very interesting designs.

Thanks for sharing,

Marcheline said...

Vertigo is my favorite, too! Jimmy Stewart is my all-time movie boyfriend. Love the Donna Reed header photo, too! Somehow seeing her in a leopard print bikini is wrong in all the right ways. Like seeing Jean Harlow in a shirt buttoned all the way up to the chin.

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