It’s no secret that we love movie posters, as our galleries on Al Hirschfeld, Anselmo Ballester, silent movie posters and UFA one sheets attest. The terrific Gotta Dance! The Art of the Dance Movie Poster exhibition at Santa Monica’s California Heritage Museum got us to thinking about famous movies and how they are viewed and advertised in foreign lands. As a result, here are some of our favorite international posters, a selection of 25 well-known American films as they were marketed to audiences abroad.
Entries in it's a wonderful life (5)
Charles Lane dies at the age of 102 in Santa Monica, California, 2007. When the Screen Actors Guild held its first public meeting on October 8, 1933, Lane was there as a founding member. “[The studios would] work you until midnight and get you back at seven in the morning,” the actor said about early conditions. “The actors were taking a terrible licking physically. Generally, as the case with any union, you form it because people are abused.” The lifelong character actor entered the movies in 1931 with Smart Money and made hundreds more, including Twentieth Century (1934), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Teacher’s Pet (1958) and The Music Man (1962). He almost always found himself typecast as the meanie in the room, playing rent collectors, bureaucrats, tax assessors and other killjoys. “You did something that was pretty good, and the picture was pretty good,” Lane said in a 2005 interview. “That pedigreed you in that type of part, which I thought was stupid, and unfair, too. It didn't give me a chance, but it made casting easier for the studio.”
Beulah Bondi is born in Chicago, 1888. She made her movie debut at age 43 in Street Scene (1931) and went on to play some of the greatest mothers on screen. In particular, she played James Stewart’s mom five times: in Vivacious Lady (1938), Of Human Hearts (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (above, with Stewart and Guy Kibbee), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and on an episode of television’s The Jimmy Stewart Show in the early 1970s. “What distinguishes the real actor from the pseudo is the passionate desire to know what is going on in the hearts and minds of people,” the actress once remarked. That philosophy was put in motion when Bondi, who had tested for the role of Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), went to live among migrant workers in Bakersfield to get into the proper mindset for the role she thought she had. Bondi experienced her greatest disappointment when she learned that the role had been given to Jane Darwell instead.
Frank Albertson dies in Santa Monica, 1964. He began movies in 1922 as a prop boy, then drifted into acting, carving a nice niche for himself as a boyish, somewhat naïve goofball. In his more than 100 films in 40 years, Albertson appeared with Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams (1935), got nautical with Ann Rutherford in Waterfront Lady (1935), tussled with the Marx Brothers and Lucille Ball (above) in Room Service (1938) and provided the cash for Janet Leigh’s character to steal in Psycho (1960). But he is probably best known to today’s audiences as Sam “Hee Haw” Wainwright, buddy to James Stewart and Donna Reed’s characters in It ‘s a Wonderful Life (1946). A veteran of television as well as movies, the actor died in his sleep at the age of 55.
Gloria Grahame dies of stomach cancer in New York City, 1981. She first hit the scene in Blonde Fever (1944) and made noteworthy appearances in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Crossfire (1947) and In a Lonely Place (1950). Her busiest year in movies was 1952, when she appeared in four films: The Greatest Show on Earth, Macao, Sudden Fear and The Bad and the Beautiful. For that last film, she played the ambitious, unfaithful wife of writer Dick Powell and took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She followed her Oscar win with The Big Heat (1953), The Cobweb (1955) and Oklahoma! (1955), but it was her personal life that made the headlines. As chronicled in Lawrence Frascella's book, Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause, Grahame, who was married to director Nicholas Ray, was home alone when Ray's estranged teenage son Anthony showed up unannounced. Grahame and the younger Ray hit it off, the older Ray came home, found them in a compromising position, and the marriage was over. The actress later wed Anthony, observing, "I married Nicholas Ray, the director. People yawned. Later on I married his son, and from the press's reaction you'd have thought I was committing incest or robbing the cradle!"