Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Starstruck : Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, Abbeville has recently published Ira M. Resnick's Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood. Though this full color coffee table book spans six decades, we're happy to report it includes many wonderful examples of silent era posters and lobby cards within its gorgeous 272 pages. 

Simply put, Starstruck is a must-have for early film buffs and collectors alike. The Los Angeles Times described it as "More than just a picture book of some of the most beautiful and rare posters from 1912 to 1962, Starstruck also is an exploration of one man's unending passion."

Indeed, this is a beautifully illustrated, personal tour of both one man's collection and a bygone era in motion picture art. (Courtesy of the publisher, a few of the silent era posters and lobby cards found within its pages are included as illustrations in this write-up. There were many to choose from. Thus, we selected a few examples of artwork for films which have been screened in past years by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.)

For four decades, this photographer, collector, film lover and one-time San Francisco Bay Area resident has been amassing a remarkable assembly of more than 2,000 vintage movie posters and more than 1,500 vintage movie stills - many of which have not been seen or published in decades.

Resnick's book highlights the best of his collection. Included are vivid reproductions of 250 posters and forty stills.

Resnick started collecting while studying at New York University Film School. By that time, had already fallen in love with the old movies which he had seen on late night television. 

In the book's introduction, the author relates how his love of vintage movie art translated into an eventual career as a collector and the founder of the Motion Picture Arts Gallery, the first gallery devoted exclusively to the art of the movies.

Resnick writes, "I bought my first film posters forty years ago, and I still have all three. I found them at Cinemabilia, a now-legendary movie bookstore on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. I paid $50 - a heavy price at the time - for a title lobby card from Stage Door, and $35 each for one-sheets promoting Love Before Breakfast and The Awful Truth. This was the modest beginning of a collection of posters and stills, spanning the years 1912 to 1962, which now numbers in the thousands. Initially I was attracted to them because they appealed to my visual sense and reinforced the pleasure I had recently discovered in the world of classic movies, and then, as the collection grew, because they gave me access to a vivid slice of American history. In time I came to feel that I had a responsibility to preserve these artifacts, once taken for granted and considered ephemeral, now increasingly rare and precious as representatives of a lost era. When all is said and done, though, I fell in love with film posters because they let me cut myself a slice of movie magic, because they provided me with a special and almost visceral connection to the movies I loved, and to the actors and actresses who brought them to life."

In the early 1970's, Resnick lived in San Francisco and worked as a magazine and rock music photographer. In Starstruck, he remembers the city as a "mecca for those of us who love old movies, home to revival houses and dealers in cinema collectibles of all kinds." Among those recalled were a " . . . cafe and poster gallery called Cinemonde on Polk Street in San Francisco."

Resnick's account includes anecdotes about how he managed to acquire various posters or lobby cards, about how he came to meet a few of the cinema legends whose work he admired, as well as biographical and historical information about some of the stars and films depicted in the book. Favorites, like Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich and the Marx Brothers are shown in more than a couple works. As are Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Bette Davis.

While guiding the reader through the best posters and stills in his collection, Resnick also provides a personal tour of the history of the movies, starting with the silent film era and continuing through Breakfast at Tiffany's. Resnick seems to be the most enamored with  American films of the Twenties and Thirties. They dominate the book.

Starstruck includes a foreword by director Martin Scorsese (one of Resnick's instructors at NYU), a list of the author's fifty favorite one-sheets, helpful tips for collectors, and a glossary of terms and poster sizes. To learn more about this title, visit the publisher's page at www.abbeville.com. Or, check out this informative review of the book at Women's Wear Daily (WWD).

Besides running his gallery, Resnick is a trustee of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a trustee of the International Center of Photography and MUSE Film and Television. To learn more about the author and his involvement in the world of film, visit his website at www.iraresnick.com.

As part of our week-long sneak peak at some of the films, musicians, special guests, authors and book signings taking place at our upcoming July event - we are pleased to announce that Ira Resnick will be attending this summers' San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Copies of Starstruck will be on sale at the Festival, and Resnick will be signing books on Saturday, July 17th. If you can't wait till July, Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood is available on-line or through independent bookstores.


1 comment:

  1. Ira Resnick and his new book is featured in this interesting BBC video at http://talkingmoviesserver.com/tmmodules/vintageposters.mov

    Also, there is a bit more about the book at this blog at http://louisebrookssociety.blogspot.com/2010/04/louise-brooks-shines-in-starstruck.html