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Movie Poster of the Week: Jean Grémillon’s “Daïnah la métisse” and Christie’s Vintage Film Posters auction

The highlights of the auction house’s inaugural online-only movie poster sale.

This week, Christie’s, the world’s largest fine arts auction house, is hosting an inaugural online-only sale of what are billed as Vintage Film Posters, though it is an eclectic collection of old and new. There are plenty of familiar faces, like Reynold Brown’s Attack of the 50Ft. Woman, Saul Bass’s The Man With the Golden Arm, Giorgio Olivetti’s La Dolce Vita, Bob Peak’s My Fair Lady, and Philip Castle’s Clockwork Orange, but what is interesting in terms of the auction market is the inclusion of a number of recent Mondo posters by Tyler Stout, Todd Slater and Laurent Durieux. The auction also includes La Boca’s already-classic, four-year-old set of silkscreen teasers for Black Swan.

The poster that really caught my eye, however, and one I’d never seen before, is this stunning Deco design by one Ram Richman for Jean Grémillon’s 1931 Daïnah la métisse, a story of class, race, murder and magic aboard an ocean liner. In his “Forgotten” column for the Notebook, David Cairns wrote that with Daïnah, Grémillon was “still pushing the expressive possibilities of sound cinema that he had opened up in the poorly-received La petite Lise. If the rejection of that first talkie, regarded as both too seedy and downbeat and too experimental and strange, caused him to rethink his approach, there’s little evidence here, since Daïnah is a tragic tale delivered with a similarly somnambular pace, making free use of unexpected angles and a bold approach to both sound effects and narrative.” It is noteable that Grémillon’s name doesn’t appear on the poster since he removed his director’s credit after Gaumont cut 40 minutes from the 90 minute film. 

Other less well known highlights of the auction for me are this series of British double crowns created for the 1959 premiere of Jack Arnold’s The Mouse That Roared...

...and these three 1950s re-release posters for Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s Marseilles Trilogy, illustrated by Albert Dubout (1905-1976)...

A large (87" x 77"), dramatic 1914 poster for a seemingly lost film, The Prince of Darkness...

A number of French Chaplin posters, including The Circus, which has the second highest estimate of the auction at 10,000 British pounds (a distant second to a US one sheet for Casablanca which proves that when it comes to poster auction prices, title popularity trumps design).

A superb British quad by Tom Chantrell (1916-2001) for Elvis Presley’s 1956 film debut Love Me Tender... 

An title-less advance teaser poster for A Fistful of Dollars by Fred Otnes...

A US one-sheet for Bruce Brown’s 1971 motorcycle doc On Any Sunday with a stylistic nod to his legendary Endless Summer poster...

And two very recent posters by perhaps my favorite Mondo artist, the incredibly talented Laurent Durieux...

But one of my favorite aspects of the Christie’s site is their “Size Indicator” which shows you how your purchase will look on your living room wall, proof that even a 50 foot woman...

...is dwarfed by an Italian 4-foglio (Anselmo Ballester’s On the Waterfront)...

...a French double-panel (Boris Grinsson’s Gilda)...

...a US six-sheet...

 

...and Daïnah herself...

The auction runs through June 24th. All images courtesy of Christie’s website.

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