Monday, January 09, 2012

Some of my favorite movie stills

I'd like to share with people a hobby of mine that started when I received my first issue of "Photon," the legendary fanzine that included a movie still in every issue. The stills were not original, needless to say, but great copies from a film featured in the issue.

I was instantly smitten with the idea that I could own something that represented a film. This was 1971 or so and the only way one could actually be a film collector was to buy 16mm prints of films. I had a handful of the 8mm and Super 8 cutdowns and I watched them over and over.

But those of us who were into such things knew the only way to go make that leap into 16mm and that was not possible for me.

You kids today – yes, you know who I'm shaking my ancient finger at – have no idea just how revolutionary VHS was for the study and enjoyment of moves. It was the great agent of democracy. Living in Granby, Mass., I could't see the movies film fans could in large cities, but home video changed all of that.

In any event, I discovered there was a place in New York City called Cinemabilia that sold movie stills. I bought from them through the mail and visited the store once.

I soon became a snob. I didn't want copies of stills. I wanted originals and I sought them out the best I could.

I bought stills of films I had seen and some from films I wanted to see. Years later I still look through piles of stills.

The still is now an artifact of the past, like lobby cards, inserts, three sheets, etc. Used to help sell movies, they have been replaced in press kits by a CD of digital images.

So from time to time I'll post some images for, hopefully, your enjoyment – and mine, too.

Here's a great shot from the Republic serial "Dick Tracy Vs. Crime, Inc." with stuntman and actor David Sharpe doubling for star Ralph Byrd. Recognize the terrain? It was in a lot of Republic westerns and serials.

Clayton Moore was a boyhood hero of mine and I'm happy to say when I interviewed him in the mid-1980s, he was a great gentlemen. Here's Moore playing a highly fictionalized version of Buffalo Bill Cody.

The three Monogram Shadow films, supposedly based on the famed radio show, have little to do with either The Shadow of the pulps or the radio. Instead they are actually goofy little mysteries that owe more to Nick and Nora Charles. Kane Richmond was one of those actors who played character parts in A films and leads in B movies.

Okay, I've been lazy and haven't done the cross-checking on IMBD to deduce the name of this film, but I want to see it despite knowing that it probably is a cheap-jack little production. The cast includes Kane Richmond (third from right) Frankie Darro and David Sharpe. I want a DVD of this thing!

It's difficult to explain the appeal of the classic movies serials of the 1930 and '40s. They are low-budget, frequently poorly written, frequently poorly acted and frequently nonsensical movies. But I have a soft spot – in my head – for them. Here's actually a gem, "The Tiger Woman," starring Linda Stirling and Allan Lane.

© 2012 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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