Monday, October 3, 2016

RARE 'CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI' LOBBY CARDS


Coming up for bid are two "nearly impossible to obtain" lobby cards from the silent horror film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (Goldwyn, 1920). Dubbed by film critic Roger Ebert as "the first true horror film", the cards are from the estate of James Card, noted film preservationist. In 1948, Mr. Card brought his huge collection of silent films to the famous George Eastman House (of Eastman Kodak) archive of photography and motion pictures.
 
Card cites CALIGARI as the film that changed his life and claimed that it influenced every other film that was to follow and that ''served dramatic notice that film was a graphic art rather than a theatrical form or a branch of photography.'' He called films, "the ambrosia of his life".
 
Following the cards is the auction lot description.


 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Goldwyn, 1920). Lobby Card (11" X 14").
An astonishing piece of film history, this nearly-impossible to obtain lobby card is from the groundbreaking Expressionist masterpiece conceived by writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Dubbed as the "the first true horror film" by none other than Roger Ebert, Caligari pushed the art of filmmaking deep into the uncharted territories of psychological fear and fantasy, exploring the darker side of human consciousness with a perfectly surrealistic set design and labyrinthine plot. Director Robert Wiene and designers Hermann Warm, Walter Reim, and Walter Rohrig created a terrifyingly abstract world of shifting perceptions that has influenced an inestimable number of film noir and horror directors for nearly a century. The card has a rubber stamp in the right side of the upper border denoting it as part of the "James Card Collection." Card was a film collector who started the Eastman House film collection (1951-2000) after WWII and built it into one of the finest holdings of classic silent films and ephemera relating to that era. His greatest love was early German Expressionist films, and his favorite among them all was Caligari. Minor flaws do not detract from the monumental significance and appeal of this lobby card and include: pinholes in the corners, single pinholes in the center top and bottom border each, a pinhole in the center image, small tears in the bottom border, light surface wear in the center, some paper loss and glue residue on the verso, a small crease in the top border, mild corner bends, a light diagonal crease in the upper left border, and general edge wear. A small chip in the top border, upper left corner, and a sliver down the left side have been replaced. This card comes with a wonderful provenance. Fine-. 


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Goldwyn, 1920). Lobby Card (11" X 14").
Always a marvelous treasure of early cinema, paper from Robert Wiene's monument to German Expressionism is exceedingly scarce, and exceedingly sought after. Weaving a tale of unprecedented terror, writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer plunge headlong into the murky depths of the human mind, expertly exploring the constantly shifting boundary between subjectivity and insanity. The surreal, nightmarish sets further warps the labyrinthine fantasy unfolding on the screen, a magnificent product from the visionary designers Hermann Warm, Walter Rein, and Walter Rohrig that has had a profound influence on the horror genre to this day. The card has a rubber stamp on the verso, denoting it as part of the "James Card Collection." Card was a film collector who started the Eastman House film collection (1951-2000) after WWII and built it into one of the finest holdings of classic silent films and ephemera relating to that era. His greatest love was early German Expressionist films, and his favorite among them all was Caligari. Minor flaws do not detract from the monumental significance and appeal of this lobby card, which include pinholes in the borders, three rounded corners, a tiny tear in the left border, creasing and scratches in the image area, minor staining and smudging in the borders, and cellophane and paper tape on the verso. The bottom left corner has been replaced, and there is also slight surface paper loss in the upper border and background, the latter of which has been colored. Only sold once before at Heritage, opportunities to own such a rarity as this hardly ever surface. Fine+.  

BONUS: NY Times Obituary of James Card

James Card, 84, a Leader In Film Preservation, Dies
By MEL GUSSOWJAN. 21, 2000 
 
James Card, one of the world's leading film preservationists, a passionate devotee of silent movies and the founder and first curator of the Department of Film at the George Eastman House of Photography in Rochester, died on Sunday at a hospital in Syracuse. He was 84 and lived in East Rochester.
 
Mr. Card joined the Eastman House in 1948, bringing with him his personal collection of 800 films, which became the cornerstone of the institution's archive. Under his direction, over a period of almost 30 years, Eastman House was generally acknowledged as the finest film collection in the United States.
 
Paolo Cherchi-Usai, the curator who holds Mr. Card's former position at Eastman, said that the collection would not have existed without Mr. Card. He added that his predecessor ranks as a preservationist with three other major figures in the field, Jacques Ledoux from Belgium, Henri Langlois from the Cinematheque in Paris and Iris Barry of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
 
''The others are better known, but he contributed very much the same way,'' Mr. Cherchi-Usai said. ''The difference was that his personality was so flamboyant that he didn't seem like an archivist in the traditional sense.''
 
Mr. Card frequently disagreed with Ms. Barry about her taste in films and about the power that she held at her museum. He said that her selections for preservation were crucial and that ''her rejection of any film for preservation was tantamount to condemning it to death.'' He added that the Museum of Modern Art and the Eastman House were ''two of the very few places one may still see projected, original, 35-millimeter nitrate films.''
 
Mr. Card's book, ''Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film'' (1994), is a personalized critical history of silent movies and also a kind of memoir about his life in film.
 
''There were some of us with an addiction, with fierce passion for the medium,'' he wrote. ''We were militant and protective, and we didn't want to change it in any way. We loved its silence. When dialogue arrived and the silent film almost vanished, some of us were so infuriated that we actually refused, for many months, to even look at a talkie.''
 
Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Card was instrumental in reviving interest in the silent film star Louise Brooks. As a longtime admirer of her work, he persuaded her to live in Rochester. When Miss Brooks arrived, Mr. Card screened her films for her, and she said it was the first time she had seen them.
 
''As a working actress,'' Kenneth Tynan wrote in a profile of Miss Brooks in The New Yorker, ''she had never taken films seriously; under Card's tuition, she recognized that the cinema was a valid form of art, and began to develop her own theories about it.''
 
Soon she began writing articles for film magazines. Among Mr. Card's other enthusiasms were Theda Bara, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and John Barrymore.
 
He was always in search of lost films. As he said, ''From barns, abandoned warehouses, attics, basements, even from bedroom closets, these old nitrate prints are still being discovered, for every good silent-film historian is a film hunter as well.''
 
Mr. Card's dedication to film began very early in his childhood in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where he was born. He said that while others chose to collect baseball cards or postage stamps, ''for me there was never any question -- I had to have film, motion picture film of my own.'' He began by inhabiting ''the Elysian fields'' of movie theaters in downtown Cleveland, and by the mid-1920's he was seeing five movies a week. An obsession, he said, soon turned him into a monomaniac.
 
Soon he had his first hand-cranked film projector, and he began buying movies. Even before he left high school, he said, ''the mania to show and share wonderful films became an intense concern,'' and he started showing them to audiences.

''The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari'' was the film that changed his life and ''shaped what would ultimately become a kind of career.'' That film, he said, ''influenced every film to come'' and ''served dramatic notice that film was a graphic art rather than a theatrical form or a branch of photography.'' While studying drama at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he bought a print of ''Caligari.''

Back in the United States he became head of a documentary film and photography project for the federal government, and then was drafted into the United States Army. He was grateful for the end of World War II, at least partly because ''the collection could be resumed!''

In 1948 he became curator of the film department at Eastman House, and the following year the movie archive was opened to the public. In 1974 he was a founder of the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. He also taught film at Syracuse University and the University of Rochester.

He is survived by his wife, Jeannie; two daughters, Callista, who lives in California, and Priscilla Card-Fuller of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and a sister, Dorothy Grove of South Bend, Ind.

''I cannot conceive of living without showing films,'' he said in his book. ''Movies have been the ambrosia of my life. To offer that gift to others, sharing in their enjoyment of the movies I love, is my greatest joy.''

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