Movie Poster Archives a treasure trove for movie buffs
Store has more than 1.5 million posters, lobby cards and photos
BY LESLIE CARDÉ
In what can only be described as a treasure trove for movie buffs everywhere, December saw the grand opening of Movie Poster Archives in Gretna.
The archives boast over 1.5 million posters, lobby cards, and still photos of movies dating back over a century. The brainchild of retired Hollywood executive Linda Thurman, author of ”Hollywood South: Glamour, Gumbo and Greed” and nationally renowned researchers Ed and Susan Poole, the nonprofit has been six years in the making.
But the premise began 46 years ago, when the Pooles stumbled onto a vendor at the French Market who sold movie posters.
They bought a ”Gidget” poster for Susan, and the rest is history.
That vendor had disappeared by the following week when Ed went to buy a poster for himself, and the hunt was on to find movie poster dealers. It eventually turned into a lifelong odyssey.
‘A guy in Gulfport’
”We tracked a guy down in Gulfport, who eventually sent us catalogues of the film posters available, but minus any pictures of what we’d be receiving,” said Ed Poole. ”Movie posters were originally meant to be discarded after they left the theaters, so trying to find some of these titles has become the quest of a lifetime.”
It was the wild, wild West back then when dealers could claim anything about a poster, and charge accordingly.
This led to allegations of fraud and copyright infringement, all which would eventually be sorted out in the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans. The Pooles were called as expert witnesses, since their research was used by those around the world to authenticate movie posters.
”You have to remember that when we got into this simply as a hobby, the whole business of selling movie posters was unregulated,” said Susan Poole. After 1984, when movie studios then began to control distribution, everything changed.
Ed and Susan opened a kiosk and then a store in 1995 in the Lakeside Mall, selling posters to the public. It was wildly successful, but by 2000 they left the retail world to engage in research and become authenticators for those in the industry, eventually writing 24 books. In fact, one of their sponsors is the leading auction house for movie posters worldwide, based in Texas.
A serendipitous meeting
For Linda Thurman, who lived in Hollywood for 20 years, and negotiated deals for both United Artists and HBO, stumbling upon the Pooles while researching her book was serendipitous.
She understood the business aspects of putting together a nonprofit, and the Pooles had a very specific kind of expertise. Together, with a large grant from Morris Everett Jr., an Ohio collector who strives to own a poster from every film ever made, the Movie Poster Archives Gallery & Gifts store has taken shape in Gretna.
All posters, lobby cards, and photos have been donated, but the cost of running the store and the ongoing research is aided by the sale of posters in the store, and memberships in Friends of the Archives, now half-price until Jan. 1. For film enthusiasts, membership entitles them to a 10% discount on any poster or accessory.
For the Pooles, the lessons they’ve learned have come with time. They were offered posters back in the ’80s for around $100 that originated from movies made in the 1930’s, but as hobbyists, not collectors, those posters didn’t interest them. Today, those vintage posters are selling for six figures.
The Pooles and Thurman have become instrumental in everything movie-centric, and have now been able to get the city of New Orleans to place a historic marker in front of 623 Canal St., the site of the first motion picture theater in the United States, called Vitascope Hall. It’s just one more important component of Hollywood South, and now with the addition of Movie Pictures Archives, and its vast collection, it puts Louisiana in the forefront of Hollywood lore.
From ”Gone With the Wind” to ”Gone Girl,” ”Lord of the Rings” to ”The Lords of Flatbush,” it’s all available through Movie Poster Archives in the Belle Meade Shopping Center in Gretna. For more information on the nonprofit, go to movieposterarchives. org.
Leslie Cardé can be reached at lesliecardejournalist@ gmail.com.
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