DescriptionThe Black Cat (Universal, 1934). One Sheet (27" X 41") Style B.
In 1931, Universal Studios found their niche in the motion picture industry, creating a style of film that would propel them well into the next decade. With the release of Dracula early in the year, and Frankenstein near year's end, Universal became known for their chilling gothic horror films. It was a trend that would continue with the release of such genre classics as The Invisible Man (1932), The Mummy (1933), The Black Cat (1934), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941). As important as the movies, however, were the two actors who portrayed the Transylvanian Count and the Man-Made Monster, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Both had worked as contract players since the silent era, and both were instantly elevated to the realm of superstar by these career-defining roles. Since the passing of the great Lon Chaney in 1930, Universal had searched for a replacement for the man who had sent thrills and chills up and down the spines of movie-goers in such memorable films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Now they had found not one, but two, horror megastars. It didn't take studio brass long to realize that if one horror star was good, two would be better, so they planned several films that would feature the popular duo- The Black Cat being the first of eight. The Black Cat tells the story of Peter and Joan Allison (David Manners and Julie Bishop as Jacqueline Wells), a young couple on their honeymoon who find themselves the inadvertent guests of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff), former head of a World War I prisoner of war camp and the current leader of a Satanic cult. Accompanying the Allisons is Dr. Vitus Verdegast (Lugosi), a survivor of Poelzig's camp. During Verdegast's internment, Poelzig stole both Verdegast's wife and his daughter, and now cat-phobic Vitus is back for revenge and must play a game of chess for Allison's soul. . What follows is a bizarre mix of horror, sadism, necrophilia, and Satanism that marks one of the most chilling and atmospheric pictures ever released. The Black Cat contains some of the most unsettling scenes of any classic Universal horror film and is considered the darkest and is very disturbing, even by today's standards. The scene of Karloff reciting the Black Mass in Latin is especially ominous. How this one got past the Hays Office is anyone's guess as censors in Italy, Finland and Austria banned the movie outright, while others required cuts of the more gruesome sequences! The film is written and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, who served as set designer for such Expressionist masterpieces as Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam (1920), Die Niebelungen (1924), Metropolis (1927), and M (1931) in his native Germany before emigrating to the U.S. His attention to set detail is evident in every frame of this visually stunning film, which borrows inspiration from both the Bauhaus and Art Deco movements.
When the film was released, it quickly became Universal's biggest hit 1934, and ensured future Karloff/Lugosi pairings. Although the iconic pair would make several more films together, none reached the level of utter perfection demonstrated in this classic from the Golden Age of Universal Horror.
It should come as no surprise, then, that paper from this Universal horror masterpiece is in very high demand. Unfortunately, the supply is incredibly limited. Although there are four copies known to exist of the Style-D "blue" poster - Heritage sold a copy in March 2007 for $286,800 - this is the only known example of this extremely powerful and more horrific, striking Style-B one sheet which happens to be even more rare than one sheets for the other Golden Age Universal Studio horror giants of the day - Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein - and is at least every bit as great in the world of serious movie poster collectors. There are so few vintage horror posters which have never surfaced and aside from a very small black and white illustration in the advertising campaign press book, this poster has never been seen before in real life-till now, in all of it's colorful and chilling glory! Considering it's mega cult status among Universal horror aficionados, combined with it's stunning bold, dynamic colors that seem to leap from the paper and the superb stone lithography printing and artwork including Karloff's embodiment of the Devil incarnate, Heritage believes this is one of the greatest posters to ever come to auction. Absolutely immaculate and unrestored, this poster is virtually defect-free, without even a single pinhole, with only a tiny edge tear or two, keeping this one of a kind and priceless gem from an even higher grade. Once this incredible piece goes into a collection, it seems unlikely that another will ever surface! From the Todd Feiertag Collection. Near Mint+.
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