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    The Criminal Code (Columbia, 1931). One Sheet (27" X 41") Style B.
    A story of a good man sent to prison to be "broken," this compelling prison drama stars Walter Huston as the warden, Phillips Holmes as a young man incarcerated for killing another man in self-defense, and Boris Karloff as the psychotic, amoral career criminal Ned Galloway. This is an important film in Karloff's career, as it's believed that it was seeing him in this picture that convinced director James Whale to cast him in Frankenstein (1931). Indeed, a number of the mannerisms Galloway exhibits would find their way into the characterization of Mary Shelley's famous monster. During the early years of cinema, the movies began to realize their inherent ability to affect social change. In the 1920s, an overriding theme was that of "regeneration," the belief that criminals weren't born bad, but made bad, and could return to a life on the right side of the law by personal efforts of transformation and with society's mercy and forgiveness. As the 1930s dawned, however, motion pictures cast their eye on the American prison system, and exposed the abuses of an unregulated and often inhumane system. Throughout the decade, films like The Criminal Code, San Quentin(1937), Each Dawn I Die (1939), and particularly I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) - based on a true story - brought the sordid spectacle of sadistic guards, uncaring wardens, and inhuman living conditions to the attention of the movie-going public. Through this raising of cultural awareness, real change was achieved with the arrival of real penal reform on a national level. As one of the earliest talking pictures to take up this banner, The Criminal Code remains an important part of an important struggle. The striking stone litho one sheet offered here, picturing stars Phillips Holmes and Constance Cummings, had pinholes, a small hole beneath the studio logo, chips and tears in the borders, and approximately one inch missing from the top border, all of which have been addressed by expert professional restoration. Paper for this important film is in extremely short supply, making this gorgeous poster a terrific find indeed. From the Berwick Discovery. Fine+ on Linen.


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    Auction Dates
    March, 2012
    23rd-24th Friday-Saturday
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