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Alfred Hitchcock’s films autograph cast displays
by Makoto Imai
When I am asked if I’m an autograph collector, my answer is Yes and No. When I am asked what my hobby is, I always answer that I collect Hitchcock and his films related items.
Posters, original shooting scripts, pressbooks, movie tie-in books, radio spot records, still photos, glass movie slides, items for promotion, etc. etc. But my main field of collection is autographed items.
About my autograph collection, my passion is given to making matted and framed cast displays. I recreate the world of a film in a frame. I show you some cast displays of Hitchcock’s films released in the 20’s and the 30’s.
Frame size 59.5 x 48.6 cm
Anny Ondra SPC
John Longden SPC
Cyril Ritchard SPC in 1941
Donald Calthrop original 8 x 10 SP of the film
Sara Allgood small SP 2.5 x 3.25inch in 1936
Before BLACKMAIL, my matted and framed displays are very simple. Only leading actor and actress, for ex. THE LODGER (1926), or a leading actress and a supporting actress, for ex. EASY VIRTUE (1927), only a leading actress SPC and unsigned post cards, for ex. THE FARMER’S WIFE (1928). It’s very hard to find signed supporting actor/actress items in the early era. About THE RING (1927), as I can’t yet find Forrester Harvey, I can’t make cast display. I check eBay every day.
BLACKMAIL is important film. It’s Hitchcock’s first talky film and the first talky film in UK. So I was very lucky to find a signed original 8 x 10 still of Donald Calthrop taken for this film. Scene photo and color items were found by the website related Hitchcock.
NUMBER SEVENTEEN (1932)
Anne Grey original vintage 8 x 10 SP
Leon M Lion TLS in 1928
John Stuart SPC
Henry Caine cut SIG
Barry Jones SPC in 1935
Garry Marsh SC
Ann Casson SPC in 1937
Donald Calthrop SC
Leon M. Lion was the last missing ring in this display. After 4 years looking for, I obtained this TLS from a Hitchcock collector in Germany via Mr. Brandes who is the owner of this website. I always think making good collection needs friendship and good daily communication with them.
For making cast display, I always see the film again by DVD. Because I have to understand correctly human relation in the film and I have to know which actor/actress acts which role. Sometime, it is not easy to recognize supporting roles. I also use famous book “Hitchcock Truffaut” and Internet Movie Data Base ( = IMDb ).
No tapes are used for making my matted and framed displays. Every item is not attached on a mat by paste. So every item can keep original condition. There are custom made 4 paper pocket at 4 corners of every window. It looks like photo albums. My framer makes paper cards having same size as items. She (= my framer) does simulation again and again to fined exact position having good valance for cutting windows. She works at painting art material store established in 1887. May be it is the oldest store in Japan of that kind. Before ordering, I send photo of my plan and a letter written about mat and frame. She also thinks about mat and frame. At the day I order at the store, we discuss about mat and frame. She often does good choice of mat and frames that I can’t think. Following is the photo I sent to her before ordering. In this case, the empty frame is used temporarily. I usually put items on a table or floor. You’ll find some differences between plan and finished display.
WALTZES FROM VIENNA (1933)
Frame size 54.5 x 43 cm
Esmond Knight 5 x 7 inch SP
Jessie Matthews SPC
Edmund Gwenn SPC
Frank Vosper SPC
Fay Compton SPC in the 30’s
After beginning collection, I began to see Hitchcock’s films more carefully than before. I knew many things about not only films themselves but also about actor/actress, artwork, cinematography, etc. etc. Jessie Mathews is a great singer and actress. But I’ve never seen her before this film. After seeing the film, I purchased her CDs and I enjoyed her lovely singing. My interest becomes wider and deeper by collecting. I think it is the true excitement of collection.
THE 39 STEPS (1935)
Frame size 65 x 42.5 cm
Robert Donat SPC
Madeleine Carroll SPC
Godfrey Tearle SIG
Peggy Ashcroft SAP in 1985
Wylie Watson SAP
Lucie Mannheim 3.5 x 5.0 inch SP in her later year pictured with her son
Original vintage 8x 10 still pictured Donat and Carroll
THE 39 STEPS is one of the most important films in Hitchcock’s career. As Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat are very famous and popular stars, it is not hard to find their vintage signed items. The key role in this film is “Memory” acted by Wylie Watson. Although the appearance of Lucie Mannheim is short, she gives strong impact to the opening of this film. I think their signed items could add richness to this display.
SABOTAGE (1936) US title: A WOMAN ALONE
Frame size 62.5 x 43 cm
Oscar Homolka SPC
Sylvia Sidney SPC in the 30’s
Desmond Tester SPC for this film
John Loder SPC
Joyce Barbour 5 x 7 inch SP Original still pictured
Sylvia Sidney, Desmond Tester and Oscar Homolka
I looked for Desmond Tester signed item for over 5 years. There is not very important thrill in this film without his role. This signed postcard uses his portrait taken for this film. It came from German collector who was introduced by Markus.
YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937) US title: THE GIRL WAS YOUNG
Frame size 68 x 45.5
Derrick De Marney SPC
Nova Pilbeam vintage color SPC pictured with De Marney [My very best wish to your ****** Nova] They acted together in only this film.
Nova Pilbeam SAP
Percy Marmont SAP obtained in the 30’s in London
Edward Rigby SAP in 1940 [with great pleasure]
Mary Clare SAP
Basil Radford SAP dated Oct 6th 1939
George Curzon SAP
Charles Bennett (Scenario writer) signed envelope Cinegram magazine #20
I was very lucky to find autographs of Edward Rigby and George Curzon. If you don’t know the name of George Curzon, once you see this film, you won’t forget him and Hitchcock’s great camera work. I used German movie magazine with the cover pictured 2 leading stars. As it is thin magazine I used not only cover but also whole magazine. When I make matted and framed displays, I try to keep original condition of the item.
THE LADY VANISHES (1938)
Frame size 62.5 x 47.5 cm
Margaret Lockwood SPC
Michael Redgrave SPC
Paul Lukas signed paper
May Whitty SPC
Cecil Parker SPC
Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne SAP by both (in the film, they are friends)
Mary Clare SAP
Googie Withers SPC, may be in the 40’s Still pictured Lockwood, Redgrave and Whitty printed in the 60’s
I made two cast displays of this film. First display is upper and 2nd display is following.
Frame size 74ｘ46 cm
Margaret Lockwood SAP
Michael Redgrave SC
Paul Lukas SAP
May Whitty SP 3.5 x 5. Signed on beside. Signature on front side is preprint [Thank you for card & good wish for Christmas]
Cecil Parker SAP
Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne SAP by both (with a small photo pictured them)
Mary Clare SC signed on Jan 19th 1948 in London
Mary Clare SAP
Googie Withers SAP, later year
Catherine Lacey (as The Nun) cut SIG from a SAP
Linden Travers SAP
I made 2nd display by only SAP and SC. I also use digital prints of scene photos taken from Hitchcock related website. There are 19 windows in this display. My framer told me that it was very difficult to make good balance and helical and vertical good position between one item and others. You saw some small color poster in displays. They are book photos. The book is, may be you know, “Hitchcock Poster Art” which introduces great collection of Mr. Mark Wolff in US. I’ve 3 copies of the book. One is for making display materials. 2nd is purchased for my Hitchcock library, 3rd is a signed copy gifted from Mark to me. Mark gives me his knowledge about Hitchcock films and related items, too.
If Markus gives me chance to show my displays again, I’ll show some examples of “displays having theme” and “displays using low price items”.
I’m looking for following items for making cast displays. They are last missing ring for the film. Mort Mills in PSYCHO, Walter Coy and Ken Lynch for NORTH BY NOTHWEST. About not Hitchcock film, Joseph Sweeney in 12 ANGRY MEN. If you can sell them to me, please contact Mr. Brandes