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Ralph DeLuca Posts Winning Bid in December Auction

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Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 4:55 pm

  • Metropolis One Sheet Is "World's Highest-Valued Poster"

    The motto of Movie Archives, Inc. is "No One Will Pay You More" and owner Ralph DeLuca seemed to be on a mission to prove it last December. In a bankruptcy court auction, Mr. DeLuca placed a winning bid of $1.2 million for a lot of nine pieces of film art which included a Metropolis one sheet that now is being called "the world's highest-valued poster."

    On Thursday, December 13, in an auction conducted in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, Ralph DeLuca, owner of the New Jersey-based Movie Archives Inc, won the posters in bidding against three other rivals. The bidding started at $700,000 in the bankruptcy auction which included posters from The Invisible Man, and King Kong, along with original art created for Jailhouse Rock depicting its star Elvis Presley.

    Mr. DeLuca described his Metropolis one sheet as the poster art world's Mona Lisa, adding, "I was expecting to pay $1.5 to 1.6 million at least." Mr. DeLuca believes that his Metropolis poster is, by itself, worth more than what he paid for all nine items. In 2005, the Metropolis one sheet was bought in a private sale by a California collector for what was then a record $690,000. After declaring bankruptcy, the former owner had to release the poster as part of the court action which led to the December auction.

    The Metropolis poster is a beautiful piece of German Expressionist art originally created by Heinz Schulz-Neudamm in 1927 to publicize Fritz Lang's science-fiction masterpiece. The poster depicts the robot woman created by the film's sinister scientist, Rotwang, in a bleak future world of oppression where workers are totally regimented to serve a powerful urban elite. The silent classic features actors Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge, and was written by Lang and wife Thea Von Harbou.

    So far Mr. DeLuca has not announced any plans to sell the coveted poster but was quoted saying, "I think I'll keep the poster unless I get overwhelmed with a 'Guinness-Book-of-Records' offer. I believe it will be the first to go past $1 million and even hit $2 million."

National Film Registry 2012 Picks Announced

    In December, more films were selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Each year 25 films are added to the list which now includes 600 titles. The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., in collaboration with other groups, is committed to preserving all films placed on the list. Last year's list as usual contains several titles of special interest to classic film buffs, including:

    3:10 to Yuma (1957): Glen Ford starred in this Delmar Daves Western based on a story by Elmore Leonard.

    Anatomy of a Murder (1959): James Stewart starred in this courtroom drama that director Otto Preminger used to, once again, push the limits of the weakening Motion Picture Production Code.

    The Augustas (1930s-1950s): A short film made by a traveling salesman and Amateur Cinema League member named Scott Nixon, showcasing streets, stores, and towns named Augusta.

    Born Yesterday (1950): A humorous blend of political satire and romance about a newspaperman (William Holden) who helps a dumb blonde (Judy Holliday) stand up to her powerful and crooked boyfriend (Broderick Crawford).

    Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961): Charmingly sanitized and romanticized version of Truman Capote's story about a New York call girl, Holly Golighty, played by Audrey Hepburn.

    Christmas Story (1983): Classic Christmas comedy based on the writings of humorist Jean Shepherd from his memoirs of growing up in Indiana.

    The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight (1897): This footage of the famous boxing match, pitting James J. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett against Bob Fitzsimmons, helped popularize the new medium of film.

    Dirty Harry (1971): Clint Eastwood's tough San Francisco cop, "Dirty Harry" Callahan is first seen in Don Siegel's brilliant and violent action film.

    The Kidnappers Foil (1930s-1950s): In the early days of film, itinerant filmmakers traveled from town to town shooting local footage for exhibition in local theaters. This film is one version of a film called The Kidnappers Foil made by Dallas native Melton Barker who, from the 1930s to the '50s, traveled the South and Midwest filming kids acting, singing and dancing in their own local version of his film.

    Kodachrome Color Motion Picture Tests (1922): This film was made using a new two-color film process from Kodak that has been called "the first publicly demonstrated color film to attract the attention of the film industry".

    The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair (1939): An industrial film shot in Technicolor for screening at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

    Parable (1964): A Christian film made by The Protestant Council of New York to show at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

    Sons of the Desert (1933): One of the funniest films of the beloved comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

    They Call It Pro Football (1967): The first feature from NFL Films which transformed the way sports action was viewed thanks to the creative use of Telephoto lenses and slow-motion photography.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin (1914): An early film version of Harriet Beecher Stowe's influential 1852 anti-slavery novel, featuring Sam Lucas, an African-American actor who also had appeared in a 1878 stage version of the novel.

    The Wishing Ring; An Idyll of Old England (1914): A romance directed by Maurice Tourneur.