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The Truth About That Night In Rio

By on September 1, 2012

It is inevitable that, occasionally, movie posters are unknowingly misrepresented by dealers and eBay sellers. No one is immune from making mistakes in this business. In many cases it is understandable that sellers use their “best educated guess” to determine the origins of a poster.

There are various ways to verify whether Australian posters are original and many of the tips are in my detailed guides. Pressbooks can help when available and printers details are also a good indication. There are some dealers and collectors who have acquired a great deal of knowledge over the years. Many of them have also had some fringe dealings with distributors and they have picked up anecdotal evidence of how posters were printed but the knowledge is often not documented so that makes it very difficult for other sellers.

One daybill that has been turned up quite often is “That Night in Rio” (1941) which featured Carmen Miranda, Alice Faye and Don Ameche. Although it appears that some may have been aware that this poster is not original nothing definitive has been documented so here is the story:

The original daybill is as scarce as hen’s teeth and rarely if ever seen. Prior to 1941 the format of daybills was 15” x 40” referred to as the “long daybill” but there are some titles from 1941 where original daybills were printed as long daybills and others in the 13” x 30” format. It is not known exactly when the transition occurred in 1941.

However, a reprinted version of That Night in Rio turns up with monotonous regularity variously described as “original” or “40s release” or “50s reissue” or other similar descriptions. Usually the dealer or eBay seller is just guessing although it the poster certainly looks as though it might have been a 50s release.

There have been a number of people in Australia who have been collecting posters for decades, long before there was any documented interest in the hobby. Some of them were involved in the Cinema in various occupations and they had an absolute passion for the movies and saved anything they could on their favourite films. They usually attached no monetary value to their collections. They were just happy to have the original images. Some of them would actually cut the borders off the posters and paste the images onto scrapbooks.

One such collector is a huge fan of Carmen Miranda. He was fascinated as a boy by the costumes and lavish productions that she appeared in. He worked in the industry for many years and collected anything he could get on the actress including press clippings, posters and magazine articles. He also collected material from other movies and said that his life has been enriched by his passion for film and he is fortunate to be able to live a long life doing what he loves.

The story goes that although the collector had an extensive collection of Carmen Miranda memorabilia, one poster eluded him – a Style “B” Australian daybill for That Night in Rio that featured a specific image of the great lady. He had heard that such a poster existed but had never seen it despite the fact that he had scoured many old cinemas and tried all of his industry contacts without success.

Another collector who had media and industry connections was aware of the quest for the elusive That Night in Rio daybill. Through a series of incidents that have a touch of the mystical about them, the poster finally turned up and he immediately contacted the collector who boarded the first plane to Melbourne to pick it up.

The Collector was absolutely thrilled to finally have the daybill. The poster was printed by Marchant in 1941. Marchant used a photo litho technique to produce superb quality images. Unfortunately they only printed posters for a couple of years in the very early 1940s.

All of this happened around 1979/80. The collector was so happy with the image on the daybill that he decided to get some copies made. As he had worked in the industry he had connections with distributors and printers. He was able to contact one of the printers of daybills at the time and asked them if they could produce a replica poster of That Night in Rio.

The printer was happy to do that based on the fact that the collector was “in house”. The collector asked for 50 copies and the printer said he could produce 400 copies for not much more than the cost of 50 so the collector agreed on that. The printer was apparently very concerned that the original daybill had the “Marchant” printer’s details at the bottom of the poster. They said that they needed to remove any reference to the original printer’s name and the collector had no problem with that.

You need to understand the motivation of the collector in having these posters printed. I believe that he was so happy to find the original image that he had been searching for over the years that he wanted to get copies printed so that he could circulate them for others to see and appreciate. I very much doubt that he ever made any money out of them. He gave them to other collectors and dealers and even donated many to a museum and he was thrilled just to be able to share his passion with others.

Of course, the posters have been appearing on the internet on a regular basis. People who were given the posters ended up selling or trading them and they still turn up misdescribed. The lack of printer’s details should be a clue but I can understand dealers thinking they are original or re-release posters.

In case you are wondering, he never reproduced any other posters apart from when he occasionally cut up images from posters and pasted them together to make a collage poster. Although he has a great love of movies his true passion is for Carmen Miranda. The poster that he had reproduced has some variances from the original. The “blue” colours from the original appear “purple” on the reprint and, of course, the printer’s name does not appear on the reprint.

That’s the story – straight from the horse’s mouth!

About John Reid

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