our second date in my studio apartment, my wife shared her spaghetti dinner with
a decaying corpse who had just climbed out of his grave.
not-for-the-squeamish image was from the 1972 horror anthology Tales from the Crypt, which also
featured a skull with cobwebs in its black eye socket.Dirty
Harry’s, .44 magnum pointed at her from another wall, while a hand beckoned
her into 1973’s The Vault of Horror.
an unusual decorator, she’d said.I told
her it was only art.That I wasn’t the
Starry Night type.
rest of my 350 square foot apartment was consumed with over 25 framed pieces of
movie memorabilia from the 1970s, horrifying and violent artwork which
symbolized, paradoxically, the nostalgia I felt for the innocence of my
movie-going youth.Equinox.Race with the Devil.Westworld.Straw
Dogs.The Stone Killer.The French Connection and French Connection II, side by side, over
my sofa.Hell, I knew how to decorate.
were photo albums of my movie past, a time when the visceral impact of film
violence communicated, perhaps subconsciously, something of vicarious comfort
to a young teen with feelings of inadequacy about standing up to bullies in
school and talking to girls.Or maybe it
was an escape from our family dinner table conversation which contained terms
like chemotherapy and remission while my mother lay dying in the hospital.
first movie poster, which I found when I was 12 in our suburban stationery
store’s moveable metal rack, featured a shot of Bonnie and Clyde and C.W. Moss behind
the bullet-riddled windshield of their getaway car.It wasn’t a movie one-sheet and there was no text
on the poster, only a large image foreshadowing their doom.It remained over my bed for a long time.I wasn’t allowed to see the film, which had
been out for a few years, but I don’t recall my parents ever objecting to the
poster.My bedroom walls were soon
covered with stills I cut out from film books:Cagney, Bogart, Garfield, Lancaster.They exuded power and charisma; they were loved and feared, qualities I
But it wasn’t until
my late thirties that I started seriously collecting posters.Ebay was my Rosebud.I spent hundreds of dollars on American, Japanese,
German, British, and Mexican material of films from the 60s and 70s.Disaster movies, rats, revenge flicks, fantasy
and horror.One-sheets, half-sheets,
lobby cards, press books, Quads.Every
purchase was a trip back to where I saw the movie and who I was with.
dating for a year, I moved into my soon-to-be-wife’s apartment.My poster collection was stored in the
building’s basement.However, she
allowed me to hang The Poseidon Adventure,
with its massive tidal wave and artfully drawn images of chaos, in the
not-too-film-savvy dinner guests would emerge from the bathroom and say things
like, “Wow…I forgot Leslie Nielsen was in that movie.”
we were married and bought a house in New Jersey, she designated my growing poster
collection to the basement, once again, where they were right at home with the
cobwebs.But I kept buying memorabilia
over the internet.Sometimes I’d groan with
pleasure when I’d discover a piece I had to have, a version of a poster I’ve
never seen before.
finally talked her into allowing me to hang up some select pieces.She insisted that the color scheme of the
artwork match our interior design, and the posters not be too offensive.I was eternally grateful when she allowed a
German version of Mr. Majestyk to
hang over our television.Since we have
two small boys, I wasn’t sure she’d like the idea of displaying a gun.But it was an abstract composition, framing
Bronson and his shotgun in red, yellow, black, white and teal.She also approved Across 110th Street, Freebie
and the Bean, and a very stylish Belgian version of Scorpio.I love my wife.
does allow the red vino to flow a little too.There’s an autographed film still of James Caan being machined gunned to
death in The Godfather: “To
friend’s wife, visiting once, appeared to take offense when she noticed
Bronson’s shotgun.“You don’t worry
about the guns?” she asked.