Despite the fact that most films until the 1950s were black and white, most lobby cards were printed in full color to convey the excitement of the film. Many lobby cards were printed using the photogelatin process from the 1920s until the 1950s. Some cards required special inks, which were sometimes mixed by the artists with their own secret formulas.
Studios often employed famous artists to design theses posters. For example, Peruvian-born artist and illustrator Alberto Vargas (1895–1983), who became best known for creating the pinups “Vargas girls” that appeared in the pages of Playboy during the 1960s, designed the Flame of New Orleans poster.
As sound films replaced silent films, an actor’s voice alone could help to capture the imagination of moviegoing audiences. No other actress demonstrated this more than Mae West (1893–1980), with her sultry and uniquely identifiable voice. Adapted to the big screen from her scandalous Broadway play Diamond Lil, She Done Him Wrong was Mae West’s first, and one of her most successful, films. In it she plays a lady saloon keeper of the Gay Nineties, who falls in love with an undercover FBI agent (Cary Grant, 1904-1986), who attempts to shut the bar down for its illicit activities. This was one of Cary Grant’s first movie roles.
Nominated for an Academy Award®, She Done Him Wrong contains some of Mae West’s most popular lines, such as “Why don't you come up sometime ’n see me?” Mae West’s sexy persona, combined with her sexually suggestive dialogue, is said to have led to stricter self-censorship guidelines for major Hollywood movies.
A documentary created by the BBC on Mae West.
Maurice Chevalier (1888 –1972), one of the most popular entertainers of the twentieth century, was known for his French charm, playful songs, and unmistakable voice. In this musical comedy, he stars as Monsieur Rene, a Parisian playboy whose life as a lady’s man is interrupted when he gets stuck with an abandoned baby. The film features Baby LeRoy (1933–), best known for his movie appearances with W.C. Fields (1880–1946).
German-born Marlene (Maria Magdalena) Dietrich (1901–1992) stars as a beautiful adventuress who poses as Countess Claire Ledoux from New Orleans. She is torn between her passion for a handsome river captain of a Mississippi steamboat (Bruce Cabot, 1904–1972) and a wealthy banker (Roland Young, 1887–1953). This was the first Hollywood film directed by the French film maker, Rene Clair (1898 –1981), during his wartime exile in the United States.