New York Times film columnist Dave Kehr has decided to share the images from his "wildly out of control" collection of vintage lobby cards. He's created The Lydecker Gallery to hold the scanned poster images. Currently, the index page of the gallery contains lobby cards from movies you might have heard of, like Out of the Past and My Name is Julia Ross. However, he's also set up auxiliary pages for posters from obscure Poverty Row films.
Poverty Row was the nickname given to the small independent studios that cranked out shoestring-budget B-movies and serials in the 1930s. I not only hadn't heard of any of the movies advertised on the lobby cards, but I didn't recognize most of the studio names: Invincible Pictures, Equitable Pictures, Chesterfield Pictures. I suspect most of these movies haven't survived, or would be difficult to find. All we may have left are these lobby cards.
The above image is from the lobby card for the 1931 movie Hell Bound, advertised on the lobby card as "Tiffany presents ..." Who in the world was Tiffany, I wondered. Turned out to be Tiffany Productions, another one of the Poverty Row studios. A little research reveals that Hell Bound was directed by Walter Lang, who had a long career directing popular Forties and Fifties films such as Sitting Pretty, the original Cheaper by the Dozen, and Desk Set. I hadn't heard of any of the actors, though.
My favorite poster in the collection so far is this card for the Republic serial Secret Service in Darkest Africa. I am fascinated by the layout techniques used with these lobby cards. Kehr is adding new images to the collection regularly, so be sure to bookmark the site and visit again.