London After Midnight Movie Poster
Answer to Name This Famous Antique Game - August 2016
By Mike McLeod

Obviously, this is the movie poster for London After Midnight; it says so right on the poster. But why is this movie poster so special? To date, it holds the record for the highest amount paid for a movie poster in a public auction—$478,000. It was sold at Heritage Auctions in 2014. To add to this poster’s rarity, the only known copy of this silent movie made in 1927 starring Lon Chaney as a vampire was lost in an MGM movie vault fire on May 13, 1967. An electrical fire ignited the nitrate on the films stored there, and many old movies were lost

London After Midnight
(Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions, HA.com)

The movie was reconstructed by Rick Schmidlin, a film preservationist and producer-director, using movie stills and photos taken for continuity during the filming. Even with only the still-photo movie left, Lon Chaney’s character comes through, and his performance was actually used as a defense in a murder trial. A man who murdered a woman in London said he experienced temporary insanity when he said he saw Lon Chaney as the vampire standing in a corner speaking to him. Needless to say, the man was found guilty of the crime.1

This full-color, stone lithographed one-sheet poster was one of two versions released, but it is the only known copy of this version. Even though it was folded in eights and then folded again, it was still graded Very Fine+ and commanded the extraordinary price of $478,000.

Lon Chaney

Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera

Lon Chaney was born on April 1, 1883 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He had 163 film credits during his acting career, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). He was also a writer, director and make-up artist. He was the make-up person for these movies and for London After Midnight, although he was uncredited for them2. His skill in acting and with make-up are reasons why Lon Chaney was known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.”

Ted Carlton of Utah, Scott and Carolyn Brown of Montgomery, Ala., and Julia Crawford Brown correctly identified the reason why this movie poster is famous.

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1 Historicmysteries.com, London After Midnight, February 26, 2016.
2 Imdb.com.
Credit: Heritage Auctions, HA.com, and Wikipedia. All uncredited photos are public domain.


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