Academy Gets Collection of B-Movie Posters From Golden Era

The 1,088-poster donation, from Chicago real estate developer Dwight Cleveland, fills a gap in the Motion Picture Academy's collection

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received a gift of 1,088 original film posters, many of them “B movies" from Hollywood's golden age, the organization announced Tuesday.

The donated posters, from Chicago real estate developer Dwight Cleveland, document the studio era of “B movies" in the first half of the 20th century and are mainly from Twentieth Century-Fox. The posters from the "B movies" — so named because they played in theaters on the bottom of double feature bills — represent a wide variety of genres, including westerns, war films, musicals, biblical tales, and social issue films.

The gift, which will be housed in the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, fills a gap in the Academy's collection, an official said.

“B-movies tap into the public consciousness and provide rich fodder for better understanding the times,” said Linda Mehr, director of the Margaret Herrick Library.

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Cleveland began collecting in 1977 while still in high school, inspired after seeing film posters in an art teacher’s classroom.  After moving to Los Angeles, Cleveland scoured the once-plentiful collector’s shops on Hollywood Boulevard for high-quality memorabilia and continues to collect today.

“I really think that film posters are one of the very few truly indigenous art forms of our country,” Cleveland said.  “By making these gifts, I hope to excite an appreciation for the works themselves among members of the general public and also set a good example for other collectors.”

Anne Coco, the Herrick’s graphic arts librarian, expressed the Academy's appreciation.

“Dwight’s collection was a dream to receive," she said. "Not only was it very well organized, but the posters also were in excellent shape.  Our staff is fairly certain he was a librarian in another lifetime,”

Posters in the library’s collections are stored in climate-controlled vaults in Beverly Hills and may be accessed by filmmakers, historians, journalists, students and the general public.  They are frequently shown at the Academy’s own exhibitions and loaned to cultural institutions worldwide.