European Posters from Burkhard Sülzen
Jannings and Dietrich on the cover of the latest Burkhard Sülzen catalogue.
We have received Katalog 16 from Burkhard Sülzen of Berlin. Reviewing these catalogues is a bit of a challenge for an American as they are written in German, a language with which this reviewer is not conversant. Fortunately, this problem is at least partly offset by the catalogue's and material being quite visual. The German bookseller specializes in posters, works appealing more for their images than words. The visuals often relay the message better than words. While these posters are overwhelmingly German in origin, there are many with a noted American connection as well. Among the types of posters offered are those pertaining to films, concerts, travel, politics, and consumer goods. Many of the films shown in Germany were from America, and many concerts promoted were by American artists. So we will focus somewhat more on these as they are easier for me to understand. Here, now, are some of the posters, which date from 1900-1996, displayed in this latest Burkhard Sülzen catalogue.
It is not unusual to see graphic messages intended to scare us into good behavior, but this one circa 1930 is a bit extreme even by today's standards. With the bold heading Kraftfahrer! Obacht! (Drivers! Watch Out!) it displays the consequences of a driver who didn't watch out. With just those two words of copy, the remainder of the message is visual. We see the tire of a car or truck, a crushed bicycle underneath, and an arm protruding from the wreckage. And, from somewhere off camera beneath the car, blood flows, a river of deep red blood. Indeed, drivers, watch out! Item 72. Priced at €420 (euros, or roughly US $525).
The poster shown on the catalogue's cover is for the 1930 film Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). It starred Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich. This was the film that made the relatively obscure actress into an international star. The Blue Angel is a tale of downfall. Jannings plays the role of a respected schoolteacher who is incensed by his students going to the Blue Angel nightclub to watch Miss Dietrich's performances. He goes there, hoping to catch the students, only to be entranced by her charms. He becomes obsessed, abandoning his teaching job, marrying “Lola-Lola” (Miss Dietrich), ends up performing in her troupe as a clown, is mocked by patrons of the club, becomes consumed with jealousy as Ms. Dietrich's affections stray, and dies a broken man. There's a lesson in all of this. Along with being the film that launched Dietrich's career, it is considered the first major German talking film. Item 17 is the first poster announcing the premier of this important film. €20,000 (US $25,010).
Item 24 is a poster for the 1933 film Lady Lou. If that name doesn't sound familiar, its American title probably will – She Done Him Wrong. It starred Mae West as Lady Lou, who uttered the famous line, “Why don't you come up sometime and see me?” (it is now usually misquoted as “see me sometime”). West's bawdy humor and double entendres made this an enormously popular film and cemented West's risqué image. It made her a perennial film favorite despite her not being the most beautiful of movie stars. This film would also prove to be a breakthrough for the young actor Cary Grant. The poster features a large, profile drawing of Miss West from the neck up. €1,800 (US $2,249).
European Posters from Burkhard Sülzen
This poster should scare you into careful driving.
American music was exploding in all different directions in the late 1960s, and many of those artists headed to Europe where their sounds were often more appreciated than at home. Item 77 is a 1967 poster for Soul Time, featuring Sam and Dave, along with Percy Sledge and Arthur Conley. Full profiles of the “Soul Men” are featured on the poster. €240 (US $300). The following year, it would be the American Folk Blues Festival, the bright lights and big city of Frankfurt set to host Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker. Item 78. €210 (US $262). The “Blues Boy,” B.B. King, would make his appearance around the same time in Frankfurt. King and “Lucille” are featured on the poster. Item 79. €160 (US $200). Ten Years After weren't goin' home after appearing at Woodstock in 1969. Instead it was off to Hamburg for a fall concert. Item 80. €140 (US $175). And, Canned Heat found itself back on the road again in 1970, with a stop in Frankfurt. Item 82. €210 (US $262).
Remember when flying was fun? Seems like ages ago. Though not the best, they actually served meals on flights, and you could get a pillow for your head, or a blanket to keep warm, free. Seriously, it was once this way. Item 106 is a poster for LOT, the Polish Airlines, from 1971. It features a lovely, smiling flight attendant, gently holding a young child. If you want a flight attendant to hold your child today, it's an extra $25. €240 (US $300).
Burkhard Sülzen may be reached at 030-3903 6376 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.plakatkontor.de.