Excalibur Auctions


Rediscovered film archive comes to auction



Original film trailer for the film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960


UK. MAY 2024. A unique film archive saved from landfill 25 years ago and only recently rediscovered hidden in storage comes to auction. The archive of big film masters for film trailers and their component parts including negatives, print, titles and sound, came to light when the secure unused rooms on the second floor of a building they were stored in for the last twenty five years in the North of England was ordered to be cleared around five years ago.


The closure and sale in the late nineties of one of the leading film publicity production companies based in Perivale, led to a huge clearance of unwanted archived material destined for destruction and landfill in Canary Wharf. One of the then directors now deceased and himself a film fan, was keen to save material but was not in a position to do so personally. A few very lucky collectors and industry insiders, were, with the directors blessing, able to rescue a limited amount of material including master film reels for trailers and other film publicity material. On the day that many film reels packed in their original tins dating from the 20’s 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were about to leave on the back of flat bed trucks, destined for landfill sites, one collector in the right place at the right time, was given permission to rescue whatever they could, literally with minutes to spare.


Some of these metal tins for unique UK and overseas trailers created to advertise new, ‘coming soon’ productions for cinemas, contained titles such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy films, Horror classics from the 30’s like Frankenstein and later productions in the fifties and sixties, including Night of The Demon and Hammer Horror thrillers like Dracula and The Evil of Frankenstein, Fellini’s first UK release of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet life), early westerns starring John Wayne in titles like Stagecoach, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Dr Strangelove, Hitchcock’s chiller blockbuster Psycho, war film classics like A Bridge on the River Kwai, Zulu and the Dambusters and many British classics, such as Brief Encounter and Look Back in Anger.


Secret agent James Bond appears in a super rare find, complete with it’s original paperwork for two trailer productions for Goldfinger and Thunderball, along with a truly surprising and rare set of reels for a special first release trailer featurette for The Beatles in a Hard Days Night, which shows the fab four in conversation about their first ever feature film, possibly not seen since 1964 or since published.


Over a thousand tins of film reels were rescued and moved to a secret location in the North of England where, kept safely over the years in good conditions under lock and key, they were left undisturbed. Eventually the building was required for other purposes by its’ owner and the unused second floor, which had been boarded up, revealed on investigation it’s hidden treasure, all neatly stacked and packed on shelves that had been installed when they were originally placed in storage. The archive’s owner, after much thought, took the decision to entrust this unique collection to Excalibur auctions and the entire archive is being offered in an online auction which is live now until May 27th, 2024.



Original film trailer for the Bond Movie Gold Finger in 1964 starring actor Sean Connery (1930-2020)


Talking about the trailers, Jonathan Torode of Excalibur Auctions tells us: “In basic terms the film publicity company was producing a mini film, to advertise a new production. The process required elements to be created such as the titles, opticals and credits, which were sandwiched together with the live action and sound. This included film negatives and magnetic sound, which was transferred and became the optically read soundtrack included on the final print and can be seen on the edge of final negatives and prints.”


The film reels packed in their original metal tins contain a unique mix of master elements and footage of live action, some of which may not have been released as part of the final cut or seen by the public, making them even more exceptionally rare. When asked about auctions estimates and what they are worth, Jonathan Torode tells us: “The entire auction has been arranged to allow the market to decide the true value of these unique pieces. As nothing like this has been offered for sale before there hasn’t been a precedent. Some may sell for hundreds, others thousands, it depends totally on the fans, or museums, as these are a piece of cinematic history.”




Original trailer for The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night in 1964


Trailers were created as a marketing tool to publicise the release of films including huge Oscar-winning hits like the 1958 war epic, Bridge on the River Kwai directed by David Lean and based on the 1952 novel by Pierre Boulle (1912-1994), a plot that draws on the real-life construction of the Burma Railway bridge between 1942–1943. A top cast included William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa. Another wartime epic was the film Zulu in 1964. Full of action and adventure, the film portrays the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, between the British army and the Zulu. The Anglo-Zulu war saw 150 British soldiers, 30 of which were wounded or ill, stave off 4,000 Zulu warriors at a remote outpost. Considered one of the best ever historical productions, the film was  directed by American screenwriter Cy Endfield (1914-1995) and produced by Stanley Baker (1928- 1976), with Joseph E. Levine (1905-1987) as executive producer. The film was a huge commercial success. It was the highest-grossing film of 1957 in the United States and Canada and was also the most popular film at the British box office that year (lot 1073).


Original trailer for La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini (1920-1993) in 1960


For a sneak preview of a few of the trailers, see link here: https://www.filemail.com/d/agccacwswmcqxdk




If you’re a fan of the horror genre, the collection includes the original master trailer reel for the 1960 film Brides of Dracula. The film was produced by Hammer Film Productions Ltd who were synonymous for their series of Gothic horror and fantasy films from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. The grisly film about vampires featured the British actor Peter Cushing OBE (1913-1994) as Doctor Van Helsing. Kine Weekly included the film in their list of ‘money makers’ at the British box office in 1960. Peter Cushing was also the star of Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. a 1966 British science fiction film directed by Gordon Flemyng (1934-1995) and written by Milton Subotsky (1921-1991). It was the second of two films based on the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. Peter Cushing played the famous Doctor Who and the film was shot at Shepperton Studios, UK. The film premiered in London on 22 July 1966 (lot 184).


The ultimate in classic horror films of course was Psycho, famous for its shocking shower scene where the victim meets her death. It was famously produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) in 1960. The screenplay, written by American writer Joseph Stefano (1922-2006,) was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch (1917-1994) and starred actors Janet Leigh (1927-2004) and Anthony Perkins (1932-1992), as the terrifying Norman Bates at the Bates Motel (lot 723).



Original film trailer for horror/Sci Fi movie The Evil of Frankenstein in 1964 directed by Freddie Francis


Among the foreign titles that the company created trailers for, was the cult Italian classic La Dolce Vita, a satirical comedy-drama film directed and co-written (with Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi) by Federico Fellini (1920-1993) in 1960. In the publication Filmcritica XI the Italian poet and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) argued that ‘La Dolce Vita was too important to be discussed as one would normally discuss a film’. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Federico Fellini’s 1960 La Dolce Vita is one of the key works of the modern cinema. A brilliantly conceived epic fable about a scandal reporter (Marcello Mastroianni) adrift in Rome’s high life, it introduced the term paparazzi into the vocabulary and depicted, with a judicious mixture of satire and compassion, the glitter world of celebrity now avidly chronicled in supermarket tabloids” (lot 882).


Among several original Bond movie trailers in the sale, is Goldfinger from 1964, which was the third film in the James Bond series by Eon Productions and starred the Scottish actor Sean Connery (1930-2020) as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. He starred alongside the great British actresses Honor Blackman (1925-2020) and Bond girl Shirley Eaton (1937-1994). The screenplay was based on the 1959 novel of Goldfinger by British writer Ian Fleming (1908-1964) and its reception by the press and public was electric. Derek Prouse of The Sunday Times said of the film, that it was “superbly engineered. It is fast, it is most entertainingly preposterous and it is exciting” (lot 329).


For hardened Beatles fans are several trailers, including those for A Hard Day’s Night produced in 1964 and Help! in 1965. Help! was directed by American film director Richard Lester, Richard Lester Liebman (b. 1932) and starred The Beatles as themselves, alongside well-known actors like Roy Kinnear (1934-1988) and Patrick Cargill (1918-1996). The film sees the group trying to protect Ringo Starr from an ominous cult and a pair of mad scientists and at the same time all are trying to find a sacrificial ring sent to him by a fan. The soundtrack was released as the band’s fifth studio album under the same name. Ronnie D. Lankford of AllMovie describes Help! as a “forerunner to music videos”, adding: “Lester seemed to find the right tone for Help! creating an enjoyable portrait of the Beatles and never allowing the film to take itself too seriously” (lot 369).


Original film trailer for the epic film Zulu directed by David Lean in 1964


One of the big time ‘cult’ movies of the 1970’s was the American thriller Jaws, which made an indelible mark on the film industry when it was released in 1975. It was directed by the great Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg KBE (b. 1946) and was based on the 1974 novel by American writer Peter Benchley (1940-2006). The film starred Roy Scheider (1932-2008) as police chief Martin Brody, who with the help of a marine biologist Richard Dreyfuss (b. 1947) and a professional shark hunter Robert Shaw (1927-1978) attempt to hunt down a man-eating great white shark that attacks beachgoers at a summer resort town. Universal Studios spent $1.8 million marketing Jaws, including an unprecedented $700,000 on national television advertising. Jaws grossed $476.5 million worldwide, breaking records and covering production costs within its first 10 days of its release. Jaws has consistently been quoted by film critics and industry professionals as one of the greatest movies of all time (lot 452).



Original trailer for the 1965 Bond film Thunderball produced by Eon Productions and starring Sean Connery


Jonathan Torode concludes: “We are thrilled to have been appointed to sell this important slice of film history. This unique archive of over a thousand lots is a must for any film buff, as you are attaining a true piece of cinematic past, the like of which is hardly ever seen on the open market. Its’ exceptional provenance adds to its historic importance.” You can bid for any of this archive online at: www.excaliburauctions.com until 27th, 2024.












































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