Thursday, July 14, 2016

The MGM Auction - July 17th

This Sunday, beginning at 8pm EST, Silverbanks Pictures will be auctioning over 290 original stills/publicity photos from the golden age of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and we thought we would share a preview selection here on Silver Scenes. MGM was the greatest film studio back in the 1920s-1950s and these photos cover a wide range from the history of this great studio.

Before you gander at them, here are some basic terms you may want to know about movie photo collecting : a "still" refers to an image from a scene in a movie that was printed on glossy photographic paper and later pined or framed for display inside a movie theater's lobby. Audiences were able to see these scenes before they watched the film and it gave them a fairly good idea of what they were in for ( although in some rare cases the scenes displayed were later cut from the final release and you never saw them at all! ). "Publicity" photos are the general term for photos that were issued to wire services for use in newspapers, or publishing companies for use in movie fan magazines. And finally "fan" photos cover all of the photos issued to fan clubs and to individuals when they took the time to write to the studio to gush about their favorite star. 

All photos have a starting bid of $9.95. They are a great - and inexpensive - way to get started in collecting movie memorabilia. 

To see a closer view of any of these photos click on the image itself. To view the photo's current price at auction simply click on the title of the film. Enjoy! 
Greta Garbo and Lewis Stone, two of MGM's biggest stars, in A Woman of Affairs ( 1928 ). Lewis Stone later became a character actor and today is best known for his portrayal of Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy film series of the 1940s.

Here is an extremely rare photo...on the backside in pencil is written Olympia which was the German language version of the John Gilbert silent film His Glorious Night ( 1929 ). This is obviously filmed at MGM however and that looks like Gilbert caressing Hedda Hopper so we're not sure why that someone wrote down Olympia.....
Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler teamed up for the first time in this film and they were a smash hit with audiences. They were paired again many times afterwards.
Duncan Renaldo dons the traditional wardrobe of an African adventurer on his trek into the deepest jungle. Trader Horn had a huge publicity campaign behind it. Photographers were sent to Africa to capture wild animals in action on film and they brought back miles of stock footage. MGM reused this footage for years afterward in the Tarzan film series. 
Nils Asther on the set of Storm at Daybreak ( 1933 ). Note the wind machines in the background.
Fredric March and Norma Shearer teamed up to play Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett in The Barretts of Wimple Street ( 1934 ). Shearer's husband, producer Irving J. Thalberg, loved adapting famous novels into films. He wanted to use films to introduce audiences to the joy to be had in reading literature. 
This is a great shot of the camera crew in action filming Lionel Barrymore in This Side of Heaven ( 1934 ). Barrymore directed a number of films during the 1930s, so he was familiar with both aspects of the filmmaking process.
Marie Antoinette ( 1938 ) - this was a fantastic film and one of MGM's most lavish productions of the 1930s. 

Gone with the Wind ( 1939 ), certainly the biggest epic in Darrel F. Zanuck's career. It was released through MGM who loved the publicity it was earning for the studio's biggest star, Clark Gable. This is a 1947 re-release still. "Ashley, oh Ashley....."
Jeannette MacDonald was one of the biggest actresses of the 1930s, and to this day remains one of the most beloved of musical stars. This is a gorgeous double-weight photo from Broadway Serenade ( 1939 ).
Lew Ayres and Lana Turner in These Glamour Girls ( 1939 ). Lew Ayres refused to fight during WW2 and because of that Louis B. Mayer, a real patriot, kicked him out of the studio. He was one of MGM's biggest stars at the time too.....
MGM groomed actor John Carroll to be another Clark Gable. He had Gable's signature devil-may-care attitude and was a very good actor, but he never made it to super-stardom. 
Andy Hardy Meets Debutante ( 1940 ) - this particular still has been hand color tinted. It sure would have been nice to see just one Andy Hardy film made in color, but they were classified as "B" films so that never happened, in spite of their popularity.
MGM had some of the best series films of any studio. In addition to Andy Hardy, they had the Tarzan series, Maisie, the Thin Man, and....Dr. Kildare. This war-horse continued on for nine films. After Lew Ayres got fired, MGM continued the series as Dr. Gillespie ( sans Kildare of course ). Later, he was resurrected for television series starring Richard Chamberlain. Here, the lovely Laraine Day ( Nurse Mary Lamont ) is pictured making a speech. 

Newly arrived starlets were never just thrust into the latest picture, they went through a educational program where they were taught how to walk properly, sing, dance, and e-nun-ci-ate their words correctly. Proper speech was a must in Hollywood. Esther Williams is going through the process in this photo ( 1942 ).

The famous Hollywood photographer Clarence S. Bull set up this great publicity photo for The Hidden Eye ( 1945 ), a sequel to Eyes in the Night, also starring Edward Arnold. 
June Allyson and Kathryn Grayson were both fairly new at MGM when this shot was taken in 1946 to promote Two Sisters from Boston, but Jimmy Durante was an old hand by then. Next to him is that marvelous opera singer Laurence Melchoir, who made a handful of musicals at the studio during the mid 1940s. 
Weekend at the Waldof ( 1945 ) was a remake of MGM's earlier success Grand Hotel ( 1932 ). While it was a good effort, it lacked the punch of the most remakes often do. The all-star cast included Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Ginger Rogers and Lana Turner.
A happy threesome?? Van Johnson was a constant visitor to his friend Keenan Wynn's house. Wynn's wife Evie, later divorced Keenan to marry Van Johnson, although in recent years she claimed she blackmailed into doing so by the studio to quench rumors of Van's homosexuality.
Leon Ames had a long and varied career at MGM, often playing fathers or businessmen. Here he is pictured with his wife and children.
Jump Ricardo, jump! Ricardo Montalban takes some time out to exercise in this happy picture, photographed in 1947.
It's rough being the wife of a presidential hopeful. Katharine Hepburn recieves a little comfort from newspaper man Van Johnson in State of the Union ( 1948 ), an excellent drama. 
A young Janet Leigh is having a heart to heart talk with Mickey Rooney in this scene from Words and Music ( 1948 ).
Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams in a publicity photo for Neptune's Daughter ( 1949 ). This film was their third and last pairing.
Gene Kelly is teaching the youngsters a thing or two in Take Me Out to the Ballgame ( 1949 ). 
Cary Grant was not only one of the most charismatic actors to ever grace the silver screen, but he also had a great eye for photography. Taking snapshots in between takes was just one of his hobbies and in this photo he captured Signe Hasso taking Spanish lessons from Salvadore Baguez in 1950.
Howard Keel and Ava Gardner made such a handsome couple in Show Boat ( 1951 ).
Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse are happily looking over the plans to their new home....and what a home! Judging from those plans, it looks enormous. 1955.
Robert Taylor has the glint of greed and power in his eyes in this publicity shot for The Power and the Prize ( 1956 ).
Kay Kendall is modelling an Orry-Kelly fashion that she wore in Les Girls ( 1957 ), a fun musical directed by and starring Gene Kelly.
Gigi ( 1958 ) was MGM's last really big musical and it signaled an end to a great era in film history. While the studio still continued to make musicals up until the late 1960s, none of them had the charm of their 1950s musicals. Gigi was a great sendoff film. Here, Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan get ready to film the Trouville beach scene.

Mario Lanza and Johanna von Koczian in For the First Time ( 1959 ). This was Lanza's final film at MGM. His weight problems and drinking were causing too many interruptions to filming and so MGM gave him the sack.
Ben-Hur ( 1959 ). MGM had established their reputation as one of the top film studios with the 1926 silent epic Ben-Hur, and in 1959 they remade it in splendor. This year another remake has been made, though nothing will top the Charlton Heston version ( who is pictured here with Haya Harareet ).


  1. Thanks for sharing all these terrific photos.

  2. Those are some fantastic stills! I think my favorite is the one from "The Power and the Prize." Am sure the auction will be a huge success!

    1. Thanks Rick, yes it was a success...especially among the 1930s photos.