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Did you know... that Warner Bros re-released their top 1930s movies at the end of World War II, and you can easily tell the reissues from the originals?

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Added: 04/06/2015

We received the following question from a collector:

"I have heard that there are 1940s re-release lobby cards for 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood that look exactly the same as the originals, except they are non-linen? Is this accurate?

This collector is referring to the fact that Warner Bros created lobby cards that were on a "linen-like paper" (completely different from "linenbacking", lobby cards that were created on a special paper designed to look like some kind of expensive "linen" paper) and also they created lobby cards on regular lobby card paper. My answer to him below pertains to all titles where both kinds of Warner Bros cards exist (with the one exception that I note below!).

Here is my answer:

"For years, most of the collectors who owned the non-linen Warners lobby cards from 1930s titles tried to argue that the studios made the cards in both versions (they claimed the non-linen ones were for small theaters). That is complete nonsense! Actually, in 1942 and soon after, most of the top Warners stars went to enlist in World War II, and Warners had to make movies with the few stars they had left. Those newly made movies did not do very well at the Box Office, so towards the end of World War II, they started re-releasing all their top 1930s movies to theaters!

The Adventures of Robin Hood was one of these, and it was re-released in 1945, with non-linen cards (Warners had phased out the linen cards during 1942, likely a cost savings measure). So if the card from The Adventures of Robin Hood (or any other top 1930s titles) is linen, it is definitely from 1938, but if it is non-linen and looks just like the originals otherwise, then it is definitely from 1945.

There is one oddity. Bordertown was a 1935 movie that had non-linen lobby cards, because it pre-dated when the linen cards started. It was re-released in 1937 after Muni and Davis became giant stars, ad those re-release cards are linen cards! So in that one case, the linen cards are re-releases and the non-linen ones are originals."

Incidentally, we were able to date these early re-releases to exactly 1945 (as we are able to date so many other early re-releases) through the use of litho numbers on the posters (or sometimes a date or NSS number handwritten on the back of posters, lobby cards or stills). We spend a massive amount of time recording these, because it can prove invaluable when trying to date undated items like these.


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