Collecting H.G. Wells Movie Posters
The incomparable H.G. Wells (1866-1946) ranks as one of science fiction’s greatest authors. A number of his works have been made into motion pictures through the decades, from 1902 to the present day.
Here are ten popular H.G. Wells films, along with an auction report on some of the fantastic posters and other movie material that promoted these great productions. Collectors love these cinematic works of art, with current prices ranging from the affordable to the very expensive.
Island of Lost Souls (Paramount, 1932)
H.G. Wells’ 1896 novel The Island of Dr. Moreau inspired this film in which Charles Laughton (Dr. Moreau) plays a mad scientist whose experiments go horribly awry. Directed by Erle C. Kenton, the movie also features Richard Arlen (Edward Parker), Leila Hyams (Ruth Thomas), Bela Lugosi (Sayer of the Law) and Kathleen Burke (Lota the Panther Woman). “Mr. Parker, do you know what it means to feel like God?” Charles Laughton queries of Richard Arlen.
Auction result: An original Island of Lost Souls window card (14x22-inches) sold in 2007 for $2,629. Movie theater lobby cards from this film are highly coveted, with one example picturing Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi fetching $8,365 at auction.
Island of Lost Souls (1932) window card $2,629
The Invisible Man (Universal, 1933)
H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel of the same name forms the basis of this popular title from Universal Pictures’ Golden Age of Horror. Directed by James Whale, the film stars Claude Rains as the renegade scientist whose hiding place is the entire world, with Gloria Stuart (Flora Cranley), William Harrigan (Dr. Arthur Kemp), Henry Travers (Dr. Cranley) and Una O’Connor (Jenny Hall) in support. “An invisible man can rule the world. No one will see him come, no one will see him go,” Claude Rains declares.
Auction result: Many collectors look to the 1947 Realart re-release of this classic movie, as items from the original 1933 release rarely come up for sale. A 1947 The Invisible Man one sheet poster (27x41-inches) brought $2,390 in 2008. A 1947 half sheet poster (22x28-inches) sold for $1,792.50.
Things to Come (United Artists, 1936)
A pair of H.G. Wells literary works, The Shape of Things to Come (novel, 1933) and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind (nonfiction, 1931), form the basis of this adventure into the fantastic future. Directed by William Cameron Menzies, the movie features Raymond Massey (John Cabal/Oswald Cabal), Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy), Ralph Richardson (Rudolf the Boss) and Margaretta Scott (Roxana/Rowena). “If we don’t end war, war will end us,” Raymond Massey pronounces.
Auction result: An original Things to Come one sheet poster (27x41-inches) sold for $32,862.50 in 2007. An original Australian daybill poster (15x39.5-inches) brought a top bid of $8,365 in 2008.
Things to Come (1936) one sheet movie poster $32,862.50
The Man Who Could Work Miracles (United Artists, 1936)
H.G. Wells authored the story and screenplay for this delightful film in which Roland Young plays George McWhirter Fotheringay, an ordinary clerk who acquires nearly unlimited powers. Directed by Lothar Mendes with uncredited assistance from producer Alexander Korda, the picture also features Ralph Richardson (Colonel Winstanley), Edward Chapman (Major Grigsby), Ernest Thesiger (Mr. Maydig) and Joan Gardner (Ada Price) in support. “You just stand there looking lovely, until I notice you!” Roland Young tells a young woman.
Auction result: An original The Man Who Could Work Miracles insert poster (14x36-inches) sold for $298.75 in 2008. An original half sheet poster (22x28-inches) brought $345 at auction.
The Invisible Man Returns (Universal, 1940)
This sequel to the 1933 film stars Vincent Price as Geoffrey Radcliffe, an innocent man scheduled to hang but granted a reprieve via the cloak of invisibility. Directed by Joe May, the movie also features Cedric Hardwick (Richard Cobb), Nan Grey (Helen Manson), John Sutton (Dr. Frank Griffith) and Cecil Kellaway (Inspector Sampson). “I-I can’t believe it’s going to happen. Just two more hours, and they’re going to kill him,” Ivan F. Simpson as Mr. Cotton declares regarding the impending execution of Vincent Price.
Auction result: An original The Invisible Man Returns one sheet poster (27x41-inches) brought a winning bid of $7,767.50 in 2009. An original insert poster (14x36-inches) fetched $5,377.50 in another 2009 offering.
The Invisible Man Returns (1940) insert movie poster $5,377.50
The War of the Worlds (Paramount, 1953)
H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel of the same name inspired this revered science fiction film depicting a graphic invasion by evil Martians in fantastic war machines. Directed by Byron Haskin, the movie stars Gene Barry (Dr. Clayton Forrester), Ann Robinson (Sylvia Van Buren), Les Tremayne (General Mann) and Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Pryor). “If they’re mortal, they must have mortal weaknesses. They’ll be stopped, somehow,” says Gene Barry of the invading Martians.
Auction result: An original The War of the Worlds half sheet poster (22x28-inches) style B brought $26,290 in 2009. An original one sheet poster (27x41-inches) sold for $2,151 and a 30x40-inch style Z poster topped out at $4,481.25.
The Time Machine (MGM, 1960)
H.G. Wells’ 1895 novel of the same name was the basis for this highly entertaining movie starring Rod Taylor as the intrepid time traveler. Directed with flair by George Pal, the film also features Alan Young (David Filby/James Filby), Yvette Mimieux (Weena), Sebastian Cabot (Dr. Philip Hillyer), Tom Helmore (Anthony Bridewell), Whit Bissell (Walter Kemp) and superlative special effects. “When I speak of time, I’m speaking of the fourth dimension,” Rod Taylor explains to his colleagues.
Auction result: An original The Time Machine one sheet poster (27x41-inches) sold for $537.75 in 2009. A complete set of eight original lobby cards brought $597.50.
The Time Machine (1960) one sheet movie poster $537.75
The First Men in the Moon (Columbia, 1964)
H.G. Wells’ 1901 novel of the same name inspired this popular entry in which three British subjects undertake a journey to the moon in 1899. Directed by Nathan Juran, the movie stars Edward Judd (Arnold Bedford), Martha Hyer (Kate Callender) and Lionel Jeffries (Joseph Cavor). “Madam, the chances of bagging an elephant on the moon are remote,” Lionel Jeffries informs Martha Hyer, who wants to pack an elephant gun into their space sphere.
Auction result: An original The First Men in the Moon one sheet poster (27x41-inches) garnered a top bid of $59 in 2010. An original half sheet poster (22x28-inches) sold for $44 and an insert poster (14x36-inches) brought $62.
The Food of the Gods (American Intenational, 1976)
H.G. Wells’ 1904 novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth provides the basis for this low-budget camp entry in which giant rats, wasps, chickens, mosquitoes, etc. attack a hunting party on a remote Canadian island. Directed by Bert I. Gordon, the film stars Marjoe Gartner (Morgan), Pamela Franklin (Lorna), Ralph Meeker (Jack Bensington), Jon Cypher (Brian) and Ida Lupino (Mrs. Skinner). “Second-degree murder, I guess that’s what they call it. My friend was killed by your wasps yesterday,” Marjoe Gartner informs Ralph Meeker.
Auction result: An original The Food of the Gods one sheet poster (27x41-inches) sold for $36 in 2009. A collection of 21 b/w promotional stills brought $17.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (American International, 1977)
The 1896 H.G. Wells novel returned to the screen in this wild entry starring Burt Lancaster as the mad Dr. Paul Moreau. Directed by Don Taylor, the movie also features Michael York (Andrew Braddock), Nigel Davenport (Montgomery), Barbara Carrera (Maria) and Richard Basehart (Sayer of the Law). “If one is to study nature, one must become as remorseless as nature. You should know that!” Burt Lancaster tells Nigel Davenport.
Auction result: An original The Island of Dr. Moreau one sheet poster (27x41-inches) sold for $24 in 2010. A complete set of eight original lobby cards fetched $27.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) one sheet movie poster $24
Auction and Image Sources
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.