They call it the Best Little Film House. It’s one Poulton woman’s tribute to the enduring appeal of the world’s greatest films. Along with movies which should have been consigned to the cutting room floor... or afternoon telly slots.
Clare Rawling, 31, was a film buff before she met and married her husband Colin. He works for Universal Pictures, which has just re-released Steven Spielberg’s 1975 sensation Jaws with a digital scrub as part of the company’s centenary celebrations.
Colin brought his cherished stack of cinematic social history to their home – thousands of film posters.
The collection included some exceedingly rare posters, and others from an age when real artistry went into the making of allied promotional material on the cinema circuit.
Clare had always been mad about the movies, but realised she had the opportunity to make a career of it.
Her brand new online store – www.thebestlittlefilmhouse.com – has just gone live, specialising in original vintage film posters and collectables.
Blackpool-born Clare attended St Mary’s RC High School and Sixth Form and obtained a first class honours degree and master’s degree from The University of Central Lancashire.
“I got my very first part-time job working in a cinema,” she adds.
“I worked at the original art deco Odeon on Dickson Road – now FunnyGirls – and moved to the multiplex with them.
“It was a typical student job while studying for A-levels.
“You never got to see a full feature film, because you’re either at the counter or nipping in and out to check people are behaving properly.
“But the advantage came with getting two free cinema tickets a week. I made full use of those!”
Her own favourite film is My Fair Lady.
“I just fell absolutely in love with Audrey Hepburn,” says Clare.
“It was the first time I saw a star and thought ‘wow’.
“Cinema is escapism for many. I’ve taken that further than most.
“When I met my husband at a Buffy (as in Vampire Slayer) convention in Blackpool, it was a real turning point.
“I was already a bit of a geek, and he was working for 20th Century Fox and helping promote the event, so it was a relationship made in cinema heaven.
“We have been together seven years and have a three-year-old son Zach – who we named after Zach Braff from Scrubs.”
Colin, who now works for Universal Pictures, had long been an avid collector of film posters, and other memorabilia.
“Nearly every wall in our house, even my little boy’s room, is covered in posters.”
Clare’s most cherished poster is from My Fair Lady, while Colin has an original Jaws poster.
“We’ve kept a lot, as it will make a nice nest egg for our boy when he’s old enough to go to university.
“We’re searching out more through contacts in major UK and international houses.”
The company specialises in selling and sourcing collectors’ items.
“Some are expensive and increasingly hard to get. The print run depends on the film, and no formal record was kept on just how many posters were printed.”
Clare sees them as antiques in their own right.
She adds: “If you look at the way the industry is going, this kind of poster is being phased out, so they tend to hold their value.”
Original posters from 1980s films are particularly popular.
“Pricing them is a knack in itself,” Clare admits.
“I look at how many are in circulation. The condition is a major factor, the pinholes, whether it’s near mint condition, whether it’s been restored or linen-backed.
“We treat them like lost Old Masters!
“In terms of the one I would most like to get – it would have to be an original Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Her horror film buff husband says the Universal monsters are the ones to watch – Wolfman, The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein.
He says: “The artwork’s marvellous. Some of the work just blows you away. The poster for the 1964 Dr Strangelove is fantastic too. There’s not much to touch the artwork of the earlier films today – although Black Swan came close.”
Colin’s a diehard horror fan. “Blood and gore, psychological thrillers, I love it all. I was born and bred on Hammer films.”
One film had a profound effect on him. He says: “The Exorcist. I was 14 and went to see The Wild Geese, and turned left instead of right and sneaked in to see the Exorcist. I met Linda Blair years later and she signed the poster.
“Collectors welcome that kind of history, with pinholes and folds. For me, the greatest find would be an original poster of Boris Karloff in The Mummy. The last sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds. The sort of sum you could retire on!”
jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette or tweet her@jacquimorley