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Movie Poster of the Week: “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and Charles Laughton in Posters

Above: Us three-sheet poster for The Private Life of Henry VIII (Alexander Korda, UK, 1933).

The great Charles Laughton may not have been the prettiest of movie stars, but he had a presence that many matinee idols would have killed for (as the current retrospective running at Film Forum will attest). In an era in which glamor was everything, studio marketers may have struggled with how to present Laughton’s unconventional looks and his larger-than-life portrayals of larger-than-life characters (so many monsters, murderers, tyrants, or simply overbearing fathers) to the public. In most of the posters for his most famous film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), he is all but a silhouette, a spoiler alert to his monstrous transformation as Quasimodo. And in some posters for The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), the film for which he won his first Oscar, Henry is made to look more like the Hans Holbein

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