Laughton poster to go at auction

A rare poster of the 1933 Charles Laughton film The Private Life of Henry VIII due to go under the hammer at Christie's on May 23
A rare poster of the 1933 Charles Laughton film The Private Life of Henry VIII due to go under the hammer at Christie's on May 23

Scarborough-born Oscar-winning actor Charles Laughton was paid only £1000 for starring in his most famous film, The Private Life of Henry V111.

Now, eighty years later, a rare poster advertising that 1933 movie is expected to sell for between £1000 and £1500 at a Christie’s’ auction - making more than Laughton did for actually appearing in the film.

According to David Shipman in his book, The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years, “The Private Life of Henry V111 was a totally unexpected success,the first British film to find wide acceptance internationally.

“For Laughton it meant an Oscar, numerous imitators – partly due to his resemblance to Holbein portraits – a common conception that he was more like Henry than Henry.

“Recognising that he had the role of a lifetime and that Korda was in financial difficulties, Laughton accepted a mere £1000 for his participation.”

The film cost only £65,000 to make, but went on to make £750,000 at the box office. The seemingly modest figure of £65,000 now, equated to the purchase of 122 houses in Scarborough in 1933, when the average house price was just £530.

Charles Laughton was born at the Victoria Hotel in Scarborough on July 1,1899. On July 1, 2001, Scarborough and District Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque at the hotel to commemorate Laughton’s birth.

Laughton’s presence in The Private Life of Henry V111 was not the film’s only North Yorkshire interest. For Robert Donat was one of Laughton’s co stars in the picture and Donat’s mother, Rose Alice Green was born in Whitby.

The Charles Laughton film poster will be auctioned at Christie’s, at South Kensington in London on May 23.