Monday 8 May 2017

Glorious (Painted) Movie Posters

I was talking recently with my friend Wayne Parkin - a fellow fan of old school film posters - and we were discussing the demise of the painted, action-packed style which now seems to have been replaced by a single (often photo-shopped) photographic image.  Our complaint was that, apart from often being very bland, they often don't really tell you much about the film.

Is it us?  Are we out of step with the rest of the world, holding onto something artistic that other people are willing to let go?

We might be but, for what it's worth, I'd much rather have the exciting (and painted) For Your Eyes Only quad as opposed to the (almost a fashion spread) one for Spectre (or, to be honest, any of the Daniel Craig Bond-era ones, the worst - in my opinion - being the terrible Quantum Of Solace quad where they're walking in the desert).

So to that end, with (of course) some personal commentary as to why I've chosen these particular images, here are some glorious UK quad posters from back in the day...

I was two when this was released so didn't see it until much, much later when it was shown on TV, but this poster - by Arnaldo Putzu (who painted a lot of covers for Look-In magazine that I read through the 70s and which I wrote about here) - has so much going for it, it's terrific (though I don't remember Michael Caine wearing a flowery suit).
Okay so with hindsight the film's a bit daft and the effects are a bit ropey but this is a 'b' picture, it's supposed to be like that.  And hey, any poster this busy - dinosaurs! flying plane attacked by pterodactyls! volcanoes! men fighting! - has to be admired.
I've written before that I was convinced, as a 9-year-old in 1978, this was going to be as big as Star Wars (and oh, how wrong I was) but what else was I expected to think having seen this poster? The film remains a guilty pleasure, though I do pity my poor Dad who, as this was an A rating, had to accompany me to the cinema.
I was intrigued by this from the first time I read about it (probably in Starburst magazine) but didn't see it until a couple of years later when it appeared on TV and it was as good as I'd hoped (Nicholas Meyer did a great job, helped by an exceptional cast).  There was one image - a hand in the middle of a room - that haunted me for a long time afterwards.
"Flash - a-ah (dun dun) - saviour of the universe"
The fantastic For Your Eyes Only poster gives you as much action as you could want.  I had a copy of this on my bedroom wall for years when I was a teenager.
I saw this (on VHS) courtesy of my friend David Ratcliff, who loved films set in New York.  I wanted to watch it because of Billy Dee Williams and Rutger Hauer and thoroughly enjoyed it - it's grubby, unpleasant, gripping and fast paced (I watched it recently and it stands up really well).  The artwork here looks a bit quick and unrefined (with the kind of brushstroke backgrounds Hong Kong Phooey loved so much) but, if anything, I think that works even better.
1981 (for the 1982 re-release)
The original poster (which I've blogged about before) by Richard Amsel was excellent and instantly iconic.  For the re-release in 1982 (and for Indy ever after), Steven Spielberg and George Lucas tapped the excellent Drew Struzan and this is one of two posters he produced for the film.
Everything about this film appealed to me and a lot of the key points were captured in this beautiful poster.  Dad & I went to see it at Kettering cinema (it was the Savoy then, later to become the Ohio) on Russell Street (it's since been demolished and replaced with housing - I blogged about it here).
Released in the UK in 1985, I saw this at Bentley's in Burton Latimer, intrigued that it was the first film to feature fully CGI ships.  To be honest, I can't remember a great deal about it now though a quick watch of the trailer on YouTube suggests it might be something worth revisiting.
Back before Freddy became a wise-cracking anti-hero, this film (to my memory) seemed to appear from nowhere and was (and remains) properly frightening.  This beautiful poster (painted by Graham Humphreys, who did a lot of artwork for Palace Pictures) works perfectly and, essentially, keeps Freddy in the shadows.
This beautifully painted poster grabs your attention, as true today as it was back in 1985 and this became a must-see for me and my friends.  Using the Steve Johnson-created make-up for Amanda Bearse was a very clever ploy - we didn't know who or what she was, but we knew we wanted to see it!  As it was, a gang of us ended up watching it at Kettering Ohio.
Released in December in the UK, me and my friends had been waiting for this for a while and the wonderful Drew Struzan poster just made us all the more eager.  For me, everything about this works - the car, the flames, Michael J Fox looking at his watch, it's pretty much perfect.
Another great piece by Drew Struzan, this was so full of action it almost demanded to be watched.  I still love it though it was interesting to hear Struzan himself (in the excellent documentary Drew: The Man Behind The Poster) say he thought it was too busy.
I would have first read about this in Premiere magazine but didn't get to see it until it appeared on VHS, by which time we knew to look out for the digit in the burger and that sequence with Jennifer Jason Leigh and the truck.  Superb film.
This kind of contradicts my general point but as a teaser image, this was everywhere in the summer of 1989, you couldn't miss it.  The first run of posters just featured the bat symbol - no names or credits - and it took me a while to NOT see a mouth with a few straggly teeth in it.  Can you also see that, or is it just me?


  1. There's good news. Steven Spielberg has just commissioned UK artist Paul Shipper to do the worldwide posters for Ready Player One, which is entirely painted!! They are on their way back!!!

    1. That's excellent, thanks for commenting Jessica!