Gymkata / one sheet / USA

24.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Gymkata
AKA
Asia Mission (Germany)
Year of Film
1985
Director
Robert Clouse
Starring
Kurt Thomas, Tetchie Agbayani, Richard Norton, Edward Bell, John Barrett, Conan Lee, Bob Schott
Origin of Film
USA | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Drama
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27" x 40 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
850047
Tagline
A new kind of martial arts combat! The skill of gymnastics. The kill of karate!

‘The skill of gymnastics. The kill of karate!’ – the tagline says it all on this US one sheet for the ill-advised martial arts clunker Gymkata, starring the American Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas who won a string of medals towards the end of the 1980s. Thomas stars as Jonathan Cabot, a champion gymnast who is approached by the fictional Special Intelligence Agency (SIA) to take part in ‘The Game’. Held in the small fictional nation of Parmistan, The Game is a sort of decathlon with extra threats coming from Parmistan warriors who are pursuing the participants at all times. The winner of the event is granted their life and also a single wish, which the SIA want Cabot to use to request that the king of Parmistan allow them to set up a ‘Star Wars’ satellite monitoring station in the country (some premise!)

The film is quite the experience with several unintentionally hilarious sequences and consistently terrible acting throughout. This YouTube video features most of the ‘highlights’ from the film and hopefully gives you an idea of what you’re in for if you’ve not seen it. One particular sequence, known as ‘the village of the crazies’ has to be seen to be believed (YouTube link). Poor Kurt Thomas only appeared in a couple of other long-forgotten roles but his work in the world of gymnastics continues to this day. The director of the film Robert Clouse, of Enter the Dragon fame, probably should have known better, but it’s easy to see why producers chose him to helm the film.

Rather brilliantly, the ninjas featured on this one sheet don’t actually appear in the film itself and the intention was clearly to try and tempt fans of the then popular ninja sub-genre of martial arts films (with titles like American Ninja) I’m unsure who was responsible for the art so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

A Passage to India / B1 / Poland

22.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
A Passage to India
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
David Lean
Starring
Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers, Richard Wilson, Antonia Pemberton, Michael Culver, Art Malik, Saeed Jaffrey, Clive Swift
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Drama | History
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Wiktor Sadowski
Artist
Wiktor Sadowski
Size (inches)
26 4/16" x 38"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the Polish poster for the release of British director David Lean‘s final film behind the camera, 1984’s A Passage to India. Lean hadn’t helmed a feature film since 1970’s Ryan’s Daughter, the poor reception of which had put him off directing for a few years, and an abandoned attempt to make a pair of films based on the Mutiny of the Bounty also took up several years of Lean’s life. The film is an adaptation of English author E. M. Forster’s novel of the same name and also a stage production of the book by Indian-born American playwright Santha Rama Rau.

Set in India during the 1920s when there was a growing Indian independence movement in the British Raj, the film sees young British woman Adela Quested (Judy Davistravel to India to visit her fiancee Ronny Heaslop (Nigel Havers) who is serving as a magistrate in the town of Chandrapore. Accompanying her on the trip is Ronny’s mother Mrs Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). The pair spend time in the company of British colonials but when Mrs Moore meets a local doctor named Aziz Ahmed (Victor Banerjee) they see the opportunity to experience ‘the real India.’ Aziz agrees to take them on an expedition to the remote Marabar Caves (actually based on the real life Barabar Caves) but when Adela is attacked and almost raped, Aziz is accused of the crime and relations between the natives and the British quickly break down.

This poster was painted for the first release of the film in Poland in 1988 and was created by the Polish artist Wiktor Sadowski who was born in Olendry in 1956 and later graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Sadowski has painted hundreds of film posters during his career and has won several prestigious awards, including a gold medal at Poster Biennale of Poland in 1984 and a gold medal from the New York Society of Illustrators in 1994. There are multiple galleries of his work online, including this one on the Polish Poster Gallery website and this one on Polishposter.com that both clearly show the quality of his artwork. Frustratingly it appears that the artist’s official site is currently offline but hopefully it will return at some point.

Platoon / Thailand

20.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Drama | War
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Kwow
Size (inches)
21 7/16" x 30 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the original Thai poster for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

The artwork on this Thai poster is by the artist who signs his work Kwow, about whom I’ve been able to discover little beyond other titles he worked on. The figure kneeling with his arms up references one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, which also appeared on several international posters for the film and was painted by Mike Ryan (the original artwork was sold at auction in 2014).

The Sea Wolves / quad / UK

17.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Sea Wolves
AKA
--
Year of Film
1980
Director
Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring
Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, David Niven, Trevor Howard, Barbara Kellerman, Patrick Macnee, Kenneth Griffith, Patrick Allen
Origin of Film
Switzerland | UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | History | War
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Arnaldo Putzu
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The last charge of the Calcutta Light Horse.

Featuring great art by Arnaldo Putzu, this is the UK quad for the 1980 action film The Sea Wolves, which is based on real events that occurred during the Second World War. As mentioned on the poster, the story is based on the exploits of ex-members of the Calcutta Light Horse, a cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army that was formed in 1872 and was disbanded a couple of years after the end of WWII. The plot sees British intelligence discovering that a Nazi radio ship is broadcasting the coordinates of allied ships from a harbour in Portuguese Goa, which was neutral during the war, so an all out assault cannot be launched by the Navy because of this.

British Intelligence officers Col. Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Capt. Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) lead the operation and covertly enlist retired officer Col. Bill Grice (David Niven) of the Calcutta Light Horse & some of his former soldiers. The gang sneak into Goa and arrange a diversion on the evening of a planned raid, before making their way to the radio ship carrying enough explosives to sink it and put a stop any more transmissions. The film reunited much of the creative team behind an earlier OAPs on a mission film, 1978’s The Wild Geese, including director Andrew V. McLaglen, screenwriter Reginald Rose, producer Euan Lloyd and several of the stars.

Arnaldo Putzu was born in Rome in 1927 and began painting from a very early age and in 1948 he got involved with the world of film publicity under the guidance of the famous artist Enrico De Seta. Eventually Putzu would gain enough confidence in his abilities to set up his own agency and it was this move that saw him getting involved in work for the British studio Rank. Eric Pulford was so impressed with his work that he brought him over to London to work at Downtons in 1967.

The artist worked on many quads whilst over here and also gained notoriety for lending his talents to the popular children’s magazine Look-in, for which he painted almost every cover during its publication lifetime. His best-known quad is undoubtedly the one he painted for the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter in 1971. My friend, and author of the must-own British Film Posters, Sim Branaghan met Putzu during the making of his book and describes it as a very memorable experience in theinterview I published in 2012. Putzu sadly passed away the same year, aged 85, and Sim wrote an excellent obituary for The Guardian newspaper, which can be read here.

Sightseers / A0 / Germany

15.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Sightseers
AKA
--
Year of Film
2012
Director
Ben Wheatley
Starring
Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davie, Tony Way, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Aris
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Comedy | Crime | Horror
Type of Poster
A0
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
2012
Designer
Heike Jörss
Artist
Heike Jörss
Size (inches)
33 1/16" x 46.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the original German poster that was printed for the release of British director Ben Wheatley‘s pitch-black (‘…des schwarzen humors’) comedy Sightseers. Conceived of and written by its two lead actors, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, the film was developed by the pair over a number of years and eventually brought to the screen with the help of Edgar Wright, who is best known as a director but was on producer duties here. The pair play odd couple Tina and Chris who set off on a caravanning holiday around the north of the UK, much to the distress of Tina’s domineering mum Carol (Eileen Davies). The pair visit a number of uniquely English tourist destinations, including Kewick’s Pencil Museum and a tram museum (filmed at Crich’s Tramway Village). It’s at the latter attraction that things take a dark turn as Chris ‘accidentally’ reverses his caravan over a museum guest who had annoyed him earlier. More bodies begin to pile up as they carry on their journey and tensions between the pair continue to escalate.

Lowe and Oram are brilliant throughout, striking a perfect balance between affable and loony, and they really feel like the kinds of people you meet when visiting the UK’s more out of the way tourist attractions. It’s great to see parts of England that don’t normally appear on film and the locations are used in such a way that you don’t feel the film is ridiculing them. The film is certainly not for everyone and some of the violence is pretty brutal but I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a British comedy with a unique twist.

The knitted design of this German poster references the jumpers that Chris wears as well as Tina’s knitting (crotchless knickers!) Adrian Curry of the excellent Movie Poster of the Week column on Mubi.com managed to track down the artist responsible for the poster, Heike Jörss, and contacted her after featuring this poster as his poster of the week in January 2013. Heike confirmed that the poster is a fully digital creation and no actual knitting took place:

“Well, I let the murder out: it’s a complete digital artwork. Made up of many many realistic knitting patterns/photographies – extreme close-ups, macros and details – composed, coloured, stretched and shaped in photoshop. A lot of work, I swear! Most of all because I wanted to have an absolute natural look with handmade blemishes. Finally it took more than a long time to finalize the work and often I wished I could knit in the analog way.”

The badge references the two German actors who voice Tina and Chris in the dubbed version of the film.

Robocop / screen print / regular / Martin Ansin / USA

13.04.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Robocop
AKA
Robocop: O batsos robot (Greece)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Paul Verhoeven
Starring
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Screen print
Style of Poster
Regular
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2014
Designer
Martin Ansin
Artist
Martin Ansin
Size (inches)
24" x 36"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Part man. Part machine. All cop.

A striking design by Martin Ansin on this screen print for Paul Verhoeven‘s sci-fi masterpiece, Robocop. Set in a dystopian future Detroit where organised crime is rampant and the city is close to financial ruin, the mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products enters into an agreement with the city to run the police force and plans to introduce a robotic enforcer to work alongside the human officers. When tests with a weaponised droid called ED-209 go awry and an OCP junior executive is killed, the chairman agrees to back the plans of Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer), another OCP executive with designs for a cyborg (half-man, half-machine) cop.

Shortly after, veteran officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally attacked and effectively killed on his first patrol at a new precinct and Morton sees him as the perfect candidate for his Robocop program. OCP quickly goes about transforming his ravaged body into the future of law enforcement, but when he reawakens Murphy initially struggles with his transformation and loss of his family. Soon he sets about avenging his ‘death’ at the hands of crime boss Clarence Bodicker (an unforgettable performance from Kurtwood Smith) and attacks the corruption that is destroying Detroit, which leads all the way to the boardroom of OCP.

This print was one of several created by Martin Ansin for a joint show with fellow artist Kevin Tong held at the Mondo Austin gallery during March 2014. Tong also worked on a print for Robocop and other films covered included Flash Gordon and Alien. Badass Digest went to the show and interviewed Ansin and Tong, which can be read here and Collider.com ran an article featuring loads of images from the show. There was a variant of this print available that was printed with metallic inks and has a different colour scheme, see here.

One of my favourite artists working today, Martin Ansin‘s work has graced many of the best posters released by Mondo, including several in the Universal Monsters series like this amazing Phantom of the Opera print and an excellent Dracula (1931) one. You only have to look at the gallery on his official site to see how talented an artist he is, with an eye for composition and detail unmatched by most of the artists in Mondo’s roster. To see the other posters I’ve collected so far that were designed by Ansin, click here.