Battle Creek Brawl / B2 / style A / Japan

21.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Battle Creek Brawl
AKA
The Big Brawl (USA | International)
Year of Film
1980
Director
Robert Clouse
Starring
Jackie Chan, José Ferrer, Kristine DeBell, Mako, Ron Max, David Sheiner, Rosalind Chao, Lenny Montana, Pat E. Johnson, Mary Ellen O'Neill, H.B. Haggerty, Chao Li Chi, Joycelyne Lew
Origin of Film
USA | Hong Kong
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Battle Creek Brawl (known in the US and elsewhere as The Big Brawl) was martial arts superstar Jackie Chan‘s first attempt at breaking into the American film industry. The film was directed by the late Robert Clouse who was behind Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, the first martial arts film to be co-produced by a Hollywood studio (also sadly to be Lee’s last). Clouse went on to direct Jim Kelly’s Black Belt Jones (1974) and put together the posthumous Bruce Lee film The Game of Death (1978) so he was an obvious choice for Chan’s hopeful big break into the lucrative US market. The director chose to employ much of the crew from Enter the Dragon.

Set in 1930s Chicago, though filmed mostly in Texas, the film focuses on Chinese-American Jerry Kwan (Chan) whose father runs a restaurant. One day a gang of mobsters pays the restaurant a visit and tries to force Kwan’s father to pay part of his profits to them. When Jerry fights back the mob take notice of his martial arts skills and force him to take part in the illegal fighting tournament Battle Creek Brawl by kidnaping his brother’s fiancee.

Kwan must enlist the help of his martial arts master Herbert (played by Japanese-American actor Mako) in order to train to face his opponents, including the fearsome, brutal fighter Kiss (H.B. Haggerty), winner of the previous tournament whose nickname is due to the single kiss he gives his defeated opponents. Sadly for all involved the film was something of a flop and was nowhere near the Enter the Dragon success story that Chan was hoping for. After trying his hand at various supporting roles (including Cannonball Run) Chan eventually scored his first hit with the Hollywood production Rumble in the Bronx 15 years later.

Return of the Living Dead / Thai

19.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Return of the Living Dead
AKA
The Return of the Living Dead (US / UK) | Battalion (Japan - English title)
Year of Film
1985
Director
Dan O'Bannon
Starring
Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Brian Peck, Linnea Quigley, Mark Venturini, Jonathan Terry
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror | Comedy
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Tongdee Panumart
Artist
Tongdee Panumart
Size (inches)
21 8/16" x 31"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unique artwork by artist Tongdee on this Thai poster for the release of the 80s zombie classic Return of the Living Dead, featuring a depiction of the memorable character played by Linnea Quigley (represented here in undead form). When I first saw the film I was a little mystified by her ‘Barbie doll’ look (smooth bump) when she’s naked in the graveyard and only later found out that one of the producers made her wear prosthetics to cover up her privates. I can only imagine that it confused a lot of impressionable teenagers who were watching this back in the 1980s.

I recently bought the blu-ray and have to say the film still holds up really well – the creature designs and music are particular standouts. I’m definitely going to pick up ‘The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead’ book, which is meant to be excellent.

Tongdee Panumart (he signs his posters with just his first name) was an incredibly prolific Thai film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s but I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947. If anyone has any more information please get in touch. A knowledgeable collector of Thai posters told me that the artists would rarely if ever see the film they were creating the poster for and would instead paint images based on still photos or posters from other countries. This led to some wild designs and even some artwork with characters and elements that didn’t even appear in the actual film!

The US one sheet is markedly different and can be seen here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Monsters, Inc. / one sheet / advance / international

17.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Monsters, Inc.
AKA
--
Year of Film
2001
Director
Pete Docter
Starring
John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger, Frank Oz
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Animation | Adventure | Comedy | Family | Fantasy
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Advance
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
2001
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Pixar
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
From the creators of Toy Story

This is the scarce international advance one sheet for the release of one of animation studio Pixar’s best films, 2001’s Monsters, Inc. It’s hard to believe it’s been 13 years since it hit cinemas as the fourth full-length feature from Pixar and a lot has changed since. It’s fair to say that their critical and box-office success rate has taken a hit with recent releases, including their last film, the prequel to this story, Monsters University.

Based on an original story created by director Pete Docter with help from other Pixar creatives, the film is set in the monster-filled city of Monstropolis, home of the titular corporation. The company generates ‘scream power’ for the city by having specially trained monsters enter the bedrooms of human children to scare screams out of them at night. Focusing on top-scarers James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman), and his one-eyed partner and best friend, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), the story follows events after a toddler called Boo is accidentally brought back through the door portal into Monstropolis and Mike and Sulley have to deal with this unprecedented situation without the company finding out.

The film was a huge critical and commercial success at the time of release and cemented Pixar’s reputation as the gold-standard for computer-animated film making. This international one sheet was printed to be used in English-speaking territories around the world and the image of Mike and Sulley is unique to this particular poster.

Ghostbusters / A1 / Czechoslovakia

14.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Ghostbusters
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Ivan Reitman
Starring
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, David Margulies
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy | Fantasy
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Czechoslovakia
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Petr Poš
Artist
Petr Poš
Size (inches)
22 4/16" x 31 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Another film that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Ghostbusters, like James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi classic Terminator, has had a lasting cultural impact and recent announcements of a long-awaited sequel helped to reinforce how big its worldwide fan base is. Director Ivan Reitman helped comedian and actor Dan Aykroyd develop his original concept into the New York-set story of three nerdy parapsychologists – Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) – setting up a ghost-hunting team to take care of pesky spooks around the city.

Demand for their services quickly escalates and they end up hiring a fourth member of the team (Ernie Hudson‘s Winston Zeddmore). Soon they are having to deal with a demonic spirit called Zuul, which infests the apartment of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) before possessing her, whilst nerdy accountant Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) is also possessed by ‘the keymaster’. They herald the arrival of the ancient, evil god Gozer the Gozerian who the Ghostbusters battle on top of an apartment complex before it morphs into the now-infamous form of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, which begins attacking the city. The film was a massive critical and commercial success and ended up as the second-highest grossing film of 1984, behind Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop. A less successful sequel followed 5 years later but two cartoons, comics and video games (plus plenty of merchandise) kept the franchise going for many years.

This wonderfully surreal image was painted by Petr Poš for the 1988 Czech release of the film. Poš was born in Prague in 1944 and studied at the city’s School of Applied Arts from 1958-62 and then the Academy of Applied Arts and the Studio of Animated Film for the following 6 years. In 1981 he went to Brussels to study at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. Back in Prague he worked as an assistant at the Studio of Film and Television Graphics.

He’s responsible for several acclaimed animated films, including Až opadá listí z dubu (1991) and Lakomá Barka (1998). He also worked as a graphic artist and, according to the Czech film poster site Terry Posters, he completed 53 film posters over a 27 year period. This poster was given an honourable mention in the Best Czechoslovak Poster competition, 1988. Other films he created posters for include DARYL and Krzysztof Kieslowski ‘s A Short Film About Love

The Spy Who Loved Me / quad / 2008 re-release / UK

12.11.14

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Spy Who Loved Me
AKA
--
Year of Film
1977
Director
Lewis Gilbert
Starring
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jürgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Geoffrey Keen, George Baker, Edward de Souza
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Thriller | James Bond
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Bob Peak
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
Digitally restored and remastered. It's Bond. And Beyond.

This is the UK quad for a 2008 digital re-release of The Spy Who Loved Me, which was the tenth James Bond adventure and the third to star Sir Roger Moore as the legendary spy. Felt by many to be the best Moore era film, it shares only the title with Ian Fleming’s original novel (at the author’s request) and the screenplay was written by Christopher Wood and Bond regular Richard Maibaum. When Russian and British submarines mysteriously disappear whilst on patrol, each country sends their top spies to discover who is responsible. The trail leads Bond to Egypt where he discovers that the plans for a submarine tracking device are on sale to the highest bidder.

Whilst in Egypt, Bond encounters his Russian rival, the KGB Agent Triple X (!) Major Anya Amasova (played by the beautiful Barbara Bach) and after a few initial hostile encounters the pair agree to team up to track down the plans and deal with the mute but deadly assassin Jaws (the late Richard Kiel‘s first appearance as the fan-favourite baddy). The pair identify shipping tycoon and scientist Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens) as the man behind the device and travel to Sardinia on his trail. There they visit Stromberg’s underwater base, Atlantis, posing as husband and wife scientists but their cover is soon blown and Bond’s infamous Lotus Esprit-cum-submarine makes an appearance. Eventually Bond and Anya are onboard a submarine captured by Stromberg’s submarine-swallowing supertanker and a final showdown takes place.

The Spy Who Loved Me opens with arguably the best pre-credits sequence of any Bond film that apparently even had Prince Charles on his feet applauding at the Royal Premiere back in 1977. The locations, sets and special effects work (particularly the models) are all first rate and you really feel that the budget was well spent. The ridiculous camp humour of later Moore outings is thankfully restrained too. The film was very well received by both critics and audiences and raked in healthy worldwide box-office takings.

The UK distributor Park Circus was responsible for organising the digital re-release and this quad was printed in very limited numbers. It’s near enough identical to the original quad and features American artist Bob Peak‘s brilliant artwork that featured on posters around the world, including the US one sheet. The original quad was printed on paper with a silver metallic sheen and this quad is glossy and printed double-sided (see the last picture and note that the credits text is missing on the back).

Bob Peak was born in 1927 in Denver, Colorado and grew up in Wichita, Kansas before heading off to serve in the military during the Korean War. Upon his return Peak enrolled in the Los Angeles-based Art Center College of Design where he began to hone his craft as an artist, moving to New York after graduation where he began his career as a commercial illustrator, first working on a campaign for Old Hickory Whiskey. For the next few years the artist worked on a string of successful advertising campaigns, magazine editorials and more, but it was when United Artists hired Peak to work on their campaign for the release of West Side Story in 1961 that he began what would prove to be a fruitful and almost unrivalled career in film poster creation.

Peak’s immediately recognisable style was soon much in demand and his painting appeared on posters for films such as My Fair Lady (1964) and Camelot (1967), but it was his work in the area of sci-fi and fantasy for which Peak is perhaps best known, with the iconic design for the first Superman film (1978), the classic image he created for Rollerball (1975) and the colourful poster for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), amongst several classics of the genre he was responsible for. His paintings for Apocalypse Now, however, arguably saw the artist working at the top of his game and in the recently published must-own bookThe Art of Bob Peak (put together by one of his sons), he is quoted as saying, “Of all my movie work, it is my work on Apocalypse Now that I am most proud of.”

To see the other posters in the Film on Paper collection that were painted by Bob Peak click here.

Visiting the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition in Japan

07.11.14

Noriyoshi Ohrai is one of my favourite poster artists, responsible for many iconic pieces of art used to advertise films including The Empire Strikes Back, The Goonies and several fantastic posters for the Heisei series of Godzilla films. Until recently the artist was almost a complete enigma to me since there was little information about him online beyond the basics and there are certainly no English-language books that have been written about his life and career.

When it was announced that an exhibition featuring practically all of Ohrai’s original artwork would be held in Japan during February/March 2014, which was to be the first time any of Ohrai’s art had been seen in public since his last exhibition in 1981, I knew that I had to make every effort to attend.

NoriyoshiOhraiExhibition_B2_Godzilla_Japan-1

One of four B2 posters used to advertise the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition, featuring one of many paintings that the artist did of the King of the Kaiju, Godzilla.

In March 2014 I flew over to Tokyo and then a few days later took and internal flight down to the Island of Kyushu with my friend and fellow poster collector Toru Onozatu (AKA Poster-man). The exhibition was located in the Art Center in downtown Miyazaki, which is the city that Ohrai has called home since 1973. We were very lucky to have been given a personal tour by the curator Tatsuya Ishida who kindly guided us around the exhibition’s multiple rooms that were spread over two floors. I recorded his comments as we walked and they are featured throughout this article.

A map of Japan showing the location of Miyazaki on the Island of Kyushu at the bottom of the country.

A map of Japan showing the location of Miyazaki on the Island of Kyushu at the bottom of the country.

The Art Center in Miyazaki, location of the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition

The Art Center in Miyazaki, location of the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition

The exhibition featured almost all of Ohrai’s original art for film, book covers, video games, editorial work, biology text books and more, with only a tiny handful of the film art missing (some with their current location unknown). A lot of the art still belongs to Ohrai himself but some of it had been flown to Miyazaki from collectors including George Lucas (for some of the Star Wars pieces), as well as the Japanese studio Toho who lent several of the Godzilla artworks to the exhibition. It was certainly a unique situation that all of these paintings were gathered together under one roof.

NoriyoshiOhraiExhibition_StarWarsPosters-1

A print of the original artwork for a Star Wars poster printed in Japan to commemorate the release of a dubbed version of the original film in 1982, painted by Noriyoshi Ohrai. The huge (around A1 size) original art was on display at the exhibition and this small print was available to buy in the shop.

The exhibition began with a room containing a floor-to-ceiling pyramid of paperback novels and magazine covers that Ohrai worked on over a 30 year period, and this was surrounded by walls covered in framed posters of Ohrai’s film and commercial work. It was certainly a thrill to see them all together like that. The rest of the exhibition, in which photography was not permitted (I’ve included a handful of cheeky snaps), went through themes, beginning with Godzilla, moving onto book and magazine covers and a display of gigantic, incredibly detailed video game cover artworks. Also featured were some incredibly impressive portraits of famous figures, plus a room featuring Ohrai’s ‘Beauties in Myths covers for SF Adventure magazine. The last room contained posters for the Star Wars franchise, plus more film posters and several war-related paintings.

I wanted to share the visit with Film on Paper readers and the following pictures will hopefully give you an idea of what this memorable experience was like, plus I’ve also had the biography from the back of the exhibition catalogue translated into English and that is included at the end. Also featured are several photographs of pages from the catalogue since I was unable to actually photograph the artwork.

Exhibition director Tatsuya Ishida (left) and my friend, and fellow collector, Toru Onozato examine some of the many book covers painted by Ohrai in the first room of the exhibition.

Exhibition director Tatsuya Ishida (left) and my friend, and fellow collector, Toru Onozato examine some of the many book covers painted by Ohrai in the first room of the exhibition.

One side of the book covers pyramid in first room of the exhibition, these being mainly war related imagery.

One side of the book covers pyramid in first room of the exhibition, these being mainly war related imagery.

Mr Ishida explained to Toru and I that Ohrai worked on about 1300 book covers during his career and that the pyramid of books contained only about a third of his total output. In 1986 alone he worked on 130 book covers and he was completing a new illustration every 3 days or so.

A close-up of three of the hundreds of book covers that Ohrai painted during his career.

A close-up of three of the hundreds of book covers that Ohrai painted during his career.

For each book he would read it first and then think about what would make the best cover. He wasn’t just being given a title and then making something up. Mr Ishida explained that Master Ohrai did quite a lot of work for a few specific book authors and he developed a particular style for each one so that their books became instantly recognisable. In the 1970s he would get paid about 150000 Yen for each book cover.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Noriyoshi Ohrai was born in Akashi City, Hyogo prefecture in 1935. His family was evacuated to Sendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture after their house was bombed during the war and Mr Ishida told us that Ohrai went to an art university in Tokyo but dropped out after a while. Mr Ishida said, “he told me that the reason why was because he felt he had nothing more to learn from the teacher”.

Ohrai moved to Miyazaki from Tokyo in 1973 because it’s his wife’s hometown. He bought an old farmhouse and converted part of it into a studio.

A view inside Ohrai's studio in Miyazaki. This photo was on display in the exhibition and I've taken this from the Facebook page for the exhibition.

A view inside Ohrai’s studio in Miyazaki. This photo was on display in the exhibition and I’ve taken this from the Facebook page for the exhibition.

One side of the room of the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai's work, including several Godzilla ones.

One side of the room of the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai’s work, including several Godzilla ones.

Ohrai started out doing illustrations for newspapers then moved onto book covers and eventually started doing more and more posters after the huge success of the one he painted for The Empire Strikes Back.

The gorgeous Japanese B1 poster for The Empire Strikes Back, painted by Ohrai. This poster led to many more film-related commissions.

The gorgeous Japanese B1 poster for The Empire Strikes Back, painted by Ohrai. This poster led to many more film-related commissions.

Large reproductions on the newspaper adverts that Ohrai painted during the early part of his career. These were displayed in the first room of the exhibition.

Large reproductions on the newspaper adverts that Ohrai painted during the early part of his career. These were displayed in the first room of the exhibition.

A corner of the first room in the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai's work.

A corner of the first room in the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai’s work.

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