Mississippi Burning / B1 / Poland

26.05.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Mississippi Burning
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Alan Parker
Starring
Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Stephen Tobolowsky, Michael Rooker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Badja Djola, Kevin Dunn, Frankie Faison
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama | History | Mystery | Thriller
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Wieslaw Walkuski
Artist
Wieslaw Walkuski
Size (inches)
26 4/16" x 37.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking illustration by Wieslaw Walkuski on this B1 poster for the first release in Poland (in 1990) for Alan Parker‘s 1988 crime thriller Mississippi Burning. The film was loosely based on the real life case of the murders of three civil rights workers in the titular American state in 1964. Screenwriter Chris Gerolmo based his script on an article and several books on the FBI investigation of the case that had been written in the intervening years. Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe play two FBI agents sent to the fictional town of Jessup County in order to investigate the disappearance of the three workers. Their investigation is met with suspicion and hostility by local residents, as well as the local police and the KKK. As attacks on African-American families intensify, the pair must use unorthodox methods to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Wieslaw Walkuski was born in 1956 and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Since 1981 Walkuski has worked as a graphic designer and artist for publishing houses and theaters, as well as for the Polish film organisations Polfilm and Film Polski. He’s worked freelance since 1987 and has painted over 200 film posters. He continues to live and work in Warsaw. Walkuski’s official website features galleries of many of his designs and images of his other work.

He’s responsible for some incredible designs and two of my favourites include those he painted for Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves and the Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie.

Cotton Club / A1 / Germany

23.05.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Cotton Club
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Francis Ford Coppola
Starring
Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama | Music
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the poster for the German release of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 crime-drama/musical The Cotton Club. Legendary producer Robert Evans had originally planned to direct the film and the initial story and screenplay had been written by Mario ‘The Godfather’ Puzo, but Evans had a last-minute change of heart and asked Coppola to step in. Puzo’s script was apparently re-written by the author William Kennedy who ended up writing multiple drafts and ended up with a shared screenplay credit along with Coppola. Production was apparently beset with problems, including a spiralling budget that was provided by various parties including Las Vegas casino owners, an Arab arms dealer and a vaudeville performer. In typical fashion, Evans was determined to make the film as extravagant as possible and constructed ‘no expense spared’ sets, hiring some of the best technicians in the business at eye-watering figures.

Another likely reason that filming costs ballooned is the impressive ensemble cast that Evans and the studio were able to hire, which included the likes of Richard GereDiane LaneBob Hoskins and Gregory Hines. Loosely based on the real club of the same name that was located in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood, the story follows the machinations of various characters involved with the club in the 1930s, including Gere’s musician Dixie Dwyer whose dealings with the mobster owner of the club Owney Madden (Hoskins) sees him advance his career as an actor whilst having an affair with the girlfriend of the local kingpin, Dutch Schultz (James Remar). The film also follows Sandman Williams (Hines) a local dancer who falls for the club’s star performer Lila Rose Dwyer (Lonette McKee). Nicolas Cage appears as Dixie’s violent, racist brother Vincent who joins Schultz’s gang.

The film features several musical sequences and is soundtracked by several of the most popular jazz tunes of the era. Sadly, Coppola and Evans clashed regularly during the production and at a certain point the director apparently barred the producer from visiting the set. The Cotton Club was declared a flop when it opened in fourth place at the box-office and would eventually go on to recoup less than half of its reported budget of just under $60 million. Despite tepid critical reception the film was nevertheless nominated for several awards (only winning for Best Costumes at the BAFTAs). The film has something of a cult following today, with many fans speaking highly of the film’s production values and well-staged musical numbers. Rumours of a director’s cut release were ignited last year when Coppola declared that a restoration was in the works, reinstating several musical sequences that were apparently cut for its initial release.

This German poster was illustrated by Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Timebomb / Thailand

18.05.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Timebomb
AKA
Total Terminator (Germany) | Colpo doppio [double blow] (Italy)
Year of Film
1991
Director
Avi Nesher
Starring
Michael Biehn, Patsy Kensit, Tracy Scoggins, Robert Culp, Richard Jordan, Raymond St. Jacques, Billy Blanks, Jim Maniaci, Steven J. Oliver, Carlos Palomino, Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Tongdee Panumas
Artist
Tongdee Panumas
Size (inches)
24" x 34 8/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

An action-packed and colourful montage by the artist Tongdee features on this Thai poster for the release of the 1991 sci-fi thriller Timebomb. Produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis, the daughter of the legendary Italian producer Dino, the film was helmed by Avi Nesher, an Israeli producer, screenwriter and director. American actor Michael Biehn was chosen for the lead role after the director saw his performance in James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) and British actress Patsy Kensit (who’s now mostly retired from acting) also appears. The plot is described thusly on Wikipedia:

Mild-mannered watchmaker Eddy Kay (Biehn) runs into a burning building to save a trapped woman and is featured in the news as a result. Watching the news, Colonel Taylor (Richard Jordan) is shocked to see Eddy, whom he had assumed to be dead. A game of cat and mouse begins as Eddy, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Anna Nolmar (Patsy Kensit), tries to discover his past and why they want him dead.Eddy and Dr. Nolmar discover that he was part of a secret government program to create assassins. Using various sensory deprivation and brainwashing techniques, the assassins could be sent to infiltrate other organisations and facilities undetected and carry out programmed missions. Eddy manages to capture and interrogate one of the female assassins (Tracy Scoggins), finding out the Colonel’s current assassination plan. He then plots to confront Colonel Taylor and put an end to the assassination program once and for all.

The excellent artwork on this Thai poster is by Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) who was an incredibly prolific Thai film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947, so if anyone has any more details please get in touch.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors / quad / video / UK

16.05.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Chuck Russell
Starring
Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Craig, Wasson, Robert Englund
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Video
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Graham Humphreys
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the UK video poster for the third entry in one of the most beloved horror franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (subtitled Dream Warriors). It’s a full-size quad (30″ x 40″) and the only way to tell that it’s a video poster is the ‘Warner Home Video’ logo (they handled the home video release) in the bottom right corner. As you can see on this image from emovieposter.com it’s otherwise identical to the Palace Pictures cinema release quad which has their logo in the bottom right.

The third film, whilst not as great as the original, was nevertheless a significant return to form following the very lacklustre part 2 that had been released a year earlier to reasonable box-office returns but poor critical reception. Both Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) had been absent from the first sequel but were persuaded to return for Part 3, with Wes providing drafts of the screenplay and being instrumental in getting Langenkamp onboard. The story went through several iterations with Wes and Bruce Wagner both writing a series of initial drafts and then Frank Darabont (of Shawshank Redemption fame) and the film’s director Chuck Russell completing the screenplay.

Part of the film’s success is that they return to what made the original much scarier than part 2, which is the concept of the evil Freddy Krueger only having his power in the dreams of the kids he’s attacking. This is what made the first film so effective and allowed Freddy to be much more inventive with the way he attacks his victims. In part 2 there are several sequences where Freddy is in the ‘real world’ and he simply becomes a standard slasher antagonist, losing his uniqueness as a villain in the process. Aside from one sequence involving a Ray Harryhausen-esque skeleton, all of the Freddy scenes take place in the dream world of his teenage victims.

The concept for the third one, hinted at with the film’s subtitle, is that the characters are able to enter each other’s dreams in order to try and defeat Freddy. Patricia Arquette (in her film debut) plays Kirsten Walker, a teenager who has been suffering terrible nightmares at the hands of Freddy. After an attack that leaves her wrist slashed, her mother has Kirsten taken to a secure psychiatric hospital and there she meets a number of other teens all suffering from the same nightmares, with the adult carers at a loss to explain it. Dr Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) is the only one who begins to believe the group and he’s helped when Nancy begins working at the hospital as an intern.

After two of the gang die following a Krueger attack, ruled as suicides by the hospital bosses, Gordon and Nancy realise the key to defeating him is using Kirsten’s gift of being able to bring other people into her own dreams. They also discover that each of the remaining kids has a particular gift when they’re in their dreams. Having multiple characters in one dream allows Chuck Russell and the special effects crew to stage a number of memorable sequences, filled with inventive gore coupled with a much more interesting script for Robert Englund (Freddy) to have fun with. There are a number of moments in the film that are ingrained in my memory from the first time I saw it almost 20 years ago and it’s definitely a fan favourite sequel. The film was a hit at the box-office and ensured Freddy’s return in part 4 only a year later.

The celebrated British designer and artist Graham Humphreys was chosen by Palace to work on the posters for the first five A Nightmare on Elm Street films. This poster for part 3 is notable for being the only one of the five that’s photographic, rather than illustrated, and when I interviewed Graham in 2011 for this site he explained how that came about:

——————

For A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 they went with a photographic image and you designed the poster. Was there a reason they didn’t have an illustration?
No idea at all. They might have been cheap-skating. I think they thought the photographs were quite good from the session they’d had so why not use one of them. I redid the logo and drew the number 3, which took ages!

How easy was it working with photographs at this time, before computers?
Well given a computer this poster would have been so different. I mean I would have used the same photograph but so much more could have been done to make it more sinister and far more exciting. In those days all I could do was play around with the lettering.

Did you actually ask if you could do an illustration or suggest an idea for one?
No, the decision was made that it would be a photo and that was that.

———–——

To see the other posters I’ve collected by Graham click here and read the exclusive interview with the artist here.

Eight Million Ways To Die / video / UK

13.05.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Eight Million Ways To Die
AKA
8 Million Ways to Die (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1986
Director
Hal Ashby
Starring
Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, Andy Garcia, Alexandra Paul
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure | Crime
Type of Poster
Video
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Death comes to all except those that deserve it most

This is the UK video poster (note the 18-rating emblem) for the release of Eight Million Ways to Die, a crime drama that was to be the final film by the late Hal Ashby. The director was associated with the American New Wave that started in the 1960s, lasted until the 1980s and saw a younger generation of filmmakers invading tinseltown, forever changing the way films were shot, edited and released. The Wikipedia article on the period gives you a good idea of the kinds of directors that were part of the new wave, which included the likes of Woody Allen, John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

Ashby began his career as an editor, with credits including In the Heat of the Night and the original Thomas Crown Affair, but he was encouraged to begin directing in 1970 with The Landlord, a critical success that was largely ignored by audiences at the time. This was quickly followed by Harold and Maude , an offbeat comedy that has a sizeable cult following today. Ashby embraced the hippie lifestyle of the early 1970s and his films featured main characters that were on the edge of ‘normal’ society. His biggest hit would prove to be the 1978 romantic drama Coming Home that was set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, and would see him garnering a Best Director nomination at the Oscars that year, whilst the two main stars, Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, both won the main Best Acting gongs.

Eight Million Ways to Die was based on a book by the prolific American author Lawrence Block whose most famous series of novels focused on the private investigator (and recovering alcoholic) Matthew Scudder. The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone with help from R. Lance Hill and an uncredited Robert Towne. The actor Jeff Bridges was given the part of Scudder (Ashby had previously directed his brother Beau Bridges in The Landlord) and Rosanna Arquette appears as Sarah, a call girl who is central to the story. The film’s plot is described thusly on IMDb:

Scudder is a detective with the Sheriff’s Department who is forced to shoot a violent suspect during a narcotics raid. The ensuing psychological aftermath of this shooting worsens his drinking problem and this alcoholism causes him to lose his job, as well as his marriage. During his recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, he meets a mysterious stranger who draws him back into a world of vice. In trying to help this beautiful woman, he must enter a crime-world of prostitution and drugs to solve a murder, while resisting the temptation to return to his alcohol abuse.

Unfortunately for all concerned the film was a critical and commercial flop and was yet another disappointment for Ashby, who by then had garnered something of a reputation for prolific drug-taking and eccentric behaviour during the post-production of his films. He would never again direct a film, despite efforts to turn things around, and would sadly die of cancer in 1988, aged just 59.

The artwork on this UK video poster is by the British artist Brian Bysouth and the art has been trimmed somewhat for the poster as his truncated signature can be seen towards the bottom right-hand side. Bysouth is one of my favourite poster artists and he was responsible for many classic posters from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the final painted poster for a James Bond film, The Living Daylights. In 2012 I was fortunate to meet and interview Brian for this site and the article can be read here.

The other posters I’ve collected by Brian can be seen by clicking here.

Rhapsody in August / B1 / Poland

11.05.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Rhapsody in August
AKA
Hachi-gatsu no kyôshikyoku (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
1991
Director
Akira Kurosawa
Starring
Sachiko Murase, Hisashi Igawa, Narumi Kayashima, Tomoko Ôtakara, Mitsunori Isaki, Toshie Negishi, Chôichirô Kawarasaki, Mieko Suzuki, Richard Gere
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Drama
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
Poland
Designer
Waldemar Świerzy
Artist
Waldemar Świerzy
Size (inches)
26 6/16" x 38 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A striking design by the celebrated Polish artist and designer Waldemar Świerzy features on this Polish B1 poster for the release of the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa‘s penultimate film, Rhapsody in August. The story focuses on three generations of a Japanese family who were affected by the 1945 Nagasaki atomic bomb. Kane (Sachiko Murase) is the grandmother of the family who lost her husband to the explosion and she is tasked with looking after her four grandchildren for the summer, whilst her children visit a man who claims to be Kane’s long-lost brother in Hawaii. The children learn about the effects of the bomb and what it meant for their family. Richard Gere appears as Clark, an American-born cousin of Kane’s children, who gets involved in a ceremony to commemorate the bombing.

The late Waldemar Świerzy is considered to be one of the most important Polish designers and artists and it’s estimated he’s worked on over 2500 posters during his career. He was born in Katowice in 1931 and graduated from the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in 1952. He later became professor in the University of Fine Arts in Poznań from 1965 and Professor in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1994. The artist was one of the key figures in the influential Polish School of Posters a movement to push the level of quality of Polish posters forward which was active for over 30 years, starting in the 1950s. Świerzy won multiple awards during his career and had several exhibitions of his work held over the years. He sadly passed away in 2003.

Polishposter.com has seven pages of his work and this biography on culture.pl goes into great detail about his life and work. Poster.com.pl has another gallery of his work.