Octopussy / B2 / Yamakatsu style A / Japan

21.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Octopussy
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
John Glen
Starring
Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, David Meyer, Tony Meyer, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Michaela Clavell, Walter Gotell, Vijay Amritraj, Albert Moses
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | James Bond
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Yamakatsu - style A
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
20 5/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the scarce Yamakatsu (style A) Japanese B2 poster for Roger Moore‘s sixth outing as the legendary spy, 1983′s Octopussy. Considered by many to be one of the weaker entries in the long-running series, the film nevertheless continued the more ‘realistic’ and down to earth approach that was taken for the previous entry, For Your Eyes Only (1981), following the over-the-top lunacy of Moonraker (1979). The story sees Bond sent to investigate the death of his fellow agent ’009′ who perishes in front of the British embassy in East Berlin clutching a copy of a priceless Fabergé egg. When the trail leads to an auction house in London where the real egg is to be sold, Bond enters a bidding war with the mysterious Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), forcing him to spend several times its listing price.

After following Khan back to his palace in Rajasthan, India, the spy eventually ends up in the clutches of Khan’s bodyguard Gobinda (an imposing Kabir Bedi) and, after escaping, discovers that the prince is working with a power-hungry Soviet general named Orlov (Steven Berkoff) who plans to detonate a nuclear bomb in a US Air Force base in Germany in order to destabilise Europe and expand Soviet borders. Bond heads to a palace on an Indian lake on the trail of Octopussy (Maud Adams), the enigmatic leader of an all-female cult and head of a travelling circus troupe that Khan and Orlov plan to use to smuggle the weapon into the base. Bond must convince Octopussy that Khan is only using her for his nefarious plot and sets out to prevent the bomb from detonating before Europe is plunged into chaos.

The photos around the central artwork are a mixtures of stills from the film and behind the scenes and marketing images. The artwork was fully illustrated by Renato Casaro, an Italian artist with a prolific output, who actually re-painted the central two figures that American artist Dan Goozee had originally illustrated for the US one sheet. Whilst on the UK quad Casaro had painted a montage that was used to surround Goozee’s figures, here he was asked to repaint the whole thing to fit a portrait format.

I interviewed the artist in March 2014 and he mentioned this poster:

—–

[...]Every poster painted by you was from your original design?
Almost every single one I worked on. Very occasionally I would adapt some posters for American films from the artwork that had been used over there. For example, for the British poster for Octopussy I painted an action montage around the central figures that had already been painted by the American artist Dan Goozee. When they wanted the same montage for the Japanese poster it was in a portrait format so I was able to repaint the figures myself and then adapt my original action montage around them. That was a very unusual case though and if it were an Italian production I would always retain complete creative control.

————-

Renato Casaro began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome, which was part of the legendary Cinecittà studios and handled film publicity for many Italian productions. Casaro soon decided to become a freelance artist and went 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 many German posters as well as others from countries including Japan, UK, North America 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. The other posters I’ve collected by Casaro can be seen by clicking here.

Misery / A1 / Germany

17.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Misery
Year of Film
1990
Director
Rob Reiner
Starring
James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Thriller
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The prolific American author Stephen King has had over 60 of his short stories and novels made into films (with several more on the way) and it’s safe to say that not all of them have successfully made the transition. As well as classic horrors like Carrie, The Shining and The Mist, there are clunkers like Lawnmower Man and The Mangler to even things out. Over the years, the author has understandably become very wary about who he allows to adapt his work and there have been some collaborations that have been very successful indeed. Rob Reiner’s film Stand By Me, based on King’s novella of the same name, is a truly great coming-of-age story and was so successful that it convinced King to allow the director to adapt one of his most celebrated novels, the psychological thriller Misery.

Released in 1990, the film focuses on Paul Sheldon (James Caan) a celebrated author of a best-selling series of Victorian-era romance stories featuring the character of Misery Chastain. Having completed the manuscript for his latest novel at the same Colorado hotel he always stays in to write, Sheldon decides to drive back to his home in New York. During a freak blizzard, Paul crashes his car into a snowdrift and loses consciousness. When he wakes he discovers that he’s been rescued by a nurse called Annie Wilkes (a career-best performance by Kathy Bates) who has taken him to her remote cabin and is tending to his injuries. Annie reveals that she’s a superfan of the author and asks to read the manuscript but is angered with the level of profanity.

A few days later she buys a copy of his just-published Misery Chastain novel and is horrified to discover that Paul has decided to kill off the character. The author soon discovers that not only is Annie preventing him from leaving the cabin, she’s also failed to inform anyone that he’s with her. Realising his life is in grave danger, Paul must try to outwit Annie as the tension mounts. The film has a notorious scene involving a sledgehammer that still induces winces even after repeated viewings. Bates would go on to win the Best Actress prize at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

 

The excellent artwork on this German A1 was painted by the celebrated Italian artist Renato Casaro who worked on a significant number of German posters during the 1980s and 1990s. In March 2014 I published a lengthy interview I carried out with Renato and that can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by the artists can be seen by clicking here.

Heavy Metal / quad / UK

14.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Heavy Metal
AKA
--
Year of Film
1981
Director
Gerald Potterton
Starring
Harvey Atkin, Jackie Burroughs, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Marilyn Lightstone, Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus
Origin of Film
Canada
Genre(s) of Film
Animation | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Chris Achilleos
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
A Step Beyond Science Fiction

A great piece of artwork by Chris Achilleos on this UK quad for the release of Heavy Metal, an animated film based on stories from the magazine of the same name, which was known for its blend of science fiction, fantasy and erotica. Developed over a period of three years, the film is an anthology of tales connected by a framing story, with each one being based on a segment from the magazine or created specifically for the film. Like its source material it contains plenty of graphic violence and sexual imagery, although the film is somewhat softer in comparison to the tales seen in print. Several different animation houses worked on the segments, which is how it was able to be completed in a relatively short period of time. The voice cast included John CandyEugene Levy and Harold Ramis.

Chris Achilleos is one of the foremost British sci-fi and fantasy artists and has been working for over 40 years, creating some of the most celebrated artwork in the genre. Born in Cyprus, Achilleos and his family emigrated to London in 1959 and he went on to study illustration at Hornsey Art College where he learned the skills of technical illustration and became proficient with the airbrush in his final year. The artist would go on to create illustrations and painted work for album covers, book covers, magazines and would publish a series of books showcasing his skills. In addition, Achilleos also worked on concept designs for films including Willow (1988), King Arthur (2004) and the Last Legion (2007). This portrait of the heroine Taarna and her faithful steed was influential on the creation of the segment in the film, although the level of detail in the animation doesn’t quite match up to his skills!

Sim Branaghan, author of the brilliant British Film Posters, interviewed the artist for his book and notes that Achilleos’ film work often ended in frustration and disappointment. His first contact with the film industry came with a call from Julian Senior, a marketing executive at Warners at the time, who invited Achilleos to produce some concepts for Greystoke (1984). These were swept aside for an urgent job to produce three big illustrations for posters for Supergirl (1984) that ended up being scrapped when the distribution of the film changed and the work went to the FEREF agency.

Achilleos was also asked to work on posters for Blade Runner that ended up being rejected by the clients who decided to go with the photo montage of the UK quad. There were other frustrating no-gos with designs for Clash of the Titans, Twilight Zone (1983) and an illustration for Batman (1989) that was caught up in a knotty legal wrangle. Some posters designs did make it through, including Riding High (1979), this artwork for Heavy Metal that was used on the UK quad as well as the US one sheet and Japanese B2, plus a quad for Jackie Chan vehicle The Protector (1986).

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / B1 / Japan

11.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure | Comedy
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40.5
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the scarce Japanese B1 for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army. 

Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures before the real Baron appears at one of their shows just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack it. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.

Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the film is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.

This psychedelic design is unique to this Japanese B1 and is markedly different to the equally trippy B2 poster.

 

Memento / B2 / red style / Japan

09.07.14

Poster Poster Poster
Title
Memento
AKA
Amnesia (Mexico)
Year of Film
2000
Director
Christopher Nolan
Starring
Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior, Russ Fega, Jorja Fox, Stephen Tobolowsky, Harriet Sansom Harris, Thomas Lennon, Callum Keith Rennie, Kimberly Campbell, Marianne Muellerleile, Larry Holden
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mystery | Thriller
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Red style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2001
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The film that launched Christopher Nolan into the international cinematic limelight, the ingenious mystery thriller Memento was written and directed by the man who would go on to helm the phenomenally successful Dark Knight Trilogy. Based on a short story by Jonathan Nolan the story focuses on a man called Leonard, played by Guy Pearce (an important role for the actor), who has no short term memory and is obsessively trying to solve the murder of his wife. Using scribbled notes, polaroids and tattoos, Leonard attempts to make sense of discoveries he makes and the interactions he has with people along the way, which includes Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) and Carrie-Anne Moss, two characters who shift and change throughout the film as Leonard, and the audience, try to understand who’s ultimately responsible.

What makes the film so memorable is the way that the story is told with two timelines being shown one after another, one in black and white and chronologically ordered, and the other in colour and in reverse chronological order. The film opens with Leonard shooting and killing Teddy, but as the film progresses we see Teddy alive and the reason for the shooting eventually becomes clear, with a devastating reveal at the end of the film. This diagram gives you an idea of the way the story is told and the film continues to be discussed almost 15 years since its release (see here and here, for example). Critics and audiences responded positively to a film that felt genuinely fresh and different, particularly compared against a glut of sequels and identikit plots that were flooding the cinema at the end of the 1990s.

This is the Japanese B2 (red style) from the original release there back in 2001 and the design is unique to this poster. The American one sheet is markedly different and includes Carrie-Anne Moss.

 

Licence to Kill / one sheet / advance / USA

07.07.14

Poster Poster Poster
Title
Licence to Kill
AKA
License to Kill (alternative, pre-release spelling)
Year of Film
1989
Director
John Glen
Starring
Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Everett McGill, Desmond Llewelyn
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | James Bond
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Advance - 'License' version
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Steven Chorney
Artist
Keith Hamshere (photography)
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
His bad side is a dangerous place to be.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Licence to Kill, the sixteenth James Bond adventure, marked the end of an era in the franchise. Whilst certainly not in the running for best Bond film, it’s nevertheless a solid entry with excellent use of locations (actually forced due to budgetary constraints), a memorable bad guy in Robert Davi‘s drug kingpin Sanchez and a number of impressive stunt sequences. Fans of the original Ian Fleming novels often rate Licence to Kill as the film that’s closest to the original source material’s harder-edged action. Licence to Kill marked the last Bond film for director John Glen who had been involved in the series since 1969 and also saw legendary producer Albert R. Broccoli effectively retire from the reigns of a franchise he had begun with producing partner Harry Saltzman back in 1958. 

The story is significantly darker and grittier than anything that had come before in the series, particularly those films released during the Roger Moore era. It opens with Bond and old friend CIA agent Felix Leiter on the way to the latter’s wedding ceremony in Key West (Florida) when they’re informed that Sanchez, a wanted drug lord, has been spotted in the area. The pair manage to apprehend the kingpin after an exciting chase that ends with them parachuting out of a helicopter and landing in front of the church, just in time for the ceremony. After the title sequence (with the excellent Gladys Knight theme tune) things take a dark turn as Sanchez escapes and takes revenge on Felix and his new bride.

When Bond discovers a badly mutilated Leiter and his dead bride he vows revenge, but when his superiors deny his request and order him on another mission to Turkey, Bond flees and has his licence to kill revoked. With the help of one of Leiter’s friends, he follows a trail leading him from the Bahamas to the fictional Republic of Isthmus where Davi’s plan for global drugs domination is revealed. The film ends with a thrilling chase involving several tanker trucks along a dangerous highway, which is easily one of the most memorable action sequences in the series’ history. The film was Welsh actor Timothy Dalton‘s second appearance as 007 and would ultimately prove to be his last after a protracted legal wrangle meant that no Bond film was put into production until 1995′s Goldeneye, by which time the actor had moved on and was replaced by Pierce Brosnan.

The marketing of the film went through a number of iterations, designers and artists and, crucially, marked the first time that painted artwork gave way to a photographic montage. Despite some initial sketches and concepts by the legendary artist Bob Peak, MGM decided to commission a number of designers and artists to work on the posters, including American Steven Chorney who designed this particular advance one sheet, and British design firm FEREF (led by Robin Behling) which designed a montage that was used on the international one sheet, the British quad and for some other posters around the globe. Although initially produced under the title ‘Licence Revoked’, MGM feared that American audiences wouldn’t understand the second word and changed it to the title we know today. Note that there was some wrangling over whether to go with the American spelling ‘License’ or the British-English ‘Licence’. Eventually the latter won out, but not before these posters had been printed with the American spelling (the same poster also exists with ‘Licence’ too).