The Man in the White Suit / quad / 1980s re-release / UK

11.02.15

PosterPosterPoster
Title
The Man in the White Suit
AKA
--
Year of Film
1951
Director
Alexander Mackendrick
Starring
Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Howard Marion-Crawford, Henry Mollison, Vida Hope, Patric Doonan
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Sci-Fi | Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
BFI re-release
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980s (exact year TBC)
Designer
Sydney John Woods
Artist
Alfred Reginald Thomson
Size (inches)
30 2/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The Man in the White Suit is a satirical comedy that was made for the famous Ealing Studios in London and released in 1951. Directed by regular Ealing collaborator Alexander Mackendrick (who also helmed The Ladykillers and others), the film stars Alec Guinness as Sidney Stratton a frustrated chemist who is obsessed with creating an everlasting fibre. Sidney has been fired from several mills around Manchester because of his unauthorised use of expensive lab materials and his focusing on invention instead of the job he’s being paid to do. After starting at Alan Birnley’s (Cecil Parker) textile mill he manages to wangle an unpaid job as a researcher and is eventually afforded the space and materials to come up with his miracle fibre that resists all dirt and stays spotless.

Soon the management are aware of his invention, thanks to Birnley’s daughter Daphne (Joan Greenwood) spotting the potential, and are about to go public with the news when the trade unions and mill workers get involved. Both parties realise that such an invention will put them out of business since the public will never need to buy items made from the material again. They end up trying to bargain with Sidney but when he realises they just want to suppress the invention he tries to escape from their clutches, leading everyone on a chase around town. Unluckily for Sidney, it turns out his invention is not as robust as he’d hoped!

This British quad is from a BFI re-release of the film sometime in the 1980s (exact year TBC). It’s almost identical to the original 1950s quad but is missing the original distributor logo in the bottom left-hand corner, as well as the designer/artist credits. See this thread on the NSFGE poster forum for details and check out the image of a previous sale of the poster at Christies auction house.

The original 1951 quad was one of two that featured on the cover of Sim Branaghan‘s must-own British Film Posters, the definitive reference for those interested in the history of the subject. As detailed in the book, the poster was designed by man called Sydney John Woods who Sim notes was ‘more or less single-handedly responsible for the Ealing poster success’. Born in 1915, Woods trained as a graphic designer and painter and was also an art critic. He also design posters for theatres, including the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells before starting to work for the film industry with a role in Fox’s publicity department.

Woods joined Ealing in 1943 and worked there until the studios’ demise in 1959. Sim notes that Woods ‘revealed perhaps his greatest skill as an impresario, marshalling, encouraging, and exploiting to best advantage the talents of other artists’. He built up an impressive stable of artists that he could call on to produce illustrations for the studios’ output. This included the cartoonist Nicolas Bentley (for Passport to Pimlico, 1949) and Ronald Searle, creator of the St. Trinian’s cartoons (for The Lavender Hill Mob, 1951). The same year he would commission the artist A. R. Thomson to paint this portrait of Alec Guinness.

Thomson was born deaf and dumb in India in 1894 to a civil servant father who later brought the family back to London where Alfred attended the Royal School for Deaf Children. He became known as the ‘deaf and dumb artist’ and would go on to work on commercial advertising for the likes of Daimler, and also became the RAF’s official war artist in 1940. Interestingly, he was also the last person to win a gold medal for painting at the 1948 Olympic games in London (the last year that artists were allowed to compete). Thomson passed away in 1979. The BBC ‘Your Paintings’ site features a gallery of his work.

The Last Dragon / B2 / Japan

09.02.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Last Dragon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1985
Director
Michael Schultz
Starring
Taimak, Vanity, Christopher Murney, Julius Carry, Faith Prince, Leo O'Brien, Mike Starr, Jim Moody, Glen Eaton, Ernie Reyes Jr.
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Comedy | Drama | Music
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Seito
Size (inches)
20 5/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The Last Dragon is a martial-arts cult classic from the 1980s that (at least in the US) stands alongside films like The Goonies and Back to the Future as a defining youth-oriented film of the era. It’s definitely less well known in the UK and I think that has something to do with the fact that it was released with a ’15’ rating over here, meaning it was out of bounds for the younger audience it clearly attracted in the US (with a PG rating).

That it was rated 15 was probably to do with the video nasties situation of the time and the passing of the Video Recordings Act of 1984 that meant all home video had to be classified by the British Board of Film Classification, designated by the government as the upholders of film ratings. Martial arts films were seen as an undesirable genre as they were (stupidly) thought to have a strong potential to cause cases of copycat violence in school children across the nation. In addition to being given a 15 rating, the film had cuts made totalling almost 2 minutes for the cinema and subsequent home video releases.

To say this action by the BBFC was excessive would be an understatement as, aside from a couple of moments of profane language, the film is really quite mild, with none of the fight scenes being at all brutal. The film was produced by the founder of Motown records Berry Gordy and was intended to mix musical numbers (predominantly hip-hop) with the popular (at the time) martial arts genre. The lead role of Leroy Green (AKA Bruce Leroy), a young warrior who wishes to attain the ultimate level of martial arts skill known as ‘The Glow’, was given to the 20-year-old, single-monikered Taimak, a martial artist who apparently learned to act whilst on the set of the Last Dragon.

Leroy leaves his master on the quest to find Master Sum Dum Goy whom he believes will teach him the final lessons needed to attain The Glow. Along the way he must battle with the malevolent Sho’nuff (a hilarious performance from Julius Carry) another martial artist who sees Leroy as standing in the way of total domination, as well as deal with the machinations of the twisted video arcade mogul Eddie Arkadian (Christopher Murney). Laura Charles (Vanity, single-monikered protege of Prince) the VJ of a popular music video channel is kidnapped by Arkadian’s men in an attempt to convince her to play his girlfriend’s awful music video. Leroy sets out to rescue her and romance soon blossoms between them. He soon learns the truth about attaining The Glow and the final fight with Sho’nuff features the use of rotoscoped special effects.

The film contains a few almost full-length music videos, including the DeBarge song, ‘Rhythm of the Night‘. The fight scenes are all well choreographed and entertaining, with Taimak clearly having skills in that area (if not so much as a thespian). The excellent Last Dragon Tribute site features a recent letter from the man himself in which he explains why he’s not starred in many films since then. It’s not hard to see why the film was so popular as it played to the adolescent fantasy of many a young male teen who dreamed of using martial arts to win the heart of a girl.

This Japanese poster is rather excellent and the artwork is unique to the Japanese campaign. Seito is one of my favourite Japanese artists who was responsible for several fantastic illustrated posters during the 1970s and 1980s. Little is known about the man himself, even in his native country.

To see the other posters I’ve collected by Seito click here.

Wild At Heart / A1 / Czechoslovakia

06.02.15

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Wild At Heart
AKA
Sailor et Lula (France)
Year of Film
1990
Director
David Lynch
Starring
Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Harry Dean Stanton, Willem Dafoe, J.E. Freeman, Crispin Glover, Calvin Lockhart, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Zabriskie, Sherilyn Fenn, Marvin Kaplan, William Morgan Sheppard, David Patrick Kelly
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Czechoslovakia
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Jan Weber
Artist
Jan Weber
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33 2/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A suitably bizarre design features on this Czech poster for David Lynch’s 1990 twisted road trip Wild at Heart. Based on Barry Gifford’s 1989 novel of the same name, the film is arguably the most conventional film that Lynch has ever made, but it’s no less weird and wonderful than the rest of his output. Nicolas Cage turns in one of his career best performances as Sailor Ripley, a young man sent to jail for killing a knife-wielding attacker in North Carolina.

Upon his release, he is met by his girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern) at the prison gates and the pair decide to run away to California to escape her domineering mother Marietta (a memorable performance by Diane Ladd). Marietta is a twisted bully and totally disapproves of Sailor and Lula’s relationship. It’s revealed that she sent the knife-wielding killer after him to begin with and when they disappear she hires both a private detective and a dangerous mobster to track them down.

The lovers end up in Texas where they meet an old friend called Perdita Durango (Isabella Rossellini) who they hope will be able to help them, but also encounter the psychotic gangster Bobby Peru (a terrifying Willem Dafoe) who leads Sailor astray with terrible consequences. The film is full of Lynch’s trademark surreal sequences and shocking moments of violence, including one involving a shotgun that is hard to forget. Apparently the film tested badly upon completion and Lynch recalls that over 100 people walked out during one screening. It received a pretty mixed critical reception but it did win the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was a moderate financial success in the US and internationally.

This Czech poster was designed by Jan Weber about whom I’ve been able to discover very little, other than that he was active from the 1970s to the 1990s and mainly specialised in posters for Hollywood films being released in Czechoslovakia. The site Terry Posters has a gallery of many of his posters.

Leviathan / A1 / Germany

04.02.15

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Leviathan
AKA
--
Year of Film
1989
Director
George P. Cosmatos
Starring
Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, Hector Elizondo, Meg Foster, Eugene Lipinski
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
27.5" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Leviathan was one of multiple ‘aliens in the deep’ films released in 1989, with James Cameron’s The Abyss being by far the most successful and memorable of the lot (which also included Deep Star Six and The Evil Below). I have absolutely no idea what made Hollywood decide that underwater peril was the situation du jour at that time, but it wasn’t to last as most of the films performed badly at the box-office and made little critical impact. Only Cameron’s film would go on to gather any kind of cult following and the release of a Director’s Cut of the film certainly helped.

Leviathan is set on a deep-sea mining platform with a crew of eight, including geologist Steven Beck (Peter Weller) a new recruit brought in by the Tri-Oceanic Corp to manage the team. During a routine dive one of the crew slips, falling down a ravine and when they land they discover the wreck of a Soviet submarine called Leviathan hidden in a trench. The team manage to salvage a safe from within the ship and bring it back onto the rig.

After opening it up they discover records relating to the death of crew members of the Leviathan as well as what appears to be a bottle of Vodka. Beck and the crew doctor investigate the fate of the submarine whilst some of the other crew members decide to partake in some of the booze. Unbeknownst to them it contains an alien pathogen which causes the pair who drink it to develop severe rashes and then perish before reanimating as a hideously twisted creature (very much in the vein of the creations seen in John Carpenter’s The Thing). Although Beck and the others manage to expel the creature from the rig, part of it remains onboard and mutates into a multi-tentacled beast which stalks the rest of the crew forcing them to fight for their lives and ultimately abandon the platform.

Unfortunately the film fails to generate much in the way of horror or tension and, though the set designs are top notch, the creature effects are largely woeful, particularly the painfully obviously man in bad rubber suit final version of the creature. Weller gives it his best shot but fails to convince as a hero. According to this article the film was originally going to have more in the way of creature effects and there are clearly whole scenes missing, which all points to studio interference.

This German A1 was designed and painted by Renato Casaro, an Italian-born artist who was working prolifically on German posters during the 1970s and 1980s. I interviewed him for this site in 2013 and he talked about his work for the market:

‘You worked on many posters for the German market. Was there a reason for that?
Yes, Germany didn’t really have many posters designers and artists working during the 1970s and 1980s and I certainly didn’t have much in the way of competition. In the 1950s and 60s they had several good artists working on film posters but after that they all retired or died, so there was a gap. I was really fortunate with that whole situation because I was able to work with most of the distributors over there and I was able to choose to work on some really great projects. My work was in demand so Studio Casaro was very busy, especially in the 1980s. Even when some other markets might have been quiet, there was always a project to do for a German client.’

The poster has some similarities with the US one sheet, designed and painted by John Alvin.

Friday the 13th Part 2 / B2 / Japan

02.02.15

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Friday the 13th Part 2
AKA
L'assassino ti siede accanto [You're sitting next to the killer] (Italy)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Steve Miner
Starring
Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Warrington Gillette, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
20 5/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Following only a year after the release of the original film, Friday the 13th Part 2 stuck very close to the formula that had made the first film such a surprising box office hit. The film’s original director and producer Sean S. Cunningham decided not to return for the sequel after disagreements with studio Paramount over the direction it should take. Despite the fact that the film’s original killer had been decapitated at the end, the studio wanted to continue the same storyline, whereas Cunningham and others (including make-up maestro Tom Savini) had wanted to make the series more of an anthology with different unique storylines for each instalment. 

Steve Miner, an associate-producer on the original, was tapped to direct the sequel (he would also helm part 3) and the story was set in the same area as the first film with the action taking place at another camp on Crystal Lake along from where the original set of murders happened. The producers realised they could use the character of Jason Voorhees, the supposedly drowned son of the original killer Pamela Voorhees, as the antagonist and it’s revealed that his body was never found.

As a new set of teenagers arrive at the summer camp ahead of the influx of kids, a killer stalks and murders them one by one, in much the same fashion as the original film. The film has a similar jump-scare ending to the first but it’s fudged slightly as it’s not clear whether it was another dream or not. The character of Jason was nevertheless established as the main bad guy and the series would continue successfully for the next 25-plus years. Part 2 was a victim of the original’s success in that the MPAA were a lot more strict in terms of the gore content this time around and several scenes were cut or truncated to appease the sensors.

This Japanese B2 is a lot more interesting than the US one sheet and I’m unsure who is responsible for the art of the axe. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

The Sword and the Sorcerer / quad / UK

30.01.15

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Sword And The Sorcerer
AKA
La spada a tre lame [The sword of three blades] (Italy)
Year of Film
1982
Director
Albert Pyun
Starring
Lee Horsley, Shelley Taylor Morgan, Kathleen Beller, Simon MacCorkindale, George Maharis, Richard Lynch, Richard Moll, Anthony De Longis, Robert Tessier, Nina Van Pallandt, Anna Bjorn, Jeff Corey, Joe Regalbuto, Christina Nigra, Earl Maynard, Russ Marin
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Fantasy | Adventure
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Brian Bysouth
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
The greatest duel ever fought between deathless courage and endless evil!

The Sword and the Sorcerer is a 1982 fantasy film directed by Albert Pyun (in his debut) and was one of several entries in the genre that were released the same year, including Conan the Barbarian and The Beastmaster. Lee Horsley appears in his first film role as Prince Talon the song of a King and Queen who are slain by the evil King Cromwell (Richard Lynch) after he uses the black magic of a sorcerer named Xusia (Richard Moll) to overthrow their kingdom.

Over a decade later, Talon returns to the kingdom as a mercenary leading a band of men on a mission to help rebels overthrow Cromwell. Talon is asked to help free Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale), Cromwell’s war chancellor, who is secretly a double agent and is captured and imprisoned. His sister Alana (Kathleen Beller) begs for help from Talon and the mercenary sets out to Cromwell’s castle where the final showdown with his parents’ murderer takes place.

The film was critically derided at the time but still proved a popular box-office draw, easily recouping its relatively low budget and ending up as the most profitable independent film of 1982.

This quad was painted by the British designer and artist Brian Bysouth who I interviewed for this site in 2012, There is also a quad for Willow featuring the same artwork. Brian is one of my favourite artists and worked on multiple classic posters from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the final painted poster for a James Bond film, The Living Daylights. The other posters I’ve collected by Brian can be seen by clicking here.

This poster takes elements from both the Style A US one sheet as well as the Style B one sheet, both credited to the artist Peter Andrew Jones.