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).

Crocodile Dundee / quad / UK

04.07.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Crocodile Dundee
AKA
--
Year of Film
1986
Director
Peter Faiman
Starring
Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, David Gulpilil, Ritchie Singer, Maggie Blinco, Steve Rackman, Gerry Skilton
Origin of Film
Australia
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Comedy
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Dan Goozee
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
He's survived the most hostile and primitive land known to man. Now all he's got to do is make it through a week in New York. | There's a little of him in all of us.

This is the UK quad for the release of arguably the most famous Australian film ever released, Crocodile Dundee. The film took its inspiration from the real life exploits of an Australian hunter called Rodney Ansell who was stranded for 56 days in the remote outback with limited supplies and managed to survive and stay alive by living off the land. The film’s story sees Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski), a New York reporter, travel to Australia to try and meet Mick Dundee (a memorable turn by Paul Hogan) a legendary bushman who is reported to have lost his leg in a battle with a crocodile. What she finds is an uncouth, less than legendary figure who makes several clumsy advances towards her. She starts to warm to him as they travel into the wilderness and she witnesses first hand his survival skills, ability to interact with dangerous creatures and his ease with the native aborigines.

When Mick teases her that she’d be unable to survive on her own she sets off to prove him wrong, but is soon almost killed by a crocodile before Mick intervenes. Eventually Sue invites the bushman back to New York under the pretext of continuing the story and comedy ensues as Mick has to adjust to life in one of the busiest cities on earth. The film was made on a relatively low budget, specifically tailored for American audiences and was a runaway success at the box office and ended up as a worldwide phenomenon as the second-highest grossing film of 1986. It spawned another sequel soon afterwards and a third (forgettable) entry in 2001.

The artwork, which also featured on posters around the world, including the US one sheet, is by American poster artist Dan Goozee. An unknown UK artist is likely to have painted the extra windows on the right side to adapt the artwork to a landscape format. Goozee is perhaps best known for his work on several Bond posters, including Moonraker and Octopussy, as well as several other classic posters from the 1980s. The other designs I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Cold Souls / one sheet / USA

02.07.14

Poster Poster Poster
Title
Cold Souls
AKA
--
Year of Film
2009
Director
Sophie Barthes
Starring
Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, Lauren Ambrose, Katheryn Winnick
Origin of Film
USA | France
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Drama
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2009
Designer
And Company
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
A soul searching comedy

A striking design on this one sheet for the 2009 surrealist sci-fi comedy Cold Souls, in which Paul Giamatti stars as a fictionalised version of  himself. Written and directed by Sophie Barthes, the film focuses on Paul, an actor preparing to star in a stage adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya who is suffering from profound angst. He is finding it increasingly difficult to disassociate himself from the roles he plays and is becoming overwhelmed as a result. One day he reads about a company offering to remove your soul and put it into storage, which in theory should allow you to concentrate fully on a task without all the emotional burdens and anxieties.

After meeting the doctor responsible for the procedure Paul decides to go ahead. The operation leaves him with 5% of his soul remaining and this has negative effects on both his relationship with his wife (Emily Watson) and his acting abilities. In desperation Paul agrees to have the soul of a Russian poet implanted hoping that it will help with the play, only to find the side effects of dealing with another soul overwhelming. When he decides to have his original soul returned he discovers that it’s gone missing and has been trafficked to Russia, so Paul sets out to retrieve it with the help of Nina (Dina Korzun) a ‘soul mule’.

This one sheet was designed by the Los Angeles-based And Company, which was established in 1999 and services the entertainment, automotive and food and drink industry, with branding, apps, websites and printed material. You only need to look at their IMPAwards page to see how prolific they are in terms of film and TV print campaigns. One commenter on the poster’s IMPAwards page points out that the idea of a Russian doll style image was used by the Swiss media corporation SonntagsZeitung for their ‘Insight Story’ campaign in 2008, which means that this idea is not necessarily original, but it is nonetheless still very eye-catching.

 

Shaft in Africa / B2 / Japan

30.06.14

Poster Poster Poster
Title
Shaft in Africa
AKA
Shaft e i mercanti di schiavi [Shaft and the slave merchants] (Italy)
Year of Film
1973
Director
John Guillermin
Starring
Richard Roundtree, Frank Finlay, Vonetta McGee, Neda Arneric, Debebe Eshetu, Spiros Focás, Jacques Herlin, Jho Jhenkins
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Crime | Drama | Adventure | Blaxploitation
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1973
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the Japanese B2 for Shaft in Africa, the final entry in the trilogy of films featuring Blaxploitation hero Shaft (Richard Roundtree). This time the eponymous detective is kidnapped from his New York apartment and coerced into assuming the identity of a native-speaking itinerant worker in an African country. His ‘employer’ wants Shaft to smash a human trafficking ring, run by the dastardly Amafi (Frank Finlay), that’s bringing African workers into Europe to exploit them.

Much more of an adventure film than the previous two entries, which were pretty much entirely set in urban areas, this film was actually shot on location in Ethiopia and has less of a blaxploitation feel and more of a James Bond-style action style. Gordon Parks, the director of the previous entries, was replaced by the British director John Guillermin who would helm the box-office smash The Towering Inferno the following year.

The photo montage is unique to Japan and the US poster features excellent artwork by John Solie. The fact that the designer chose to tint Shaft blue in the image of him kissing a white woman is more than a little strange and one can only guess at the motivations behind that decision.

You can view the trailer on YouTube.

Outland / one sheet / UK

27.06.14

Poster Poster Poster
Title
Outland
AKA
Atmosfera zero (Italy) | Outland - Comando Titânio (Brazil) | Rumstation Jupiter (Denmark) | Operation Outland (Sweden)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Peter Hyams
Starring
Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen, James Sikking, Kika Markham, Clarke Peters, Steven Berkoff
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Action | Crime
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
On Jupiter's moon, something deadly is happening

One of my favourite non-James Bond roles for Sean Connery, the 1981 sci-fi thriller Outland still stands up 30 years after its release. It’s essentially a wild-west story set in space with Connery playing a space marshal based onboard a remote mining colony orbiting Jupiter’s moon Io. When he uncovers a smuggling operation of a dangerous drug on the station, he attempts to uncover who is responsible, only to find that the conspiracy reaches to the top of the mining operation. He soon finds his life under threat from a group of assassins called to the station and must use his ingenuity and knowledge of the station to stay alive.

The film was an acknowledged influence on Duncan Jones‘ superb 2009 film Moon, which I can heartily recommend. It also has one of the best posters of the past few years. I was lucky enough to see a double-bill of the two films together presented by Jones (at the Prince Charles Cinema in London) where he talked about his love for Outland and the influence it had on his directorial debut. Without spoiling things, the design of a particular space craft in Moon is a great homage to one in Outland.

This one sheet differs greatly from the UK quad but retains the tagline. It also features the same font used on the Mad Max UK one sheet.

Here’s the trailer for the film.