Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back / double bill / quad / UK

02.09.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars | Empire Strikes Back
AKA
--
Year of Film
1977 | 1980
Director
George Lucas | Irvin Kershner
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Billy Dee Williams
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi | Adventure
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
FEREF Associates
Artist
Tom Chantrell | Tom Jung
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Together... and as they should be seen ON A BIG SCREEN!

Following the unprecedented success of the original Star Wars, released in 1977 to worldwide audience acclaim, expectations were high for the sequel which was put into production a few months after its release. Three years later, The Empire Strikes Back arrived in cinemas and was met with huge audience and critical acclaim, firmly cementing the series’ place in the hearts of millions of fans across the globe. A less well-received third part of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, and a lacklustre set of prequel films failed to dampen audience enthusiasm for the franchise and a new film adventure is set to be released at the end of 2015.

To capitalise on the successful release of the films, particularly before home video was a reality, distributor 20th Century Fox decided to release a double-bill of both Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back in to cinemas towards the end of 1980. This event was repeated across the world but this British quad is unique to this country and is the result of the amalgamation of the original quads for both films, plus an extra photographic element not included on either in the figure of Jedi master Yoda, which was probably added due to the characters’ popularity.

The original Star Wars quad was designed and illustrated by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell whose dynamic and colourful work featured on hundreds of posters over a forty year period. The artist sadly passed away in 2001 but last year his widow Shirley launched his official website, which showcases his work and features a great biography written by Sim Branaghan, author of the must-own book British Film Posters. Chantrell illustrated many classic poster designs, including several Hammer posters such as the brilliant quad for ‘One Million Years B.C.’, and he was also responsible for many other pieces of iconic poster artwork. I have a number of other designs by Chantrell on this site and you can read an exclusive interview with Shirley by clicking here.

The Empire Strikes Back quad features the artwork painted for the US style B one sheetwhich was by the American artist Tom Jung, perhaps best known for his iconic ‘style A’ one sheet that he painted for the release of the original Star Wars. Jung was a prolific designer and illustrator for film campaigns from the 1950s through to the 1980s. IMPAwards features a gallery of his work and his Wikipedia article has a selected list of the posters he worked on. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Another special quad was put together for a triple-bill event after the release of Return of the Jedi, which again featured elements of the artwork from all three separate release quads. Note that this poster can be found undersized at around 28″ x 40″ and this was because several hundred copies were machine trimmed to be used in special frames on the London Underground, a fate which befell a number of posters around the end of the 1970s and early 1980s.

 

The Running Man / A1 / Germany

15.08.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Running Man
AKA
L'implacabile [The remorseless] (Italy)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Paul Michael Glaser
Starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, María Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Erland Van Lidth, Marvin J. McIntyre, Mick Fleetwood, Gus Rethwisch
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

In the mid 1980s there were few actors who could get away with having their head dominate a film poster, and fewer still who could couple that with their surname in giant letters spread across the full width of the poster. One such actor was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the star of several action flicks including The Running Man. Set in the dystopian future of 2017 where the world’s economy is in ruins and America is a totalitarian police state, the populace is pacified by the broadcasting of a series of gameshows that see convicted prisoners fighting for their lives across various kinds of formats. The most popular of these shows is the titular Running Man in which the unwilling participants must try to survive in a closed-off area against an onslaught of vicious killers with catchy names and different methods of dispatching their prey.

Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is a former police helicopter pilot who was wrongly convicted of massacring a crowd of people and sent to prison. After escaping several months later with a pair of fellow convicts, Richards is preparing to flee the country but is turned into the authorities by Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), a composer for the network that he finds living in his brother’s apartment. He is taken to the Running Man studio where he meets the ruthless show host Damon Killian (a memorable turn by the late Richard Dawson) who informs him that unless he takes part in the show his two friends will be sent in his place. After agreeing to get dropped into the play zone, Richards finds that Killian has tricked him and has also sent his pals into the arena. The trio must face-off against the killers whilst trying to work out how to escape the arena and put an end to the show once and for all. When Amber looks a little too closely at the reasons for Ben Richards’ incarceration, she too is captured and dropped into the Running Man arena (she’s pictured next to Arnie on this quad).

Ably directed by Paul Michael Glaser, best known for his acting career – he was Starsky in the classic 1970s cop show Starsky and Hutch – the film is well paced and features several memorable scenes, whilst not holding back on the the violence and gore. The bad guy killers, including Sub Zero, Fireball and Captain Freedom and particularly memorable. It’s definitely a highlight of the Austrian Oak’s filmography, although it was released the same year as the incredible Predator, which is unquestionably the better film.

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 artist can be seen by clicking here.

Platoon / one sheet / USA

13.08.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Platoon
AKA
--
Year of Film
1987
Director
Oliver Stone
Starring
Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Richard Edson, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Drama | War
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Final
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Bill Gold
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
860115
Tagline
The first casualty of war is innocence

An iconic image on this one sheet for the release of Oliver Stone‘s Academy Award-winning Vietnam war classic, Platoon, one of a three films that the director made on the subject (the others being Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). The script, which was written by Stone, is based on his own experiences as an infantryman who served in tours of duty during the Vietnam war. He had signed up in 1967 after dropping out of Yale University and specifically requested to see combat in the war that had seen the first ground troops sent to the country two years earlier. Stone served in two different divisions for over a year and was wounded twice,  receiving several medals, including a Purple Heart.

The film follows Charlie Sheen‘s army grunt Chris Taylor (a proxy for Stone) who is serving as part of Bravo Company, 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian Border. Taylor is fresh into the field and is treated with disdain by the more experienced soldiers (an incredible ensemble of acting talent, including Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Keith David and Forest Whitaker) who have all been in country for months, and he is quickly made aware that his presence is inconsequential. After a few skirmishes in which some members of the division are killed, Taylor is eventually accepted into the group and discovers the grinding boredom and rampant drug use amongst his fellow soldiers. Tensions between two sergeants, the ill-tempered, battle-scarred Barnes (Berenger) and the pleasant, more reasonable Elias (Dafoe) reach breaking point following an incident involving innocent villagers. Upon returning to base, the issue of a court-martial for illegal killing is raised and when the division is sent out on their next patrol, things reach boiling point, leaving Taylor fighting to survive against the enemy as well as members of his own team.

This one sheet was designed by the great Bill Gold who is best known for his working relationship with Clint Eastwood that has lasted over four decades. He worked on the iconic one sheet for Dirty Harry and went on to design the American poster for every Eastwood film since, which includes the brilliant one for Clint’s last Western,Unforgiven (1992). Gold has also designed posters for some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, including the likes of Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, with artwork by Philip Castle) and Alfred Hitchcock (Dial M For Murder).

Born in New York City in 1921, Gold studied illustration and design at the Pratt Institute before starting his professional design career in 1941 in the publicity department for Warner Brothers. One of his earliest designs was for the classic Humphrey Bogart filmCasablanca and within a few years he went on to become the head of the studio’s poster department. In 1962 he started Bill Gold Advertising in New York and then spent the next four decades creating hundreds of memorable poster designs and collaborating with some of the best illustrators in the business, including the brilliant Bob Peak.

Gold started to design less posters towards the end of the 1990s, with only a handful of posters for Eastwood films being credited to him. His last poster was for the 2011 film J. Edgar (directed by Eastwood), which Gold agreed to work on after an unsuccessful period of retirement following the poster he worked on for Mystic River in 2003. He continues to live in Upstate New York and in 2011 a book was released to coincide with his 90th birthday called Bill Gold Posterworks, which features 450 pages worth of his incredible designs and details his creative process. Unfortunately, it has an eye-watering price tag that has prevented me picking a copy up but I hope that one day a more affordable version will be released.

Return Of The Jedi / B2 / Sano style / Japan

11.08.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
Return Of The Jedi
AKA
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (full title) | Blue Harvest (USA - fake working title) | Revenge of the Jedi (USA - working title)
Year of Film
1983
Director
Richard Marquand
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Ian McDiarmid
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Sano
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Kazuhiko Sano
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

This is one of four B2 posters printed for the original Japanese release of Return of the Jedi in 1983. Although ROTJ, the third in the original trilogy of Star Wars films, was often maligned by fans who complained it was a weak end to the series and derided for featuring the child-friendly Ewoks, all was forgiven with the release of the 1999′s The Phantom Menace and its ‘galactic trade disputes’ and the risible Jar-Jar Binks. Now, although certainly not as highly acclaimed as the original 1977 film or the classic The Empire Strikes Back, ROTJ is still beloved by fans of the series. In 2015, director JJ Abrams will release Episode VIIinto cinemas, mooted as a direct sequel to this film and much anticipated by fans worldwide. JJ is seen as a much safer pair of hands than George Lucas after his shepherding of a well-received reboot of the Star Trek franchise.

Even if the Ewoks are loved and hated in equal measure, ROTJ still features many memorable, fan favourite characters, locations and scenes, including the attempted rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hut’s palace leading to a memorable showdown above a Sarlacc pit monster (which features the ignominious exit of fan favourite Boba Fett). Later the film sees the passing of Yoda along with more revelations about the Skywalker family, and an excellent scene that sees Luke Skywalker confront the evil Emperor Palpatine with Vader standing by. Meanwhile, the Ewoks (essentially child-sized teddy bears) join forces to defeat the ground forces of the Empire on the surface of the planet Endor.

The artwork on this poster was painted by the late Japanese-American artist Kazuhiko Sano and also appeared on a US one sheet and multiple other posters around the world. As detailed in the notes for the one sheet, I discovered the following information about the artwork from an ebay auction description:

‘The art is by Kazuhiko (Kazo) Sano. The art direction and design were by Christopher Werner. There was some resizing of Lando’s head on this poster, which needed to match the general size of the other actors. Because Sano was in Japan when this decision was made, they had another artist come in to do it. This retouch artist may have been Vincent Malizia, an airbrush artist in Los Angeles. I have an old newspaper clipping with him standing in front of the Jedi B poster and a caption that reads he was an airbrush artist for this poster.’

Kazuhiko Sano was born in Toyko in 1952 and studied oil painting before moving to Los Angeles in 1975 and majoring in illustration at the Academy of Art College. He graduated in 1980 with a Master in Fine Art qualification and soon began working in commercial illustration, working on book covers, editorial illustrations and film posters for a whole range of internationally famous clients. He also returned to the Academy of Art College in 1986 to teach and worked there until his death in 2011. Unquestionably his most famous film poster work was this one for Return of the Jedi but there are a handful of others too. His official site can be viewed here.

The Philadelphia Experiment / quad / UK

08.08.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Philadelphia Experiment
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Stewart Raffill
Starring
Michael Paré, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco, Louise Latham, Kene Holliday, Joe Dorsey, Michael Currie, Stephen Tobolowsky
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Adventure | Biography | Drama | Fantasy | Romance | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Brian Bysouth
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The terrifying story of an experiment that went wrong. | They opened a whole in time. Now there is no going back.

Unique artwork features on this British quad for the release of the science-fiction film The Philadelphia Experiment. Based on the urban legend of the same name in which the US Navy was said to have temporarily rendered one of its destroyer escorts, the USS Eldridge, invisible (or rather cloaked) to the naked eye in October 1943. The experiment has never been validated, despite investigations (most famously by an astronomer and researcher called Morris Jessup) and several unverified accounts of the events.

The film takes the experiment as the basis for a story in which two sailors aboard the ship, David Herdeg (Michael Paré) and Jim Parker (Bobby Di Cicco), are transported through time during the 1943 experiment and end up in 1984. A scientist called Dr Longstreet (Eric Christmas) tried to use the same experiment in 1984 to protect a town in Nevada from a missile attack. The plan backfired, causing the town to disappear, David and Jim to be sucked through time and a black hole opens up at the site of the town. David agrees to help the scientist close the vortex before it destroys the planet.

This quad was created by the British designer and artist Brian Bysouth who I interviewed for this site in 2012. He 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.

The Silent Flute / B2 / Japan

06.08.14

Poster Poster Poster Poster
Title
The Silent Flute
AKA
Circle of Iron (US/UK)
Year of Film
1978
Director
Richard Moore
Starring
David Carradine, Jeff Cooper, Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach, Anthony De Longis, Earl Maynard, Erica Creer
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1979
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Seito
Size (inches)
20 5/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A colourful illustration by the artist known as Seito on this Japanese poster for the release of The Silent Flute (released in many countries as Cross of Iron), a strange cult oddity from the end of the 1970s. Originally conceived by Bruce LeeJames Coburn, and Stirling Silliphant at the end of the 1960s, the film was intended to be an introduction to Eastern philosophy and martial arts, but the project floundered following Lee’s untimely death. Silliphant and screenwriter Stanley Mann completed the screenplay in the mid-1970s and the rights were acquired by legendary actor David Carradine, at that time famous as the star of the TV series Kung Fu.

Carradine appears in the film in four roles that were originally intended for Bruce Lee but the lead character of Cord, a poodle-haired warrior, was played by the Canadian ‘actor’ Jeff Cooper, who somehow manages to get upstaged by his own abdominal muscles. To say he’s the weak link in the film would be an understatement and it’s literally impossible to take him seriously as the supposedly determined and proud hero who sets out on quest to find a wizard called Thetan and discover what is so important about the mysterious book he is said to protect. Almost all of Cord’s lines are uttered with a shit-eating grin and he has one of the most unintentionally hilarious laughs I’ve ever heard.

It doesn’t help that the script is at times impenetrable cod-philosophical twaddle, which was clearly meant to be profound but must have left most audiences expecting some martial arts action scratching their heads in confusion. One can only speculate that some of the ‘teachings’ were hangovers from the original script versions overseen by Bruce Lee, and you can’t help but wonder if he’d been partaking in a little bit too much Mary Jane at the time. Carradine is at least entertaining enough in his various roles, although he sports some questionable attire, terrible monkey make-up and a spectacularly bad moustache. Not even the appearance of Christopher Lee as Thetan can save the film since he seems to be wearing a costume better suited for a character from the Moomins. He he was clearly in it for the bottom line.

Whilst the film isn’t much cop, 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.