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Vanishing Point / B2 / Japan


Poster Poster
Vanishing Point
Year of Film
Richard C. Sarafian
Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger, Victoria Medlin, Paul Koslo, Robert Donner, Timothy Scott, Charlotte Rampling, Gilda Texter
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger, Victoria Medlin, Paul Koslo, Robert Donner, Timothy Scott, Charlotte Rampling, Gilda Texter,
Type of Poster
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS

The car’s the star on this Japanese poster for the classic 1971 road movie, Vanishing Point, starring the then unknown actor Barry Newman as the legendary delivery driver Kowalski. Tasked with driving a 1970 Dodge Challenger (R/T 440 Magnum) from Colorado to San Francisco, Kowalski accepts a bet that he can’t get the car to its destination in less than 15 hours.

After a run in with two motorcycle cops a pursuit commences and the driver does his best to stay on target and evade arrest, helped along the way by an enigmatic DJ named Super Soul (Cleavon Little). During the pursuit Kowalski meets an array of characters, including a snake-catching prospector (Dean Jagger), gun-toting gay hitchhikers and a hippie biker with a girlfriend who rides stark-naked (as featured on this poster).

There are actually two versions of the film and the one that was shown in the cinema in the UK is actually longer than the US cut, featuring an extra scene of a drug-taking hitchhiker played by British actor Charlotte Rampling. Both versions are available on the recently released blu-ray.

The film has had an undeniable cultural impact, influencing multiple other films and even musicians, with Brit group Primal Scream naming their 1997 album after the film and lead singer  Bobby Gillespie saying that, “The music in the film is hippy music, so we thought, ‘Why not record some music that really reflects the mood of the film?’ It’s always been a favourite of the band, we love the air of paranoia and speed-freak righteousness … It’s a pure underground film, rammed with claustrophobia”

Quentin Tarantino‘s half of Grindhouse, Death Proof, continually references the film and features an almost identical Dodge Charger in one of its key car chases. I hadn’t realised but there was actually a TV remake of the film made in 1997 and starring Viggo Mortensen as Kowalski.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Cotton Comes to Harlem / B2 / Japan


Poster Poster

Cotton Comes to Harlem is often considered to be one of the first films in the so-called blaxploitation sub-genre of exploitation that was popular during the 1970s. The film was the second film to be directed by the late Ossie Davis, who was one of a handful of African-American actors to achieve commercial success in films without being stereotyped in films prior to 1970. Although best known as an actor, with roles in films like The Hill (1965) and The Scalphunters (1968), Davis tried his hand at directing, starting with the little-seen Kongi’s Harvest in 1970. The same year, ‘Cotton…’ proved to be a huge hit and saw him helm two other blaxploitation pictures, with Black Girl following in 1972 and then another hit with Gordon’s War a year later.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Chester Himes and is set in the eponymous neighbourhood of Manhattan. Two detectives, Grave Digger Jones (Godfrey Cambridge, who died tragically aged 43) and Coffin Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) are assigned to investigate the apparent armed robbery of $87000 during a public rally. The gathering was being led by Reverend Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart) who is fundraising for a Back-to-Africa movement ship to be called Black Beauty. A gang of thieves wearing masks appear at the event and steal the money from an armoured truck before making off. A chase ensues and the titular bale of cotton falls from the getaway van. The detectives soon realise that the stolen money was apparently stashed inside the bale and the hunt is on after it disappears from the street. O’Malley must fend off the angry mob of locals looking for their money, as well as a jealous girlfriend (Judy Pace) and the partner who he was in cahoots with to stage the robbery.

The film was a huge hit in cinemas, grossing over $5 million on a $1 million budget and triggering a rush to produce films in a similar vein. Arguably the sub-genre’s most famous film, Shaft, would follow a year later. ‘Cotton…’ was given a sequel called Come Back, Charleston Blue in 1972, but the second film wasn’t met with as much critical or audience adulation.

This Japanese B2 is a photo montage but at least part of it is inspired by the US theatrical poster, which had been painted by the artist Robert McGinnis and can be seen here.