You Searched For: Crime

I, the Jury / one sheet / USA

05.05.16

Poster Poster
Title
I, the Jury
AKA
--
Year of Film
1982
Director
Richard T. Heffron
Starring
Armand Assante, Barbara Carrera, Laurene Landon, Alan King, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul Sorvino, Judson Scott, Barry Snider
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Armand Assante, Barbara Carrera, Laurene Landon, Alan King, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul Sorvino, Judson Scott, Barry Snider,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
He's charming, he's sexy, he's tough, and he's too hot to cool down. He's "The Hammer."

Artwork by the great Drew Struzan features on this one sheet for the release of the 1982 crime drama I, the Jury. Based on a novel of the same name by the late American author Mickey Spillane the story was previously brought to the screen in 1953 (and in 3D to boot). This version features several story elements that aren’t in the original novel.

The screenplay was written by B-movie legend Larry Cohen who was original set to direct but left the production after one week of filming when it became clear that the budget was already out of control. Cohen is the writer and director of films like Q: The Winged Serpent and The Stuff but has concentrated on screenwriting during the 1980s and 2000s. Cohen was replaced by Richard T. Heffron, perhaps best known for helming Futureworld, the sequel to Westworld.

Armand Assante plays detective Mike Hammer who discovers an old detective buddy of his, Jack Williams, has been shot and killed and he sets out to catch who was responsible. The trail leads him to a secretive sex therapy clinic that’s headed up by Dr Bennett (Barbara Carrera). Hammer discovers that Jack was on an undercover mission in the clinic and that’s what cost him his life. Before long the detective realises that he’s uncovered a conspiracy involving a rogue element of the CIA and the New York mafia who will both stop at nothing to keep their secret under wraps. 

Drew Struzan is an artist who barely needs an introduction given that he painted many of the most iconic film posters of all time, including several for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and a slew of other beloved classics like The Thing and The Goonies. The artist’s own site features 4 pages of his work for films and Drew also worked in other areas, including product marketing, book and magazine covers, editorial and multiple paintings as a fine artist. Drew declared that he’d retired in 2008 but has worked on a handful of special paintings since then, including one to announce the most recent Star Wars film in 2015.

To see a gallery of the other posters by Drew that I’ve collected click here.

Looper / screen print / regular / Martin Ansin / USA

08.07.16

Poster Poster

A striking design by the artist Martin Ansin features on this official screen print for the 2012 sci-fi film Looper. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, creator of the superb ‘Brick’ (2005), the film is a futuristic, somewhat dystopian crime-drama based around the theme of time travel. Looper is set in both 2044 and 2074 and stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the same character from each era, with the latter made to look uncannily like the former thanks to the skills of makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji. The audience learns that time-travel was invented in 2074 but then immediately outlawed. Because the tracking of individuals is so advanced and accurate, enterprising criminal gangs begin using the technology to dispose of victims they want disappeared.

These individuals are sent back in time 30 years and killed by the titular loopers who are paid in silver bars strapped to the victims. Eventually, however, all loopers must accept that they too are sent back in time to be killed by their younger selves. They are sent with reward of a packet of gold bars strapped to them and this moment known as ‘closing the loop’, is intended to stop the future authorities seeing a link to the use of time-travel. Young Joe (Gordon-Levitt) discovers that his flat-mate Seth (Paul Dano) failed to close his own loop because his older self warned him of a mysterious figure in the future known as the Rainmaker who has begun to overthrow the crime bosses and is murdering each of the loopers one by one. Joe reluctantly agrees to help his crime boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) track down Seth and close the loop.

One day Joe comes face to face with his older self and the older Joe (Willis) manages to overpower his younger self and he escapes. Older Joe is determined to kill the Rainmaker when he was just a child and young Joe discovers the target is a young child called Cid (Pierce Gagnon) who lives on a remote farm with his mother Sara (Emily Blunt). Sara confides that Cid has advanced telekinetic powers and that the young boy is barely able to control them when he gets angry. Soon, Abe’s henchmen come looking for young Joe and he must try to survive whilst also protecting Cid from older Joe and attempting to stop him from fulfilling his destiny as the Rainmaker.

Johnson also introduces an alternative timeline in which young Joe kills his older self before he can escape but then shows how the timelines are then ingeniously linked together. The film was met with great critical acclaim and performed brilliantly at the box-office, with takings several times the original production cost. Some recent reviews on IMDb have been pretty brutal and unforgiving of what are perceived to be plot holes focused around the time travel concepts, but the director himself has since explained that the film was never intended to get too focused on the technicalities of how it works:

‘Even though it’s a time-travel movie, the pleasure of it doesn’t come from the mass of time travel. It’s not a film like Primer, for instance, where the big part of the enjoyment is kind of working out all the intricacies of it. For Looper, I very much wanted it to be a more character-based movie that is more about how these characters dealt with the situation time travel has brought about.’

This screen print was commissioned by the limited edition poster outfit Mondo for a screening of the film at the 2012 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. It was created by the talented Uruguayan designer and artist Martin Ansin, whose work has graced many of the best posters released by Mondo, including several in the Universal Monsters series, like this amazing Phantom of the Opera one. This design for Looper cleverly captures the time travel concepts and the two versions of the lead character.  The artist also worked on a variant of the poster that features a silver colourway.

The other posters I’ve collected by Ansin can be seen here. His official website is well worth a browse.

St. Ives / 30×40 / USA

08.02.13

Poster Poster
Title
St. Ives
AKA
Candidato all'obitorio [Candidate at the morgue] (Italy)
Year of Film
1976
Director
J. Lee Thompson
Starring
Charles Bronson, John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, Maximilian Schell, Harry Guardino, Harris Yulin, Dana Elcar, Michael Lerner
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charles Bronson, John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, Maximilian Schell, Harry Guardino, Harris Yulin, Dana Elcar, Michael Lerner,
Type of Poster
30x40
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1976
Designer
Unknown
Artist
M. Daily
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
76/151
Tagline
Charles Bronson is Ray St. Ives | He's clean. He's mean. He's the go-between.

An excellent, stylised portrait of legendary actor Charles Bronson and the gorgeous English actress Jacqueline Bisset on this 30×40 for the US release of St Ives. Bronson stars as Raymond St. Ives, a former crime reporter and struggling author who is hired by a wealthy eccentric named Abner Procane (John Houseman) to help him secure the return of some important ledgers that were stolen from his mansion. After several unsuccessful attempts to recover them, he eventually gets his hands on the documents but then discovers that a few important pages are missing. He must then team up with Procane and his femme-fatale protege, Janet Whistler (Bisset), to track down the missing pages and St. Ives winds up caught up in a criminal plot that he didn’t see coming.

The film was the first of eight subsequent collaborations between British director J. Lee Thompson and Bronson, which included the likes of The White Buffalo (1977) and 10 to Midnight (1983).

I’m unsure who is responsible for the artwork on this poster, despite extensive searches, so if you have any ideas please leave a comment or send me an email.

Ichi the Killer / B2 / style A / Japan

08.02.16

Poster Poster
Title
Ichi the Killer
AKA
Koroshiya 1 (Japan - English title - means 'Hitman')
Year of Film
2001
Director
Takashi Miike
Starring
Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Toru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Tadanobu Asano, Nao Ômori, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Paulyn Sun, Susumu Terajima, Shun Sugata, Toru Tezuka, Yoshiki Arizono, Kiyohiko Shibukawa,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Style A
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
--

This is one of two styles of Japanese B2 posters printed for the release of director Takashi Miike‘s controversial 2001 film Ichi the Killer. A notably prolific director, Miike released 6 other films in the same year as Ichi alone, although it would be this one that would gain the most international notoriety. Based on the manga series of the same name by Hideo Yamamoto, the film focuses on the machinations of rival yakuza gangs within a crime syndicate and their interaction with Ichi (Nao Ômori), a shy and seemingly meek loner with a very dark side.

The film begins with the supposed disappearance of the gang boss Anjo, who vanishes from his apartment with millions of Yen, much to the confusion of his men. The audience sees the bloody aftermath of the fate that Anjo suffered at the hands of Ichi but a clean up crew led by Jijii (Shin’ya Tsukamoto) returns his apartment to a spotless state before his henchmen, led by the sadistic Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) arrives.

The hunt for Anjo begins and Kakihara wastes no time in kidnapping a rival gang leader, Suzuki (Susumu Terajima) and hangs him from meat hooks to try and get him to confess. When it becomes clear he’s got the wrong culprit, Kakihara is forced to apologise and then cuts off his own tongue as a punishment. After being kicked out of the syndicate, the gang continues to hunt for Anjo. The audience learns that Jijii has been psychologically manipulating Ichi for years and has trained him in preparation to be used as a kind of weapon against whoever he decides to target. Suzuki has offered Jijii a large sum of money to take out Kakihara and his gang in revenge for their earlier attack and they must hunt for Ichi before he can get to them first.

It’s fair to say that, in true Miike style, the film doesn’t shy away from violence and sadistic torture and there are some truly brutal sequences. It’s not hard to see why it attracted controversy and was even banned outright in a few countries soon after its release. Despite some very ropey CGI there are several scenes that still shock today and Miike uses editing and sound design to great effect.

This poster, which I’ve named ‘Style A’ features the standout character of Kakihara (here with the number 1 seen on the back of Ichi’s killer’s outfit projected onto his face). The other style also features Kakihara but in a very different situation.

Leon / B2 / Japan

11.03.13

Poster Poster
Title
Leon
AKA
Léon (France - original title) | The Professional (USA)
Year of Film
1994
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech
Origin of Film
France
Genre(s) of Film
Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Willi One Blood, Don Creech,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1995
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unique artwork on this poster for the Japanese release of French director Luc Besson‘s classic ‘hitman with a heart’ film, Leon (AKA The Professional in the US). The film reunited Besson with his  regular collaborator Jean Reno (he was one of the leads in Besson’s The Big Blue, amongst other roles), who’s superb as the titular assassin wrestling with his strict code of ethics after he witnesses the massacre of a family that leaves one survivor, a twelve-year-old girl called Mathilda (Natalie Portman in a breakout role). The perpetrator is the psychotic, corrupt policeman Stansfield, played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, and Leon decides to take Mathilda under his wing to protect her, but Mathilda wants revenge and Stansfield will stop at nothing to track down the witness to his heinous crime.

This Japanese B2 actually features a still from the director’s cut of the film. Japan was one of the only countries in the world (including France) to see a theatrical release of the so-called ‘Version Integrale’, or International cut, of the film that adds 26 minutes of extra footage – the poster for that release can be seen here. I also have the UK quad and the American one sheet.

Best Seller / one sheet / USA

10.11.15

Poster Poster
Title
Best Seller
AKA
Bestseller (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1987
Director
John Flynn
Starring
James Woods, Brian Dennehy, Victoria Tennant, Allison Balson, Paul Shenar, George Coe, Anne Pitoniak, Mary Carver, Sully Boyar
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Woods, Brian Dennehy, Victoria Tennant, Allison Balson, Paul Shenar, George Coe, Anne Pitoniak, Mary Carver, Sully Boyar,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
870069
Tagline
If words could kill...

A great photograph of James Woods looking his devilish best alongside Brian Dennehy on this US one sheet for the 1987 crime film Best Seller. Directed by the late John Flynn (Rolling Thunder) and written by the prolific Larry Cohen, the film stars Dennehy as Dennis Meechum, a police officer who is wounded during an attempted robbery on an evidence locker in 1972. He writes a memoir of his experience which is published to great success. Years later he is shown to be struggling with writer’s block whilst raising his daughter alone after being made a widower.

During a research visit to a court room, one of the suspects escapes the court and Meechum chases after him along with a man called Cleve (Woods). The suspect nearly kills Meechum but Cleve intervenes, shooting the suspect before disappearing. Later Cleve meets with Meechum and trues to persuade him to write a new book about his work as a hitman for a shadowy company called Kappa International. The pair travel around the country gathering proof of the hits that Cleve carried out, but David Madlock (Paul Shenar), Kappa’s founder, understandably wants to keep this sordid history under wraps and the pair are soon in grave danger. Madlock even goes after Meechum’s daughter and the stage is set for a final showdown.

I’m unsure who designed this one sheet so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

Cotton Club / A1 / Czechoslovakia

25.01.16

Poster Poster
Title
The Cotton Club
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Francis Ford Coppola
Starring
Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Czechoslovakia
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Jan Weber
Artist
Jan Weber
Size (inches)
22 12/16" x 32.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the poster for the Czech release of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 crime-drama/musical The Cotton Club. Legendary producer Robert Evans had originally planned to direct the film and the initial story and screenplay had been written by Mario ‘The Godfather’ Puzo, but Evans had a last-minute change of heart and asked Coppola to step in. Puzo’s script was apparently re-written by the author William Kennedy who ended up writing multiple drafts and ended up with a shared screenplay credit along with Coppola. Production was apparently beset with problems, including a spiralling budget that was provided by various parties including Las Vegas casino owners, an Arab arms dealer and a vaudeville performer. In typical fashion, Evans was determined to make the film as extravagant as possible and constructed ‘no expense spared’ sets, hiring some of the best technicians in the business at eye-watering figures.

Another likely reason that filming costs ballooned is the impressive ensemble cast that Evans and the studio were able to hire, which included the likes of Richard GereDiane LaneBob Hoskins and Gregory Hines. Loosely based on the real club of the same name that was located in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood, the story follows the machinations of various characters involved with the club in the 1930s, including Gere’s musician Dixie Dwyer whose dealings with the mobster owner of the club Owney Madden (Hoskins) sees him advance his career as an actor whilst having an affair with the girlfriend of the local kingpin, Dutch Schultz (James Remar). The film also follows Sandman Williams (Hines) a local dancer who falls for the club’s star performer Lila Rose Dwyer (Lonette McKee). Nicolas Cage appears as Dixie’s violent, racist brother Vincent who joins Schultz’s gang.

The film features several musical sequences and is soundtracked by several of the most popular jazz tunes of the era. Sadly, Coppola and Evans clashed regularly during the production and at a certain point the director apparently barred the producer from visiting the set. The Cotton Club was declared a flop when it opened in fourth place at the box-office and would eventually go on to recoup less than half of its reported budget of just under $60 million. Despite tepid critical reception the film was nevertheless nominated for several awards (only winning for Best Costumes at the BAFTAs). The film has something of a cult following today, with many fans speaking highly of the film’s production values and well-staged musical numbers. Rumours of a director’s cut release were ignited last year when Coppola declared that a restoration was in the works, reinstating several musical sequences that were apparently cut for its initial release.

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.

I Saw the Devil / one sheet / style B / USA

17.04.13

Poster Poster
Title
I Saw the Devil
AKA
Akmareul boatda (South Korea - original title)
Year of Film
2010
Director
Jee-woon Kim
Starring
Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Gook-hwan Jeon, Ho-jin Jeon, San-ha Oh, Yoon-seo Kim
Origin of Film
South Korea
Genre(s) of Film
Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Gook-hwan Jeon, Ho-jin Jeon, San-ha Oh, Yoon-seo Kim,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style B
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2011
Designer
Gravillis Inc.
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Abandon all compassion

Not one for the faint of heart, Jee-woon Kim‘s I Saw the Devil is further proof that some of the most exciting, visceral and challenging cinema continues to come out of South Korea. The film sees a serial killer, played by Min-sik Choi (Oldboy), enter into a brutal game of cat and mouse with a secret agent (Byung-hun Lee ) after killing his pregnant fiance. To say it features some disturbing scenes would be an understatement – this is not a date movie! It’s still a must see for fans of crime thrillers and Korean cinema and if you enjoyed Chan-wook Park‘s Vengeance Trilogy you need to see this film.

This simple but effective one sheet was designed by Gravillis Inc. for the limited release in the US in 2011. There is also a style A one sheet which is markedly different but just as good, in my opinion.

The trailer is on YouTube.

Black Eye / 30×40 / USA

22.04.13

Poster Poster
Title
Black Eye
AKA
--
Year of Film
1974
Director
Jack Arnold
Starring
Fred Williamson, Rosemary Forsyth, Teresa Graves, Floy Dean, Richard Anderson, Cyril Delevanti, Richard X. Slattery, Larry D. Mann, Bret Morrison, Frank Ashmore
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Fred Williamson, Rosemary Forsyth, Teresa Graves, Floy Dean, Richard Anderson, Cyril Delevanti, Richard X. Slattery, Larry D. Mann, Bret Morrison, Frank Ashmore,
Type of Poster
30x40
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
74/1
Tagline
Whenever the cane turns up, someone turns up dead. | Black Eye knows why.

A striking design on this poster for the 1974 blaxploitation crime caper Black Eye, starring genre favourite Fred Williamson as Stone, a Los Angeles private-eye. Following a film star’s funeral, a signature cane is stolen from their house and Stone discovers that the item is connected to a string of grisly murders. His investigation sees him visiting an adult movie set, as well as getting involved with a drug ring and a religious cult, all the time dealing with the machinations of his bisexual girlfriend (played by Teresa Graves).

The film was directed by Jack Arnold who is best known for helming a series of iconic horror and sci-fi films during the 1950s, including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), It Came from Outer Space (1953) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957).

A couple of original TV spots for the film are available to watch on YouTube.

Assault on Precinct 13 / quad / UK

27.01.14

Poster Poster

Director John Carpenter followed his debut sci-fi film Dark Star (1974) with the action thriller Assault on Precinct 13. Carpenter had originally hoped to create a Howard Hawks style western, but when the $100k budget organised by his producer friends Joseph Kaufman and J. Stein Kaplan prohibited the kinds of sets and production design needed, he retooled the script to work in a modern day setting. With strong echoes of Hawks’ Rio Bravo, Carpenter completed his script in just eight days and peppered it with multiple references to classic westerns.

Taking place over the course of one Saturday (a number of time and location cards are displayed throughout) the story is set in a crime-infested Los Angeles ghetto and begins at 3.00am as six members of a gang called Street Thunder are ambushed and killed by the LAPD. Soon afterwards the warlords of the gang swear a blood oath of revenge against the whole city. Later that day, Lieutenant Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) arrives at the local Anderson police precinct in order to help the remaining skeleton staff, including Captain Chaney (Henry Brandon) and two secretaries, close the building for good.

A bus carrying three convicts, including Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston), makes an unscheduled stop at the precinct seeking medical help for one of the men. At the same time across town, a gang of the warlords shoot and kill a young girl and an ice cream seller (a shocking sequence that Carpenter almost had to remove at the request of the MPAA) and the girl’s father, Lawson (Martin West) immediately retaliates and kills one of the warlords. The rest of the gang chases Lawson through the streets and into the Anderson police precinct. Before they know it, the inhabitants of the station are under assault from the gang and must fight for their very survival.

The film failed to make much impact in terms of box office takings or critical reception on its original American release in 1976, but when the film was shown at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival it received very favourable reviews from several critics, particularly those from Britain. After being invited to show the film at the 1977 London Film Festival, Carpenter was delighted by the positive critical and audience reaction. Derek Malcolm, the then film critic of the Guardian newspaper (whose quote graces this poster), reported that the film’s screening was greeted with deafening applause. On the back of the strong reception, Michael Myers (a Carpenter coincidence!), the head of Miracle Films, purchased the British distribution rights. This quad was printed for the film’s UK release and features a stylised title laid over the top of an image from the scene in which one of the convicts attempts to escape through the sewers. The ‘award-winning’ line refers to the fact that Carpenter won the 1978 annual British Film Institute award for the “originality and achievement of his first two films”, Dark Star and Assault, at the 1977 London Film Festival.

Violent Streets / one sheet / international

06.10.14

Poster Poster
Title
Violent Streets
AKA
Thief (USA)
Year of Film
1981
Director
Michael Mann
Starring
James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky, Tom Signorelli, Dennis Farina, Nick Nickeas
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky, Tom Signorelli, Dennis Farina, Nick Nickeas,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Cheat him, and he'll BLOW YOU AWAY!

Ace director Michael Mann‘s debut film was released as Violent Streets in the UK and in several other countries (it was originally filmed with that title) but is now better known as Thief. Starring James Caan, in arguably his best role outside of The Godfather, it’s a neo-noir crime caper featuring the ‘one last job’ plot device. Frank (Caan) is an expert safecracker, jewel thief and hardened ex-con who works with a small, close-knit team of thieves on high-end robberies that are planned to an exacting degree.

After a run in with the Chicago mob Frank agrees to do one last big heist that will allow him to follow his dream of getting out of the game to spend time with his new wife Jessie (Tuesday Weld). It quickly becomes clear that getting out isn’t as easy as Frank hoped and, as the caper escalates, his usual wariness and mistrust is set aside, which puts his very life at risk.

This one sheet was printed in the USA for use in international English-speaking countries and features a unique design not seen on any other poster for the film. The rain-soaked street scene is very evocative of the film itself and I believe the figure of James Caan is actually a photograph that has been touched-up with paint (check out the close-ups). The American one sheet is markedly different and features stylised artwork of Caan and the UK quad can be seen here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

The Usual Suspects / B2 / Japan

01.10.14

Poster Poster

About to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects continues to sit at the top of many film fans’ lists of best crime thrillers and has been in the IMDb top 25 of all time (currently 23) since its release. Having won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival with his debut film, Public Access, Singer once again collaborated with high school friend and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie with the spark of the story coming from the title of an article in the satirical Spy magazine which the director had read. The idea of a bunch of criminals meeting in a police line-up and embarking on a new job came to Singer and the visual motif for the poster was one of the first concepts he and McQuarrie had, with the director asking “What would possibly bring these five felons together in one line-up?”

Actor Kevin Spacey had seen Public Access at Sundance and told Singer that he wanted to be involved in whatever his next project was so when the screenplay, which went through several rewrites, eventually attracted financing from a European company Spacey was cast as Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint. With a complex narrative structure, the film starts in the aftermath of a deadly attack on a container ship in San Pedro Bay which has left 27 people dead and two survivors, a badly burned Hungarian criminal and small-time con-artist Verbal Kint.

During questioning by a US customs agent, Kint explains how the massacre was the culmination of a series of events that began with a police line-up of ‘the usual suspects’ (Spacey, Gabriel ByrneBenicio Del ToroStephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollak) a ragtag bunch of criminals and followed their interactions with an underworld legend known as Keyser Söze. The film ends with one of the greatest twists in the history of cinema.

This is the Japanese B2 which features the same line-up shot seen on the UK quad and the international one sheet, but there were barely any posters for the film that didn’t feature the image in some form.

10 To Midnight / quad / artwork style / UK

25.04.12

Poster Poster
Title
10 To Midnight
AKA
Bloody Sunday (original script title)
Year of Film
1983
Director
J. Lee Thompson
Starring
Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Wilford Brimley,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Artwork style
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Rosslyn
Size (inches)
30 2/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Back in town... with a vengeance!

J. Lee Thompson‘s 10 to Midnight is often called a cross-genre film since it mixes elements of police thrillers with scenes typically seen in slasher films. Charles Bronson stars as Leo Kessler a detective on the hunt for a crazed killer who stabs female college students to death after they reject his advances. The murderer, played by Gene Davis (his IMDb pic is a still from this film), always strips naked to carry out his crime and thus leaves no evidence behind. Eventually Kessler goes against his partner’s advice and plants evidence to frame the killer, but when this ruse is discovered the killer is released and executes his revenge against the detective.

The film is apparently based on the crimes of two real-life serial killers, Richard Speck and Ted Bundy, and the screenplay was originally called Bloody Sunday before being renamed to its current title, which is totally unconnected to the plot.

The film was produced and released by Cannon Films, the legendary production house responsible for a slew of low-budget films throughout the 1980s. Unusually, 10 to Midnight was given two quad posters to promote it; this one featuring artwork and a photographic style, which I also have in the collection and can be seen here. I’m not sure why there were two designs released, but it may be that this artwork style came first and then the photo one was designed for other areas of the UK? The film was released around the time when illustrations were being used less and less as distributors decided that audiences no longer trusted posters (and video sleeves) with artwork, so that might have something to do with it.

I’m also unsure who is responsible for the artwork but there is the word Rosslyn visible as a neon sign in the background street scene so that might be the surname of the illustrator. I’m a fan of the way the knifeman is pointing out the time with his arms.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

99 and 44/100% Dead / 30×40 / USA

12.12.11

Poster Poster
Title
99 and 44/100% Dead
AKA
Call Harry Crown (re-title)
Year of Film
1974
Director
John Frankenheimer
Starring
Richard Harris, Edmond O'Brien, Bradford Dillman, Ann Turkel, Constance Ford, Zooey Hall, Kathrine Baumann, Janice Heiden, Max Kleven
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Richard Harris, Edmond O'Brien, Bradford Dillman, Ann Turkel, Constance Ford, Zooey Hall, Kathrine Baumann, Janice Heiden, Max Kleven,
Type of Poster
30x40
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Bill Gold
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
74/187
Tagline
Everyone is dying to meet Harry Crown.

I’ll admit to not having seen John Frankenheimer’s film about a war between two rival crime gangs and the hitman (the late Richard Harris) who is caught between them. From reading various reviews and articles online it seems like the film is trapped between genres; it was intended as a black comedy but apparently features many scenes of over-the-top violence and the humour often falls flat. This quote from an IMDb review gives you some idea:

The substandard mafia plot sits second tier to the film’s sporadic comedy spoofing and mugging, much of what both fails and succeeds simultaneously at the hands of its dramatic director who must have been at the peek of his well publicized cocaine binge.

It certainly sounds like an interesting film (one reviewer describes it as a ‘beautiful mistake’) and I intend to check it out soon because Shout Factory, a US DVD label, are releasing the film in a double-bill with another 1974 film The Nickel Ride this week.

The title is definitely an odd one and is apparently referencing the advertising slogan (at the time) of Ivory Soap, a popular brand of cleaning product that is still available today. Here’s a none-more-1970s advert that features the tagline. The name was obviously simplified at a certain point as it’s now known as ‘Call Harry Crown’ on IMDb.

This US 30×40 poster was designed by the great Bill Gold and features a Roy Lichtenstein-esque pop-art image. I’m not sure who is responsible for the artwork but it’s possible it could be John Van Hamersveld who illustrated the awesome Get Carter pop-art style one sheet. If anyone knows this for sure I’d appreciate the confirmation so leave a comment or send me an email.

This pop-art inspiration also extended to the opening sequence that can be watched here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Wsciekly / B1 / Poland

18.01.16

Poster Poster

Striking artwork on this B1 poster for the 1980 Polish crime thriller Wsciekly, apparently released internationally as Mad Dog. Helmed by Roman Zaluski the film is described on IMDb as a:

‘Detective thriller about a killer loose in the crowds. The film follows a sniper on his rounds looking for victims, while a police inspector, with few clues in his hand, has to figure out the motive for killings as well as who the psychopath is and where he might strike next. He uncovers that the mentally deranged sniper can’t stand seeing people happy together in public places.’

I can’t find any evidence of the film having been released in the US or UK but I can only assume it made it to some English-language territories because of the title translation. The film is available to watch in full on YouTube (albeit in terrible quality).

This poster was designed and illustrated by Andrzej Pagowski, a prolific film poster artist who was born in Warsaw in 1953 and studied at the celebrated University of Fine Arts in Poznań, graduating in 1978 under the tutorship of the noted artist Waldemar Świerzy. In 1990 he started his own graphic design studio called Studio P, which he developed into an advertising agency by 1993. According to the biography on his official site, Pagowski has illustrated over 1000 posters during his career and has also done work for books, magazines and music covers. In addition, he is also a TV and theatre stage designer and a screen writer. Undoubtedly a man of many talents!

Pagowski’s official site features an extensive gallery of his work, including several of the posters. Polishposter.com also features multiple pages worth of his movie posters and this culture.pl article is well worth a read too.

Note that there is an alternative style poster for Wsciekly, also by Pagowski, that features more dog-like art and can be seen here.

Scarface / B2 / black and white style / Japan

17.02.14

Poster Poster
Title
Scarface
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
Brian De Palma
Starring
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Harris Yulin
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Harris Yulin,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Black and white
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is one of three B2 posters printed for the Japanese release of Brian De Palma‘s unforgettable 1983 crime epic Scarface. Unquestionably one of the all-time great gangster films, it’s hard to believe now but the film was originally released to mixed critical reception and audience ambivalence, much to De Palma and screenwriter Oliver Stone‘s dismay. Over the course of the following three decades the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana’s rise to the top of the Miami drug world has been embraced by fans worldwide, including a multitude of African American rappers who cite his story as an inspiration and frequently reference the film in their music.

In one of his most memorable film performances, Al Pacino portrays Montana who arrives in Miami following the (real-life) Mariel boatlift, which saw thousands of Cubans leave the island in a bid to escape internal tensions and grinding poverty that had caused months of strife in the country. Hundreds of small boats made the journey across shark-infested waters to the Miami coast in an attempt to seek asylum in the Peruvian embassy. Fidel Castro also ordered the release of criminals from Cuban jails and joined the exodus and Montana and his friend Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) are two such exiles who start their new life in America stuck in a refugee camp. After agreeing to murder a former Cuban government official, who is also in the camp, the pair are released with the help of a Miami drug kingpin Frank Lopez (played by Robert Loggia).

Tony and Manny get involved in a drug deal arranged by one of Lopez’s henchmen called Omar (F. Murray Abraham) that quickly goes horribly wrong and almost sees Tony being butchered with a chainsaw until Manny comes to his rescue and the pair turn the tables on the murderous gang. Suspecting that they may have been set up by Omar, Tony insists on delivering the recovered drugs and money to Frank who is impressed and offers them a job. The rest of the film deals with Tony’s violent rise to the top of the Miami drug trade, which sees him usurp and murder Frank, steal his woman Elvira (an early performance by Michelle Pfeiffer) and mess with the wrong Bolivian drug crime lord. The finale sees a cocaine-crazed Tony defend his palatial mansion from machine-gun toting killers, resulting in bullet-spraying mayhem and one of the most famous lines in cinematic history: “Say hello to my little friend!”

One of the other Japanese B2s can be seen by clicking here

The Two Jakes / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Two Jakes
AKA
Chinatown II (Finland)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Jack Nicholson
Starring
Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Rubén Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Richard Farnsworth, Tracey Walter, Joe Mantell, James Hong
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Rubén Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Richard Farnsworth, Tracey Walter, Joe Mantell, James Hong,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Seiniger Advertising | Steven Chorney
Artist
Robert Rodriguez
Size (inches)
27" x 40 1/4"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
They say money makes the world go round. But sex was invented before money.

The artwork for Two Jakes, a quasi-sequel to the classic 1974 crime-thriller Chinatown, was painted by the American artist Robert Rodriguez (not to be confused with the Texan film director of the same name). He has his own website which can be seen here and on one of the blog posts he talks about his work on Two Jakes. I’m reproducing it here in case his site ever disappears:

Sherman, set the WABAC machine to March 1990…. That would take us to about the time that I was pulling all-nighters in order to finish the poster for “The Two Jakes”.  Originally Steve Chorney had done a series of small watercolor sketches for the movie. They were fast sketches, but the colors were beautiful. Seiniger Advertising was about the hottest movie poster design studio at that time, and they were doing the poster. I had never seen so many concepts for one movie before. I know they took Steve’s sketches and gave them out to five illustrators to develop into comps. Later they had each of us do a completely different image, but I can’t even remember what those looked like. These were all very finished comps, but done at about half size. Everyone was really happy with what I did for the original comp and from the beginning it was in the running. I went off on vacation for a few weeks and when I got back, they told me that my art was still the top choice, only they had revised it and I would need to repaint it at full size.

They had made Jack Nicholson larger, made his shoulders wider, made Meg Tilly’s hat cover her face almost completely, and changed Steve’s beautiful yellow/green color scheme to a grey/teal blue combination. Even with those revisions I still loved the art, so I was very happy to proceed with the finish. I feel like it was the best movie poster I ever did.

They told me at the time that with movie posters, the poster that was the top choice when they ran out of money or ran out of time, was the one that would become the poster. Until one of those things happened, they would just keep doing new art. I think all illustrators miss those days of Illustrated Movie Posters.

One other interesting story connected with that poster…I was told that the night before the art was to be delivered to the printer, Jack Nicholson called Frank Mancuso, Sr., the CEO of Paramount to say he had changed his mind about the poster. Nicholson wanted to use a different painting that had been done. Mancuso took both posters over to Nicholson’s house and they met until midnight to talk about which way to go. Basically Mancuso said, “We have been through more than a hundred movie posters and all along, this was the one everyone agreed on. In the meeting yesterday, we again looked at the top runners and everyone decided this was the strongest image. What do we have to do in order to make you happy with this version?” Nicholson said that he liked the colors of his face better in the other poster. So it was agreed that if I could repaint his face to one that he was happy with, they would proceed with my poster art. They gave me four days to repaint the head, and I remember the day I delivered it, the art director gave me a fistful of colored pencils and had me sit on her floor and paint out some additional wrinkles. But in the end, everyone was happy with the art.  My first major film poster!

His website also features another blog post about his work with Steven Chorney on the poster (see here):

Steven Chorney is the wonderful movie poster artist and illustrator who did the concept sketches for The Two Jakes [see here too] in the very beginning. I remember there were five of us who took these and developed them as comps, and even came up with other designs too. I was assigned the first one he laid out.

I asked him if he still had the comps, and this morning he sent them along so I could post them. I think Thomas Blackshear did a comp using a variation of the second design, which Steven said was his favorite concept because of the tension in Nicholson’s face.

Steven said he was thinking about the Scarface movie poster in his design. Based on his days doing illustrations for TV Guide, he felt there was something missing from his sketch. We needed the girl!  “…we need 2 guys, a girl, and a gun!” He must have mentioned that to the art director, because by the time I got the job, they were asking for me to add the girl in there.

This was done back before color xeroxes were very accurate. Steven had done the grey background version, but they had made a color copy for me, and it had turned a sort of acid yellow.  I loved it, so I  tried to match the color.  It reminded me of that Van Gogh painting of the pool hall interior with the yellow lights and the green felt. Van Gogh wrote “In my picture of the Night Café I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime.” 

But even though they liked my Two Jakes art, they wanted to go with the grey of Steven’s original version (which I had never seen). They had me hide Meg Tilly’s face with her hat, make Nicholson larger, and make his coat and lapels oversized.

The only bad experience with the whole project was the reference they gave me for Jack Nicholson’s face. It was a blurry, two inch tall, b&w photo from The Witches of Eastwick. I kept asking, “Seriously?  Jack Nicholson, and this is the best reference you have?” I think I painted his head about 9″ tall on my poster. And as it turned out, his face was the only problem anyone had with my image.

The artist’s website also features a biography which I’ll also reproduce in its entirety:

Chances are you’ve been having breakfast with Robert Rodriguez for years and never knew it….If you’ve ever fixed yourself a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal, his painting of the old Quaker has probably been watching over you as you ate.

After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), he embarked on a career as an illustrator, picking up awards and medals along the way.  From being a Grammy Award finalist for best album cover art, to gold and silver medals, to receiving a platinum award for his “Cowboys of the Silver Screen” postage stamps this last year.  From doing Broadway theater posters for plays like, “Anything Goes”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “Sister Act” and “Lend Me A Tenor”, to a SuperBowl poster, a half dozen Ringling Bros. Circus posters, several movie posters, and creating the poster art over the last four years for the Tales of the Cocktail event held in New Orleans every summer, he is finally finding time to do some gallery work, exploring new directions and larger paintings.

Dressed To Kill / quad / UK

16.05.12

Poster Poster
Title
Dressed To Kill
AKA
--
Year of Film
1980
Director
Brian De Palma
Starring
Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, David Margulies, Ken Baker, Susanna Clemm, Brandon Maggart
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, David Margulies, Ken Baker, Susanna Clemm, Brandon Maggart,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Every Nightmare Has A Beginning...This One Never Ends

Brian De Palma‘s 1980 erotic crime thriller Dressed to Kill is frequently held up as a high-watermark in the career of the virtuoso director, and the film saw him perfecting the technical and stylistic flourishes he had been honing in the years before with films such as Sisters (1973) and Obsession (1976). Blending obvious homages to Hitchcock (Vertigo and Psycho for starters) with several hallmarks of the Italian Giallo genre, the film features multiple plot twists and outlandish sequences, including the murder of one of the main characters after 35 minutes.

The plot ostensibly focuses on the murder of a sexually frustrated housewife, and the subsequent investigation by her son and the high-class call girl who was the only witness to the crime. It features memorable turns from Angie DickinsonNancy Allen (De Palma’s wife at the time) and Michael Caine in one of his more atypical performances. The reveal of the identity of the killer is one of the film’s most infamous moments and certainly lingers long in the memory after the credits roll.

This British quad is as subdued as the US one sheet, sharing the same stylised image of the killer peeking through the bathroom door (if memory serves me correctly this particular image was created specifically for the poster). The American one sheet features the moniker that De Palma had been given at the time; ‘The Master of the Macabre’.

The trailer is on YouTube.

Big Guns / B2 / Japan

13.08.12

Poster Poster
Title
Big Guns
AKA
Tony Arzenta (Italy - original title | No Way Out (USA)
Year of Film
1973
Director
Duccio Tessari
Starring
Alain Delon, Richard Conte, Carla Gravina, Marc Porel, Roger Hanin, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Guido Alberti, Lino Troisi, Silvano Tranquilli, Corrado Gaipa
Origin of Film
Italy | France
Genre(s) of Film
Alain Delon, Richard Conte, Carla Gravina, Marc Porel, Roger Hanin, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Guido Alberti, Lino Troisi, Silvano Tranquilli, Corrado Gaipa,
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 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Big Guns, a crime thriller from the late, prolific Italian director Duccio Tessari, starred French acting legend Alain Delon as Tony Arzenta, a mob hitman whose decision to retire angers the bosses and leads to the accidental death of his wife and child. Arzenta sets out on a bloody revenge mission, unleashing his particular set of skills on the criminals who wronged him. Richard Conte, who had starred in The Godfather a year earlier, also features as Nick Gusto, a Sicilian crime boss who wants to bury the hatchet with Arzenta, much to the consternation of his associates.

The film was released internationally (as No Way Out in the US, for example) and this poster was printed for Japan, a country in which Delon has a huge fan base. The main image is taken from a moment during one of the car chases for which the film is perhaps best remembered, and a clip from it can be watched here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

Scarface / B2 / blue style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Scarface
AKA
--
Year of Film
1983
Director
Brian De Palma
Starring
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Harris Yulin
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Harris Yulin,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Blue style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is one of three B2 posters printed for the Japanese release of Brian De Palma‘s unforgettable 1983 crime epicScarface. Unquestionably one of the all-time great gangster films, it’s hard to believe now but the film was originally released to mixed critical reception and audience ambivalence, much to De Palma and screenwriter Oliver Stone‘s dismay. Over the course of the following three decades the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana’s rise to the top of the Miami drug world has been embraced by fans worldwide, including a multitude of African American rappers who cite his story as an inspiration and frequently reference the film in their music.

In one of his most memorable film performances, Al Pacino portrays Montana who arrives in Miami following the (real-life) Mariel boatlift, which saw thousands of Cubans leave the island in a bid to escape internal tensions and grinding poverty that had caused months of strife in the country. Hundreds of small boats made the journey across shark-infested waters to the Miami coast in an attempt to seek asylum in the Peruvian embassy. Fidel Castro also ordered the release of criminals from Cuban jails and joined the exodus and Montana and his friend Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) are two such exiles who start their new life in America stuck in a refugee camp. After agreeing to murder a former Cuban government official, who is also in the camp, the pair are released with the help of a Miami drug kingpin Frank Lopez (played byRobert Loggia).

Tony and Manny get involved in a drug deal arranged by one of Lopez’s henchmen called Omar (F. Murray Abraham) that quickly goes horribly wrong and almost sees Tony being butchered with a chainsaw until Manny comes to his rescue and the pair turn the tables on the murderous gang. Suspecting that they may have been set up by Omar, Tony insists on delivering the recovered drugs and money to Frank who is impressed and offers them a job. The rest of the film deals with Tony’s violent rise to the top of the Miami drug trade, which sees him usurp and murder Frank, steal his woman Elvira (an early performance by Michelle Pfeiffer) and mess with the wrong Bolivian drug crime lord. The finale sees a cocaine-crazed Tony defend his palatial mansion from machine-gun toting killers, resulting in bullet-spraying mayhem and one of the most famous lines in cinematic history: “Say hello to my little friend!”

One of the other Japanese B2s can be seen by clicking here.

The Stone Killer / quad / UK

29.11.16

Poster Poster
Title
The Stone Killer
AKA
Le cercle noir [The black circle] (France) | América violenta [Violent America] (Spain)
Year of Film
1973
Director
Michael Winner
Starring
Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Jack Colvin, Paul Koslo, Norman Fell, David Sheiner, Stuart Margolin, Ralph Waite, Alfred Ryder, Walter Burke, Kelley Miles
Origin of Film
Italy | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Jack Colvin, Paul Koslo, Norman Fell, David Sheiner, Stuart Margolin, Ralph Waite, Alfred Ryder, Walter Burke, Kelley Miles,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1973
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
This cop plays dirty! | Take away his badge and he'd top the Ten Most Wanted list!

This is the British quad poster for the release of the 1973 crime drama The Stone Killer. The film was one of a number that starred action legend Charles Bronson and was directed by Michael Winner. Their most successful collaboration (in box-office terms), Death Wish, was released a year later. The film features a cop who bends the rules to crack a case and was made in the wake of the hugely successful Clint Eastwood film, Dirty Harry (1971). That film also focused on a detective willing to play dirty, as this poster’s tagline shouts.

Bronson plays detective Lou Torrey who has recently been transferred to a Los Angeles beat. After the murder of a former hitman, he uncovers a plot involving the local mafia. The don, Al Vescari (Martin Balsam) has instigated a number of murders in revenge for killings that took place in 1931. This spree saw Sicilian capos executed across the US (a real-life crime dubbed the Night of the Sicilian Vespers). Vescari has decided to use Vietnam vets to carry out the killings and Torrey must race against time to stop the hitmen before the revenge plot is complete.

The stark imagery on this quad also featured on the US one sheet (see here) and the title block and main tagline have also been recycled by the British designer.

Blue Thunder / B1 / Poland

31.08.12

Poster Poster
Title
Blue Thunder
AKA
Blekitny grom (Poland)
Year of Film
1983
Director
John Badham
Starring
Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, Daniel Stern, Paul Roebling, David Sheiner, Joe Santos, Malcolm McDowell
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, Daniel Stern, Paul Roebling, David Sheiner, Joe Santos, Malcolm McDowell,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1985
Designer
Wieslaw Walkuski
Artist
Wieslaw Walkuski
Size (inches)
28.5" x 38 6/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A wild design on this Polish poster for the 1983 American action film Blue Thunder. The late Roy Scheider stars as Frank Murphy, an LAPD pilot who’s given the chance to fly the world’s most advanced helicopter, nicknamed Blue Thunder, and use it in the war against crime. Following the death of a city councilwoman Frank begins a covert investigation and discovers that there are corrupt forces at work who plan to use the stealth helicopter for more than just crime prevention.

The artwork on the poster is by Wieslaw Walkuski who was born in 1956 and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Since 1981 Walkuski has worked as a graphic designer and artist for publishing houses and theaters, as well as for the Polish film organisations Polfilm and Film Polski. He’s worked freelance since 1987 and has painted over 200 film posters. He continues to live and work in Warsaw. Walkuski’s official website features galleries of many of his designs and images of his other work.

He’s responsible for some incredible designs and two of my favourites include those he painted for Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves and the Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie.

The trailer for Blue Thunder is on YouTube.

Eight Million Ways To Die / video / UK

13.05.16

Poster Poster
Title
Eight Million Ways To Die
AKA
8 Million Ways to Die (alt. spelling)
Year of Film
1986
Director
Hal Ashby
Starring
Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, Andy Garcia, Alexandra Paul
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, Andy Garcia, Alexandra Paul,
Type of Poster
Video
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1986
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Death comes to all except those that deserve it most

This is the UK video poster (note the 18-rating emblem) for the release of Eight Million Ways to Die, a crime drama that was to be the final film by the late Hal Ashby. The director was associated with the American New Wave that started in the 1960s, lasted until the 1980s and saw a younger generation of filmmakers invading tinseltown, forever changing the way films were shot, edited and released. The Wikipedia article on the period gives you a good idea of the kinds of directors that were part of the new wave, which included the likes of Woody Allen, John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

Ashby began his career as an editor, with credits including In the Heat of the Night and the original Thomas Crown Affair, but he was encouraged to begin directing in 1970 with The Landlord, a critical success that was largely ignored by audiences at the time. This was quickly followed by Harold and Maude , an offbeat comedy that has a sizeable cult following today. Ashby embraced the hippie lifestyle of the early 1970s and his films featured main characters that were on the edge of ‘normal’ society. His biggest hit would prove to be the 1978 romantic drama Coming Home that was set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, and would see him garnering a Best Director nomination at the Oscars that year, whilst the two main stars, Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, both won the main Best Acting gongs.

Eight Million Ways to Die was based on a book by the prolific American author Lawrence Block whose most famous series of novels focused on the private investigator (and recovering alcoholic) Matthew Scudder. The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone with help from R. Lance Hill and an uncredited Robert Towne. The actor Jeff Bridges was given the part of Scudder (Ashby had previously directed his brother Beau Bridges in The Landlord) and Rosanna Arquette appears as Sarah, a call girl who is central to the story. The film’s plot is described thusly on IMDb:

Scudder is a detective with the Sheriff’s Department who is forced to shoot a violent suspect during a narcotics raid. The ensuing psychological aftermath of this shooting worsens his drinking problem and this alcoholism causes him to lose his job, as well as his marriage. During his recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, he meets a mysterious stranger who draws him back into a world of vice. In trying to help this beautiful woman, he must enter a crime-world of prostitution and drugs to solve a murder, while resisting the temptation to return to his alcohol abuse.

Unfortunately for all concerned the film was a critical and commercial flop and was yet another disappointment for Ashby, who by then had garnered something of a reputation for prolific drug-taking and eccentric behaviour during the post-production of his films. He would never again direct a film, despite efforts to turn things around, and would sadly die of cancer in 1988, aged just 59.

The artwork on this UK video poster is by the British artist Brian Bysouth and the art has been trimmed somewhat for the poster as his truncated signature can be seen towards the bottom right-hand side. Bysouth is one of my favourite poster artists and he was responsible for many classic posters from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the final painted poster for a James Bond film, The Living Daylights. In 2012 I was fortunate to meet and interview Brian for this site and the article can be read here.

The other posters I’ve collected by Brian can be seen by clicking here.

Rashomon / one sheet / 2009 re-release / USA

22.05.13

Poster Poster
Title
Rashomon
AKA
Rashômon (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
1950
Director
Akira Kurosawa
Starring
Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijirô Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katô
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijirô Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katô,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2009
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Kent Williams
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa‘s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon is considered by many to be his crowning achievement, which is no mean feat when you consider it’s stacked against films as beloved as Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961). Considered incredibly influential and ground-breaking, particularly in terms of storytelling, cinematography and editing, the film has lost none of its impact in the 60+ years since its first release. The film is essentially an investigation into the truth behind a heinous crime in which a woman is raped and her samurai husband is slain at the end of a dagger, but it’s the way that Kurosawa stages the recollections of the four key eyewitnesses that makes Rashomon so special.

The film begins as three strangers shelter under the ruins of the eponymous gate during a calamitous thunderstorm. Two of the men, a woodcutter and a priest, were witnesses to events that happened in a nearby forrest three days earlier and they begin to recount what they saw to the commoner who’s eager to hear the details of the crime. Each of the recollections feature the husband and wife and a bandit named Tajômaru (Toshirô Mifune) but each of the witnesses recall the events that led to the death of the samurai in very different ways.

Kurosawa uses a number of editing techniques to differentiate the recollections for the viewer and apparently shot the same scene with several different cameras so he could cut to another angle of the same performances as he saw fit. Mifune, a frequent collaborator, deserves special mention for his memorable portrayal of the bandit Tajomaru in each of his different ‘guises’. In the end, the viewer is left to decide which of the witnesses they believe with the director resisting the urge to wrap things up neatly. As the commoner remarks when discussing the validity of one of the recollections: ‘We all want to forget something, so we tell stories. It’s easier that way.’

American artist Kent Williams painted this stunning portrait of Tajomaru that was commissioned by Janus Films for the 2009 cinema re-release of Rashomon. The release followed an extensive 2008 restoration undertaken by the Academy Archive, the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and Kadokawa Pictures. Born in 1962, Williams has lent his considerable talents to a wide range of artistic channels, including printmaking, photography, architecture and film. He is perhaps best known for his work on graphic novels for the likes of Marvel and Vertigo and in 2006 he collaborated with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky on a comic book tie-in for the sci-fi fantasy film The Fountain. His official website contains galleries of his work, as well as a biography, links to blogs and more.

Kent’s 2009 blog post announcing the completion of this piece can be viewed here and confirms that the original artwork was realised with oil and encaustic on linen mounted on wood panel with a distressed wooden beam. This same image was used for the must-own 2012 Criterion re-release of Rashomon and the poster was available to purchase via their web shop for a number of months, which is where I picked it up from. It sadly appears to be no longer available for purchase.