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The Passage / quad / UK

06.06.16

Poster Poster

Colourful and typically dynamic artwork by Brian Bysouth features on this UK quad for the largely forgotten British war film The Passage (1979). Based on the novel Perilous Passage by Bruce Nicolaysen (who also wrote the screenplay), the film was directed by the British director J. Lee Thompson who was responsible for the classic war film The Guns of Navarone, as well as multiple films headlined by Charles Bronson.

Set during World War II, the story sees a Basque farmer (played by Anthony Quinn) escort a scientist (James Mason) and his family over the treacherous Pyrenees mountains to escape the sadistic clutches of a Nazi SS officer, Captain Von Berkow (Malcolm McDowell giving an impressively over the top performance). Christopher Lee appears as a character called The Gypsy who is sympathetic to the group’s plight. Apparently the film bombed spectacularly at the US box office and was critically drubbed on release.

This British quad was created at the London-based Downtons Advertising agency by one of the principal designers, Eddie Paul, and painted by Brian Bysouth who was working as a freelancer at the time. Both men are featured in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History and are each responsible for several iconic British posters. The designer Eddie Paul was born in Hackney in 1920 and attended Southend School of Art, later beginning his career at Temple Art Studios before moving on to Star Illustrations on Shoe Lane, where he gained a good reputation as a scrapboard artist.

After serving in the RAF during the war, Eddie joined Pulford Publicity in 1946 and started designing film posters using crayons and coloured pencils. He worked on several successful poster campaigns during the 1960s, including El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and the famous quad for From Russia with Love (painted by Renato Fratini). He later joined four ex-Downton colleagues and formed the successful agency FEREF in 1968. As Sim notes in his book, ‘He was well liked and respected within the business as a gentleman’. Eddie Paul passed away from a heart attack whilst on his way to work in 1984, just shy of his retirement from FEREF.

The artwork was painted by Brian Bysouth who is one of my favourite poster artists and 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 (1987). 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.

For Your Eyes Only / quad / UK

08.10.12

Poster Poster

One of Roger Moore’s better outings as 007, For Your Eyes Only was intended to bring James Bond back down to earth with a more realistic and less sensational storyline following the lunacy of Moonraker. It marked the first time John Glen would helm a Bond film, having worked as an editor and second-unit director on three of the previous outings, and he would go on to direct the next four films in the series. The story sees the spy being sent to try and recover an ‘ATAC’ device capable of controlling the British Polaris submarine fleet, which is lost after a spy ship disguised as a trawler is sunk in neutral waters.

It becomes clear that the Soviets are also keen to get their hands on the device and Bond must discover who is aiding them, with suspicion falling on both Milos Columbo (Topol) and Aris Kristatos (Julian Glover). Bond also finds an ally in the form of Melina Havelock (the gorgeous Carole Bouquet) who is out for revenge after her parents are murdered by the same forces who retrieve the ATAC device. The film features several memorable chases and action sequences, including a climactic assault on a fortress on top of a sheer cliff. It also includes the infamous character of Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) a gorgeous young ice-skating protégée who becomes infatuated with Bond, and in turn became the object of countless teenage boys’ fantasies, including yours truly.

This British quad features the ‘legs’ concept that was created by the American designer Bill Gold and was subsequently used for the film’s marketing campaign across the globe, including the US one sheet. Owing to the landscape format of the quad poster it was decided that a montage of scenes from the film should be added either side of the legs. The montage was designed by Eddie Paul at the British film marketing agency FEREF and the painting job was given to the talented illustrator Brian Bysouth, whose skill at accurately depicting vehicles, characters and dynamic action scenes was the perfect compliment for the design. The montage was also adapted (and somewhat crammed) onto an international one sheet used to market the film in countries such as Australia.

In 2012 I met and interviewed Brian Bysouth and this poster was discussed during our meeting:

One Bond poster you worked on is the quad for For Your Eyes Only. It had the Bill Gold designed element of the long legs, but you modified the montage when doing the finished illustration?
Eric Pulford created the U.K. poster design that was approved. The inclusion of the very iconic Bill Gold legs concept was a must in any design that was submitted, so I suppose the scope for fresh designs was limited. In my opinion Eric’s original montage was not his best work and, although I tried to re-arrange some of the elements, the reference material supplied was not very exciting and I think the surrounding montage looks rather ordinary.

A similar difficulty arose with the design Eric had done for The Bounty (1984). His atmospheric colour rough was exciting, but when I began to sketch out the finished painting I realised the perspective of the ship was flawed. Eric’s exciting random montage of characters had initially disguised the shortcoming. I spent a day redrawing the ship and rigging to ensure it was reasonably correct, and then moved the characters to try to improve the composition. I was pleased with the final painting but was never happy with the montage, which I really thought needed recomposing. I didn’t think a confrontation with Eric was in my best interest.

Some weeks later I asked for the return of my painting only to be told, ‘it could not be found’.  Obviously, a light-fingered person took a fancy to it. Much of my work has been lost to me in that way, including my teaser art for A View to a Kill. Presently I am engaged in monitoring Film Memorabilia auction sales in order to reclaim art being offered for sale that legally belongs to me. I am glad to have been successful in recovering quite a number of paintings.  One case involving poster art I did for 20th. Century Fox is still ongoing as I speak.
Note that the article also features an image of the original artwork that has differences in the layout and details in comparison to this final quad.

Starflight One / quad / UK

27.06.13

Poster Poster
Title
Starflight One
AKA
Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (USA - original title) | Airport 85 (Philippines)
Year of Film
1983
Director
Jerry Jameson
Starring
Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland, Gail Strickland, George DiCenzo, Tess Harper, Terry Kiser, Heather McAdam, Michael Sacks, Gary Bayer, Pat Corley, Robert Webber
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Lee Majors, Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Ray Milland, Gail Strickland, George DiCenzo, Tess Harper, Terry Kiser, Heather McAdam, Michael Sacks, Gary Bayer, Pat Corley, Robert Webber,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Eddie Paul
Artist
Josh Kirby
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
The first hypersonic passenger plane marooned in outer space helpless... ready for certain death

Superb artwork by the British artist Josh Kirby (not to be confused with the American comic book artist Jack Kirby) on this UK quad for the release of Starflight One, which was originally shown as a TV movie in the US with the considerably clunkier title of Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land. Unquestionably the final hurrah for the ‘airplane in peril’ subgenre of the disaster movie that started with Airport in 1970 – Starflight’s director Jerry Jameson was actually at the helm of Airport ’77 – the film was unofficially dubbed Airport ’83. The world’s first ‘hypersonic’ passenger plane, which can make the flight from New York to Sydney in a mere four hours, sets off on its maiden voyage before an unexpected encounter with a rocket sends it up into space and on a decaying orbit around earth. The plane will burn up on atmospheric re-entry and the crew and a team from NASA must work out a way to rescue the passengers before time runs out. The film is, by all accounts, significantly less interesting than that premise makes it sound.

Josh Kirby was born Ronald William Kirby in the town of Waterloo, Lancashire in 1928 and went on to study at Liverpool City School of Art from 1943 to 1949. He gained the nickname Josh after a fellow pupil noticed how similar his early work was to the painting of Joshua Reynolds. As detailed in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, Kirby moved down to London soon after graduating and secured a job at Pulford Publicity, an agency that specialised in the creation of film marketing materials. Kirby worked on a number of quads for Pulford publicity during the 1950s whilst also painting posters for a film company in Paris.

He also began work on book jackets for the likes of Pan Publicity, which included the first paperback edition of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker in 1956, and eventually turned out over 400 of them. In the 1970s Kirby began freelancing for the film publicity agency FEREF, working with the likes of the designer Eddie Paul on a number of posters, including one for the 1972 film Henry VIII and his Six Wives. He worked on this superb illustration for Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979 but it was unused, apparently because several of the character illustrations were considered too risqué for cinema-goers.

Kirby’s preferred genres were unquestionably sci-fi and fantasy and much of his best-loved work was in this area, including the UK quads for The Beastmaster, Krull and probably most famously Return of the Jedi, for which he created a wonderfully colourful montage of characters and vehicles from the film. When the market for poster illustration dried up towards the middle of the 1980s, Kirby began what would prove to be a long relationship working on the brilliantly detailed book covers for author Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels. Josh Kirby passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Norfolk in October 2001 leaving behind an incredible body of work and a legion of fans.

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell / quad / UK

03.06.13

Poster Poster

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973) marked the end of an era for British film in more ways than one. It was the last gothic horror to be produced by the original incarnation of the British Hammer Films studio and followed on from a series of six feature films based around the character of Baron Frankenstein portrayed by the late, great British actor Peter Cushing (the less said about 1970s Horror of Frankenstein, with Ralph Bates in the lead role, the better). Director Terence Fisher had worked on many of Hammer’s best-loved horrors, including their first gothic feature, 1957s The Curse of Frankenstein (starring Cushing and Christopher Lee as the monster) as well as the original Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) and two other Frankenstein features for the studio. He was to effectively retire from film-making at the end of production on FATMFH, and he wasn’t the only one of the Hammer alumni to do so. This was also the last Hammer feature film that screenwriter Tony Hinds, who had worked on many of the studio’s most successful horrors, would supply a script for. Other crew members who had been instrumental in the production of dozens of Hammer horrors also called it a day once this film was released.

Originally produced and shot in 1972, it eventually limped into cinemas in 1974 well after the appeal of British gothic horror films had dissipated. Cinema-goers were keen to experience the visceral thrills of the new wave of films coming out of Hollywood, including William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece The Exorcist, which made British efforts like FATMFH seem positively antiquated. Because of the fall in demand from distribution companies who were previously happy to bankroll Hammer’s productions, the budget for this film was a tiny fraction of many of their previous horrors. It would be a lie to say that the lack of money doesn’t show on screen – most of the film takes place on what is clearly a single soundstage – but the skilled craftsmen at Hammer were still able to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere with the modest amount of funds at their disposal. The film is in many ways the perfect swan-song for Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein and his performance absolutely steals the show, from his brilliant crash-zoom entrance to the quiet madness of the denouement.

On the 29th of May, 2013 I was lucky enough to see the film at London’s British Film Institute in a special showing to both celebrate the centenary of Cushing’s birth and also preview a newly restored print of FATMFH. The reformed version of Hammer films have undertaken a series of restoration projects on many of the studio’s classic films, including the original Dracula and the original Curse of Frankenstein. I believe that the new print of FATMFH will see release on blu-ray at some point this year, as well as a new restoration of The Mummy. It was a real treat to see the film on the big screen and be able to revel in a classic Peter Cushing performance.

This British quad was created at the London-based Downtons Advertising agency by one of the principal designers, Eddie Paul, and painted by an artist named Bill Wiggins. Both men are featured in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History and are each responsible for several iconic British posters. The designer Eddie Paul was born in Hackney in 1920 and attended Southend School of Art, later beginning his career at Temple Art Studios before moving on to Star Illustrations on Shoe Lane, where he gained a good reputation as a scrapboard artist. After serving in the RAF during the war, Paul joined Pulford Publicity in 1946 and started designing film posters using crayons and coloured pencils. He worked on several successful poster campaigns during the 1960s, including El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and the famous quad for From Russia with Love (painted by Renato Fratini). He later joined four ex-Downton colleagues and formed the successful agency FEREF in 1968. As Sim notes in his book, ‘He was well liked and respected within the business as a gentleman’. Eddie Paul passed away from a heart attack whilst on his way to work in 1984, just shy of his retirement from FEREF.

Bill Wiggins was born in 1915 and worked installing large cinema displays (on the front of the buildings) during the 1930s and was a special constable during the second world war. He arrived at Downton’s Advertising agency at the same time as another principal designer, Fred Atkins (later a partner in FEREF), in 1951. Wiggins worked in the film department of the studio for 25 years, painting dozens of posters alongside the likes of Vic Fair and Brian Bysouth. Wiggins is mentioned several times during my interview with the latter. He worked on several of the early Hammer films, including Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), Curse of the Werewolf, as well as the sci-fi films The Lost World (1960) and Day of the Triffids (1962). He initially retired in 1975 ‘but rapidly found himself so bored that he returned within a couple of months and continued full time for another three years, eventually leaving to paint commissioned oil portraits for an art/photographic business in Bromley’. He passed away, aged 73, in 1988. Sim believes that this poster for FATMFH is likely to be one of, if not the, final cinema poster that Wiggins worked on.

In addition to this single feature quad, there is also a double-bill quad for when the film was released in a pairing with the long-forgotten kung-fu film The Fists of Vengeance. The artwork for FATMFH is actually coloured on the double-bill poster and is therefore arguably superior to this quad. Sim confirmed to me that there was a policy around this time that the single feature quad would usually be monochrome whilst the double-bill was typically printed in full colour.

Finally, this particular copy is rolled and in great condition, which is somewhat unusual for a poster from this era. I recall reading that it may have been one poster that Hammer printed in greater numbers to give away to fans who wrote in to the studio, as was the case with the quads for ‘Dracula Has Risen from the Grave’ and the ‘She/One Million Years BC’ quads (see the bottom of this page for more detail). I’m not certain that this is case though and I’d appreciate more details about it if anyone has them.

Metalstorm / quad / 3D sticker version / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Metalstorm
AKA
Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (full title)
Year of Film
1983
Director
Charles Band
Starring
Jeffrey Byron, Michael Preston, Tim Thomerson, Kelly Preston, Richard Moll, R. David Smith
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Jeffrey Byron, Michael Preston, Tim Thomerson, Kelly Preston, Richard Moll, R. David Smith,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
3D sticker version
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Eddie Paul (Feref-James)
Artist
Brian Bysouth
Size (inches)
30" x 39 6/8"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
It's High Noon at the end of the Universe.

This British quad for the sci-fi clunker Metalstorm was designed by Eddie Paul at the FEREF design agency and the artwork was painted by British artist Brian Bysouth. In 2012 I met and interviewed the artist and the resulting article can be read here.

Gangster No. 1 / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Gangster No. 1
AKA
--
Year of Film
2000
Director
Paul McGuigan
Starring
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen
Origin of Film
UK | Germany | Ireland
Genre(s) of Film
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2003
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 7/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Gangster No. 1 / special / artwork advance / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Gangster No. 1
AKA
--
Year of Film
2000
Director
Paul McGuigan
Starring
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen
Origin of Film
UK | Germany | Ireland
Genre(s) of Film
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen,
Type of Poster
Special
Style of Poster
Artwork advance
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2000
Designer
Mike Kaplan
Artist
Philip Castle
Size (inches)
26 14/16" x 39 3/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Gangster Number One / quad / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Gangster Number One
AKA
Gangster No. 1 (Alt. spelling)
Year of Film
2000
Director
Paul McGuigan
Starring
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen
Origin of Film
UK | Germany | Ireland
Genre(s) of Film
Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Foreman, Eddie Marsan, Andrew Lincoln, Doug Allen,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
2000
Designer
Empire Design
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
It's not who you know, it's who you kill.

The Long Good Friday / Thailand

16.12.15

Poster Poster

This is the original poster for the Thai release of the classic British gangster film The Long Good Friday, starring the late, great Bob Hoskins. The story focuses on Harold Shand (Hoskins), an underworld kingpin whose grand plans to develop the London Docklands, with the backing of the American Mafia, start to go awry when a series of bombs kill his associates and undermine his credibility. Harold needs to discover who is behind the killings and exact revenge before the deal is lost.

The film is notable for its use of real London locations and it’s a thrill to watch the film now and see how much of the capital has changed. It was only made 33 years ago but the city is barely recognisable compared to today.

The film had a fairly tumultuous time getting into cinemas and was saved from being cut to shreds and offloaded as a TV special after its original production company (ITC) weren’t happy with the results. Helen Mirren was friends with Eric Idle who saw the film and recommended it to George Harrison who had just started up Handmade Films. Harrison saw commercial potential and was able to purchase the rights for less than the original production cost. The film went on to be a solid success for Handmade.

There is a signature on this artwork, which is unique to the Thai poster, but I’m not sure who it belongs to. Please get in touch if you have an idea. I’ll update the post once I know the identity of the artist.

The original trailer can be viewed on YouTube.

The Long Good Friday / one sheet / international

08.02.12

Poster Poster

Ron Fenton is the artist behind this exciting montage for the classic British gangster film, starring Bob Hoskins in arguably his best film role. The poster features Hoskins alongside great portraits of Helen Mirren, the late Eddie Constantine (perhaps most famous for his role in Alphaville) and P.H. Moriarty (as the psychotic Razors).

The film focuses on Harold Shand (Hoskins) an underworld kingpin whose grand plans to develop the London Docklands, with the backing of the American Mafia, start to go awry when a series of bombs kill his associates and undermine his credibility. Harold needs to discover who is behind the killings and exact revenge before the deal is lost. The film is notable for its use of real London locations and it’s a thrill to watch the film now and see how much of the capital has changed. It was only made 33 years ago but the city is barely recognisable compared to today.

The film had a fairly tumultuous time getting into cinemas and was saved from being cut to shreds and offloaded as a TV special after its original production company (ITC) weren’t happy with the results. Helen Mirren was friends with Eric Idle who saw the film and recommended it to George Harrison who had just started up Handmade Films. Harrison saw commercial potential and was able to purchase the rights for less than the original production cost. The film went on to be a solid success for Handmade.

I’ve had no luck finding any other poster art that can be attributed to Ron Fenton, but Sim Branaghan (British Film Posters) has confirmed that he did work on other posters around this time. I’ll update the article if any more information comes to light. The artwork was used as a DVD cover for certain releases of the film.

This international one sheet is vastly superior to the rather terrible quad. This particular copy is not in perfect condition, as is obvious from the pictures, but it’s one of those posters that hardly ever shows up so I was more than happy to add it to my collection.

The original trailer can be viewed on YouTube.

Trading Places / one sheet / international

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Trading Places
AKA
Una poltrona per due [An armchair for two] (Italy)
Year of Film
1983
Director
John Landis
Starring
Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristin Holby, Paul Gleason
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristin Holby, Paul Gleason,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1983
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Adrian Purkis
Size (inches)
26 15/16" x 39 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Take two complete strangers, make one of them rich the other poor... just watch the fun while they're...