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The Silent Flute / B2 / Japan

06.08.14

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

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

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

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

Whilst the film isn’t much cop, this Japanese poster is rather excellent and the artwork is unique to the Japanese campaign. Seito is one of my favourite Japanese artists who was responsible for several fantastic illustrated posters during the 1970s and 1980s. Little is known about the man himself, even in his native country. 

To see the other posters I’ve collected by Seito click here.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / screen print / Billy Perkins / The Bad style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

 

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / screen print / Billy Perkins / The Good style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / screen print / Jeff Kleinsmith / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

The Deep / B2 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Deep
AKA
Dip (Turkey)
Year of Film
1977
Director
Peter Yates
Starring
Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Louis Gossett, Jr., Eli Wallach, Dick Anthony Williams, Earl Maynard, Bob Minor
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Louis Gossett, Jr., Eli Wallach, Dick Anthony Williams, Earl Maynard, Bob Minor,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Gary Meyer
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The Deep / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Deep
AKA
Dip (Turkey)
Year of Film
1977
Director
Peter Yates
Starring
Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Louis Gossett, Jr., Eli Wallach, Dick Anthony Williams, Earl Maynard, Bob Minor
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Louis Gossett, Jr., Eli Wallach, Dick Anthony Williams, Earl Maynard, Bob Minor,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Gary Meyer
Size (inches)
27 1/8" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
77/101
Tagline
Is anything worth the terror of The Deep?

Poppies Are Also Flowers / A1 / Germany

21.09.15

Poster Poster

Five great portraits painted by Renato Casaro feature on this German re-release poster for Poppies Are Also Flowers (AKA Danger Grows Wild and several other titles). Made as an anti-drug trafficking film with the help of the United Nations, it was sponsored by corporate entities, including Xerox.  As this poster attests, it was based on a screenplay by James Bond creator Ian Fleming, was directed by Bond director Terence Young and had a seriously star-studded cast. The likes of Yul BrynnerAngie DickinsonTrevor Howard and Marcello Mastroianni all signed up and, so the story goes, worked for $1 each. Some serious favours must have been called in as I find it hard to believe they were all passionately anti-narcotics!

The story is described thusly on the film’s Wikipedia page:

In an attempt to stem the heroin trade at the Afghanistan–Iran border, a group of narcotics agents working for the United Nations inject a radioactive compound into a seized shipment of opium, in the hopes that it will lead them to the main heroin distributor in Europe.

Now largely forgotten, the film is apparently in the public domain and is available to watch on YouTube and elsewhere (although the quality of all copies out there is atrocious). Although originally intended for TV, the film was given a cinema release in several countries, including Japan, UK (as Danger Grows Wild) and Germany. This poster is apparently for a 1973 re-release (for what reason I’m not certain) and the original German release poster can be seen here. Casaro was clearly tasked with making the film appear as exciting as possible and added the action scenes in the bottom half of the poster. It’s safe to say that for all the effort that went it to making the film it wasn’t exactly successful in curtailing the activities of the international drug trade!

One of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro is an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are 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.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / screen print / Billy Perkins / The Ugly style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster