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Rosemary’s Baby / quad / UK

07.12.12

Poster Poster

Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby was released with one of the most iconic posters of all time that, like many of the most memorable designs, features a striking image in conjunction with an intriguing tagline. There is a fascinating, newly-filmed documentary on the recently released Criterion blu-ray of the film, which features many of the people involved in its making, including the legendary producer Robert Evans who recounts the story of how this poster came to be:

“When we finished the film the front office [of Paramount], which was in New York at the time, didn’t want to release it. They didn’t know how to sell it. I went to a friend of mine [Stephen Frankfurt] who was president at Young & Rubicam, a very large advertising agency, and I told him my problem; I can’t release the movie because the whole of our advertising team doesn’t know how to sell it, and the picture’s brilliant! He goes to see it and then he said to be ‘Bob, I’m going to tell it you straight; it’s not an easy picture to sell and I’m not going to take one dime from you to give you a whole campaign for it.’ He then said ‘But if you buy what I give you I want one hundred thousand dollars’.

I walked in to the chairman of the board Charles Bluhdorn‘s office and said ‘take a look at this and you tell me if you want to write a cheque for one hundred thousand dollars’ and I turned the artboard around and there it is; there’s a mountain and a carriage and it says ‘Pray for Rosemary’s Baby’, that’s all. And he looks at it and he becomes so pale that he’s as white as these shoes that I’m wearing and he said ‘I have to pay him one hundred thousand dollars for three [four] words?!’ and I said that’s right, and he did! Pray for Rosemary’s Baby became the ad of the year. It made the picture and without that image people wouldn’t know what it is and they still didn’t know but they were intrigued. It opened to the biggest business Paramount had done in years.”

After a bit of research it seems that although Stephen Frankfurt should be credited as the creative director for the poster, it was actually designed by Philip Gips in conjunction with Richard Danne. I’ve been attempting to figure out exactly where each of these designers worked and I have to confess it has left me slightly confused. Stephen Frankfurt is profiled in this excellent piece by Adrian Curry on Mubi.com that details his involvement in several seminal film posters of the 1960s and 70s, including Downhill Racer and the first Emmanuelle movie. He also worked on opening titles (To Kill a Mockingbird) and trailers for several films, including the one for Rosemary’s Baby. According to the article Frankfurt’s thing ‘was to see the packaging of movies as a totality—designing the titles, posters, trailers and ads with one common look and theme.’ The article also notes that the baby carriage on the crag was shot on the outcrops of rocks in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Frankfurt died earlier this year and in this article in Adweek it mentions that he was also a partner in an agency he set up with Philip Gips and Aubrey Balkind (named simply Frankfurt Gips Balkind), where he worked on over 55 film marketing campaigns. It’s not totally clear but I believe that he must have worked on this poster whilst also serving as president at Young and Rubicam, hence the fact that Robert Evans mentions the larger agency in the interview above.

Note that in the comments of that article someone with the username ‘Villafranca’ writes the following:
“In the mid-90’s, I worked for Philip Gips’s the small agency that he started after he left Frankfurt, Gips Balkind. In his office, he had framed prints of both the “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Alien” posters hanging in his office because, well, he designed them. And one other small tidbit: his wife, Barbara, wrote the line “In space no one can hear you scream” (not Stephen Frankfurt). Phil told me this personally.”

Further on in the comments another poster called ‘danagips’ writes:
“This should absolutely be retitled the movie posters of Phil Gips. And my mother did indeed write, ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’ for Alien.”

In addition to this, the website of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) features a page on the poster that also credits Richard Danne as a co-designer of the poster. Danne appears to have had a lengthy and lauded career in the New York advertising industry and his official website features a biography that indicates he served as president of AIGA as well as a several other organisations. The Rosemary’s Baby poster features on his website where another agency ‘Gips and Danne’ is mentioned (the AIGA website has examples of that agency’s work).

The agency for the poster is credited as Gips and Danne so does that mean that Philip Gips was also working as a partner in a second design firm in addition to the one he founded with Frankurt and Balkind? Was this job given to Gips and Richard Danne’s firm by Frankfurt who was working for Paramount? I intend to contact Richard Danne to try and clarify but I’d appreciate any other information that people may have so I can accurately credit the poster.

This is the original British quad for the release of the film over here and I was utterly thrilled to find it in excellent, rolled condition. Note the circular snipe in the bottom corner which ties it to the Paramount cinema in London’s Piccadilly Circus. The building was opened in 1921 as the large and luxurious cinema known as the Plaza Theatre that was designed and built for Paramount Pictures to be their showcase venue in London. The Arthur Lloyd ‘music hall and theatre history’ website features a page on the cinema that details its history and has several excellent pictures included. Finally, I’m unsure who will have done the design work to adapt the original portrait one sheet design to the landscape quad format.

Rosemary’s Baby / B1 / hands style / Poland

03.09.15

Poster Poster

This is one of two posters that were printed for the release in Poland of Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby, which didn’t take place until 1984. The film, based on a 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin, stars Mia Farrow as the titular young housewife who moves into Bramford, an opulent but fading apartment block, with her actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes). At first all seems well, despite Guy struggling to find work, but when another young resident dies in strange circumstances the pair meet elderly neighbours Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) and are invited for dinner.

Soon afterwards Rosemary begins to have strange dreams and hears weird noises from inside the building, whilst Guy begins to spend more time with the Castevets. When Rosemary falls pregnant she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems and a friend of hers called Hutch (Maurice Evans) confirms that the building has a shady history and is concerned for her health. Soon after warning her of the possibility that a satanic group are active in the building Hutch falls into a coma and later dies. When the baby is due to arrive, Rosemary comes to learn the truth and sees that Guy had betrayed her to the satanic group for the sake of his acting career. The ending, which is one of the most infamous in horror film history, is still as disturbing today as it was in 1968. 

The film was a huge critical and commercial success, earning over $30 million in the US alone, which wasn’t significant considering it had a budget of around $2.3 million. Polanski had already been lauded for Repulsion (1966) but it was this film, his first Hollywood production, that really shot him to international stardom. Sadly, a year after its release his wife Sharon Tate and four others were murdered by the psychotic Charles Manson and his gang and it would be three years before his next film was made.

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! His 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.

The Black Bird / one sheet / USA

11.07.17

Poster Poster
Title
The Black Bird
AKA
--
Year of Film
1975
Director
David Giler
Starring
George Segal, Stéphane Audran, Lionel Stander, Lee Patrick, Elisha Cook Jr., Felix Silla, Signe Hasso, John Abbott, Connie Kreski, Titus Napoleon, Harry Kenoi, Howard Jeffrey, Ken Swofford
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
George Segal, Stéphane Audran, Lionel Stander, Lee Patrick, Elisha Cook Jr., Felix Silla, Signe Hasso, John Abbott, Connie Kreski, Titus Napoleon, Harry Kenoi, Howard Jeffrey, Ken Swofford,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
27 3/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
75/159
Tagline
Why is everyone after George Segal's bird? Because he's Sam Spade Jr... and his falcons worth a fortune.

This one sheet for the largely forgotten (and ill-advised) quasi-sequel to the classic 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, The Black Bird, features one of the earliest film poster illustrations by the legendary artist Drew Struzan. The film is the sole directorial effort from David Giler, who is now best known as a producer on pretty much every Alien film in the franchise, up to and including Alien Covenant (2017). George Segal stars as the son of detective Sam Spade, who was played by Humphrey Bogart in the first film. The plot is described on IMDb:

The son of famous detective Sam Spade carries on the family tradition of getting involved with the Maltese Falcon – and with the people who will stop at nothing, including murder, to get it.

The Black Bird was trashed by critics at the time of release and audiences stayed away too. Unless I’m mistaken, the film has never been released digitally and is only available if you still have a VHS player.

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.

 

Carny / one sheet / USA

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Carny
AKA
Carny - un corpo per due uomini [A Body for Two Men] (Italy)
Year of Film
1980
Director
Robert Kaylor
Starring
Gary Busey, Jodie Foster, Robbie Robertson, Meg Foster, Kenneth McMillan, Elisha Cook Jr., Tim Thomerson, Teddy Wilson, John Lehne, Bill McKinney, Bert Remsen, Woodrow Parfrey
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Gary Busey, Jodie Foster, Robbie Robertson, Meg Foster, Kenneth McMillan, Elisha Cook Jr., Tim Thomerson, Teddy Wilson, John Lehne, Bill McKinney, Bert Remsen, Woodrow Parfrey,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
800081
Tagline
When you're young and going nowhere... the Carny looks like a good way out.