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This Sporting Life / one sheet / UK

15.08.12

Poster Poster

This Sporting Life was the first full-length film by the late British director Lindsay Anderson (best known for ‘If….‘ and ‘O Lucky Man!‘) and starred Richard Harris in what is now acknowledged as his breakout role. The story follows the exploits of Frank Machin (Harris) a tough, young miner in a Northern England town who finds success as a Rugby League player and must deal with his violent tendencies as he copes with his new found fame. The film also featured Rachel Roberts in a memorable turn as the widower landlady of Machin with whom he has been having a strained relationship.

This UK one sheet features artwork by Renato Fratini, an Italian painter who came over to England to work in film publicity at the end of the 1950s and is regularly cited by many of his contemporaries as one of the greatest artists ever to have worked in the business. Fratini was born in Rome in 1932 and went on to study at the city’s Academy of Fine Art before landing a job at Studio Favalli, which was part of the legendary Cinecittà studios and handled film publicity for many Italian productions. Eric Pulford, who was head of Downton Advertising in London, began to enlist the help of the Italian artists in the mid-1950s once it became clear how much talent studio head Augusto Favalli had enlisted, and, perhaps crucially, how relatively cheap the work was.

Fratini was brought over to London by Pulford and put on a retainer for Downtons in 1958. He quickly impressed with his technical ability and skilful draughtsmanship, which was often marvelled upon by other artists working at the time. Ace British designer Vic Fair recalls the speed with which Fratini was able to work – ‘He was incredible. He was like a machine – he could just bash things out overnight’. Fratini very much enjoyed his life in London and was infamous for his love of a good party, quickly gaining a reputation as a man who enjoyed the finer things in life. Despite this he was still able to turn out stunning pieces of artwork with relatively little notice.

Perhaps Fratini’s most famous work is the quad he painted for From Russia With Love (in 1963 – the same year as this poster), which is probably the best of all the James Bond quads. Later he would work on a number of posters for the Carry On series of films, known for their colourful and brilliantly stylised designs, as well as some incredibly detailed artwork on posters such as the quad for Waterloo (1970), for which he was paid a then record fee of £2000. In 1969 Fratini had a broken marriage behind him and was losing money through tax bills, so he made the decision to leave London and head for Mexico from where he continued to paint for advertising firms in America and the odd assignment for Downtons. Sadly, in 1973 Fratini collapsed whilst at a beach party and died from massive heart attack, his years of excess finally catching up with him.

He was only 40 years old at the time and, as Sim Branaghan (author of the brilliant ‘British Film Posters‘ book) described in my interview with him, his tragic end perfectly embodies the stereotypical profile of a ‘doomed bohemian genius’. Sim’s book contains a lot more information on Fratini and is an absolute must-buy if you have even a passing interest in the artists behind these great posters.

It’s worth noting that this is one of the few pieces of artwork that prominently features Fratini’s signature.

The trailer for the film is on YouTube.

It / ‘They All Float’ / screen print / regular / Mark Englert / USA

20.10.17

Poster Poster

This is a screen print by the American artist Mark Englert for the 1990 TV version of Stephen King’s classic novel ‘It’, which was recently remade to great critical acclaim (and box office success). Originally shown as a two-part mini series, then later released on DVD and blu-ray as an edited single movie, the film is set in the fictional Maine town of Derry during two time periods (1960 and 1990). The story focuses on a group of children who are menaced by a shapeshifting creature that preys on their worst fears in order to attack and eat them. The creature appears once every 30 years and over the previous century many of the town’s children have disappeared. The group (nicknamed by themselves as The Losers Club) decide to take on It who most often appears as the malevolent clown Pennywise (Tim Curry). After driving it back underground in 1960, the group make a promise to return and put a stop to It once and for all 30 years later.

Note that this is the regular edition and it glows in the dark which reveals hidden details, including Pennywise’s face in a hidden moon, and the spider form of It in the top left corner glows too.

This print was created in 2012. Englert, whose official website is here, first appeared on collectors’ radars with his print for The Thing that was released earlier in 2012. Since then he has worked on a number of landscape format prints (typically 12″ x 36″) featuring scenes from cult films and TV shows. One of his most popular releases was one for The Walking Dead that was released around the same time as this print. Each is given a name that relates to the property in some way. In this case ‘They All Float’ is part of the famous line spoken by Pennywise.

Check out this interview with Englert on Collider.com which was carried out at the 2012 Comic Con and they also featured him in their first ever ‘Limited Paper’ column. Englert’s own site features the posters and other items he’s worked on so far, which includes vinyl sleeves and more. There’s a short biography on his website which mentions he was born in 1979. There’s an excellent interview with Mark on 411posters.com here.

He has a store here and you can follow him on Twitter here.