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A Passage to India / B1 / Poland

22.04.15

Poster Poster

This is the Polish poster for the release of British director David Lean‘s final film behind the camera, 1984’s A Passage to India. Lean hadn’t helmed a feature film since 1970’s Ryan’s Daughter, the poor reception of which had put him off directing for a few years, and an abandoned attempt to make a pair of films based on the Mutiny of the Bounty also took up several years of Lean’s life. The film is an adaptation of English author E. M. Forster’s novel of the same name and also a stage production of the book by Indian-born American playwright Santha Rama Rau.

Set in India during the 1920s when there was a growing Indian independence movement in the British Raj, the film sees young British woman Adela Quested (Judy Davistravel to India to visit her fiancee Ronny Heaslop (Nigel Havers) who is serving as a magistrate in the town of Chandrapore. Accompanying her on the trip is Ronny’s mother Mrs Moore (Peggy Ashcroft). The pair spend time in the company of British colonials but when Mrs Moore meets a local doctor named Aziz Ahmed (Victor Banerjee) they see the opportunity to experience ‘the real India.’ Aziz agrees to take them on an expedition to the remote Marabar Caves (actually based on the real life Barabar Caves) but when Adela is attacked and almost raped, Aziz is accused of the crime and relations between the natives and the British quickly break down.

This poster was painted for the first release of the film in Poland in 1988 and was created by the Polish artist Wiktor Sadowski who was born in Olendry in 1956 and later graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Sadowski has painted hundreds of film posters during his career and has won several prestigious awards, including a gold medal at Poster Biennale of Poland in 1984 and a gold medal from the New York Society of Illustrators in 1994. There are multiple galleries of his work online, including this one on the Polish Poster Gallery website and this one on Polishposter.com that both clearly show the quality of his artwork.

Barton Fink / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Barton Fink
AKA
--
Year of Film
1991
Director
Joel Coen
Starring
John Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, John Mahoney
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
John Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, John Mahoney,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Concept Arts
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
There's only one thing stranger than what's going on inside his head. What's going on outside.

During 1989, after four months of writing, the Coen Brothers experienced a period of difficulty in pulling the story together for their gangster-themed classic Miller’s Crossing and the pair decided to take a break. They traveled to New York from Los Angeles and during their stay there they penned a new script for a film set in a largely abandoned hotel in Los Angeles, with John Turturro in mind for the lead role. Once filming was complete on Miller’s Crossing the pair returned to the script and started to plan the production with the actor.

Set in 1941, the film follows the titular playwright (Turturro) who has seen great success with his recent play on Broadway and is persuaded by his agent that an offer from Capital Studios in Hollywood of a thousand dollars a week to write scripts is too good to pass up. Although Barton is worried that living there will make him lose his connection to the ‘common man’, which is what he feels give his plays their power, he reluctantly agrees and decides to stay at the almost empty Hotel Earle, rather than a more salubrious establishment. His room is dark, drab and devoid of any decoration save for a photograph of a woman in a bikini on a beach looking at the surf, which mesmerises Barton as he imagines the scene come to life.

Soon he meets the boss of Capital, Jack Lipnick (Michael Lerner), who promises him his total support and asks him to start off with writing a wrestling picture. Disappointed with the choice of subject, he returns to the Earle and sits down at his typewriter. Immediately he finds himself suffering writers block, a situation made worse by distracting sounds in the hotel and the appearance of his room neighbour, Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), who introduces himself as a traveling salesman and tries to help Barton to get back on track. Later he meets a famous novelist called W.P. Mayhew (John Mahoney) who moved to Hollywood years before and has been writing scripts ever since, despite suffering from alcoholism and anger management issues. Mayhew’s long-suffering assistant, Audrey Taylor (Judy Davis) agrees to help with his script as the demands from Capitol grow stronger. After visiting his hotel room, Audrey and Barton spend the night together, but when he tries to wake her the next morning he finds that she’s been murdered and soon a pair of belligerent detectives appear in the lobby of the Earle.

The film clearly references a number of real characters from 1940s Hollywood but their characters are skewed just enough that it’s not libellous, and the ‘Sources, inspirations and allusions’ section on the film’s Wikipedia page gives a good rundown of the recipe for the Coens’ script. Barton Fink was a huge critical success and was the first film to win the Palme d’Or, Best Director and Best Actor at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, critical success didn’t translate into box-office performance and the film apparently failed to recoup its production budget.

This one sheet was created by the prolific poster design team at Concept Arts. They started out in London in 1972 working on printed material for film releases in the UK before eventually opening an office in Hollywood from where they still work today. Their official website can be seen here and indicates that they’ve diversified to also include digital, AV and social media campaigns. The gallery of their work on IMPAwards is very impressive and features 613 posters! To see the other Concept Arts posters I’ve collected click here.

Barton Fink / quad / UK

11.09.15

Poster Poster
Title
Barton Fink
AKA
--
Year of Film
1991
Director
Joel Coen
Starring
John Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, John Mahoney
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
John Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, John Mahoney,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Between Heaven and Hell there's always Hollywood

During 1989, after four months of writing, the Coen Brothers experienced a period of difficulty in pulling the story together for their gangster-themed classic Miller’s Crossing and the pair decided to take a break. They traveled to New York from Los Angeles and during their stay there they penned a new script for a film set in a largely abandoned hotel in Los Angeles, with John Turturro in mind for the lead role. Once filming was complete on Miller’s Crossing the pair returned to the script and started to plan the production with the actor.

Set in 1941, the film follows the titular playwright (Turturro) who has seen great success with his recent play on Broadway and is persuaded by his agent that an offer from Capital Studios in Hollywood of a thousand dollars a week to write scripts is too good to pass up. Although Barton is worried that living there will make him lose his connection to the ‘common man’, which is what he feels give his plays their power, he reluctantly agrees and decides to stay at the almost empty Hotel Earle, rather than a more salubrious establishment. His room is dark, drab and devoid of any decoration save for a photograph of a woman in a bikini on a beach looking at the surf, which mesmerises Barton as he imagines the scene come to life.

Soon he meets the boss of Capital, Jack Lipnick (Michael Lerner), who promises him his total support and asks him to start off with writing a wrestling picture. Disappointed with the choice of subject, he returns to the Earle and sits down at his typewriter. Immediately he finds himself suffering writers block, a situation made worse by distracting sounds in the hotel and the appearance of his room neighbour, Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), who introduces himself as a traveling salesman and tries to help Barton to get back on track. Later he meets a famous novelist called W.P. Mayhew (John Mahoney) who moved to Hollywood years before and has been writing scripts ever since, despite suffering from alcoholism and anger management issues. Mayhew’s long-suffering assistant, Audrey Taylor (Judy Davis) agrees to help with his script as the demands from Capitol grow stronger. After visiting his hotel room, Audrey and Barton spend the night together, but when he tries to wake her the next morning he finds that she’s been murdered and soon a pair of belligerent detectives appear in the lobby of the Earle.

The film clearly references a number of real characters from 1940s Hollywood but their characters are skewed just enough that it’s not libellous, and the ‘Sources, inspirations and allusions’ section on the film’s Wikipedia page gives a good rundown of the recipe for the Coens’ script. Barton Fink was a huge critical success and was the first film to win the Palme d’Or, Best Director and Best Actor at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, critical success didn’t translate into box-office performance and the film apparently failed to recoup its production budget.

I’m unsure who is responsible for the design of this quad, which is unique to the international campaign (the striking US one sheet looks like this), so if anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

Naked Lunch / quad / UK

22.06.17

Poster Poster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Exterminate all rational thought

Naked Lunch is cult Canadian director David Cronenberg‘s semi-adaptation of the celebrated American writer William S. Burroughsnovel of the same name. The book, which is a collection of vignettes with little in the way of connecting narrative, was written in 1959 and several attempts had been made over the years to try and adapt it for the screen. The structure of the book meant crafting a coherent plot was a tall order for any screenwriter, so Cronenberg decided to try a slightly different approach. The resultant film features scenes and characters from the vignettes but blends them with a semi-biographical look at the process Burroughs went through to write the original book, and includes incidents and characters (albeit renamed) from his experiences during the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s.

The resultant film, despite having more of a connecting narrative, is no less batshit crazy for it. Peter Weller plays Burroughs as William Lee (a sometime pen name of the author) who is working as a bug exterminator and whose wife Joan Lee (Judy Davis) has become addicted to the powder he uses to kill the critters. He is also a heroin addict and is arrested by the police for possession. Whilst in custody he begins to hallucinate and sees a giant bug who tells him he is being recruited as a secret agent and that his mission is to kill Joan who may or not be a shape-shifting agent working for a shady organisation. Disbelieving, he smashes the bug and escapes from custody, returning home to find Joan having sex with one of his friends. Soon afterwards he accidentally kills Joan by shooting her in the head after attempting to shoot a glass off her head, William Tell-style (this mirrors a real incident in which Burroughs killed his then partner Joan Vollmer in Mexico).

On the run from the police, he’s introduced to a bipedal alien called a Mugwump in a bar who gives him a travel ticket to get to Interzone (an area of a North African country) where he can lie low and carry out missions for his ‘handlers’. There he meets a whole host of odd characters, including Tom Frost (Ian Holm) and his wife Joan who bears a striking relation to his deceased wife. He continues to write reports for his imaginary handlers, with his typewriter soon morphing into another talking bug. Things continue to get progressively weirder as he is told to search out the mysterious Dr Benway, the source of a drug that is swamping the Interzone.

The above description makes the film sound vaguely conventional when it is anything but and there’s no doubt that it’s a marmite film for many who watch it. The film had a botched release in North America which saw it only recouping a small percentage of its original budget due to a limited number of screenings. Nevertheless it was largely lauded by critics and has since garnered something of a cult following.

This British quad features a unique design that includes a close-up photograph of Weller’s William Lee above a centipede. The film had a range of poster designs across the globe, with little repetition in the designs. The US one sheet is memorable but by far my favourite is the incredible Japanese ‘bug’-style poster that features a freaky illustration by H Sorayama.

Naked Lunch / B2 / bug style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Bug style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1992
Designer
Unknown
Artist
H Sorayama
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Naked Lunch / B1 / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1992
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Hajime Sorayama
Size (inches)
28 9/16" x 40.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Naked Lunch / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
26 6/8" x 39 11/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Exterminate all rational thought

Naked Lunch / B2 / red style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Red style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1992
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Cotton Comes to Harlem / B2 / Japan

30.08.16

Poster Poster

Cotton Comes to Harlem is often considered to be one of the first films in the so-called blaxploitation sub-genre of exploitation that was popular during the 1970s. The film was the second film to be directed by the late Ossie Davis, who was one of a handful of African-American actors to achieve commercial success in films without being stereotyped in films prior to 1970. Although best known as an actor, with roles in films like The Hill (1965) and The Scalphunters (1968), Davis tried his hand at directing, starting with the little-seen Kongi’s Harvest in 1970. The same year, ‘Cotton…’ proved to be a huge hit and saw him helm two other blaxploitation pictures, with Black Girl following in 1972 and then another hit with Gordon’s War a year later.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Chester Himes and is set in the eponymous neighbourhood of Manhattan. Two detectives, Grave Digger Jones (Godfrey Cambridge, who died tragically aged 43) and Coffin Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) are assigned to investigate the apparent armed robbery of $87000 during a public rally. The gathering was being led by Reverend Deke O’Malley (Calvin Lockhart) who is fundraising for a Back-to-Africa movement ship to be called Black Beauty. A gang of thieves wearing masks appear at the event and steal the money from an armoured truck before making off. A chase ensues and the titular bale of cotton falls from the getaway van. The detectives soon realise that the stolen money was apparently stashed inside the bale and the hunt is on after it disappears from the street. O’Malley must fend off the angry mob of locals looking for their money, as well as a jealous girlfriend (Judy Pace) and the partner who he was in cahoots with to stage the robbery.

The film was a huge hit in cinemas, grossing over $5 million on a $1 million budget and triggering a rush to produce films in a similar vein. Arguably the sub-genre’s most famous film, Shaft, would follow a year later. ‘Cotton…’ was given a sequel called Come Back, Charleston Blue in 1972, but the second film wasn’t met with as much critical or audience adulation.

This Japanese B2 is a photo montage but at least part of it is inspired by the US theatrical poster, which had been painted by the artist Robert McGinnis and can be seen here.