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Lucky Lady / one sheet / USA

27.06.16

Poster Poster

Artwork by the late, great Richard Amsel features on this one sheet for the 1975 comedy-drama Lucky Lady. The film was helmed by Stanley Donen, an American director who’s best known for Singing in the Rain (1952) and Charade (1963). Gene Hackman appears alongside Burt Reynolds and Liza Minnelli, and the former apparently took some persuading to star. He eventually relented when producers offered him the then significant sum of $1.5m. The film is set in the American prohibition era during which the sale and production of alcohol was banned across the whole country. The plot is described like so:

During the Prohibition era, a young widow, Claire (Minelli), gets involved in liquor smuggling and romance with two men, Walker (Reynolds) and Kibby (Hackman), off the San Diego coast. Organized crime controls bootlegging back east and wants to do the same here, so a hit man named McTeague (John Hillerman) is sent to deal with these amateur crooks, as is the Coast Guard, leading to various battles at sea.

Richard Amsel was born in Philadelphia in 1947 and studied at the city’s College of Art. Whilst there he entered and won a nationwide artist competition to paint the poster for the film ‘Hello Dolly!’. Amsel was just 22 at the time and this win helped him quickly establish a career in New York where he worked on album covers (including one for Barry Manilow) as well as magazine covers and editorial art. In addition, he worked on posters some of the most important films of the 1970s, including Chinatown, Nashville and The Sting. During the 1970s he also worked on a series of covers for the American magazine TV Guide, which are still celebrated to this day.

In the 1980s Amsel worked on what is my favourite Indiana Jones poster, the Raiders of the Lost Ark 1982 re-release one sheet. He had also painted the original release version, featuring a much more serious looking Indy. The artist’s final film poster was the one sheet for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. Amsel sadly died of AIDS-related complications that same year. He leaves behind a great legacy of unforgettable artwork, some of which I already have in the Film on Paper collection and which can be seen here.

Where Eagles Dare / B2 / Japan

05.06.13

Poster Poster

Great artwork by the Italian/French artist Jean Mascii on this Japanese B2 for the 1968 WWII action-adventure Where Eagles Dare, starring  and . Scottish novelist Alistair MacLean was apparently commissioned by Burton to write a ‘boys-own’ action thriller that the actor could take his son to see. MacLean, who was already responsible for several successful novels-turned-films, including Guns of Navarone and Ice Station Zebra, wrote the book for Where Eagles Dare at the same time as the screenplay. The film would end up differing from the book, with the screenplay featuring significantly more violence – the film is often thought to feature Eastwood’s highest on-screen bodycount.

The story, set in the winter of 1943, sees Burton’s army major tasked with leading a team of commandos on a mission to a castle high in the Bavarian Alps to rescue a captured American General who, unknown to the Nazis, has detailed knowledge of the planned D-Day landings. Joining the team is Lieutenant Schaffer (Eastwood) an American ranger who is puzzled by his inclusion, but as the men scale the mountain to reach the castle and undertake their mission several members of the team reveal their true plans.

Jean Mascii was born in Italy in 1923 and moved with his parents to France in 1932. In 1947 he was given his first job painting cinema billboards and from there he moved onto designing and painting film posters and is thought to have worked on over 2000 of them during his career, including several undisputed classics such as the poster for Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville and George Franju’s Les Yeux Sans Visage. The Cinesud site features a gallery of hundreds of his posters that’s well worth browsing.

I’m not 100% certain that this Japanese version of Where Eagles Dare was painted by Mascii but I’ve seen the painting, which also features on a British quad (with some differences – Burton’s face being one), credited to him several times. There is also an alternative French poster (image taken from eatbrie.com) for the film that is credited to the artist. If anyone know for certain that Mascii can be credited with this painting please get in touch.