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At the Earth’s Core / quad / style B / UK

08.07.15

Poster Poster
Title
At the Earth's Core
AKA
--
Year of Film
1976
Director
Kevin Connor
Starring
Doug McClure, Peter Cushing, Caroline Munro, Cy Grant, Godfrey James, Sean Lynch, Keith Barron, Helen Gill, Anthony Verner
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Doug McClure, Peter Cushing, Caroline Munro, Cy Grant, Godfrey James, Sean Lynch, Keith Barron, Helen Gill, Anthony Verner,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Style B
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1976
Designer
Tom Chantrell
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
30" x 38 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
From the creator of 'The Land That Time Forgot'

At the Earth’s Core was the first entry in a series of British sci-fi/fantasy b-movies that were directed by Kevin Connor and starred the prolific American actor Doug McClure, known for his hammy leading man performances (McClure was one of the inspirations for The Simpsons’Troy ‘You may remember me from…’ McClure). The series began with The Land That Time Forgot (1975), was followed by The People That Time Forgot (1977) and ended with Warlords of Atlantis (1978). The initial three were shepherded through production by Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky’s Amicus Productions, which was based at Shepperton studios and is perhaps best remembered for its series of portmanteau horror films. By the time Warlords of Atlantis was released the company was almost defunct and so EMI Films stepped in and produced it, utilising many of the same cast and crew as the previous films.

Like the first three films in the series, At the Earth’s Core is based on a novel by the American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and prolific creator of adventure and sci-fi tales. First published in 1914, the story introduced the author’s creation of Pellucidar, which is the idea that Earth is a hollow shell with another land 500 miles beneath the crust. Pellucidar featured in a number of other Burroughs stories and Tarzan even visited it in a 1929 story.

Set in Victorian Britain, the film features McClure playing David Innes, an American financier working with scientist Dr. Abner Perry (Peter Cushing) who has built a giant drilling machine nicknamed the Iron Mole. The idea of the machine is to make the creation of tunnels much easier and the pair have decided to first test it on a Welsh mountain. After launch, the Mole takes an unexpected turn and they find themselves in a strange land with a pink sky and giant unidentified fauna. Suddenly they are attacked by a giant dinosaur-like creature with a beak-like face, but are eventually rescued by an aggressive group of pig-faced cavemen who add them to a gang of primitive humans they have enslaved, including Dia (the stunning Caroline Munro). Soon they are taken to a city ruled over by the evil, pterodactyl-like creatures called The Mahar who, they are horrified to discover, eat human sacrifices. It’s up to David to find a way of escaping from their enslavement and put an end to the Mahar’s reign of terror.

The film has aged pretty badly, not least in the area of the special effects with the creatures looking particularly hokey. The production team decided not to use the stop-motion style of the previous film and instead went for stuntmen in suits for most of the creatures. It’s safe to say that, whilst it may have wowed audiences of the time, it now looks extremely hokey. The production design is otherwise excellent, with some superb sets and lots of effort put into props like the Iron Mole. McClure is his usual ebullient self and Cushing gives it plenty of gusto, although the strange high-pitched voice he affects gets very grating after a while. The score by Michael Vickers is notably decent.

The brilliant artwork on this quad, featuring a similarly chunky title treatment as seen on the quad for the first film in the series, is by Tom Chantrell, the celebrated British artist whose dynamic and colourful work featured on hundreds of posters over a forty year period. His official website features a great biography written by Sim Branaghan, author of the must-own British Film Posters. Chantrell illustrated many classic poster designs, including several Hammer posters such as the brilliant quad for ‘One Million Years B.C.’, and was also responsible for the iconic Star Wars quad, the artwork of which ended up being used around the globe. I have a number of other designs by him on this site.

Note that there are two styles of the UK quad and I’ve called this one style 2. The more common style 1 (see this picture) is fairly similar but features a bit more artwork at the bottom of the poster. Note the extra vegetation on style 1 and the alternate placement of the credits block, with style 2’s covering over part of the fire-breathing frog. I’m not sure why there are two versions of the poster and the answer is sadly likely to be lost to time, with Chantrell having passed away in 2001. This poster is also undersized widthways but I don’t believe it has been trimmed.

Almost Human / quad / UK

15.10.12

Poster Poster
Title
Almost Human
AKA
Shock Waves (USA) | Le commando des morts-vivants [The commando of the living dead] (France) | L'occhio nel triangolo [The eye in the triangle] (Italy)
Year of Film
1977
Director
Ken Wiederhorn
Starring
Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams, John Carradine, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson, Luke Halpin, D.J. Sidney, Don Stout, Clarence Thomas
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Peter Cushing, Brooke Adams, John Carradine, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson, Luke Halpin, D.J. Sidney, Don Stout, Clarence Thomas,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 39 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Once they were... | The Deep end of horror!

Produced and released in the US as Shock Waves, this effective low-budget horror features Nazi super-soldier zombies attacking an unsuspecting group of holidaymakers whose boat breaks down near a mysterious island. Prolific character actor John Carradine plays the crotchety boat captain who, despite his billing on the poster, is quickly dispatched leaving the rest of the group, including Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to discover they’re not alone on the island. Horror legend Peter Cushing appears as the former Nazi commander of ‘Der Toten Corp’, a group of super soldiers who were the result of a series of World War II experiments that left them unable to feel pain and breath underwater.

Cushing, sporting a spectacular facial scar, has time for one German-accented explanatory speech and some moments of rambling around the island before he too is offed; a short but memorable performance that also sees him given top billing. That same year the actor would make arguably his most famous non-horror appearance in George Lucas’ Star Wars.

The film features nothing in the way of gory splatter kills seen in other zombie films of the period (particularly 1978s Dawn of the Dead) and most of the deaths occur off screen or see the victims being dragged underwater by the silent killers. What it lacks in gore the film more than makes up for in atmosphere, and this is helped in no small part to the excellent electronic soundtrack that features a pulsing bass rhythm during the moments of tension.

The scenes featuring the Toten Corp underwater are effectively done and the costumes and zombie makeup are also decent considering the low budget. True, some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired and the script is occasionally laughably clunky, but it’s still a horror film that’s well worth seeking out. Sadly it appears that there are currently no plans for a blu-ray release, which is a shame considering the terrible picture quality of the current DVD releases.

The excellent artwork on this quad features on the American one sheet (note the tagline), as well as on the posters for several other countries. In typical 1970s style the artist took certain liberties with both the size of the creatures and the number of bikini-clad beauties in peril. I’m unsure who is responsible for it so if you know please get in touch.

Ted, a friend of the site, noticed that the artwork on the quad has actually been redrawn as it differs in detail from the illustration seen on the US one sheet. Take a look at this high-resolution scan, and in particular the faces of the people, for confirmation.

The excellent trailer is on YouTube.

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell / quad / UK

03.06.13

Poster Poster

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973) marked the end of an era for British film in more ways than one. It was the last gothic horror to be produced by the original incarnation of the British Hammer Films studio and followed on from a series of six feature films based around the character of Baron Frankenstein portrayed by the late, great British actor Peter Cushing (the less said about 1970s Horror of Frankenstein, with Ralph Bates in the lead role, the better). Director Terence Fisher had worked on many of Hammer’s best-loved horrors, including their first gothic feature, 1957s The Curse of Frankenstein (starring Cushing and Christopher Lee as the monster) as well as the original Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) and two other Frankenstein features for the studio. He was to effectively retire from film-making at the end of production on FATMFH, and he wasn’t the only one of the Hammer alumni to do so. This was also the last Hammer feature film that screenwriter Tony Hinds, who had worked on many of the studio’s most successful horrors, would supply a script for. Other crew members who had been instrumental in the production of dozens of Hammer horrors also called it a day once this film was released.

Originally produced and shot in 1972, it eventually limped into cinemas in 1974 well after the appeal of British gothic horror films had dissipated. Cinema-goers were keen to experience the visceral thrills of the new wave of films coming out of Hollywood, including William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece The Exorcist, which made British efforts like FATMFH seem positively antiquated. Because of the fall in demand from distribution companies who were previously happy to bankroll Hammer’s productions, the budget for this film was a tiny fraction of many of their previous horrors. It would be a lie to say that the lack of money doesn’t show on screen – most of the film takes place on what is clearly a single soundstage – but the skilled craftsmen at Hammer were still able to create a wonderful sense of atmosphere with the modest amount of funds at their disposal. The film is in many ways the perfect swan-song for Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein and his performance absolutely steals the show, from his brilliant crash-zoom entrance to the quiet madness of the denouement.

On the 29th of May, 2013 I was lucky enough to see the film at London’s British Film Institute in a special showing to both celebrate the centenary of Cushing’s birth and also preview a newly restored print of FATMFH. The reformed version of Hammer films have undertaken a series of restoration projects on many of the studio’s classic films, including the original Dracula and the original Curse of Frankenstein. I believe that the new print of FATMFH will see release on blu-ray at some point this year, as well as a new restoration of The Mummy. It was a real treat to see the film on the big screen and be able to revel in a classic Peter Cushing performance.

This British quad was created at the London-based Downtons Advertising agency by one of the principal designers, Eddie Paul, and painted by an artist named Bill Wiggins. Both men are featured in Sim Branaghan’s must-own book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History and are each responsible for several iconic British posters. The designer Eddie Paul was born in Hackney in 1920 and attended Southend School of Art, later beginning his career at Temple Art Studios before moving on to Star Illustrations on Shoe Lane, where he gained a good reputation as a scrapboard artist. After serving in the RAF during the war, Paul joined Pulford Publicity in 1946 and started designing film posters using crayons and coloured pencils. He worked on several successful poster campaigns during the 1960s, including El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and the famous quad for From Russia with Love (painted by Renato Fratini). He later joined four ex-Downton colleagues and formed the successful agency FEREF in 1968. As Sim notes in his book, ‘He was well liked and respected within the business as a gentleman’. Eddie Paul passed away from a heart attack whilst on his way to work in 1984, just shy of his retirement from FEREF.

Bill Wiggins was born in 1915 and worked installing large cinema displays (on the front of the buildings) during the 1930s and was a special constable during the second world war. He arrived at Downton’s Advertising agency at the same time as another principal designer, Fred Atkins (later a partner in FEREF), in 1951. Wiggins worked in the film department of the studio for 25 years, painting dozens of posters alongside the likes of Vic Fair and Brian Bysouth. Wiggins is mentioned several times during my interview with the latter. He worked on several of the early Hammer films, including Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), Curse of the Werewolf, as well as the sci-fi films The Lost World (1960) and Day of the Triffids (1962). He initially retired in 1975 ‘but rapidly found himself so bored that he returned within a couple of months and continued full time for another three years, eventually leaving to paint commissioned oil portraits for an art/photographic business in Bromley’. He passed away, aged 73, in 1988. Sim believes that this poster for FATMFH is likely to be one of, if not the, final cinema poster that Wiggins worked on.

In addition to this single feature quad, there is also a double-bill quad for when the film was released in a pairing with the long-forgotten kung-fu film The Fists of Vengeance. The artwork for FATMFH is actually coloured on the double-bill poster and is therefore arguably superior to this quad. Sim confirmed to me that there was a policy around this time that the single feature quad would usually be monochrome whilst the double-bill was typically printed in full colour.

Finally, this particular copy is rolled and in great condition, which is somewhat unusual for a poster from this era. I recall reading that it may have been one poster that Hammer printed in greater numbers to give away to fans who wrote in to the studio, as was the case with the quads for ‘Dracula Has Risen from the Grave’ and the ‘She/One Million Years BC’ quads (see the bottom of this page for more detail). I’m not certain that this is case though and I’d appreciate more details about it if anyone has them.

Sword of the Valiant / quad / UK

19.06.15

Poster Poster
Title
Sword of the Valiant
AKA
Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (full title - USA)
Year of Film
1984
Director
Stephen Weeks
Starring
Miles O'Keeffe, Cyrielle Clair, Leigh Lawson, Sean Connery, Trevor Howard, Peter Cushing, Ronald Lacey, Lila Kedrova, John Rhys-Davies
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Miles O'Keeffe, Cyrielle Clair, Leigh Lawson, Sean Connery, Trevor Howard, Peter Cushing, Ronald Lacey, Lila Kedrova, John Rhys-Davies,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Men of Iron... Blades of Steel

British director Stephen Weeks had already made a film loosely based on the Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that was released in 1973 as Gawain and the Green Knight and starred the singer Murray Head as Gawain. Unfortunately, a falling out between producer and studio meant that the film was not properly distributed and pretty much disappeared without trace. 10 years later the notorious producers in charge of Cannon Films, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, were casting around for a new project and Weeks managed to persuade them to remake his original story with just a handful of tweaks. Quite frankly, everyone involved should have stayed away as the result is a risible mess.

Practically the only thing of note are the actors that the producers managed to persuade to join the cast, which includes the late Peter Cushing (in one of his final appearances) and Trevor Howard, as well as star of the Indiana Jones series John Rhys-Davies. Unquestionably their biggest coup was securing Sean Connery to play the Green Knight, a performance he managed to squeeze around his role in the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again, a task made easy by the fact that he only appears in a few scenes. But what an appearance! If you thought his costume in Zardoz was bizarre, just wait until you see him covered in bright green armour, glitter, bare-chested, covered in fake tan and wearing small antlers on his head! He certainly gives it some gusto and seems to enjoy prancing around the sets swinging his giant axe.

The story begins inside a great banqueting hall with an unhappy king (Howard) stopping a planned feast because he’s fed up with the nobles who he feels don’t have much worth. He challenges them all to prove that they’re worthy of eating from his table. Just at that moment Connery’s Green Knight bursts through the door on horseback and proceeds to taunt the people in the hall with a challenge to cut off his head in order to prove their courage. At first no one accepts, but then a plucky young squire called Gawain (a Barbie-haired Miles O’Keeffe) who was delivering the king’s new suit of armour decides to take up the challenge. Gawain swings the axe and the Green Knight’s head is removed but the whole thing is a strange ruse and only a minute later the Knight is whole again and turning the axe on Gawain.

Just before delivering the final blow he decides to spare the squire and offers him a year to solve an odd rhyming riddle. When the Green Knight has gone, the king is thrilled with Gawain’s bravery and immediately knights him and sends him off on a quest to solve the riddle. The rest of the film moves from scene to scene without much urgency and features some dreadful battle scenes and sword-fighting that make it look like an amateur production. The script is truly terrible and it’s clear that whole scenes were truncated heavily as half of it doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps worst of all is the abysmal synthesiser score that warbles in the background of every scene.

In the end, this film would also fall foul of producer and distributor problems and wasn’t given a proper release and poor reviews didn’t help much at all. Weeks would never direct again. This poster features artwork that I believe to be unique to the British quad and I’ve been unable to find out who is responsible. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

Check out the ridiculous trailer on YouTube.

The Uncanny / one sheet / UK

22.06.15

Poster Poster

A striking design on this poster for the 1977 British-Canadian horror anthology The Uncanny, which is based around the unlikely theme of malevolent cats. The film is often mistakenly credited as being an Amicus Productions anthology (like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror) but it was in fact a Rank release with the involvement of Milton Subotsky, one half of the Amicus team, which had disbanded in 1975.

The film features three stories told as part of an overarching framing tale that sees Peter Cushing as a British author visiting his agent in Montreal to present the idea for his next book, which is that all cats are inherently evil, supernatural creatures. To illustrate his reasoning he tells three separate tales, each from different eras and locations. The first is set in London and sees Miss Malkin (Joan Greenwood) a sick, wealthy widower leave her fortune to her houseful of cats, which angers her only nephew. He enlists the help of the housemaid Janet (Susan Penhaligon) who attempts to steal the copies of the will but disturbs the elderly woman as she’s doing so and kills her in the struggle that follows. Much to Janet’s surprise, the moggies then take their revenge on her and the nephew.

The second story is based in Quebec and sees Lucy (Katrina Holden Bronson) an orphaned girl, going to live with her Aunt and bringing her beloved cat Wellington with her. After being mistreated by the family who decide to try and dispose of Wellington, Lucy seeks help from her collection of witchcraft books and takes out her anger on her malicious cousin Angela. The final story is set in Hollywood during the 1930s and features Donald Pleasence giving it his all as an actor who rigs an onset accident that kills his wife so he can shack up with his mistress, a younger actress. Unfortunately, his wife’s cat is none too pleased with its owner being offed and sets out to get its revenge, which it does in a ridiculous finale.

The film features very little in the way of horror, with only some very fake looking blood in a few scenes and absolutely nothing in the way of suspense. The special effects are mostly awful and in the scenes where cats are supposedly attacking people you can practically see the hands of the animal handlers who’ve just thrown them at the victim. The middle story set in Canada is particularly poor, thanks to a woeful performance by the actress playing Lucy. The simple fact is that cats are not particularly scary and anyone who owns a cat knows that the worst that might happen is a bit of scratched skin. Apparently the film flopped at the box office and was never even given a release in American cinemas.

This poster was designed and illustrated by Vic Fair, who is one the most important designer/artists ever to work on British film marketing. He is responsible for several iconic posters, including The Man Who Fell To Earth, posters for Hammer horrors like Vampire Circus, and the withdrawn advance one sheet for A View to a Kill. I interviewed Vic for this site and that article can be viewed by clicking here.

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

Star Wars / quad / Special Edition re-release / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Special Edition re-release
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1997
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
30 1/8" x 40"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
--

Star Wars / one sheet / style C / international

16.09.15

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style C
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Not only is this probably the best poster artwork for the film that started the biggest sci-fi franchise of all, it’s also considered by many to be the greatest work by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell. Declaring it so is not an easy decision to make since Chantrell illustrated thousands of posters during his long career and there are many classic designs to choose from, including several Hammer posters and a brilliant design for ‘One Million Years B.C.’. I have a number of other posters by him on this site for you to peruse.

In 2013 I interviewed Chantrell’s widow Shirley about their life together and she recalled how Tom would often ask her to pose so he could capture the correct stance for female characters appearing on his posters. Shirley recalls how the project came about for Tom:

Tom was given an invite to the premier showing and we all went along as a family. As soon as he’d seen the film he had the synopsis, the 10” x 8” press stills and then he started to think about how he was going to tackle the project. From beginning to end it took one month, which is a lot of work for one poster. He’d never taken that long before and I don’t think he did again.

Shirley once again posed for Tom and this time she was his Princess Leia. She not only still has the reference photos taken that day but also still has the same dress she wore.

This poster perfectly captures the excitement and adventure of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster and, although originally intended just to be used for the UK market on the quad, the art was liked so much by Lucasfilm that the decision was made to use it for this style C one sheet, as well as for other posters around the world. George Lucas himself would later purchase the original artwork for his archives and I like to imagine it’s hanging on a wall in Skywalker Ranch.

Note that the style C one sheet was originally printed for use in international territories, meaning it was printed in the US for use in other English-speaking countries. Note that it’s lacking the MPAA ratings box (PG). There were a handful of style Cs that were printed with a ratings box which were used for limited US screenings, but these are harder to find than this international version. Another thing to note is that this poster was bootlegged towards the end of the 1980s and there are thought to be thousands of copies out there. Unlike typical fake one sheets, the bootlegs are full size at around 27″ x 41″ but there are ways to differentiate them. The colours on the fake are not as vibrant and there are two hairs that were likely caught in the printing presses when the fakes were being run off (one on Leia’s gown and one on R2D2’s foot). This video goes into detail about what to look for and Cinemasterpieces.com has a detailed section on the poster here. Moviepostercollectors.guide also has a page on what to look out for.

Sadly, Tom Chantrell passed away in 2001 and my friend, and author of the must own British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, Sim Branaghan wrote his obituary for the Guardian. He may no longer be with us but Tom Chantrell’s classic artworks have stood the test of time and continue to impress decades later.

To see the other posters I have in the collection that were painted by Chantrell click here.

Star Wars / quad / UK

25.11.14

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
First printing
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Tom Chantrell
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
May the force be with you

Not only is this probably the best poster artwork for the film that started the biggest sci-fi franchise of all, it’s also considered by many to be the greatest work by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell. Declaring it so is not an easy decision to make since Chantrell illustrated thousands of posters during his long career and there are many classic designs to choose from, including several Hammer posters and a brilliant design for ‘One Million Years B.C.’. I have a number of other posters by him on this site for you to peruse.

In 2013 I interviewed Chantrell’s widow Shirley about their life together and she recalled how Tom would often ask her to pose so he could capture the correct stance for female characters appearing on his posters. Shirley recalls how the project came about for Tom:

Tom was given an invite to the premier showing and we all went along as a family. As soon as he’d seen the film he had the synopsis, the 10” x 8” press stills and then he started to think about how he was going to tackle the project. From beginning to end it took one month, which is a lot of work for one poster. He’d never taken that long before and I don’t think he did again.

Shirley once again posed for Tom and this time she was his Princess Leia. She not only still has the reference photos taken that day but also still has the same dress she wore.

This poster perfectly captures the excitement and adventure of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster and, although originally intended just to be used for the UK market, the art was liked so much by Lucasfilm that the decision was made to use it for a style C one sheet as well as for other posters around the world. George Lucas himself would later purchase the original artwork for his archives and I like to imagine it’s hanging on a wall in Skywalker Ranch.

This particular style of the poster is the first printing of the poster for the initial 1977 release in cinemas and this can be distinguished from the later printing known as the ‘Oscars version’, so called because it was printed once the film had won a handful of Academy Awards a few months after the original UK release. The ongoing success and phenomenon of the film meant that many more copies of the second version were printed as it was shown around the UK. The Oscars version is also in the Film on Paper collection and can be viewed here.

During the time I spent with Shirley we browsed through several boxes of the plentiful material she has kept from the days that Tom was working on film posters. I was amazed to see that he had retained the original invoice that he had sent to 20th Century Fox (Star Wars’ UK distributors) and some letters from Fox relating to the invoice, which confirmed that he had been paid the sum of £1000 for his original work on the art. These can be viewed by accessing picture thumbnails 28 and 29.

Sadly, Tom Chantrell passed away in 2001 and my friend, and author of the must own British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, Sim Branaghan wrote his obituary for the Guardian. He may no longer be with us but Tom Chantrell’s classic artworks have stood the test of time and continue to impress decades later.

Star Wars / one sheet / style D / studio version / USA

23.07.14

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style D - studio version
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Charles White III | Drew Struzan
Size (inches)
27 2/16" x 40 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

This is the excellent ‘style D’ poster for the original sci-fi classic Star Wars, which was printed for the 1978 re-release of the film in the US. The artwork, which only appears on this US one sheet, was a collaboration between two talents; Charles White III who was at the time an established and well regarded artist well known for his skills with an airbrush, and Drew Struzan who was early in his film poster painting career and yet to paint the iconic images for which he is famous for today. This is Struzan’s first poster for the Star Wars franchise and he would later go on to be one of Lucasfilm’s most trusted artists, painting several other posters and related images for the Star Wars universe over the following 35 years.

In an interview with Airbrush Magazine in August 1999, Struzan said:

‘I will never fail to give credit to Charlie White for what he did for me. It may have been a small thing to him, but a life changer for me. He is an extraordinary artist famed for his airbrush work. He had the desirable assignment to do the one-sheet poster for the re-release of Star Wars in 1978. He is marvellous at painting objects, but was hesitant to paint portraits for the poster. Somehow, he asked me to paint the portraits while he would paint the droids and the like…Only an extraordinary individual does anything so generous and unselfish. It is the individual who deserves the honor. I have no doubt that there was a desire on Charlie’s part to do the best job possible on the Star Wars project…It was to his advantage to use the best talent he could find. He also gave the lettering to a great letterer. It made for an outstanding poster. All of us who worked on it have been proud ever since to have had the opportunity. It remains a perennial favorite, even among Hollywood executives.’

The style D page on TheForce.net notes that this is said to be George Lucas’ favourite Star Wars poster and the original artwork apparently hangs on the wall in his house. It is often described as being a ‘circus’ style poster as the main image has been illustrated to appear that it’s sitting on a wooden board with other older, torn paper surrounding it.

In another interview with Struzan carried out by Cinefantastique in 1997, the artist recalls how the design came about:

‘The novel idea of making the poster appear as if it were pasted on a wall came about almost by accident. “We had already done the lettering of the title, painting it in as part of the poster,” recalled Struzan. “Then, when we got the billing, we discovered there wasn’t enough room for all the credits, so we had to figure out a way to make more space. We thought, ‘Why don’t we take what we already have and paint it to look like it’s wild posted on top of other posters?’ That gave us the extra room we needed for the billing at the bottom. It was a case of Necessity being the Mother of Invention.” …”We had to do other art to fill it out, so we had a chance to include more characters. We added Han Solo in a little vignetted circle, and Alec Guinness was an afterthought. It kind of grew to include everybody.”‘

Note that this is the ‘studio’ version of the one sheet and there is also the National Screen Service (NSS) version which has all of the associated markings on the bottom edge of the poster. The studio style was printed by the studio itself, whilst the NSS version would have been produced at one of their own printing offices. There were also two official reprints done around the time of the film’s 15th anniversary but they are pretty easy to spot since they are undersized and feature several new lines of text (copyright and so on). Moviepostercollectors.com features a page on the poster that’s well worth a read.

Drew Struzan barely needs an introduction to film fans worldwide but he also has an official website featuring galleries of his work. To see the other posters I’ve collected by Struzan click here.

Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back / double bill / quad / UK

02.09.14

Poster Poster

Following the unprecedented success of the original Star Wars, released in 1977 to worldwide audience acclaim, expectations were high for the sequel which was put into production a few months after its release. Three years later, The Empire Strikes Back arrived in cinemas and was met with huge audience and critical acclaim, firmly cementing the series’ place in the hearts of millions of fans across the globe. A less well-received third part of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, and a lacklustre set of prequel films failed to dampen audience enthusiasm for the franchise and a new film adventure is set to be released at the end of 2015.

To capitalise on the successful release of the films, particularly before home video was a reality, distributor 20th Century Fox decided to release a double-bill of both Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back in to cinemas towards the end of 1980. This event was repeated across the world but this British quad is unique to this country and is the result of the amalgamation of the original quads for both films, plus an extra photographic element not included on either in the figure of Jedi master Yoda, which was probably added due to the characters’ popularity.

The original Star Wars quad was designed and illustrated by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell whose dynamic and colourful work featured on hundreds of posters over a forty year period. The artist sadly passed away in 2001 but last year his widow Shirley launched his official website, which showcases his work and features a great biography written by Sim Branaghan, author of the must-own book British Film Posters. Chantrell illustrated many classic poster designs, including several Hammer posters such as the brilliant quad for ‘One Million Years B.C.’, and he was also responsible for many other pieces of iconic poster artwork. I have a number of other designs by Chantrell on this site and you can read an exclusive interview with Shirley by clicking here.

The Empire Strikes Back quad features the artwork painted for the US style B one sheetwhich was by the American artist Tom Jung, perhaps best known for his iconic ‘style A’ one sheet that he painted for the release of the original Star Wars. Jung was a prolific designer and illustrator for film campaigns from the 1950s through to the 1980s. IMPAwards features a gallery of his work and his Wikipedia article has a selected list of the posters he worked on. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Another special quad was put together for a triple-bill event after the release of Return of the Jedi, which again featured elements of the artwork from all three separate release quads. Note that this poster can be found undersized at around 28″ x 40″ and this was because several hundred copies were machine trimmed to be used in special frames on the London Underground, a fate which befell a number of posters around the end of the 1970s and early 1980s.

 

Star Wars / one sheet / style A / first printing / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style A - first printing
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1977
Designer
Tom Jung | Murray Smith (art direction)
Artist
Tom Jung
Size (inches)
27" x 41 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
77/21-0
Tagline
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Star Wars / one sheet / 1981 re-release / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Tom Jung
Artist
Tom Jung
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
R810077
Tagline
The Force will be with you for two weeks only

Star Wars / B2 / Seito artwork style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Seito artwork style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Seito
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Star Wars / B2 / 1982 re-release / commemoration style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Re-release - commemoration style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Noriyoshi Ohrai
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Star Wars / B2 / photo style / Oscars version / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Photo style - Oscars version with red text near Oscars text
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tim and Greg Hildebrandt (partial)
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Star Wars / quad / Oscars version / UK

12.09.11

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Oscars version
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1977 (this version printed 1978)
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tom Chantrell
Size (inches)
30" x 39 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
May the force be with you

Not only is this probably the best poster artwork for the film that started the biggest sci-fi franchise of all, it’s also considered by many to be the greatest work by the late, great British artist Tom Chantrell. Declaring it so is not an easy decision to make since Chantrell illustrated thousands of posters during his long career and there are many classic designs to choose from, including several Hammer posters and a brilliant design for ‘One Million Years B.C.’. I have a number of other posters by him on this site for you to peruse.

In 2013 I interviewed Chantrell’s widow Shirley about their life together and she recalled how Tom would often ask her to pose so he could capture the correct stance for female characters appearing on his posters. Shirley recalls how the project came about for Tom:

Tom was given an invite to the premier showing and we all went along as a family. As soon as he’d seen the film he had the synopsis, the 10” x 8” press stills and then he started to think about how he was going to tackle the project. From beginning to end it took one month, which is a lot of work for one poster. He’d never taken that long before and I don’t think he did again.

Shirley once again posed for Tom and this time she was his Princess Leia. She not only still has the reference photos taken that day but also still has the same dress she wore.

This poster perfectly captures the excitement and adventure of the seminal sci-fi blockbuster and, although originally intended just to be used for the UK market on the quad, the art was liked so much by Lucasfilm that the decision was made to use it for this style C one sheet, as well as for other posters around the world. George Lucas himself would later purchase the original artwork for his archives and I like to imagine it’s hanging on a wall in Skywalker Ranch.

This particular style of the poster is known as the ‘Oscars version’, so called because it was printed once the film had won a handful of Academy Awards a few months after the original UK release. Whilst it would be nice to have the non-Oscar version I’m certainly not complaining, especially since this one is rolled and in fantastic condition.

Sadly, Tom Chantrell passed away in 2001 and poster historian Sim Branaghan wrote his obituary for the Guardian. He may no longer be with us but his classic designs have stood the test of time and continue to impress decades later.

Star Wars / B1 / artwork style / Japan

23.09.12

Poster Poster
Title
Star Wars
AKA
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (full title) | La guerre des étoiles (Canada - French title / France)
Year of Film
1977
Director
George Lucas
Starring
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
Artwork
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Seito
Size (inches)
28 13/16" x 40 8/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The enigmatic artist Seito is responsible for the artwork on this Japanese B1 poster for the original release of the sci-fi classic Star Wars in Japan. The design has clear echoes of the American one sheet artwork by Tom Jung but features several additions and the unusual choice of having the Death Star upside down (the weapon crater at least). Both designs depict an overly muscled Luke Skywalker and a tight-clothed, voluptuous Princess Leia, which, if you’ve seen the film (who hasn’t!), you’ll know doesn’t quite match up with the actual characters.

This is one of three posters printed for the original release of Star Wars in Japan, which included a simple advance and this photo montage style.

Seito is one of my favourite Japanese artists and is responsible for some wonderful illustrated posters, although little is known about him even in his native Japan. To see the other posters I’ve collected by him click here.

Legend of the Werewolf / one sheet / UK

30.01.12

Poster Poster

British designer and illustrator Vic Fair is responsible for the arresting poster for this 1975 horror film Legend of the Werewolf directed by Freddie Francis and produced by Tyburn Film Productions. Francis is probably best known as an Academy-Award winning cinematographer (Sons and Lovers, Glory), and he worked with David Lynch on The Elephant Man, Dune and The Straight Story. He’s also responsible for directing a slew of films for the British production companies Hammer, Amicus and Tigon, including Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and Dracula has Risen from the Grave.

Tyburn was apparently set up by Freddie Francis’ son, Kevin, and was only active for a short period, producing three horror films in 1975, including this one, The Ghoul and Persecution. I wasn’t able to discover much more information about the company so please get in touch if you know anything of note.

The story is set in 19th century France and focuses on Etoile (David Rintoul) who is raised by wolves and is later found and adopted by a sideshow troupe traveling through the forrest. He eventually escapes to Paris and becomes infatuated with a prostitute (Lynn Dalby), but when her clients begin to be brutally murdered a police surgeon (Cushing) begins to suspect all is not quite right with Etoile.

Sim Branaghan, author of the excellent book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History is a fan of the film and sent this through to me shortly after I added the poster to the site:

I actually know a large amount about this film – and Tyburn – for the simple reason that a book was published by the BFI back in 1976, which exhaustively documented its production. The film happens to be one of my personal favourites and I think it is witty, thoughtful, and finally genuinely moving (if only in a small way). Tony Hinds’ script is classic dark-fairy-tale, the acting fine, Francis’s direction skilfully-unobtrusive and Harry Robinson’s score absolutely terrific. Cushing gives his usual model, controlled performance (rather more light-hearted than usual), Ron Moody is excellent, and David Rintoul fresh and sympathetic as the werewolf.

The supporting cast is a bit mixed, but nobody actively embarrasses themselves. Yes, the film is painfully low-budget and sometimes looks pretty threadbare, but it has HEART. Historically, it’s hugely significant as the last Costume Gothic produced in the UK (almost exactly eighteen years after the first, Curse of Frankenstein, back in autumn 1956). Hinds and Cushing worked on both of course, and the sense of fin-de-siecle here is palpable, and very poignant to a true fan of the genre.

Obviously all criticism is subjective, and you might well find plenty of other horror fans who’ll cheerfully tell you Legend is a pile of shite.  But they’d be wrong. 

The pictures of the poster don’t do the striking neon colours justice and I believe it was done with a type of screen-printing as they are particularly solid and bright in person.

Here’s a clip from the film featuring a red-tinted werewolf-vision attack.