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An interview with Renato Casaro

06.03.14

There are few film poster artists as prolific as Italian-born Renato Casaro whose work featured on thousands of posters advertising films around the globe for over 40 years. From his beginnings as a cinema-obsessed youth in Treviso, northern Italy, Renato forged a career that saw him join the famous Studio Favalli in Rome aged 19 before becoming a freelance artist and designer just over a year later. By the time of his retirement at the end of the millennium he had worked on memorable posters for some of the biggest films of the past 50 years whilst forming close friendships with the likes of Dino De Laurentiis, Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. For many years Renato was the go-to artist for both Italian and German distributors wanting to release their films with a striking poster design.

Renato Casaro stands next to his latest wildlife painting inside his home studio near Marbella, Spain. Photo taken in June 2013.

Renato Casaro stands next to his latest wildlife painting inside his home studio near Marbella, Spain. Photo taken in June 2013.

Unusually, especially in comparison to other film poster artists, Renato has retained and carefully archived almost all of the original sketches and artwork for his posters dating back to the 1960s, with only some of his very earliest work no longer surviving. In the summer of 2013 I was privileged to be able to meet Renato at his home near the Spanish town of Marbella and spend an afternoon discussing his life and career. I was also granted a brief but memorable look at the archive of his work and some photos are included below.

The following article contains many images of Renato’s work with a larger focus on the film posters he worked on during the 1970s and 1980s since this is the era of his work that is found in the Film on Paper collection and means the most to me personally. However, it’s important to stress that the images displayed here are just the tip of the iceberg and I encourage you to follow the links displayed at the end of the article to see many more of Renato’s great posters.

The American one sheet for Conan the Barbarian, painted by Renato Casaro in 1982

The American one sheet for Conan the Barbarian, painted by Renato Casaro in 1982 after the artist made a memorable visit to the film’s Almeria set. The artwork was used around the world to promote the film and is arguably Renato’s most famous work.

Renato, thanks for welcoming me here. I thought we could start with your early life and you were born in 1935?
Yes, that’s correct. I was born in Treviso, Northern Italy.

Can you tell me about your childhood?
I was lucky because I went to a school near Treviso that was really respected for the way it taught the pupils about art and design. I had a teacher that encouraged me and helped me to understand how to draw and paint. I remember that I had a notebook that I would carry with me everywhere and I would continue to draw sketches and caricatures of other students and teachers, even when I wasn’t in art class. My mother used to get annoyed because I’d be drawing in books that were meant for other subjects!

Did your mother and father have an artistic background?
No, there were no members of my immediate family who were artists and I don’t really know of any relatives who were particularly skilled either.

What about cinema? Was that a passion from a very early age?
Oh, absolutely! I was at the cinema to see a film almost every day. As well as enjoying the films themselves, I fell immediately in love with the posters that were displayed when a new film was showing. I used to go by the cinema every day to see if they were changing the posters and when they were I would ask if I could take them home. I was usually in luck and would run home with the poster and go into my bedroom to study it before attempting to paint a copy of it. I always did this because it helped me to understand how the artist had achieved the finished result.

The central staircase of Treviso's Cinema Garibaldi in the 1950s.

The central staircase of Treviso’s Cinema Garibaldi in the 1950s.

I repeated this over and over with many different posters and I guess that’s how I taught myself various techniques that would later serve me well for my career as an illustrator. There were no colleges or courses that specifically taught illustration around Treviso so it was the best way for me to learn. My art teachers were good but they weren’t really interested in teaching us commercial illustration skills like those I’d need if I were to become a professional.

Some of the posters were so incredibly well painted and, try as I might, I just couldn’t emulate the way that the artist had done it. It was like a mystery to me how they had achieved it and I was hungry to understand. I realised that if I was to learn more I would have to leave Treviso and go to Rome.

Did you know the names of the artists at that time?
Yes, most of the posters had signatures on them or credits in the bottom corner so I began to learn the styles of the different artists, like Angelo Cesselon and Averado Ciriello. For me, however, the best in the world at that time was the American artist Norman Rockwell – I just thought he was the master!

Every week I used to go to have a look at the new issue of The Saturday Evening Post that was imported from the States by a newsagent in Treviso. Rockwell’s artwork would be on the cover or inside the magazine illustrating different scenarios. Of course I tried and tried to capture his wonderful images, but it was not easy. Don’t get me wrong, I did really like many of the Italian artists but for me nobody could match Rockwell.

The cover of The Saturday Evening Post, August 24 1940, which was illustrated by Norman Rockwell.

The cover of The Saturday Evening Post, August 24 1940, which was illustrated by Norman Rockwell.

What was life like for you during the Second World War?
It was not too bad because I was so young at the time and my family and I lived in a small village called Sant’Antonino that was in the countryside outside Treviso, so we didn’t have to worry too much about the bombing that was hitting the city. Because we were in the country we also had no worries about food since there was plenty of space to grow vegetables and we had livestock and chickens too. When the war finished it was really easy for me to return to studying, so I felt very lucky.

A few years before the war started I had gone with my parents to Libya to live in Benghazi because my father was a shipbuilder and he had been offered a job there working to build huge boats. We returned to Sant’Antonino when I was about six years old.

What did you do after you finished school?
Well, thanks to me having been constantly sketching and painting since a young age, both in school and at home, I had become pretty good at technical drawing – the kind of detailed images that were used by engineers as a basis to build machines and vehicles. My father had recognised that I had a talent for it and had helped me to nurture the skill with the thought that I would join him at the place where he worked and help to design ships.

It could have been a good career possibility for me as I might have ended up working for one of the car manufacturers like Ferrari or somewhere like that. The problem was that I was still too obsessed with film and the idea that I might have a career as a poster artist. My parents were very keen that I at least try working in what they considered to be a ‘normal’ career first so I got a job as a logo and type designer at a company called Longo & Zoppelli in Treviso. They handled the publicity for many companies all over the Veneto region, including for things like food and drink companies.

The Italian one panel (2-fogli) poster for La Citta Del Vizio (AKA The Phenix City Story, designed and painted by Renato Casaro, circa 1961.

The Italian one panel (2-fogli) poster for La Citta Del Vizio (AKA The Phenix City Story, designed and painted by Renato Casaro, circa 1961.

I was based in the design studio and was working on things like labels for wine bottles and I remember doing a poster for an advertisement for a brand of panettone [an Italian cake sold at Christmas], which was one of the first of my designs to be printed. I recall it being a really great feeling to see my work on paper and hanging on the wall. All the while I was spending my spare time painting copies of film posters and continuing to hone my skills in that area. I was still living with my family at the time and they let me set up a small studio space in my bedroom. I had even bought different canvases and types of paints trying to improve my capabilities. It was an intense obsession of mine.

Whilst working at Longo & Zoppelli, I used to visit the big cinema in Treviso, which was called Cinema Garibaldi, and in there they had this huge wall onto which an artist would paint an advert for upcoming films that were due to be shown there. The cinema would change this painting every few weeks and so I asked them if I could work for them and was thrilled when they said yes. I remember working on these huge paintings for films like Latin Lovers with Lana Turner, Burt Lancaster in Apache and Marilyn Monroe in River Without Return.

The Italian poster for Two Blue Eyes, painted by Renato Casaro circa 1956. This was the artist's first ever printed poster.

The Italian poster for Two Blue Eyes, painted by Renato Casaro circa 1956. This was the artist’s first ever printed poster.

When I turned 20 I decided it was time to travel to Rome and I told my parents that I had to go. Back then Rome felt a long way from Treviso; now it’s only a few hours by fast train, but 50 years ago it was a big deal to move there and was seen as a quite an adventure. My mother was of course very worried for me and was telling me how dangerous the big city could be, but I was determined to go and promised her that I would be fine. I knew that if I wanted any chance of becoming a film poster artist then that’s where I had to be.

I had taken photographs of all the paintings I’d done for the Cinema Garibaldi as well as plenty of illustrations and paintings I had done at home whilst I was perfecting my style and sent these to Studio Favalli, which was a really famous design and art studio working for the Rome film industry. They liked what they saw and invited me for an interview, which went well and I was invited to join the studio by the boss Augusto Favalli. I felt very lucky, as it was a small but strong team.

Studio Favalli, circa 1960, with Augusto Favalli in the centre at top, Renato Casaro bottom right, and Renato Fratini bottom left.

Studio Favalli, circa 1960, with Augusto Favalli in the centre at top, Renato Casaro bottom right, and Renato Fratini bottom left.

At that time the artist Renato Fratini was working there and I had around a year of working directly with him and learning tips and tricks before he left to go and work in London. It was a strong partnership and we were roughly the same age, he a little bit older, but we did some good work together during that time. I was very happy being in Rome and you can only imagine how much fun I was having as a young man, both at work and in my spare time! There was so much to see, experience and learn. I was truly full of life at that time. I also got to meet other artists that I’d admired before.

Ah, so you met some of the people responsible for the poster paintings you’d admired when you were growing up?
Yes, eventually I got to meet artists like Angelo Cesselon and others and I would tell them that I used to copy their art to understand how they achieved the finished result and to try and improve my own work.

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Conan The Barbarian / B2 / Casaro style / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Conan The Barbarian
AKA
--
Year of Film
1982
Director
John Milius
Starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow,
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Casaro style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 13/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The Running Man / A1 / Germany

15.08.14

Poster Poster

In the mid 1980s there were few actors who could get away with having their head dominate a film poster, and fewer still who could couple that with their surname in giant letters spread across the full width of the poster. One such actor was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the star of several action flicks including The Running Man. Set in the dystopian future of 2017 where the world’s economy is in ruins and America is a totalitarian police state, the populace is pacified by the broadcasting of a series of gameshows that see convicted prisoners fighting for their lives across various kinds of formats. The most popular of these shows is the titular Running Man in which the unwilling participants must try to survive in a closed-off area against an onslaught of vicious killers with catchy names and different methods of dispatching their prey.

Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is a former police helicopter pilot who was wrongly convicted of massacring a crowd of people and sent to prison. After escaping several months later with a pair of fellow convicts, Richards is preparing to flee the country but is turned into the authorities by Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), a composer for the network that he finds living in his brother’s apartment. He is taken to the Running Man studio where he meets the ruthless show host Damon Killian (a memorable turn by the late Richard Dawson) who informs him that unless he takes part in the show his two friends will be sent in his place. After agreeing to get dropped into the play zone, Richards finds that Killian has tricked him and has also sent his pals into the arena. The trio must face-off against the killers whilst trying to work out how to escape the arena and put an end to the show once and for all. When Amber looks a little too closely at the reasons for Ben Richards’ incarceration, she too is captured and dropped into the Running Man arena (she’s pictured next to Arnie on this quad).

Ably directed by Paul Michael Glaser, best known for his acting career – he was Starsky in the classic 1970s cop show Starsky and Hutch – the film is well paced and features several memorable scenes, whilst not holding back on the the violence and gore. The bad guy killers, including Sub Zero, Fireball and Captain Freedom and particularly memorable. It’s definitely a highlight of the Austrian Oak’s filmography, although it was released the same year as the incredible Predator, which is unquestionably the better film.

The excellent artwork on this German A1 was painted by the celebrated Italian artist Renato Casaro who worked on a significant number of German posters during the 1980s and 1990s. In March 2014 I published a lengthy interview I carried out with Renato and that can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by the artist can be seen by clicking here.

Poppies Are Also Flowers / A1 / Germany

21.09.15

Poster Poster

Five great portraits painted by Renato Casaro feature on this German re-release poster for Poppies Are Also Flowers (AKA Danger Grows Wild and several other titles). Made as an anti-drug trafficking film with the help of the United Nations, it was sponsored by corporate entities, including Xerox.  As this poster attests, it was based on a screenplay by James Bond creator Ian Fleming, was directed by Bond director Terence Young and had a seriously star-studded cast. The likes of Yul BrynnerAngie DickinsonTrevor Howard and Marcello Mastroianni all signed up and, so the story goes, worked for $1 each. Some serious favours must have been called in as I find it hard to believe they were all passionately anti-narcotics!

The story is described thusly on the film’s Wikipedia page:

In an attempt to stem the heroin trade at the Afghanistan–Iran border, a group of narcotics agents working for the United Nations inject a radioactive compound into a seized shipment of opium, in the hopes that it will lead them to the main heroin distributor in Europe.

Now largely forgotten, the film is apparently in the public domain and is available to watch on YouTube and elsewhere (although the quality of all copies out there is atrocious). Although originally intended for TV, the film was given a cinema release in several countries, including Japan, UK (as Danger Grows Wild) and Germany. This poster is apparently for a 1973 re-release (for what reason I’m not certain) and the original German release poster can be seen here. Casaro was clearly tasked with making the film appear as exciting as possible and added the action scenes in the bottom half of the poster. It’s safe to say that for all the effort that went it to making the film it wasn’t exactly successful in curtailing the activities of the international drug trade!

One of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro is an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Ewoks: The Battle for Endor / A1 / Germany

27.03.15

Poster Poster

This is the German poster for the release of the second of two ill-advised TV movies featuring the Ewoks, the furry, love ’em or hate ’em characters from Return of the Jedi. The Battle for Endor is set some time after the first TV movie The Ewok Adventure (AKA The Caravan of Courage) and occurs between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The plot is summarised thus:

The army of the Marauders, led by by King Terak and the witch Charal attack the Ewoks village. The parents and the brother of Cindel all die in this attack. Cindel and the Ewok Wicket escape and in a forrest they meet Teek a naughty and very fast animal. Teek takes them to a house in which a old man, Noa, lives. Like Cindel he also crashed with his Starcruiser on Endor. Together they fight Terak and Charal.

The film was first shown on TV in the US in 1985 and was given a theatrical run in UK cinemas but quickly disappeared from screens when audiences discovered the poor quality of the film. Despite not being embraced by most fans, the Ewok films nevertheless had elements that continued into the expanded Star Wars universe, including an animated series called Star Wars: Ewoks broadcast between 1985 and 1987 and the Star Tours rides at Disney theme parks.

The poster was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. In it he mentions working on this poster and he showed me the original art for the version of the poster where it’s just Connery alone (the advance poster).

The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Fire, Ice and Dynamite / A1 / Germany

05.06.15

Poster Poster
Title
Fire, Ice & Dynamite
AKA
Feuer, Eis & Dynamit (Germany - original title)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Willy Bogner
Starring
Roger Moore, Shari Belafonte, Simon Shepherd, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Geoffrey Moore, Connie De Groot
Origin of Film
Germany
Genre(s) of Film
Roger Moore, Shari Belafonte, Simon Shepherd, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Geoffrey Moore, Connie De Groot,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 5/16" x 33 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A detailed painting by Renato Casaro features on this German poster for the release of Fire, Ice and Dynamite. The film, which is actually a series of action sequences held together by a ropey plot, was conceived of and helmed by Willy Bogner, a German alpine ski racer who is perhaps best known for working as a stuntman on several James Bond films, most notably On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but also several of the Roger Moore entries.

Ostensibly an excuse to showcase a range of stunts, the plot part of the film features Moore as Sir George, an rich philanthropist who fakes his own death and sets up a series of sporting events in which his children have to take part to try and win his $135 million fortune. A ruthless pair of villains also get in on the act. According to most reviews I’ve read the plot fizzles out towards the end and only the stunts manage to keep the audience’s attention. The film also features cameos from several sports stars, including Steffi Graf and Nikki Lauda, as well as other celebrities like Isaac Hayes.

One of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro is an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Cotton Club / A1 / Germany

23.05.16

Poster Poster

This is the poster for the German release of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 crime-drama/musical The Cotton Club. Legendary producer Robert Evans had originally planned to direct the film and the initial story and screenplay had been written by Mario ‘The Godfather’ Puzo, but Evans had a last-minute change of heart and asked Coppola to step in. Puzo’s script was apparently re-written by the author William Kennedy who ended up writing multiple drafts and ended up with a shared screenplay credit along with Coppola. Production was apparently beset with problems, including a spiralling budget that was provided by various parties including Las Vegas casino owners, an Arab arms dealer and a vaudeville performer. In typical fashion, Evans was determined to make the film as extravagant as possible and constructed ‘no expense spared’ sets, hiring some of the best technicians in the business at eye-watering figures.

Another likely reason that filming costs ballooned is the impressive ensemble cast that Evans and the studio were able to hire, which included the likes of Richard GereDiane LaneBob Hoskins and Gregory Hines. Loosely based on the real club of the same name that was located in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood, the story follows the machinations of various characters involved with the club in the 1930s, including Gere’s musician Dixie Dwyer whose dealings with the mobster owner of the club Owney Madden (Hoskins) sees him advance his career as an actor whilst having an affair with the girlfriend of the local kingpin, Dutch Schultz (James Remar). The film also follows Sandman Williams (Hines) a local dancer who falls for the club’s star performer Lila Rose Dwyer (Lonette McKee). Nicolas Cage appears as Dixie’s violent, racist brother Vincent who joins Schultz’s gang.

The film features several musical sequences and is soundtracked by several of the most popular jazz tunes of the era. Sadly, Coppola and Evans clashed regularly during the production and at a certain point the director apparently barred the producer from visiting the set. The Cotton Club was declared a flop when it opened in fourth place at the box-office and would eventually go on to recoup less than half of its reported budget of just under $60 million. Despite tepid critical reception the film was nevertheless nominated for several awards (only winning for Best Costumes at the BAFTAs). The film has something of a cult following today, with many fans speaking highly of the film’s production values and well-staged musical numbers. Rumours of a director’s cut release were ignited last year when Coppola declared that a restoration was in the works, reinstating several musical sequences that were apparently cut for its initial release.

This German poster was illustrated by Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Army Of Darkness / one sheet / international

25.02.14

Poster Poster
Title
Army of Darkness
AKA
Army of Darkness: The Medieval Dead (alternative title) | Kyaputien supamaketto: Shiryo no harawata III - Captain Supermarket (Japan)
Year of Film
1992
Director
Sam Raimi
Starring
Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove, Timothy Patrick Quill, Michael Earl Reid, Bridget Fonda
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove, Timothy Patrick Quill, Michael Earl Reid, Bridget Fonda,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1993
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
27" x 39 10/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
How can you destroy an army that's already dead?

This is the scarce international one sheet for the release of Army of Darkness, the third installment in the Evil Dead trilogy. As with the previous entries in the cult horror series, the film was directed by Sam Raimi, produced by Robert Tapert and stars their friend Bruce Campbell as Ash, the unlucky goofball at the centre of the chaos. Re-interpreting the end of Evil Dead II somewhat, the film opens as Ash is sucked through a time portal and lands in 1300AD, whereupon he is captured by a medieval army led by Lord Arthur who believes him to be in league with his enemy.

After battling a deadite in a pit, Ash is set free and celebrated as a hero by Arthur and his men. He also meets and strikes up a friendship with Sheila, the sister of a fallen knight. Upon learning that he must find and use the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (Book of the Dead, as seen in the previous films) to return to his time, Ash sets off to locate it but things don’t go quite to plan. Whilst running through a haunted forest, he ends up crashing into a mirror inside a windmill and, in a superb sequence, is attacked by several mini clones of himself. Eventually one of them creates a full-size evil version of Ash and is soon uniting all of the deadites together to form the Army of Darkness.

Infamously, Universal Studios wrestled control from Raimi during post-production as they were unhappy with the downbeat ending that the director had shot, which depicted Ash drinking too much special potion and waking up in a post-apocalyptic future landscape. Another ‘happy’ ending, set in a supermarket with Ash recalling events of the film to a colleague, was filmed during reshoots and Army of Darkness was released in the US with that ending. Raimi was able to restore his preferred ending for international releases, including the UK, and subsequent home video releases have included both cuts.

This one sheet was illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike.

His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy. Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. The other posters I have collected by Casaro can be seen by clicking here.

This artwork also features on the UK quad and a few other European posters, including the Spanish release. The American one sheet features an excellent illustration by Michael Hussar.

Angel Heart / A1 / Germany

24.09.14

Poster Poster

This is the original German poster for the release of Alan Parker’s Angel Heart, featuring excellent portraits of its two main stars, Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke, that were painted by Renato Casaro. An occult mystery thriller, the film was adapted by Parker, a British screen writer, producer and director, from the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg. Set in 1955, the story follows private detective Harry Angel (Rourke) after he is hired by a law firm to find a missing pre-war singer called Johnny Favorite on behalf of their enigmatic client Louis Cyphre (De Niro). The trail leads Angel to a hospital where Favorite was last seen and he discovers that the singer was taken away by a mysterious benefactor whilst suffering from dementia caused by war injuries. He next travels to New Orleans in search of his ex-wife and then one of Favorite’s former band mates, but as the witnesses he meets all end up murdered Angel suspects that all is not what it seems with Cyphre and finding the truth about the singer’s disappearance becomes more than just another job.

The poster was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Helsinki Napoli All Night Long / A1 / Germany

17.07.15

Poster Poster

Great artwork by Renato Casaro on this German A1 poster for the release of Mika Kaurismäki‘s (older brother of Aki) little-seen, comedy-thriller Helsinki Napoli All Night Long. A Finnish-German-Swiss production the film focuses on Alex (Kari Väänänen) a Finnish taxi driver working in Berlin who is married to an Italian woman called Stella (Roberta Manfredi). One night, he picks up a pair of French thugs who ask to hire his cab for the whole night. Unfortunately for Alex the pair are being chased by a pair of mobsters (Samuel Fuller and Eddie Constantine) and after the thugs are shot and killed, he is left with two bodies and a briefcase full of money. So begins the long distance trip alluded to in the title with plenty more violence and black comedy along the way.

One of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro is an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Conan the Barbarian / A1 / teaser / Germany

23.06.14

Poster Poster
Title
Conan The Barbarian
AKA
--
Year of Film
1982
Director
John Milius
Starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
Teaser
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the teaser style German A1 poster for the release of John Milius‘ swords and sorcery classic Conan the Barbarian. It was an important film in the career of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger since it effectively launched his Hollywood career. The producers had seen Arnie in his documentary Pumping Iron and both felt he had the right quality for the role of the eponymous warrior. Based on the pulp novels of the 1930s by Robert E. Howard, the film sees the young barbarian Conan seek revenge for the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of a snake cult. 

This film was also an important assignment for the Italian artist Renato Casaro who painted the artwork that was used around the world, including on the US one sheet and also adapted that artwork for this German poster at the request of a local distributor. The pose of Arnie on this poster has more in common with the US teaser poster that was painted by Frank Frazetta, although the face of the barbarian on the latter is definitely more like the original artwork for the covers of the various novels. I interviewed the artist in 2013 and the poster was mentioned several times during our meeting:

—————-

One of your big breaks was working for the Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis?
Yes, that was with a poster I did for the film he was producing called The Bible (1966). He liked what I did for him and that was the start of a good working relationship, and friendship, with him. I remember that The Bible artwork was also used in America for a huge billboard that was displayed on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles for several months. After that I worked on many films with De Laurentiis, including Waterloo, Flash Gordon, Dune and Conan the Barbarian, which was possibly the most important for me in many ways as it was used across the world and really helped to get my name out there as an artist.

You visited many different countries at this time?
Yes, one week I might be in the UK, the next in France or Germany or Spain, and then I might be over to the States for one week before returning home. I would visit the set of the film or perhaps the production office to meet the various people involved with it.

One of the most memorable trips I had was over here to Almeria, Spain to visit the set of Conan the Barbarian, which was a Dino De Laurentiis production. I remember the set was stupendous. It was like a piece of old America had been reconstructed in Spain. The village set was here and it was brilliantly done with lots of detail. I recall that the light and ambience over here really fascinated me and I promised myself then that I would return. Years later, I hadn’t forgotten about it and decided that it was time to return here and that’s when I built this house and decided to live most of the year in Spain.

——————

Did you meet Arnold Schwarzenegger when you worked on posters for his films?
Ah, yes, sure. We first met on the set of Conan in Almeria and it was strange because back then no one on the set knew who he was, just that he had this powerful body and a handsome face. Nobody working on the film had any idea how famous he would eventually become! He was a nice guy and I enjoyed working on the poster for the film. I took lots of photographs on the set whilst they were filming and John Milius, the director, was very helpful. I spent some time with him to understand the vision of the film.

——————

Is there one poster that you’re most proud of?
Not really, I’m pleased with how different many of my posters are, both in terms of the style with which I painted them and for the layouts and concepts I used. There are posters like the one I did for Conan that really bring back good memories when I look at them or that were a really important milestone in my career, but there are many other posters I’m also proud to have worked on.

——————

Also worth reading is the brief interview with Renato on the Conan Completist website, which specifically mentions the German poster:

——————

Usually, when a film goes to other countries, the poster changes. Were you involved too in some of the foreign posters?
Yes. The German version, for example, was specifically done on request of the German distributor as to produce a huge display to be put in the cinema entrances. The painting, therefore, was done by me. Sometimes other elements were added into the key art, like in the Thai version, but I’m not concerned with that.

—————–

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

For A Few Dollars More / A1 / 1978 re-release / Germany

06.05.14

Poster Poster
Title
For A Few Dollars More
AKA
Per qualche dollaro in più (Italy - original title) | Hævn for dollars (Denmark)
Year of Film
1965
Director
Sergio Leone
Starring
Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Klaus Kinski
Origin of Film
Italy | Spain | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Klaus Kinski,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 32 15/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

An excellent portrait of Clint Eastwood graces this A1 poster for the German re-release of For a Few Dollars More in 1978. The film was the second in legendary director Sergio Leone‘s unofficial ‘Dollars trilogy’, all three of which starred Clint Eastwood and helped put him and the sub-genre of the so-called Spaghetti Western firmly on the cinematic map. Although not conceived by Leone to be a series, The ‘Man with No Name’ concept was coined by the studio United Artists as an angle to sell the films, particularly since Eastwood plays the three different characters with similar mannerisms and dressed in the same attire. Despite the ‘n0 name’ label, Eastwood’s characters have a different nickname in each of the films.

In For a Few Dollars More he plays Manco (Spanish for ‘one-armed man’), a bounty hunter who is on the trail of the ruthless outlaw El Indio (Gian Maria Volonté) and his gang. Whilst on the hunt Manco meets Col. Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef, who would also appear in the next film in the trilogy) another bounty hunter who is also after the same man, and the two agree to team up and eventually split the reward. As the bullets begin to fly it soon becomes clear that the bounty hunters have different motivations for wanting to kill El Indio.

When I interviewed the artist Renato Casaro for this site earlier this year he talked about his friendship and collaborations with Leone and the following is an excerpt:

———————

You also got to know Sergio Leone?
Yes, I visited the set of ‘Il mio nome è Nessuno’ [My Name is Nobody, 1973] that Leone was co-directing because Terence Hill was starring in it and I was asked to work on the publicity. I later worked on the posters for Once Upon A Time in the West and his other Western films, not only for the Italian market, but also for other countries, including Germany and France. Some of the more established Italian artists worked on his posters in the 1960s because they were still working on the ‘big’ films at that time, as I mentioned.

What happened when it came to painting the re-release posters?
Sandro Symeoni had painted the original Italian poster for A Fistful of Dollars and at that time Clint Eastwood wasn’t the big name star he was a few years later so his face wasn’t painted accurately and the poster just depicts an action scene. When the film was re-released in Germany at the end of the 1970s, Leone asked me to make sure I focused the poster on Eastwood and make it a recognisable portrait of him.

———————

You can read the rest of the interview by clicking here. To see the other posters I’ve collected that were designed and painted by Renato Casaro click here. His official website can be found here.

Innerspace / A1 / Germany

11.03.14

Poster Poster

This is the German A1 poster for the release of Joe Dante’s 1987 sci-fi comedy Innerspace, in which Dennis Quaid plays the brilliantly named Tuck Pendleton, a loudmouth test pilot who is shrunken to miniature size as part of an experiment and then accidentally injected into the body of hypochondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short) during a robbery at a science lab. Madcap high-jinks ensue and the films nods heavily in the direction of the classic sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage. The film is definitely one of the high points in the myriad of high-concept films of the 1980s and I rate it as one of Joe Dante’s best films.

The poster was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike.

His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy. Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist.

In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. This artwork was also used for the UK video release cover and accompanying poster. To see the other posters I have collected for Innerspace click here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Leviathan / A1 / Germany

04.02.15

Poster Poster

Leviathan was one of multiple ‘aliens in the deep’ films released in 1989, with James Cameron’s The Abyss being by far the most successful and memorable of the lot (which also included Deep Star Six and The Evil Below). I have absolutely no idea what made Hollywood decide that underwater peril was the situation du jour at that time, but it wasn’t to last as most of the films performed badly at the box-office and made little critical impact. Only Cameron’s film would go on to gather any kind of cult following and the release of a Director’s Cut of the film certainly helped.

Leviathan is set on a deep-sea mining platform with a crew of eight, including geologist Steven Beck (Peter Weller) a new recruit brought in by the Tri-Oceanic Corp to manage the team. During a routine dive one of the crew slips, falling down a ravine and when they land they discover the wreck of a Soviet submarine called Leviathan hidden in a trench. The team manage to salvage a safe from within the ship and bring it back onto the rig.

After opening it up they discover records relating to the death of crew members of the Leviathan as well as what appears to be a bottle of Vodka. Beck and the crew doctor investigate the fate of the submarine whilst some of the other crew members decide to partake in some of the booze. Unbeknownst to them it contains an alien pathogen which causes the pair who drink it to develop severe rashes and then perish before reanimating as a hideously twisted creature (very much in the vein of the creations seen in John Carpenter’s The Thing). Although Beck and the others manage to expel the creature from the rig, part of it remains onboard and mutates into a multi-tentacled beast which stalks the rest of the crew forcing them to fight for their lives and ultimately abandon the platform.

Unfortunately the film fails to generate much in the way of horror or tension and, though the set designs are top notch, the creature effects are largely woeful, particularly the painfully obviously man in bad rubber suit final version of the creature. Weller gives it his best shot but fails to convince as a hero. Apparently the film was originally going to have more in the way of creature effects and there are clearly whole scenes missing, which all points to studio interference.

This German A1 was designed and painted by Renato Casaro, an Italian-born artist who was working prolifically on German posters during the 1970s and 1980s. I interviewed him for this site in 2013 and he talked about his work for the market:

‘You worked on many posters for the German market. Was there a reason for that?
Yes, Germany didn’t really have many posters designers and artists working during the 1970s and 1980s and I certainly didn’t have much in the way of competition. In the 1950s and 60s they had several good artists working on film posters but after that they all retired or died, so there was a gap. I was really fortunate with that whole situation because I was able to work with most of the distributors over there and I was able to choose to work on some really great projects. My work was in demand so Studio Casaro was very busy, especially in the 1980s. Even when some other markets might have been quiet, there was always a project to do for a German client.’

The poster has some similarities with the US one sheet, designed and painted by John Alvin.

Misery / A1 / Germany

17.07.14

Poster Poster
Title
Misery
Year of Film
1990
Director
Rob Reiner
Starring
James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

The prolific American author Stephen King has had over 60 of his short stories and novels made into films (with several more on the way) and it’s safe to say that not all of them have successfully made the transition. As well as classic horrors like Carrie, The Shining and The Mist, there are clunkers like Lawnmower Man and The Mangler to even things out. Over the years, the author has understandably become very wary about who he allows to adapt his work and there have been some collaborations that have been very successful indeed. Rob Reiner’s film Stand By Me, based on King’s novella of the same name, is a truly great coming-of-age story and was so successful that it convinced King to allow the director to adapt one of his most celebrated novels, the psychological thriller Misery.

Released in 1990, the film focuses on Paul Sheldon (James Caan) a celebrated author of a best-selling series of Victorian-era romance stories featuring the character of Misery Chastain. Having completed the manuscript for his latest novel at the same Colorado hotel he always stays in to write, Sheldon decides to drive back to his home in New York. During a freak blizzard, Paul crashes his car into a snowdrift and loses consciousness. When he wakes he discovers that he’s been rescued by a nurse called Annie Wilkes (a career-best performance by Kathy Bates) who has taken him to her remote cabin and is tending to his injuries. Annie reveals that she’s a superfan of the author and asks to read the manuscript but is angered with the level of profanity.

A few days later she buys a copy of his just-published Misery Chastain novel and is horrified to discover that Paul has decided to kill off the character. The author soon discovers that not only is Annie preventing him from leaving the cabin, she’s also failed to inform anyone that he’s with her. Realising his life is in grave danger, Paul must try to outwit Annie as the tension mounts. The film has a notorious scene involving a sledgehammer that still induces winces even after repeated viewings. Bates would go on to win the Best Actress prize at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

 

The excellent artwork on this German A1 was painted by the celebrated Italian artist Renato Casaro who worked on a significant number of German posters during the 1980s and 1990s. In March 2014 I published a lengthy interview I carried out with Renato and that can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by the artists can be seen by clicking here.

Never Say Never Again / A1 / Germany

25.02.15

Poster Poster

An excellent portrait of Sean Connery surrounded by an action montage features on this German poster for Never Say Never Again, a non-canon James Bond film. The existence and status of the film is due to a long-running legal issue involving Bond creator Ian Fleming and a film producer called Kevin McClory. The pair had worked together on an abandoned Bond project called Longitude 78 that Fleming later turned into the novel Thunderball without crediting the producer or another writer who worked on the project. The case went to the high court and McClory was then given the right to produce the resultant Thunderball film in 1965 as well as the ability to remake the novel turned film after 10 years had elapsed. It took a bit longer than that but eventually McClory brought the same story to the screen in 1983, which happened to be the year that Octopussy, an official entry into the series starring Roger Moore, was released.

Connery wasn’t always in the frame to return as Bond, but after he developed an initial draft of the script with novelist Len Deighton in the 1970s, his name became attached to the project and he was eventually persuaded to star thanks to a significant fee as well as a share of the profits and the ability to veto script and casting decisions. Irvin Kershner came onboard to direct and the rest of the cast was filled with the likes of Max von Sydow as the arch-villain Blofeld and Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximilian Largo (key villain in Thunderball). A young Kim Basinger appears as Domino, the partner of Largo and later a love interest for Bond.

The film’s plot about the hunt for stolen nuclear warheads features a great deal of similarities with Thunderball, given that it is effectively a remake, but there are significant stylistic differences and also several references made to the fact that Connery is playing an older Bond (he was 52 at the time). The ending is hugely different from Thunderball and ditches the now embarrassing sequence on the out-of-control ship and replaces it with a bit of an anticlimactic showdown underwater. The rest of the film is entertaining enough with excellent use of locations and some thrilling action and stunt sequences, although it’s certainly no match for the best of the canonical series. It was favourably received critically at the time of release and supposedly went on to outperform Octopussy at the box office in 1983, which no doubt annoyed the folks at Eon Productions

The poster was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. In it he mentions working on this poster and he showed me the original art for the version of the poster where it’s just Connery alone (the advance poster).

The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Nikita / A1 / Germany

29.05.14

Poster Poster
Title
Nikita
AKA
La Femme Nikita (US / UK)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Luc Besson
Starring
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Origin of Film
France | Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anne Parillaud, Laura Chéron, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 7/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is the German A1 poster for the original release of Luc Besson‘s international breakthrough hit, Nikita, featuring design and artwork by Renato Casaro. A French/Italian co-production, the film stars Anne Parillaud (Besson’s wife at the time) as the titular assassin who starts out as a drug-addicted teenager living a life of crime. When a robbery at a pharmacy goes awry and her friends are killed in a gunfight, Nikita shoots dead a policeman before being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Soon after arriving in prison, Nikita is kidnapped and wakes up in a specialist facility where she learns that her death has been faked and she has been selected to become part of a secretive government agency simply known as the Centre. Nikita is given the choice of training as an assassin or to end up in the pauper’s grave earmarked for her. When she wisely chooses the former Nikita begins to learn the skills of a stealthy assassin under the guidance of Bob (Tchéky Karyo), her agency handler, and Amande (Jeanne Moreau).

After graduating an becoming a sleeper agent in Paris, Nikita meets and falls in love with Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket, but before long Centre activates her for assassination missions and both her relationship and life are under threat, especially when a mission inside an embassy gets messy and Victor the Cleaner (Jean Reno) is called to help out. Despite mixed critical reaction the film was an international box-office hit and, for reasons I’ve never understood, was given the lengthier title of La Femme Nikita outside of France and Germany. Four years later Besson and Reno would reunite for the lauded and much-loved Leon: The Professional. In addition, two American TV series have since been made based on the original film.

In 2013 I interviewed the designer and artist Renato Casaro for this site and he mentioned this poster during our chat. This is the excerpt:

—————————–

Every time you worked on a poster you were trying to do something new with your painting style?
Yes, I didn’t want to just recycle the same designs over and over, or paint in the same colours just because it had worked for one poster. I used the airbrush carefully because I didn’t want that to be what I was known for, plus used exclusively it created very cold, artificial artwork. I would always paint the base of any artwork with gouache oils and then use the airbrush to add little bits of texture, like shadows or highlights that would really help to make the original painting that little bit more exciting and realistic. Two posters that I used airbrush almost entirely for were those for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky and Luc Besson’s Nikita. I’m proud of how both of those turned out, particularly the first one.

I really like the design for Nikita.
Yes, that just came to me one day whilst I was thinking of ideas. I decided that you shouldn’t see her face or what she had done to cause this bright red blood splash onto clean white tiles. The film was quite complex and focused on this woman in crisis so I knew that the poster had to be a sympathetic image to sell it to cinema goers.

——

Renato also mentioned that he’d worked on some ideas for the poster before seeing the film:

Did you ever work on poster ideas without having seen the film or visiting the set?
Very occasionally yes, but I usually made sure I spoke to people involved to have a good idea of the plot and the characters before I’d start doing anything. I did do several sketches for Nikita without good results, but once I’d seen the film it was quite easy to find the right essence for the poster.

—————————–

To read the full interview with Renato Casaro click here. To see the other posters I’ve collected by the artist click here.

Once Upon a Time In America / A1 / Germany

03.03.14

Poster Poster

Considered by many to be Sergio Leone’s masterpiece – certainly not an easy choice to make when there are films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West to choose from – ‘…America’ was to be the Italian director’s last film. Infamously, it had almost 90 minutes removed for its US cinematic release (in 1984), apparently after receiving terrible notice from American critics at the Cannes Film Festival – the re-cut version was also given a slating when it appeared.

Eventually the full 229 minute version was made available on home video in America. In 2012 it was announced that the film was to be restored to an even longer cut with over 40 minutes of newly discovered material that was thought lost. An extended cut of the film was released on blu-ray in 2014.

I recently visited the same street in Brooklyn that leads down to the Manhattan Bridge and is featured in the film and on this poster. I took this picture, which gives you an idea of how the street looks today.

This is the German poster (style A) that was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike.

His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy. Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. The other posters I have collected by Casaro can be seen by clicking here.

The original trailer is on YouTube.

 

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / A1 / Germany

03.11.14

Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 4/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Alles ist wahr!

This is the original German poster for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army. 

Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures. At one show the real Baron arrives into the theatre just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.

Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the story is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.

The poster was designed and painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro, an Italian with a prolific movie poster output that lasted over 35 years. He began his career in 1953, aged 19, at the famous Studio Favalli in Rome and would go on to design and paint posters for many of the biggest directors in the world. His skill at accurately portraying actors and his brilliant use of colour and composition saw him much in demand from studios and actors alike. His artwork has featured on posters used in multiple countries, including Japan, Germany, USA as well as in his native Italy.

Check out the incredible amount of work on his official website here, which also features a biography of the artist. In March 2014 I published an exclusive interview with Renato and it can be read by clicking here. The other posters I’ve collected by Renato Casaro are here.

Casaro also worked on the international one sheet for Munchausen in collaboration with the British designer Vic Fair and that can be viewed here.

Conan the Barbarian / A1 / Germany

11.12.14

Poster Poster
Title
Conan The Barbarian
AKA
--
Year of Film
1982
Director
John Milius
Starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Sandahl Bergman, Mako, Gerry Lopez, Max von Sydow,
Type of Poster
A1
Style of Poster
Final
Origin of Poster
Germany
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Renato Casaro
Artist
Renato Casaro
Size (inches)
23 6/16" x 33"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
Ein Film wie ein Erdbeben - ein Mann wie ein Vulkan!

This is the final style German A1 poster (printed after the teaser) for the release of John Milius‘ swords and sorcery classic Conan the Barbarian. It was an important film in the career of actorArnold Schwarzenegger since it effectively launched his Hollywood career. The producers had seen Arnie in his documentary Pumping Iron and both felt he had the right quality for the role of the eponymous warrior. Based on the pulp novels of the 1930s by Robert E. Howard, the film sees the young barbarian Conan seek revenge for the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of a snake cult. 

This film was also an important assignment for the Italian artist Renato Casaro who painted the artwork that was used around the world, including on the US one sheet and also adapted that artwork for this German poster at the request of a local distributor. The pose of Arnie on this poster has more in common with the US teaser poster that was painted by Frank Frazetta, although the face of the barbarian on the latter is definitely more like the original artwork for the covers of the various novels. I interviewed the artist in 2013 and the poster was mentioned several times during our meeting:

—————-

One of your big breaks was working for the Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis?
Yes, that was with a poster I did for the film he was producing called The Bible (1966). He liked what I did for him and that was the start of a good working relationship, and friendship, with him. I remember that The Bible artwork was also used in America for a huge billboard that was displayed on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles for several months. After that I worked on many films with De Laurentiis, including Waterloo, Flash Gordon, Dune and Conan the Barbarian, which was possibly the most important for me in many ways as it was used across the world and really helped to get my name out there as an artist.

You visited many different countries at this time?
Yes, one week I might be in the UK, the next in France or Germany or Spain, and then I might be over to the States for one week before returning home. I would visit the set of the film or perhaps the production office to meet the various people involved with it.

One of the most memorable trips I had was over here to Almeria, Spain to visit the set of Conan the Barbarian, which was a Dino De Laurentiis production. I remember the set was stupendous. It was like a piece of old America had been reconstructed in Spain. The village set was here and it was brilliantly done with lots of detail. I recall that the light and ambience over here really fascinated me and I promised myself then that I would return. Years later, I hadn’t forgotten about it and decided that it was time to return here and that’s when I built this house and decided to live most of the year in Spain.

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Did you meet Arnold Schwarzenegger when you worked on posters for his films?
Ah, yes, sure. We first met on the set of Conan in Almeria and it was strange because back then no one on the set knew who he was, just that he had this powerful body and a handsome face. Nobody working on the film had any idea how famous he would eventually become! He was a nice guy and I enjoyed working on the poster for the film. I took lots of photographs on the set whilst they were filming and John Milius, the director, was very helpful. I spent some time with him to understand the vision of the film.

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Is there one poster that you’re most proud of?
Not really, I’m pleased with how different many of my posters are, both in terms of the style with which I painted them and for the layouts and concepts I used. There are posters like the one I did for Conan that really bring back good memories when I look at them or that were a really important milestone in my career, but there are many other posters I’m also proud to have worked on.

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Also worth reading is the brief interview with Renato on the Conan Completist website, which specifically mentions the German poster:

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Usually, when a film goes to other countries, the poster changes. Were you involved too in some of the foreign posters?
Yes. The German version, for example, was specifically done on request of the German distributor as to produce a huge display to be put in the cinema entrances. The painting, therefore, was done by me. Sometimes other elements were added into the key art, like in the Thai version, but I’m not concerned with that.

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

Erik the Viking / Thailand

17.07.17

Poster Poster

This Thai poster for Terry Jones’ 1989 fantasy film Erik the Viking features artwork by Tongdee Panumas. The prolific Jones (actor, director, author, screenwriter, poet, historian) is best known as a Monty Python member and director of the comedy group’s feature films. The film was inspired by Jones’ own 1983 children’s book The Saga of Erik the Viking but shares only character names; the plotline is completely different. Based largely on Norse mythology, Tim Robbins stars as the titular Viking who discovers in the opening scene that he has no taste for the usual Viking activities of raping and pillaging. He learns from a wise old woman that Fenrir the wolf has swallowed the sun and plunged the world into the chaotic age of Ragnarök. Erik resolves to gather a motley crew together to travel to Asgard and petition the gods to end Ragnarök and bring sunlight back to his people. First he must travel to Hy-Brasil and recover the ‘Horn Resounding’ and there he meets King Arnulf (Jones) and promptly falls in love with his daughter, Princess Aud (Imogen Stubbs).

The film was largely critically panned and didn’t fare too well at the box-office. Over the years Jones and his son Bill have made a few edits to the film, with a VHS release chopping 18 minutes from the runtime, before a 2006 “Director’s Son’s Cut” saw it reduced down to just 75 minutes (from the original theatrical running time of 107 minutes).

This Thai poster features a repainted take on the figures falling out of the viking boat, as seen on the German poster (and painted by Renato Casaro), but adds more colour and a montage of action scenes as was typical of the artist responsible. Tongdee Panumas was an incredibly prolific film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947, so if anyone has any more details please get in touch.

Note that this particular copy of the poster has been hand-signed by Tongdee and I bought it from someone who had visited Thailand, met the artist and had him sign a few posters. I’ve seen photographic evidence that it’s a genuine signature.

Tenebrae / quad / UK

20.01.14

Poster Poster
Title
Tenebrae
AKA
Tenebre (alternate spelling) | Shadow (Japan - English title) | Unsane (USA)
Year of Film
1982
Director
Dario Argento
Starring
Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma
Origin of Film
Italy
Genre(s) of Film
Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma,
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1982
Designer
Graffiti Productions Limited
Artist
Renato Casaro (original art) | An unknown British artist added the bow
Size (inches)
29 15/16" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
From the undisputed master of the macabre... | Terror beyond belief

This is the incredibly scarce British quad for the release of Dario Argento‘s Tenebrae (AKA Tenebre), which marked the Italian horror maestro’s return to the giallo genre with which he made his name, following two excursions into supernatural horror with Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). Argento often credits himself with starting the trend for Italian giallo films with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), despite the fact that directors including Mario Bava and Umberto Lenzi had been working on films that met all the criteria of the sub-genre since 1963. After a bruising experience whilst making Inferno in conjunction with Hollywood (in the form of 20th Century Fox) and the film meeting a lukewarm reception upon release, Argento returned with fresh enthusiasm to create what is arguably one of the best giallos of all.

Italian-American actor Anthony Franciosa stars as the American author Peter Neal, famous for having written a series of violent horror novels, who travels to Rome to promote his latest novel ‘Tenebrae’. Soon after arriving Neal is confronted by two police detectives (played by Giuliano Gemma and Carola Stagnaro) who inform him that a murder has been committed by a killer obsessed with his novels, and a letter sent to his hotel room confirms this. Soon after, a journalist who had accused Neal of creating ‘misogynist filth’ and her lesbian lover are brutally murdered by the same razor blade-wielding killer. Another letter arrives at Neal’s hotel room and the author decides to try and discover who is behind the murders as the threat to him and his entourage escalates. This being a giallo, and an Argento one at that, there are plenty of twists to keep the viewer discombobulated right to the end.

Argento claims that the inspiration for the story came from an experience he had at the hands of an obsessive fan whilst working on an unfinished project in Hollywood towards the end of the 1970s. What started as a friendly series of phone calls from someone claiming to love his work escalated into something darker and more threatening, and the director eventually fled back to Rome when it became clear that the person was seriously unhinged. It’s also something of a riposte to the criticisms Argento had received from some critics and commentators who claimed his films were overly violent towards women and that his casual misogyny could encourage real-world violence from his films’ fans. There’s a reason Peter Neal remarks to a pushy journalist ‘Let me ask you something? If someone is killed with a Smith & Wesson revolver… Do you go and interview the president of Smith & Wesson?’

Tenebrae was released into UK cinemas in 1982 with 4 seconds of cuts imposed by the BBFC, but soon after its release on video in 1983 the film fell foul of the infamous video nasty debacle which saw 72 films deemed to be in violation of the obscene publications act. 39 films on the Director of Public Prosecutions‘ list were successfully prosecuted and banned from rental or sale in the UK, despite the fact that many, including Tenebrae, had already seen cinema releases with BBFC approval. It took years before relaxation in censorship saw many of the films being re-released on video and DVD, and it wasn’t until 2003 that Tenebrae was finally available in a completely uncut form.

The image of the murdered woman on this quad was originally painted by the Italian artist Renato Casaro for the Italian poster but the bloody cut in the throat seen on the original was clearly seen as too much for the British market and a red bow was painted in its place. The quad’s design was handled by the London-based studio Graffiti Productions, which was started in 1969 by two friends Paul Brown-Constable and Nimal Jayasekera. The pair worked on marketing for an eclectic range of films, including several international releases, plus homegrown titles like Scum and a few Hollywood productions. As well as posters the firm was one of the first to take on work for  home video distributors at the start of the boom in the early 1980s. Most of their posters are easy to identify because they either feature a stylised company logo or a line of text, as on this poster.

Jaws / Turkey

26.08.15

Poster Poster
Title
Jaws
AKA
Les dents de la mer [The teeth of the sea] (France)
Year of Film
1975
Director
Steven Spielberg
Starring
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie,
Type of Poster
Turkish
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Turkey
Year of Poster
1981
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Lou Feck (original shark) | Renato Casaro (original woman)
Size (inches)
26 11/16" x 39.5"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Lurid artwork features on this Turkish poster for Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece Jaws. Apparently the film wasn’t actually released in Turkey until 1981 which explains why the enterprising designer of this poster has used American artist Lou Feck’s illustration of a shark from the poster for Jaws 2 (1978) and inserted a bikini-clad victim into its mouth (as well as blood dripping from the shark’s teeth). Feck’s illustration was used around the world to promote the sequel after originally appearing on the front of the Jaws 2 novel and I have the Japanese B2 in the Film on Paper collection.

The US one sheet’s instantly recognisable image was painted by the American artist Roger Kastel and was originally commissioned for the paperback cover of Peter Benchley’s novel, but when Universal saw the artwork they bought the rights to use it for the poster and following the worldwide success of the film it would go onto become one of the most imitated and parodied images of all time, as well as a merchandising product in its own right.

Friend of the site Steve Guariento got in touch to point out that the bikini-clad lady was also adapted from another piece of art, namely the Italian four sheet for the Hammer film Dracula AD 1972 (click here to see it) that was painted by one of my favourite artists, Renato Casaro. The designer of the poster clearly had a Turkish artist paint some open eyes and an open mouth over the original art since the woman is asleep on Casaro’s poster. All of which makes it a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of a poster!

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen / one sheet / international

25.04.14

Poster Poster
Title
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Terry Gilliam
Starring
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
Origin of Film
UK | West Germany
Genre(s) of Film
John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Vic Fair
Artist
Renato Casaro | Vic Fair (main figure)
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Remarkable. Unbelievable. Impossible. And true.

This is the international one sheet for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army. 

Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures. At one show the real Baron arrives into the theatre just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.

Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the story is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.

This poster’s creation saw the pairing of two not inconsiderable talents in the shape of the British designer and artist Vic Fair and the prolific designer/artist Renato Casaro. More details of each of them can be found in the two exclusive interviews I carried out with each for the website: Vic Fair interview and Renato Casaro interview.

In his interview Vic talks about working with Gilliam (and the interview also features a concept illustration by the artist):

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What was it like working with Terry Gilliam?
‘It could be quite frustrating sometimes as he’d get me to do loads of work and then at the very last minute he’d change his mind and ask someone else to do it. He had this team of artists and designers always on call and often they’d end up taking over, so it often felt like a waste of time.

He was really good at making you feel like you’d solved all his marketing problems though. He used to say things like ‘That’s it! You’ve done it! It’s perfect!’ and he’d kick the bloke off the chair sitting next to him and usher you to take his place at the table. You’d have all these other chaps on his team looking enviously at you, but you knew that it wasn’t over and that there’d be more designs to come. A couple of days later you’d discover that he’d changed his mind and wanted to see some more ideas for the design.’

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In his interview, Renato recalls working with Vic on this poster:

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‘One other thing that’s important to say is that I was generally not beholden to an art director and usually I was the designer and the artist on every film poster I worked on. One exception was a pleasant collaboration that I had with the British designer Vic Fair for a poster for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He had designed a one sheet intended for international use and I worked on the painting for it. I would always make sure to watch the film first, or if that wasn’t possible receive stills from the production, or in some cases even visit the set whilst they were filming, as I mentioned. But I was never working to someone else’s design direction – at Studio Casaro I always made sure I had complete creative control on movie jobs.’

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