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Licence to Kill / one sheet / teaser / ‘S’ version / USA

07.07.14

Poster Poster
Title
Licence to Kill
AKA
License to Kill (alternative, pre-release spelling)
Year of Film
1989
Director
John Glen
Starring
Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Everett McGill, Desmond Llewelyn
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Everett McGill, Desmond Llewelyn,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Teaser - 'License' version
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Steven Chorney
Artist
Keith Hamshere (photography)
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41 1/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
His bad side is a dangerous place to be.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Licence to Kill, the sixteenth James Bond adventure, marked the end of an era in the franchise. Whilst certainly not in the running for best Bond film, it’s nevertheless a solid entry with excellent use of locations (actually forced due to budgetary constraints), a memorable bad guy in Robert Davi‘s drug kingpin Sanchez and a number of impressive stunt sequences. Fans of the original Ian Fleming novels often rate Licence to Kill as the film that’s closest to the original source material’s harder-edged action. Licence to Kill marked the last Bond film for director John Glen who had been involved in the series since 1969 and also saw legendary producer Albert R. Broccoli effectively retire from the reigns of a franchise he had begun with producing partner Harry Saltzman back in 1958. 

The story is significantly darker and grittier than anything that had come before in the series, particularly those films released during the Roger Moore era. It opens with Bond and old friend CIA agent Felix Leiter on the way to the latter’s wedding ceremony in Key West (Florida) when they’re informed that Sanchez, a wanted drug lord, has been spotted in the area. The pair manage to apprehend the kingpin after an exciting chase that ends with them parachuting out of a helicopter and landing in front of the church, just in time for the ceremony. After the title sequence (with the excellent Gladys Knight theme tune) things take a dark turn as Sanchez escapes and takes revenge on Felix and his new bride.

When Bond discovers a badly mutilated Leiter and his dead bride he vows revenge, but when his superiors deny his request and order him on another mission to Turkey, Bond flees and has his licence to kill revoked. With the help of one of Leiter’s friends, he follows a trail leading him from the Bahamas to the fictional Republic of Isthmus where Davi’s plan for global drugs domination is revealed. The film ends with a thrilling chase involving several tanker trucks along a dangerous highway, which is easily one of the most memorable action sequences in the series’ history. The film was Welsh actor Timothy Dalton‘s second appearance as 007 and would ultimately prove to be his last after a protracted legal wrangle meant that no Bond film was put into production until 1995’s Goldeneye, by which time the actor had moved on and was replaced by Pierce Brosnan.

The marketing of the film went through a number of iterations, designers and artists and, crucially, marked the first time that painted artwork gave way to a photographic montage. Despite some initial sketches and concepts by the legendary artist Bob Peak, MGM decided to commission a number of designers and artists to work on the posters, including American Steven Chorney who designed this particular advance one sheet, and British design firm FEREF (led by Robin Behling) which designed a montage that was used on the international one sheet, the British quad and for some other posters around the globe. Although initially produced under the title ‘Licence Revoked’, MGM feared that American audiences wouldn’t understand the second word and changed it to the title we know today. Note that there was some wrangling over whether to go with the American spelling ‘License’ or the British-English ‘Licence’. Eventually the latter won out, but not before these posters had been printed with the American spelling (the same poster also exists with ‘Licence’ too).

The Two Jakes / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Two Jakes
AKA
Chinatown II (Finland)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Jack Nicholson
Starring
Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Rubén Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Richard Farnsworth, Tracey Walter, Joe Mantell, James Hong
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Rubén Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Richard Farnsworth, Tracey Walter, Joe Mantell, James Hong,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Seiniger Advertising | Steven Chorney
Artist
Robert Rodriguez
Size (inches)
27" x 40 1/4"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
They say money makes the world go round. But sex was invented before money.

The artwork for Two Jakes, a quasi-sequel to the classic 1974 crime-thriller Chinatown, was painted by the American artist Robert Rodriguez (not to be confused with the Texan film director of the same name). He has his own website which can be seen here and on one of the blog posts he talks about his work on Two Jakes. I’m reproducing it here in case his site ever disappears:

Sherman, set the WABAC machine to March 1990…. That would take us to about the time that I was pulling all-nighters in order to finish the poster for “The Two Jakes”.  Originally Steve Chorney had done a series of small watercolor sketches for the movie. They were fast sketches, but the colors were beautiful. Seiniger Advertising was about the hottest movie poster design studio at that time, and they were doing the poster. I had never seen so many concepts for one movie before. I know they took Steve’s sketches and gave them out to five illustrators to develop into comps. Later they had each of us do a completely different image, but I can’t even remember what those looked like. These were all very finished comps, but done at about half size. Everyone was really happy with what I did for the original comp and from the beginning it was in the running. I went off on vacation for a few weeks and when I got back, they told me that my art was still the top choice, only they had revised it and I would need to repaint it at full size.

They had made Jack Nicholson larger, made his shoulders wider, made Meg Tilly’s hat cover her face almost completely, and changed Steve’s beautiful yellow/green color scheme to a grey/teal blue combination. Even with those revisions I still loved the art, so I was very happy to proceed with the finish. I feel like it was the best movie poster I ever did.

They told me at the time that with movie posters, the poster that was the top choice when they ran out of money or ran out of time, was the one that would become the poster. Until one of those things happened, they would just keep doing new art. I think all illustrators miss those days of Illustrated Movie Posters.

One other interesting story connected with that poster…I was told that the night before the art was to be delivered to the printer, Jack Nicholson called Frank Mancuso, Sr., the CEO of Paramount to say he had changed his mind about the poster. Nicholson wanted to use a different painting that had been done. Mancuso took both posters over to Nicholson’s house and they met until midnight to talk about which way to go. Basically Mancuso said, “We have been through more than a hundred movie posters and all along, this was the one everyone agreed on. In the meeting yesterday, we again looked at the top runners and everyone decided this was the strongest image. What do we have to do in order to make you happy with this version?” Nicholson said that he liked the colors of his face better in the other poster. So it was agreed that if I could repaint his face to one that he was happy with, they would proceed with my poster art. They gave me four days to repaint the head, and I remember the day I delivered it, the art director gave me a fistful of colored pencils and had me sit on her floor and paint out some additional wrinkles. But in the end, everyone was happy with the art.  My first major film poster!

His website also features another blog post about his work with Steven Chorney on the poster (see here):

Steven Chorney is the wonderful movie poster artist and illustrator who did the concept sketches for The Two Jakes [see here too] in the very beginning. I remember there were five of us who took these and developed them as comps, and even came up with other designs too. I was assigned the first one he laid out.

I asked him if he still had the comps, and this morning he sent them along so I could post them. I think Thomas Blackshear did a comp using a variation of the second design, which Steven said was his favorite concept because of the tension in Nicholson’s face.

Steven said he was thinking about the Scarface movie poster in his design. Based on his days doing illustrations for TV Guide, he felt there was something missing from his sketch. We needed the girl!  “…we need 2 guys, a girl, and a gun!” He must have mentioned that to the art director, because by the time I got the job, they were asking for me to add the girl in there.

This was done back before color xeroxes were very accurate. Steven had done the grey background version, but they had made a color copy for me, and it had turned a sort of acid yellow.  I loved it, so I  tried to match the color.  It reminded me of that Van Gogh painting of the pool hall interior with the yellow lights and the green felt. Van Gogh wrote “In my picture of the Night Café I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime.” 

But even though they liked my Two Jakes art, they wanted to go with the grey of Steven’s original version (which I had never seen). They had me hide Meg Tilly’s face with her hat, make Nicholson larger, and make his coat and lapels oversized.

The only bad experience with the whole project was the reference they gave me for Jack Nicholson’s face. It was a blurry, two inch tall, b&w photo from The Witches of Eastwick. I kept asking, “Seriously?  Jack Nicholson, and this is the best reference you have?” I think I painted his head about 9″ tall on my poster. And as it turned out, his face was the only problem anyone had with my image.

The artist’s website also features a biography which I’ll also reproduce in its entirety:

Chances are you’ve been having breakfast with Robert Rodriguez for years and never knew it….If you’ve ever fixed yourself a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal, his painting of the old Quaker has probably been watching over you as you ate.

After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), he embarked on a career as an illustrator, picking up awards and medals along the way.  From being a Grammy Award finalist for best album cover art, to gold and silver medals, to receiving a platinum award for his “Cowboys of the Silver Screen” postage stamps this last year.  From doing Broadway theater posters for plays like, “Anything Goes”, “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, “Sister Act” and “Lend Me A Tenor”, to a SuperBowl poster, a half dozen Ringling Bros. Circus posters, several movie posters, and creating the poster art over the last four years for the Tales of the Cocktail event held in New Orleans every summer, he is finally finding time to do some gallery work, exploring new directions and larger paintings.

The Ice Pirates / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
The Ice Pirates
AKA
--
Year of Film
1984
Director
Stewart Raffill
Starring
Robert Urich, Mary Crosby, Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman, Bruce Vilanch, Michael D. Roberts, John Carradine
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Robert Urich, Mary Crosby, Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman, Bruce Vilanch, Michael D. Roberts, John Carradine,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1984
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Steven Chorney
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
See a totally spaced adventure! | You have to be there to see it.

Filofax / one sheet / international

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Filofax
AKA
Taking Care of Business (USA - original title)
Year of Film
1990
Director
Arthur Hiller
Starring
James Belushi, Charles Grodin, Anne De Salvo, Loryn Locklin, Stephen Elliott, Hector Elizondo, Veronica Hamel, Mako, Gates McFadden, John de Lancie, hom Sharp, Ken Foree
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
James Belushi, Charles Grodin, Anne De Salvo, Loryn Locklin, Stephen Elliott, Hector Elizondo, Veronica Hamel, Mako, Gates McFadden, John de Lancie, hom Sharp, Ken Foree,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
International
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1990
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Steven Chorney
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Jimmy's finally got a life, the trouble is, it's someone else's! | Lose it and you're lost.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit / one sheet / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
AKA
--
Year of Film
1988
Director
Robert Zemeckis, Richard Williams
Starring
Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern, Richard LeParmentier, Lou Hirsch, Betsy Brantley, Joel Silver, Paul Springer
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern, Richard LeParmentier, Lou Hirsch, Betsy Brantley, Joel Silver, Paul Springer,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1988
Designer
Steven Chorney
Artist
Mick McGinty
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
880054
Tagline
It's the story of a man, a woman, and a rabbit in a triangle of trouble.