Flicks Poster Gallery no.1 - notes on classic films and poster types
Updated: Sep 15
Just to explain the Flicks Film Posters collection from the outset: we only collect posters of films we know and love and decided over 30 years ago that this was the modus operandi we'd adopt. It helps to simplify our approach to acquiring new posters and means we really enjoy finding posters for films we already know and love. Like all hobbies and passions, of course, it's all 'in the eye of the beholder' anyway. Despite what you may read elsewhere, there are no hard and fast rules about movie poster collecting, so we recommend to people that sometimes ask us that you just buy what you like and can afford. For us, it's been as simple as that.
So, to the posters here, clockwise from top left: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953, original Belgian poster, linen-backed); The Narrow Margin (1952, original Belgian poster, linen-backed); Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950, original Belgian poster, linen-backed); An Autumn Afternoon (1962, original, unfolded Japanese B2 poster); Bay of Angels (La Baie des Anges) (1963, original French 'Petit' poster); The Gunfighter (1950, original US half-sheet poster, linen-backed); Spirited Away (2001, original Japanese B2 poster, unfolded).
The first three are all really nice Belgian posters and in all three cases, we believe they represent the best movie poster art available for the film. Belgian posters often feature beautifully rendered images that are often (but not always) different from the art included on their US or UK poster equivalents.
The Belgian poster for Howard Hawks’ classic 1953 musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes features the best poster art of sassy superstars Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei and Jane Russell as Dorothy, whilst the trio of male co-stars look on admiringly. Aside from the film’s great commercial success, the film has since been much analysed as a rare example of female sexuality and agency being foregrounded, whilst the largely weak male characters take a back seat. The film benefits enormously from Charles Lederer’s brilliantly witty screenplay adapted from Anta Loos' famous original. Seen today, the film holds up extremely well and is supremely entertaining. The effervescent stars and vibrant colour cinematography are nicely suggested on this gorgeous Belgian poster.
The Narrow Margin is considered by many to be one of the finest 'B' pictures ever made. In a taut, tense, suspenseful 71 minutes set largely aboard a train on its way to Chicago carrying a protected witness against the mob, the tight angles, sharp editing, and terse, hard-boiled performances, especially from ace leads and film noir icons Charles MacGraw, and Marie Windsor, practically define the genre. Before Richard Fleischer became a mainstream Hollywood director, making successful studio pictures in a variety of genres, for example, historical epics (The Vikings, 1958, Barabbas, 1961), sci-fi (Fantastic Voyage, 1966, Soylent Green, 1973), big-budget family fare (Dr. Doolittle, 1967) or even real-life crime (The Boston Strangler, 1968 and 10 Rillington Place, 1971), he directed a series of excellent low-budget film noir thrillers that noir fans know well - The Bodyguard (1948), The Clay Pigeon and Follow M, Quietly (both 1949), Armored Car Robbery (1950), and best of all, the fantastic Narrow Margin. Again, this vivid and dynamic Belgian poster reflects the excitement of the film, with the central 'whoosh' of the train dissecting the protagonists. A sought-after poster amongst collectors of film noir titles, this is amongst the best art available on the title.
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is another film noir classic, this one directed by Gordon Douglas. This nicely rendered poster is notable for several reasons: firstly, the art is by the great poster artist Wik, the pre-eminent Belgian movie poster artist. Secondly, it features one of the best images of James Cagney on any movie poster, Wik perfectly capturing the insolence of Cagney's psychotic gangster protagonist Ralph Cotter, a throwback to the actor's famous roles in Warner Bros crime movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, the poster also features a nice image of the underrated Barbara Payton, an actor whose career never really took off but whose presence adds immeasurably to several 50s film noirs (we also have the half sheet for Edgar G. Ulmer's 1955 noir Murder is My Beat, for example).
Yasujiro Ozu is unquestionably one of the greatest Japanese film directors, often considered ‘the most Japanese’ in tone and subject matter. Ozu is one of world cinema's finest filmmakers, with a unique and instantly recognisable camera style, famously at the low ‘tatami mat’ level. Ozu’s radical editing style, which eschews the typical classical shot-reverse-shot in favour of more oblique angles and fixed camera setups, has been much analysed and discussed. Camera movements in Ozu are rare, particularly towards the end of his career, when he refined and perfected his approach, yet the films are wonderfully cinematic and absorbing, with the use of objects and landmarks to delineate cinematic space mesmerising, and unmatched. This extremely rare original country of origin B2 poster is for Ozu's final film, 1962's masterly An Autumn Afternoon. The lovely central image features the father and daughter's family relationship at the heart of the film's narrative.
The French poster for Jacques Demy's 1963 classic Bay of Angels features great poster art of star Jeanne Moreau, here at the height of her fame and (unusually!) blonde. A classy romantic crime drama filmed on location in the high-end casinos and hotels of the Côte d'Azur, the poster also features a great image of Moreau and co-star Claude Mann at the roulette table.
The first three are all really nice Belgian posters and in all three cases, we believe they represent the best movie poster art available for the film. Belgian posters often feature beautifully rendered images that are often (but not always) different from the art included in their US or UK poster equivalents.sums up the anti-hero's dilemma as he tries in vain to leave his gunfighter past behind him: "His only friends were his guns...his only refuge was in a woman's heart!"
Finally, in our gallery, we have an original Japanese B2 poster for Hayao Miyazaki's anime masterpiece Spirited Away from 2001. Probably our favourite animated feature of all time, it was the first anime film to be nominated for (and win) an Academy Award. All original first-release Japanese posters for this classic movie are collectible and this one, featuring feisty heroine Chihiro with other key characters and scenes in the background, is arguably the best.