Film posters: The images that draw the audience in

A new book celebrates the art of film posters. Sadly, they don't make them like they used to, the author tells Charlotte Cripps

You've probably seen the movie but have you seen the original movie poster? Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961), King Kong (1933), Rosemary's Baby (1969), Vertigo (1958) – even the B-movie Attack of the 50ft Woman (1958) showing a giant woman straddling a motorway, are just a few of the classic posters that have been selected by vintage movie poster expert, Tony Nourmand for his new book. 100 Movie Posters: The Essential Collection includes the German poster for Metropolis (1927), regarded as “the holy grail of posters”, which was the most expensive one ever sold when it fetched $690,000 in a sale brokered by Nourmand in 2005.

“The posters I have chosen are personal – I just thought, ”Which one of these posters would I actually hang on my wall?“ says Nourmand – who was Christie's London consultant for posters for 12 years. ”It wasn't based on value or rarity, or the importance of the film, but about which ones work as a standalone art work.“

The brightly coloured large format French poster for From Here To Eternity (1953) is one of the few posters in the film's worldwide campaign to feature the scene of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing on the beach.

“It is actually very rare for a movie poster to feature the key scene from a film,” says Nourmand. While the British poster for David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945) was printed on the back of a “Re-elect Winston Churchill” campaign poster due to paper shortages during the Second World War – “only a few of them have survived”.

The British poster for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), which is the only poster Hitchcock made a cameo appearance on, shows the director looking sternly at his watch next to the words, “No one...BUT NO ONE...will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance...” He didn't want audiences walking in late and seeing the heroine killed off in the shower scene.

Most movie poster designers are not well-known, but the most collectable poster designer is Saul Bass whose simple graphic poster campaigns included Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murderer (1959) and The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) featuring the iconic jagged arm. “This was groundbreaking for movie posters because the artwork is just made up of symbols,” says Nourmand. “But after the film's New York premiere, studio heads at United Artists insisted that Bass insert photographs of Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker on it, which just destroys it.”

The US poster for Teen Age (1944), about juvenile delinquency, is “one of the most beautiful examples of exploitation poster art” with red lips smoking a cigarette and a strapline, “What is wrong with modern youth?” “It predates the word 'teenage' going into the Encyclopedia Britannica as a new word in 1947,” says Nourmand.

Posters can have a long-lasting effect on a film's cult status – indeed the US teaser poster for A Fistful of Dollars (1964), the first of the Sergio Leone trilogy, which did not give away the film's title, presented Clint Eastwood's character as “the man with no name”. “But in the film Clint Eastwood had a name – he is called Joe,” says Nourmand. “It is the poster that started this whole thing off.”

One of the weirdest posters is the Italian poster for the silent sci-fi movie, Le Avventure Straordinarissime Di Saturnino Farandola (1913) – only one copy of this poster is known to exist, which shows underwater warfare.

The American teaser poster for Unforgiven (1992), “the last great studio released movie poster”, according to Nourmand, shows Eastwood with his back to the viewer holding a gun. It is just one of many movie posters by Bill Gold, now 93, whose first poster was for Casablanca in 1942.

“Both Eastwood and Gold wanted this poster for Unforgiven to be the general release poster but Warner Brothers said the cast who they had spent a fortune on, including Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman must be pictured on it.”

The American poster for the musical comedy Cabin In The Sky (1943), featuring two dancing caricatures, is “one of the most stylish posters from this period” by one the most famous illustrators ever, Al Hirschfeld.

The original US poster for Rosemary's Baby (1968) of a pram on a mountain with Mia Farrow's face superimposed across the green sky is by the original Madison Avenue “Mad Man” Steve Frankfurt.

“Movie posters are very immediate –you either like them or you don't,” says Nourmand. “But the focus of the design is not there anymore – it's all about ego. It is very rare that you see a movie poster that actually pops out at you and you say, 'Wow, that's a nice design.'”

'100 Movie Posters: The Essential Collection' by Tony Nourmand is published by Reel Art Press on 31 July, £29.95 (realartpress.com)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions