Who’ll Shoot First?

Often as not, I’ll gravitate towards a European market film poster art over the tamer U.S. versions, particularly with 1940’s and 1950’s films noir and crime thrillers (kind of the opposite of how I react to U.S. paperback cover illustrations vs. European versions form the same era). And while I adore the poster art below for L’Ombra Del Passato (translating as The Shadow of The Past, I think) shown below, I have to hand this one to the dueling revolvers above for Edward Dmytrik’s seminal 1944 noir Murder, My Sweet, the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely that rebranded crooner Dick Powell as one of film noir’s go-to leads.

Gams And Golden Arms.

The Man With The Golden Arm

This Italian poster for Otto Preminger’s 1955 The Man With The Golden Arm (L’Uomo Dal Braccio D’Oro on this art) with Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker and Kim Novak bears little resemblance to the Saul Bass posters used for domestic release. But then, the film strays pretty far from Nelson Algren’s 1949 novel, doesn’t it? It’s said that Preminger threatened to have the film pulled from any U.S. theaters that altered or rejected Bass’ poster (Bass also responsible for the film’s opening title sequence), and he’d probably have made good on his threats, already being willing to put the film into release without the MPAA or PCA’s seal of approval…pretty rebellious at that time. While the movie was controversial enough on its own, let’s assume the Italian distributor wanted to tease something other than a peek into the grim and gritty life of a Chicago junkie. Novak’s incredible as strip club hostess Molly Novotny, but the illustrator took a bit of liberty with his depiction of her here.

Mario De Berardinis.

Mario De Berardinis 1

Espionage, horror and Euro-sleaze film poster illustrations (and layouts) by Italian illustrator Mario De Berardinis (1931 – 1977).

The De Berardinis surname just seems to go along with artists for some reason, with the 1950’s – 1970’s era Italian poster, digest and paperback cover illustrator on one hand, but also Rosetta De Berardinis, a Washington D.C. abstract painter, and of course Olivia De Berardinis, the popular glamour and erotic art illustrator, though none are related in any way to my knowledge.

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Solo Chi Cade Puo Risorgere.

Dead Reckoning 2

There are few postwar era crime melodramas and films noir that I adore more than John Cromwell’s 1947 Dead Reckoning with Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott. Much as I like the various U.S. theatre posters and lobby cards for that film, these foreign posters for “Solo Chi Cade Puo Risorgere” are particular favorites, even if the one above doesn’t quite capture Lizabeth Scott at all.

Dead Reckoning 3

Paul Mann.

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Paul Mann did the handsome retro-flavored cover art for Brian DePalma and Susan Lehman’s Are Snakes Necessary? profiled in a prior post. The Salt Lake City, Utah artist is an old-school illustrator employing a master craftsman’s skills with figures in a distinctly 1960’s/70’s era movie poster montage style. His work graces a number of the Hard Case Crime series novels, reviving the look of so many Robert McGinnis and other’s covers from the latter days of the postwar paperback era.

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Anna (2019): The Posters.

Anna Poster 1

They say the 1950’s/60’s B-movie barons often came up with a movie’s poster before they even had a script. True or not, there probably are some drive-in classics and cult faves we remember more for their posters and lobby cards than the films themselves.

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“Mindless action movies with a glossy veneer of sexy artsy-ness” may be what some label Luc Bresson’s films. I won’t argue, but I also won’t say it’s an entirely bad thing. I will say that “sexy, artsy action films” better have good posters, and Bresson’s 2019 Anna starring Sasha Luss had some dandies, with a selection shown here.

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