Red-hot colors... phallic guns pointing north... the suave
man in evening clothes, sporting the "stud-can't-help-it"
grin... half-clad pneumatic lovelies melting over him... underwater
slugfests, jet-packs, and marauding choppers... slyly suggestive
copy lines... "James Bond does it everywhere"... "Nobody does
it better." Ticket-selling? Absolutely. Influential? Doubtless.
Sexist? Sure. But such hyped-up imagery and double-entendres
have been the stock-in-trade of 16 movie poster promotions
for James Bond adventures beginning with DR. NO (1962).
To say that fans and
memorabilia collectors hotly pursue posters is about like
saying Goldfinger enjoyed ingots. The current catalogue
for Cinemonde, San Francisco's upscale movie poster emporium,
demands $250 for a DR. NO 14" x 36" insert. No wonder vintage
Bond posters fetch such sums. The series itself is the all-time
movie success story and the illustration talent behind the
Bond advertisements ranks among the best in the business.
In 1961, David Chasman,
then director of marketing and advertising for United Artists,
hired Mitchell Hooks and Joseph Caroff to design the "007
logo" for DR. NO. A modestly budgeted item shot in Jamaica,
the movie starred a 32 year-old Scotsman who earned $15,000
to play a shrewd, strapping secret service agent. Lighting
struck everyone involved: DR. NO became a runaway hit; Sean
Connery earned stardom; David Chasman is now a top production
executive; Joseph Caroff designed the striking poster campaign
for Martin Scorcese's THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.
In promoting FROM
RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) and GOLDFINGER (1964), Chasman and
United Artists abandoned illustration for posters in a crisp
photographic style. Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert
Broccoli had posters for the latter film designed in England
by the late, influential British art director Robert Brownjohn.
1962 -- David Chasman's logo concept and Michaell Hooks'
art launches Bond.
1963 -- Chasman's early photo posters were for the most
In 1965, Donald Smolen
superceded David Chasman as worldwide marketing and advertising
executive for United Artists. Since then, Smolen has played
a key role in the creation of eight Bond campaigns - from
THUNDERBALL forward. Trained at the Beaux Arts in Paris,
Smolen apprenticed in the exploitation art department at
20th Century-Fox, where he illustrated posters for such
movies as AN AMERICAN GUERIRILLA IN THE PHILIPINES (1950).
With UA until 1974, later that year Smolen opened the Smolen,
Smith and Connelly agency, consulting not only for the Bond
pictures, but also the marketing masterminds behind the
ad campaigns for such projects as THE OMEN (1976), STAR
WARS (1977), APOCALYPSE NOW (1979), and EXCALIBUR (1981).
"With the Bond pictures,
we set out to sell - in a stylish, classy way - the girls,
the action, and, to whatever extent we could, the gadgetry
particular to the film," recalled Smolen, a precise, cordial
man in a pin-neat studio. "The central 'idea' was always
this: Bond is cool in the midst of the beautiful girls,
the villains out to get him, and the chaos bombarding him.
For the illustrators, we used only the best and, in the
United Artists of those days, everyone was willing to spend
the money to get the best. Fortunately, the best were also
friends: Robert McGinnis, Frank C. McCarthy, and Bob Peak."
Consider the oeuvre
of 63 year-old Cincinnati, Ohio-born painter Robert McGinnis,
who, with six such assignments to his credit, might be crowned
king of the James Bond posters. "Painting provocative, seductive,
elegant women brought me to the Bond people," said McGinnis,
whose canvases glow with alluring femme fatales - a key
sales element of the kiss-kiss-bang-bang factor.
Bond posters that
boast what McGinnis terms his "women drawn with a high-fashion
edge" are THUNDERBALL (1965), ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE
(1969, main figures only; action vignettes were painted
by Frank C. McCarthy), DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971), LIVE
AND LET DIE (1973), THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974),
and the key figure of the sexy dazzler in MOONRAKER (1979).
1964 -- Bond designed by influencial British art director
1965 -- Smolen hired premiere poster artists Frank C.
McCarthy for action and gadgets and Robert McGinnis
for glamour, and created a sentational poster campaign
that set the tone for the Bond series.
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Reprinted with permission from
CINEFANTASTIQUE Vol 19, No 5, July 1989.
Copyright 1989 by Frederick C. Clarke.