Duly impressed by McGinnis' productivity (1500 paper-back book covers) and his illustrative way with women, in 1965 art director Smolen set him and another highly skilled painter to work on the THUNDERBALL poster campaign. McGinnis explained, "Frank McCarthy was known for action paintings, so before doing our painting, we were assigned to go to London to meet [producers] Broccoli and Saltzman, Sean Connery, and see the rushes."
The pizzazz of the McGinnis-McCarthy THUNDERBALL posters proved to be a key element in a stop-at-nothing publicity blitz that included the launching of a guy with a jet-pack over Times Square. When THUNDERBALL grossed $27 million, Smolen and United Artists reteamed McGinnis and McCarthy. But some later Bond assignments posed greater challenges for the poster illustrators than the first. "Most of the other movies were not that far along in the filming," explained McGinnis in his studio in the Southwest. "So I did the artwork from stills or my imagination. Don [Smolen] would give us rough sketches and say, 'Here we want Bond, and there, the women.' I'd submit drawings for approval, then do a finished painting in tempera with casein white."
With movie poster work of the late '60s and '70s reportedly paying illustrators in the high five figures, freelancer McGinnis considered those assignments the "prizes of the business." The painter recalled, "The time things didn't go smoothly was DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, which was down to the wire." Art director Donald Smolen picked up the narrative. "I had asked Bob to surround Bond completely in pulchritude. Literally the day the poster was to go to press at National Screen Service in Cleveland, someone at UA looked at the painting and said, 'How can the figure of Bond be lower than the two girls?'" [McGinnis recalled that "someone" as Sean Connery's agent.] Under pressure, Smolen applied cosmetic surgery to the McGinnis painting. Laughed, McGinnis at the recollection, "Luckily, Don was a good illustrator. Most people don't notice, but if you look carefully at the poster Connery has and awfully long neck."
Posters for LIVE AND LET DIE (1973), are a highlight of the collaboration of McGinnis and Smolen's UA marketing team. "One of the really great McGinnis pieces," observed the art director of the "tarot cards, beautiful women, and crocodiles" motif that was to prove far more dynamic than the debut of Roger Moore as 007.
In the late '70s, McGinnis abandoned movie art to paint Western canvases. Admitted the artist, whose work is represented by a prestigious Southwest gallery, one film assignment might tempt him to backslide: "For a time, the Bond pictures got too casual, too tongue-in-cheek and the adventure went out of them. But now, I'd love to go all-out with one more exotic, exciting James Bond poster."
Frank C. McCarthy is another legendary American painter and brilliant colorist who has three times applied his considerable talents to selling Bonds. The zingy advertisements for two of the best entries in the cycle - THUNDERBALL (1965) and, particularly, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) - attest to the gifts of McCarthy for explosive detail and for heroic men-in-action.
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) is a quintessential Bond campaign that its art director ranks as a pinnacle of the series. "Frank is now one of America's great Western painters and I remember sending him to London to watch them shoot the volcano sequences," said Donald Smolen. "Frank took the idea that Bond can do anything and painted a phenomenal poster of 007 walking horizontally along the volcano walls with an Atlas missile being launched from it. We opened that picture simultaneously at the Astor and Victoria Theatres in New York and ran Frank's painting on a billboard an entire city block on Times Square.
1969 -- McCarthy supplied the action and artist Robert
McGinnis did the main figures for the first entry in
the series not to star Sean Connery.
1971 -- McGinnis followed UA marketing chief Smolen's
bid to surround Bond completely in pulchritude to mark
Connery's return to the series.
1973 -- McGinnis outdid himself for the debut of Roger
Moore as Bond, the highlight of his collaboration with
Smolen on the marketing of 007.
1974 -- McGinnis supplied art that was golden for Moore's
second Bond outing, even if the film wasn't. "The pictures
got too casual," he said.
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