Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dirty Old New York Subway

Another example of my undying obsession with the New York I glanced at as a child or missed altogether.  This is a mix of clips of the New York City subway system in those times when graffiti was a mainstay and everything underground was grimier and potentially hairier than we're accustomed to on today's MTA.

Friday, April 26, 2013

WB: The Seven Arts Years

For a brief period in the late '60s, Warner Bros. was controlled by Ray Stark and Eliot Hyman's Seven Arts Productions, after they purchased majority rights to the studio from Jack Warner for $32 million.  The house poster design style had a uniformity to it not alike the aforementioned Paramount style.  The posters often feature art, colors, and fonts that are characteristic of the "psychedelic" era.  The billing block below was usually black on white, with the same font and layout across the board.

Truth be told, the style does seem to be established prior to the Seven Arts takeover and continued after the company was sold to Kinney in 1969, but to keep this post somewhat contained, and because I adore the WB - Seven Arts logo and am fascinated by the years this era comprises, I chose to begin and end with the Seven Arts period.

Up the Down Staircase is an example of the same layout in place just prior to the Seven Arts takeover:

Perhaps the most celebrated films produced by the WB in this era are The Wild Bunch, Bullitt, Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke, with several other lesser-known, but highly regarded titles such as Petulia, The Learning Tree, Rachel, Rachel, The Rain People, and Wait Until Dark.  Although the Seven Arts years were brief, they encompass times of great change within the industry and without...evidenced within Hollywood by the adoption of the new MPAA ratings system in 1968 and films such as Wild Bunch and Bonnie and Clyde, which were revolutionary and game-changing due to their more explicit, realistic depictions of violence and the ways in which their narratives seemed to echo or respond to the larger social context, particularly Vietnam and the anti-war movement, the concurrent women's and civil rights movements, and rapidly changing societal mores.

I've tried to place the following together based on similarities in use of color, collage, border, or generally similar vibe:

An attractive one that doesn't really mesh so much with the others aside from adhering to the artwork above / black on white billing block below:

Aside from the colors and the cleanliness of the layout, one of the quirks that I find pretty unique to the WB posters are the non-colored sketches that are sometimes part of the primary artwork and other times complimentary to the main artwork, which you can see on Cool Hand Luke and the following examples, some of which are post-Seven Arts:


A color example of one of the sketch style:

Some post-Seven Arts examples of this sketch technique, which also demonstrate the continuity of the WB house style:

Some more onscreen examples of the WB - Seven Arts logo:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

If At First You Don't Succeed

1979 Avco Embassy theatrical one-sheet.
1979 Columbia Pictures theatrical one-sheet.
For as few films as he has in his filmography, William Richert, sometimes dubbed "Wild Bill" Richert, must have some kind of record for most films with checkered production histories, alternate versions, multiple title changes, and theatrical re-releases.  His first and most well-known film as director, the star-studded conspiracy thriller Winter Kills, went through years of start and stop production and bankruptcy.  One of its producers was killed by the mafia for failing to pay up on his debts and another was later sentenced to 40 years for marijuana smuggling.  During one of the aforementioned production stoppages, Richert took some of his Winter Kills cast, including stars Jeff Bridges and Belinda Bauer, and crew to Germany to shoot another film, Success, the sale proceeds of which could be used to finance the completion of Winter Kills.  The tactic worked, though Success, too, went through multiple iterations and spotty to non-existent releases in theaters and, later, home video.

Newspaper ad for February 1983 NY theatrical release.
Newspaper ad for January 1982 NY theatrical release.
1983 Invisible Studio theatrical one-sheet.
Newspaper ad for Spring 1983 NY theatrical release.
Also known as The American Success Company and Good As Gold, it had some sporadic theatrical releases in the U.S. under various titles, and with different edits, and I don't believe it ever officially bowed on home video in the States.  I had the good fortune to see it a few years ago, in a dodgy video copy, unfortunately, at a screening at the Walter Reade attended by Richert.  It's an appealingly left-of-center, screwball-esque comedy / thriller deserving of far more visibility than it's been afforded over the years.  Along with Somebody Killed Her Husband, it's one of the most elusive of Jeff Bridges starring vehicles.

As you can see from the accompanying newspaper listings and one-sheets, Success and Winter Kills appeared at various times, whether sanctioned by studio or Richert, with different campaigns and title treatments.

Newspaper ad for Spring 1983 NY theatrical release.
Richert's subsequent feature A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (aka Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye) also met with well-publicized studio interference, resulting in two different versions, one endorsed by the studio / producers and one by the filmmaker.

Newspaper ad for January 1982 NY theatrical release.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Paramount Records

Like most of the studios, Paramount has had a record imprint under its name, albeit a short-lived one.  From the late '60s until its sale to ABC in 1974, Paramount Records released several soundtracks for Paramount films, along with some pop records.  In keeping with the theme of the previous post, I pay particular attention to two of the titles, Serpico and The Education of Sonny Carson, which have a remarkable (to me, anyway) symmetry in terms of record cover design.