Unmoving Pictures - great movies with terrible posters


Now Hollywood is the territory of bean counters rather than creative visionaries, we should be not at all surprised when Space Chimps 4 fails to live up to its, admittedly limited, promise. However, back in the mists of time, truly great movies were released on a weekly basis.  Unfortunately, the art department often lagged behind the artistic genius of the writer and director. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I present the evidence?

Star Wars
One can only imagine the designer of this abomination hadn't actually watched the film for which we all have such affection. Princess Leia got up like a Ladyshave model? Luke with a six pack? Nope, not in the movie I've seen (and I've seen it many, many times). It's an established fact that Fox thought they had a real turkey on their hands, so this was probably a cheap stab at selling the flick with a bit of soft pencil erotica. Silly foxy Fox.

The Green Mile

Now I'm a bit cynical about this saga of the miracle man in prison, but it is widely regarded as classic - albeit a very long one. What isn't open to debate is folly of the airbrush frenzy imposed on the poster. Poor Tom Hanks looks like a cartoon of Tom Hanks after a sound pasting and cheap laser eye surgery. What's worse, the whole design gives us not one iota of a clue as to the the theme of the film. Schoolboy error.


















Don't Look Now

If you haven't seen this film, you really should. A ghost story, a horror movie and a searing study of grief - it is an undoubted masterpiece. Not that you'd know it from this shonky old poster. At no point do Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie appear in a cheap silver picture frame and as I recall, nobody does any bleeding. This design with its hopelessly rendered gore and crappy font, suggests you're about to watch a b-movie slasher flick. And that is unfair to all involved.




















George Lucas' first foray into science fiction was very, very different from Star Wars. A bleak, quiet and fearful vision of a police state where humanity is a crime, it's a tough but intriguing watch. Sadly, George falls unlucky with the poster guys again. "Spray mount some stills to an A2 sheet and go for lunch? Yep, that'll do. Oh, the pics have gone all grainy. Oh, never mind. I might have burger."




















Breakfast at Tiffanys

People love this film so much, they often have this poster framed and mounted in their homes. Good for them. But have they ever really looked at it? Audrey Hepburn appears stunning, naturally - that's because she's Audrey Hepburn not because the artist has done a terrific job. More than anything, it feels unfinished. That little cameo of George and Audrey in the background hardly compensates for the acres of white void and the shoddy colour scheme of the borders. We owe the two stars much more than this (and remember George went on to be Hannibal in the TV A-Team), but then we do owe Miss Hepburn the entire universe.



















So the next time you see a rotten poster in the lobby of a multiplex or on the side of a bus stop, keep an open mind. Just because the designers never really got to grips with the brief, it doesn't mean the movie's a damp squib. Although, if it's for Space Chimps 4, I must advise you that's where the theory breaks down.

Magnus Shaw - writer, blogger and broadcaster