Monday, December 26, 2011

The Egyptian Postal Service

Most of the time when I have shipped Egyptian film posters from Cairo to the USA using the Egyptian postal service there have been no problems and there has also been the advantage that shipments done the cheapest way (which they call the "by sea" method) is much less expensive than any other method available; this has always been 100 percent reliable, if also quite slow. From Cairo I usually send posters to myself in the USA about 10 days ahead of my expected arrival home, with perfectly satisfactory results.

When I've done this it has sometimes been necessary to shepherd my shipments through Customs or through the Supervision Office (al-Raqaba). There would be no need for this if the postal employees really knew their jobs well because in Egypt it is OK to ship printed materials out of the country if they are less than 100 years old, even though some of these are quite scarce and collectible. Every poster or film journal I have ever seen from Egypt is less than 100 years old. There could well be a few here and there that are more than 100 years old, but I've never seen one and it is also unlikely any of the postal employees would recognize such an item if it were placed before them.

Occasionally one of the postal people will take an officious attitude, tell me these are "rare" items that might not be permissible for export, and hold me up for a few hours. This rarely happens now because they all know me and they also know if I am there trying to get my goods cleared, sooner or later the senior officer will be summoned to the scene and they will have to relent since they have no real grounds for objecting. Sometimes I think they make these delays just to have an opportunity to draw me into a political discussion about Israel and Gaza. They don't have enough to do, obviously.

Recently I've been having posters sent to me from Cairo by a friend, who just takes the goods to the post office and deposits them there for forwarding to the US. He does not wait around to make sure the Customs or supervision authorities OK the shipment as I always do. His last shipment was held up for 10 days, until he finally went back to the post office to investigate and found his shipment to me waiting for release at the Supervision Office. This holdup could well have lasted for months if he had not gone back to see what was going on.

We finally decided today that from now on we will send everything by FedEx to bypass the bored government bureaucrats who over the years have established their tiny rings of authority at the Egyptian Postal Service. This will save us some time. However, when I am in Cairo again I will use the cheap "by sea" method as before.

Calumnied by the People (1950) Egyptian

Calumnied by the People [zalamuni al-nas] (1950) - (directed by Hassan Al Imam)

Poster for the 1950 Egyptian film Calumnied by the People (directed by Hassan Al Imam) starring Kamal Al-Shennawi, Faten Hamama and Shadia. The film tells the story of a poor but honest worker in an Egyptian company who is unable to marry off his two daughters when he is falsely accused of embezzling company funds. The man is convicted and imprisoned, then serves out the term. After his release there is another investigation because some people think he has hoarded the embezzled funds for use after his release from prison. This new investigation reveals that the real embezzler was the company boss. Vindicated, the poor but honest worker is then able to marry off his two daughters. The poster art is by the famous film poster artist Abdel Rahman.

The film features Kamal Al-Shennawi, Faten Hamama, Shadia, Abbas Fares, Choukoukou, Salah Mansour, Aziza Helmy, Wahid Farid, Abu Seoud El-Ibiary and Reyad El Kasabgy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ulysses against Hercules Egypt 1962

Ulysses against Hercules (1962) - (Georges Machal) Egyptian two-piece film poster

Designed by Wahib Fahmy and Studio Marcel, dimensions 39"x54" the same size as an Italian two-sheet with the difference that this one is actually printed on two pieces paper. I haven't seen the Iralian two-sheet for this film but strongly suspect the art and layout are about the same.

Egyptian 39x80 Rebel without a Cause

Rebel without a Cause (1955) - (James Dean) three piece Egyptian poster

This is a ragged but still quite presentable three-piece Warner Brothers poster printed in Egypt for the 1955 Nicholas Ray film Rebel without a Cause, measuring 39" x 80." It was designed by Wahib Fahmy and printed by Raghaieb Printers. The Arabic title in yellow script at the top of the poster could be translated as "The Recklessness of Youth."

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Love in August 1966

Love in August (1966) - (Fouad El-Mohandes) three-piece Egyptian poster

This 65x39" poster for a 1966 Hassan El-Seify film was designed by Wahib Fahmy and Abdel Aziz, printed by Al-Nasr printers of Cairo and distributed by the General Company for the Distribution and Marketing of Cinematic Films [sherket al-'am li-tawdi' wa-ard al-aflam al-sinemaia]. The actors in the painting are Fouad El-Mohandes holding the undersized umbrella, and Shouweikar whom he is attempting to shelter. The umbrella seems much too small for blocking either sun or rain, and seems also to symbolize the suitor's hopeless situation. I haven't seen the film but have read that the character Farid (El-Mohandes) is trying to fill the shoes of the late husband of Salwa (Shouweikar), who was killed in a traffic accident on their wedding night. Apparently he manages to do this because they eventually marry (the required happy ending for this type of Egyptian film).

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The Magnificent Beast

La Bestia Magnifica (Lucha Libre) (1953) (Miroslava) directed by Chano Urueta

This is an Egyptian poster designed by Abdou Mohamed and Wahib Fahmy for the Chano Urueta Mexican wrestling film. It was printed by Nasr Printers of Cairo and distributed by the United Arabic Films Company [sherket al-aflam al-arabia al-motaheda] on Kasr al-Nil Street in Cairo. A series of clips from the film was posted to YouTube by user jarrett421, the first of which is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=645t6Aqe3kA

The yellow title in Arabic translates as "The Beautiful Beast." I have not seen the original Mexican poster but it is very probable that it looks very similar and even more beautiful than this one, with brighter colors and clearer definition. The Mexicans were making gorgeous poster in those years.

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