Saturday, September 22, 2007

Egyptian Borsalino & Co. Poster

Egyptian Borsalino & Co. (R1978) Film Poster

The red Arabic letters at the top are the Arabic title translation "Lust for Vengeance" [shahwet al-intiqam]. The blue Arabic letters just below the title are the Arabic transliteration for the name of the film's star Alain Delon. Note the color correspondences between the Arabic title and credit at the top and the English ones at the bottom.

Lower Right Corner of Poster

The lower right corner of the poster tells us the name of the distributor and the release date.

The Arabic word "release" [tarkhis] reading from right to left, followed on the left by the Arabic numerals 78/80.

The Arabic word "distribution" [tawzi'] followed by a colon on the left side.

Arabic word for distribution followed on the left by the distributor's name "The Vanguard Films Company" [sherket aflam al-tali'a]

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Studio Logos on Italian Locandinas

Here are two Italian Locandinas for the 1965 film "Thunderball" starring Sean Connery:

The one on the top is an original from 1965, the one on the bottom is a 1977 rerelease. There are no dates on the posters. We have to rely on other information to know which is which.

The original has more color saturation, but even without that we know it is an original because of the hexagonal United Artists logo in the lower right corner:

Bottom of Original 1965 Thunderball locandina with hexagonal United Artists logo, lower right corner.

The 1977 rerelease poster has the Transamerica "T" logo:

Bottom of R1977 Thunderball locandina with United Artists Transamerica "T" logo, lower right corner.

The reason for the logo change is that the United Artists studio was bought in 1967 by Transamerica. In 1967 Italian posters for United Artists films had a transitional logo like this one on a four -sheet for the 1967 film You Only Live Twice:

Bottom corner of Original 1967 You Only Live Twice four-sheet with United Artists transitional logo.

The Transamerica "T" logo was adopted in 1968 and remained in use until 1981. The presence of this logo tells us the second locandina could not have been issued earlier than 1968, nor later than 1981. In that period there were only two Italian rerelease years for Thunderball, 1971 and 1977. The printer name "Rotopress" indicates this rerelease probably wasn't done before 1973, the earliest year for any Rotopress Italian poster titles, according to Ed Poole of Learn about Movie Posters. Armando Giuffrida of Rome's Metropolis Bookstore believes Rotopress went into operation in the mid-1970s. This poster therefore must have been printed in 1977 for the Italian Thunderball rerelease of that year. Giuffrida thinks the "UA 11/4" at the bottom center of this poster is a printer code rather than a date.

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Movie Poster Photography Stand

A Simple Stand for Poster Photography

As the technology of photography goes, photographing posters is not a formidable task, but if a few simple techniques are applied the results can be vastly improved.

It is usually better to work without a flash. If the poster is not glossy, a flash photo will usually be fine, but if the poster is glossy, a flash exposure will produce ugly hot spots. A common technique among internet poster sellers is to use a flash with the poster cocked at an angle way from the camera's focal plane. This solves the hot spot problem, but looks odd.

Whether the poster is glossy or not, the results are good most of the time if the exposure is made with available light and no flash at all. Then the biggest problem is making sure the available light is evenly distributed over the surface of the poster. This usually means turning off all the room lights and facing the poster away from the windows. A picture taken with available light doesn't have to be tilted away from the focal plane.

In most cases, available light will require a tripod, and
preferably a remote shutter release, either cable or infrared.
Low-light photography without a flash means long exposures (slow shutter speeds), and if the camera shakes or jiggles at all during a long exposure, the image will be blurred. If the camera has a built-in meter for automatic exposure, the job becomes really easy and the results consistently pleasing.

Although photographic lighting is a complex subject, in the
paragraphs above I've given a simple lighting solution to the task of photographing posters that is eminently reliable. Everybody can use it successfully the first or second try.

A more difficult problem is mounting the poster in an upright
position for the picture. For that we need some kind of stand that can accommodate different poster sizes; we want to attach the posters without using tape, tacks or glue. We want to put the poster up in front of the camera and then take it down without altering the poster's physical condition.

Some people have developed fantastic solutions to this mounting problem. I've seen big sucking vacuum walls that will make any poster of any size lie perfectly flat and vertical in front of the camera instantly. The ones I've seen have been installed in elaborate permanent studios with lighting and camera prepositioned to yield perfect results every time based on extensive testing. I've also seen steel background walls used with magnets to hold up the posters, again providing infinite flexibility for sizes.

For my work I don't want a permanent fixture because I don't have space for a studio. I want to be able to assemble and then disassemble my stand to allow for multiple uses of my limited space. At a camera show in Southfield Michigan last June I bought a used portable background stand made by the Da-Lite Screen Company in Warsaw Indiana. I modified it for use as a poster photography stand.

Da-Lite Screen's Portable Background Stand

Many companies make background stands for photography. The one pictured happens to be first the one I found. It has a 1 1/8" diameter adjustable aluminum bar across the top, and the two supporting stands can also be adjusted up and down. It was designed to hold up background paper or cloth, so there is nowhere to attach posters.

I made an accessory for my background stand that I can attach to it for poster photography. It is a 72" aluminum ruler that I fasten to the horizontal bar with two steel hose clamps. The hose clamps are attached to the aluminum ruler with rivets. I had the riveting done at a machine shop, but I probably could have done it myself with some kind of consumer rivet gun and drill.

Hose Clamp Attached to Aluminum Ruler with Rivet, then Attached to the Aluminum Crossbar

The aluminum bar is too thick for bulldog clips, but the attached ruler gives me a hard surface that is a good size for bulldog clips and I can use it with the clips to hang the posters up in front of the camera, as I've done with these posters:

Insert, The Old Barn Dance (R1944) Gene Autry

4x5 foot banner, Friday Night Lights (2004) Billy Bob Thornton

For the Insert, as with most posters, I also used bulldog clips at the bottom to make it hang down straignt. For the large banner, I used clips and another 72" aluminum ruler to make the poster hang straight and to make its long folded bottom edge line up evenly for the camera.

Bottom Corner of Mounted Friday Night Lights banner showing end of long ruler clamped to the bottom with bulldog clips

On this end of the background stand we can see the bottom edge of the Friday Night Lights banner before I clamped another 72" ruler to its bottom edge to make it hang straighter.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

US "Titanic" One-sheet Movie Posters

There are 11 basic varieties of US Titanic movie posters, with four basic designs. A printing error made a revision necessary after the first run of posters; in addition to the distinctions of design styles and the domestic and international issues, we have a distinction to make between the revised and non-revised posters.

The posters were revised to include the name of the actress Gloria Stuart in the credits, left out in the first print run. This change is not obvious; owners of original Titanic posters may not know if they have revised or unrevised versions.

Not Revised (Style A domestic)

Revised (Style A international)

The revised posters show "Gloria Stuart" between the names "Danny Nucci" and "David Warner" on the second row of credits.

The distinction between the domestic and international varieties is made with most US posters; it is usually indicated in the fine print at the bottom of the poster. International Titanic posters have a notation printed with tiny letters in the lower left corner:

The advance poster had no credits and was thus never revised. The Academy Awards poster was made after the credits mistake had been corrected; it did not need revision.

The 4 Basic Designs of US Titanic Posters

The Advance one-sheet (no credits, no revisions)

Style A one-sheet (four types: domestic unrevised, domestic revised, international unrevised, international revised) This one was also issued as a high gloss single-sided premiere poster.

Style B one-sheet (four types: domestic unrevised, domestic revised, international unrevised, international revised)

Style B one-sheet blue credits reprint (not revised).

I have some questions about this strange poster with the blue credits. It measures 26.5" x 38.5" and is single-sided. We think it is a reprint, but of what? Is there an original Style B with blue credits? I haven't seen one, but to reprint something you have to begin with an original. I'd love to see one of those!

Academy Awards one-sheet (domestic and international only, no revisions)

This summary may be incomplete; if revisions are needed please advise! Thanks to Roy Simperman for the idea. :)

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