Monday, December 28, 2009

Trade Posters in the Egyptian Film Industry

Egyptian film posters have always been made by local printers who served other trades. I have found four Egyptian trade posters made of the same paper stock and size as most of the standard Egyptian one-sheet (27" x 39") film posters, two of them commissioned by workers in the film industry.

The first was commissioned by attorney and writer Adly El-Mowalid:

Adly El-Mowalid


It is not clear to me if this poster was intended to promote his
business as an attorney, as a writer, or both. There is no
mention of his work in film on the poster, but his name appears there exactly as it is always shown on film posters that credit him for writing: "Adly El-Mowalid, the Attorney."

The poster was printed by al-Nasr printers, with art by Wahib Fahmy. Both of them worked on many film posters.

Here are some posters for films for which Adly El-Mowalid is credited as a writer:

An Abnormal Girl [fatat shaza] (1964) starring Shouweikar, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

From Home to School [min al-beit ila al-madrasa] (1972) starring Naglaa Fathy, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

The Giant (1964) starring Farid Shawqi, directed by Sayed Essa

Girls Complain [sha'awet banat] (1963) starring Soad Hosny directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

Lion of the Night [sabu' al-leyl] (1971) starring Rushdy Abaza directed by Hassan El-Seify

The Love of Teenagers (1970) starring Ahmed Mazhar, directed by Mahmoud Zulfikar.

Reckless Girl [bint shaqiya] (1967) starring Nadia Lutfi, directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

Son of Satan (1968) starring Farid Shawqi directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

The Student and the Professor (1968) starring Soad Hosny, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

Student Follies [namar al-talamiza] (1965) starring Samira Ahmed, directed by Essa Karama

The Three Adventurers (1966) starring Soad Hosny, directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

The second non-film poster made in the film poster format I have was commissioned by the dancer Hermine:


Hermine was featured in three films for which I have memorabilia:

She Lived for Love ['ashat lil-hob] (1959) - (Zubaida Tharwat)

Lobby card for We Live Once [al-omr wahed] (1954) starring Ismail Yasseen, directed by Ihsan Fergal

Film poster for Cheers [fi sahetak] (1955) starring Hamdy Gheith directed by Abbas Kamel.

Film program for Cheers [fi sahetak] (1955) starring Hamdy Gheith, directed by Abbas Kamel

Ministry of Culture Posters

Nights of Ramadan [layalet ramadan] (1969) Egyptian Ministry of Culture program poster

Sharam Baram (ND) Egyptian Ministry of Culture theater poster

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Five Doors Bar [khamsa bab] (1983, Egypt)

Fouad El-Mohandes, Adel Imam and Nadia El Guindy shown in an 11x14 still from Nader Galal's Five Doors Bar.

Plot Summary

This film is an Egyptian adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1963 film Irma La Douce starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. In the 40s Kollu Mashi (Fouad El-Mohandes) owned the Five Doors Bar in Cairo's Ezbekiyyah quarter, where illicit relationships were allowed. The prostitute Taragi (Nadia El Guindy) worked with the pimp Abbas (Fouad Ahmed) who took a share of her daily take and protected her and number of the other girls of the night in the neighborhood. The police officer on duty was in the habit of taking a fee in exchange for not disclosing what was happening.

An upright officer named Mansur (Adel Imam) was transferred to the neighborhood; all the efforts to bribe him, as had been done with his predecessor, failed. One night he even took everybody to the police station. The pimp Abbas contrived a retaliatory scheme, with help from Taragi, to stash some narcotics in Mansur's room, then reported him to the police. Mansur was then fired from the police force.

Mansur began working as a ruffian laborer, dominating the neighborhood. He fell in love with Taragi. He tried to save money for her so she could live a better life and disguised himself as a rich foreigner who appeared occasionally as one of Taragi's customers. This is the plot's weakest element, for the viewer is asked to believe that Taragi is sleeping alternately with Mansur and his foreigner alter ego without realizing they are the same man!

Mansur knew Taragi was supporting an invalid son at a nearby rehabilitation facility and paid the boy's expenses. He married Taragi after she repented and gave up prostitution, and the pimp Abbas was arrested after a dramatic fight scene in which Mansur gave him a good clubbing with some sticks he found in an alley.


This film was skillfully acted with the three lead characters played by some of the real giants of Egyptian cinema, Fouad El-Mohandes, Adel Imam and Nadia El Guindy. It had beautiful sets and high production values from Nader Galal, one of Egypt's great directors. The work provided the most wholesome sort of entertainment: a dramatic love story and a tale of moral restoration and evil vanquished.

Yet the film was banned, in all probability due at least in part to the presence among the bar patrons of a male cross-dresser and dancer. This man, though prominently featured, was just an incidental character in the plot; but in 1983 Egyptian authorities might not have been ready for a public exhibition of gay behavior.

Since Egypt relies heavily on its police to maintain order and state control, it is also possible the film's portrayal of a criminal who outwits a policeman might have been deemed inappropriate as public entertainment.

Egyptian film poster for Nader Galal's The Five Doors Bar [khamsa bab] (1983)

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Contract to Print a Poster

Most of us who collect film posters are interested in them because they are nice to display and perhaps also because they are investments. We usually realize those collecting ideas are transmutations. Most film posters were not made for collectors. They were made to perform a business function--to help sell theater tickets--and were considered part of a film's marketing cost. After being used in that capacity they were usually thrown out, at least in the old days. There is a greater tendency to hang on to posters now, but most of them are still practically worthless and probably deserve to be thrown out.

It is interesting, to add background and depth to the hobby, to look whenever possible at information about the transactions that led to a poster's design and production. I have here a rare pairing of an 33-year-old Egyptian poster and a contract for its production:

I Am Neither Sane nor Insane [ana la 'aqela wa la magnuna] (1976) - (Mahmoud Yassine)

Contract dated 10/4/1975 between Arabic Cinema Printers and Ibrahim Shusha Films to print the above poster

The film was done by Houssam El-Din Mustafa, one of Egypt's greatest directors, and stars Mahmoud Yassine, then a major leading actor in Egypt. It is based on a story by Ihsan Abd al-Qudus (1919-1990), renowned Egyptian novelist and journalist who edited the Cairo newspapers Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram.

The contract is the only one of its kind I've seen so far, done by Gasour, the most famous movie poster printer and artist in Egypt and the only one ever to receive an Egyptian academy award for poster design. A contract signed by him is itself something special to have for a poster collector! The director of Arabic Cinema Printers is named in the contract as Hassan Mazhar Gasour, but the printer company logo on the poster itself has the name H.H. Gasour. H.H. Gasour is the name Mr. Gasour used for his Oraby Street shop in downtown Cairo; "H.H." are the initials of his daughters, Hala and Hanna.

The contract provides that Arabic Cinema Printers will design and print 7,000 one-sheet posters, 400 24-sheet posters and 1,000 lobby cards at a cost of 1,208 Egyptian pounds, which includes a fee of 100 pounds (about $250 at that time) for designing the posters and lobby cards. The contract also says the task of designing and printing the posters and lobby cards will be completed 25 days after the contract is signed, and gives a schedule of installment payments to be made to the printer. It is signed by Hassan Mazhar Gasour (with the Arabic Cinema Printers official rubber stamp) and Ibrahim Shusha, the film's distributor.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Omar Sharif's Egyptian Films

Omar Sharif [1932-2015] was born in Alexandria Egypt. He is one of the
world's most famous actors, with more than a half century of
prolific cinematic production and success. His first film was
Mortal Revenge [siraa fil-wadi] made in 1954 in Egypt by the
late Youssef Chahine. His costar was the legendary Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, whom he married soon after the shooting. Sharif is the only Egyptian actor who has had a significant career both in and out of Egypt, but his Egyptian films are not as well known to non-Egyptians. Here are some posters for Egyptian films that featured Omar Sharif (known in Egypt as Omar al-Sharif):

Struggle in the Valley aka Mortal Revenge [siraa fil-wadi] (1954) - (Faten Hamama)

Our Best Days [ayyamna al-helwa] (1955)

Dark Waters [siraa fil-mina] (1956) - (dir: Youssef Chahine)

My Love's Fault [ghaltet habibi] (1958)

Sleepless [la anam] (1958) - (dir: Salah Abouseif)

Lady of the Palace [sayedat al-qasr] (1959)

Scandal in Zamalek [fadiha fil-zamalek] (1959)

Struggle on the Nile [seraa fil-nil] (1959)

The Agony of Love [lawet al-hob] (1960)

Dead among the Living [bedaya wa nehaya] (1960)

My Only Love [hobi al-wahid] (1960)

Rumor of Love [esha'a hob] (1960) - (Omar Sharif, Soad Hosny)

There Is a Man in Our House [fi baitina ragul] (1961) Style A

There Is a Man in Our House [fi baitina ragul] (1961) Style B

There Is a Man in Our House [fi baitina ragul] (1961) Style C

There Is a Man in Our House [fi baitina ragul] (1961) Style D

The Mamelukes [al-mamalik] (1965)

Ayoub (1983) - (Omar Sharif)

The Puppeteer [al-aragoz] (1989) Style A

The Puppeteer [al-aragoz] (1989) Style B

War in the Land of Egypt [mowaten: masri] (1991)

Laughter, Games,
Seriousness and Love [dehk, we leab we gad we hob] (1993)

Hassan and Morcos [hassan wa morqos] (2008) - (Adel Imam, Omar Sharif)

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