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The kick-ass movie poster art of Frank McCarthy

‘Where Eagles Dare’ (1968).
I don’t go to the cinema as much as I once did. In large part, because there is too much stuff out there waiting to be seen in places other than the cinema but also because today’s movie posters don’t sell their product. Most of them—and okay there are quite a few exceptions—look like they’re selling something other than a damn good film. They could be hawking deodorant, beer, suppositories—anything but a movie. They’re bland, anonymous, tasteful, safe and utterly in-o-fucking-fensive. They look like they’ve been designed by a committee of cockwombles who are all dressed in identical wool shirts and bowties who like to stroke their imaginary beards and talk about you know nuance.

That’s not the movie posters I like. I want to see the ingredients on the label first before I consume the product. That’s why I dig the artwork of Frank McCarthy.

McCarthy (1924-2002) produced a staggering and unparalleled selection of movie posters, book covers and magazine illustrations during his long and respected career. When I look at one of McCarthy’s film posters I know I’m gonna go and watch this movie—even it turns out to be a piece of shit—because he sold me the damned thing in a single image.

McCarthy started out copying frames from his favorite comic strips. After high school, he attended Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute where he majored in illustration. And so on and so on, into his career as a commercial artist. But you know an artist’s life is rarely as interesting as their work and McCarthy’s film work is the best. Just look at the way he gets the whole thing down to a few key painstakingly detailed scenes. That’s how you sell a movie.
‘The Chairman’ (1969).
‘Danger Diabolik’ (1968).
‘The Dirty Dozen’ (1967).

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:24 am