It’s hard to be a film critic and not spend a lot of time staring at movie posters, whether full size one-sheets at the theater or smaller reproductions on DVD cases. I’m worse: I also have movie posters from a few of my favorite films on the wall too: Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.
But there are some movie posters that are iconic, that are so well known that a rough sketch of the main illustration is enough to bring the film to mind, along with the entire visceral experience of watching it the first time. An example? The brilliant horror film Jaws, a movie that I saw when I was 12yo and that definitely affected my comfort in deep water for years afterwards. You know the image, the huge shark coming up from the deep to attack the unsuspected bikini-clad gal. In fact, you can probably draw it in your sleep!
The more I thought about iconic movie posters, the more I wondered what other images were there that either ingeniously reflected the main theme of the film (for example, the poster for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with its witty use of film stock to outline the animated Roger, trapped within the fantasy of a motion picture) or otherwise evoked a major emotion tied to the film itself (look at the logo art in The Godfather, or the facial expression Marilyn Monroe has on The Seven Year Itch poster).
There are thousands of movie posters available and those that recall well-loved films from your childhood are undoubtedly favorites (I’m thinking of Dr. Doolittle and My Fair Lady, as two examples) but that doesn’t make them iconic in the way that Marilyn’s dress blowing up as she stands on the air vent has become a famous image from the riotously funny comedy The Seven Year Itch.
So I’ll ask you: what are your favorite iconic movie posters? Star Wars? Psycho? Apollo 13? Titanic? Don’t forget to look through the background graphic on this site too: it’s a mosaic of dozens of my own favorite films. How many did you recognize without a second glance?
Not sure where to go look through a catalog of film one-sheets? I suggest you check out the cool UK-based collectibles site GBPosters.com. Then come back and tell me what you think!