Page 30 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 30

The Cinema Richmond was the only theatre I knew where the posters were almost more impressive than the entrance.

            Not surprisingly, American                                         in the 1960s Robert Burton Printers,
          influences came to dominate poster                                   also of Sydney, seems to predominate.
          design. Flamboyant, florid, with                                     Other firms include M.A.P.S Litho, F.
          extravagant hype and stereotypical                                   Cunningham and Co. and Simmons
          images of the stars in action poses, they                            Ltd. Litho. In the case of posters
          projected a primitive appeal to the                                  printed at the downbeat BEF works,
          masses (one adage was that your                                      most of those I collected were largely
          typical patron left his imagination at                               uncredited.
          home when he went to the movies!)                                       The days of expansive front-of-house
            As the star system became                                          promotions have vanished. Of course
          increasingly powerful so did the                                     individual promotions have little place in
          personality factor - Together again in                               an industry where just about every
          MGM’s riotous comedy William Powell                                  complex is showing precisely the same
          and Myrna Loy; Bing and Bob are                                      films! How different were the days when
          more uproarious...Dottie’s more                                      any significant film had its first release
          Lamourious; Exploding with the force  where there was a close correlation in  in one city cinema. There was every
          of TNT - Taylor N Turner.         the art-work used in America and   incentive to mark its premiere with
            Some directors became household  Australia.                        spectacular front-of-house displays, and
          names. From the late 1930s text such as  On those occasions when an  commissioned artwork in the foyer.
          The Capra touch at its greatest on a  overseas film crew came to Australia,  The biggest front-of-house displays
          poster showed that Frank Capra’s name  local designers were used to get the  in Melbourne always seemed to be at
          alone could sell a movie. Alfred  idiom right. The publicity for They’re a  the Regent, Capitol and Esquire,
          Hitchcock also earned his name above  Weird Mob was a case in point.      where lobby space and sufficient
          the title.                           When it came to film poster printing  passing trade warranted a big show.
            In Australia, most bills seem to have  in Australia, some firms cornered the  Two full blocks away at the Majestic
          originated from Sydney (at least in the  lion’s share of work. Through the 1950s  and State, where pedestrians were
          post-war era) but few ever gave credit  I’ve found a considerable output from  fewer (and the footpath narrower), the
          to a designer. I have only found a  the Sydney firm of W.E. Smith, while  displays were appropriately simpler.
          couple of examples where the design
          house is officially acknowledged along
          with the printer.
            Comparing Australian artwork with
          the American (or British) equivalent our
          day-bills weren’t always slavish copies
          - some autonomy was allowed.
          Exceptions seem to have been for really
          big pictures like Gone With The Wind,

          30  2008 CINEMARECORD
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