444 Filmplakate der goldenen Kinojahre 1946 - 1966
Volker Pantel, Manfred Christ, sponsored by Klaus Hilwig
Verlag Wilfried Eppe, Bergatreute (D), (1993), distribution by Volker Pantel, Braunschweiger Str. 20, D-45145 Essen, Germany, tel +0049-201-756347
264 pages, 450 color reproductions, 23 x 23 cm; ISBN 3-89089-650-2; 69 DM (about 40 US$) plus postage
This book is not exactly new, having been published in 1993, but it is new to me and is interesting enough that it deserves all the publicity that I can give it.
Movie posters do not enjoy a particularly high status among poster fans. I am not talking about the east european movie posters before 1990, but about the posters that you see in front of movie theaters, with a large portrait of the leading stars, vividly colored action scenes and text mentioning everybody that had anything to do with the film, with font size proportional to their importance. These movie posters never make it to the international biennale exhibitions, to Graphis yearbooks, are not in Alain Weill's poster bible. The old question if posters are "art" does not even have to be posed because, in this case, the answer seems obvious to all. Fortunately, a few amateurs, often movie fans, did not care about this universal contempt.
The authors tell the heartbreaking story in the preface of their book about an unnamed director of a big cultural institution in Berlin who cheerfully told them that he had destroyed "all those horribly beautiful movie posters from the fifties" that were entrusted to him.
The original designs for the posters were routinely burned as soon as the poster was printed; if a reprint was required it was reproduced, usually in poor quality, from the first printing. Some posters survived temporarily because a printer kept a reference copy, only to be thrown away later by the thousands.
It is in this atmosphere that Volker Pantel, in 1984, published his first book Das Buch der Filmplakate 1945- 1965, and he deserves credit for taking care of this neglected part of our culture and making it accessible to us. That publication was a big success and is now in its third printing (1995) which must have encouraged him to write this new volume, together with his longtime collaborator Manfred Christ. It has the same format, style, careful documentation and printing as its predecessor, and I have no doubt that it will be as successful.
All the posters in the book were made for films shown in West Germany, mostly american with a few french, german and italian films added, probably a fair cross section of what the german public saw during these years. They are arranged chronologically, and there is a short chapter for each year pointing out the movie highlights, but also technical developments, including interesting comments on the designers, or on the rarity of the posters. With mischievous joy, the authors have sprinkled the book with the sometimes quite disapproving verdicts of the day by the Catholic Film Review. Of high documentary value are the pictures at the beginning of each chapter of movie theater entrances with the large overhead billboards.
Whether you like posters, or rather Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe or Humphrey Bogart, this
book will have plenty for you to enjoy!