What it is ... What it was, The Black Film explosion of the ' 70s in words
G. Martinez, D. Martinez, A. Chavez
Hyperion Miramax Books, New York NY (USA) (1998); 208 pages, about 150 color reproductions of movie posters, 28 x 22 cm, softcover; ISBN 0-7868-8377-4
$$$ Buy it now from amazon.com! or amazon.com.uk!
This is a really funny book! When I first saw it, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I thought it was some kind of movie magazine or catalogue, from it's glossy soft cover and the vivid layout of the pages. Then I noted the announcement on the back cover This book will fry your eggs. I definitely got interested when I realized that it was full of pictures of movie posters, and started reading: It was a chapter by John Solie, one of the major illustrators during the 60's and 70's.
Information on the designers of american movie posters is quite rare, they are not allowed to sign their work, and generally just don't exist. Solie's account of how he did the poster for Shaft in Africa fully confirms the stories about the lowly rank of the designer in the movie industry pecking order and is so hilarious that I have to quote it here:
.. they decided that they wanted Richard Roundtree in this costume and a montage of scenes from Africa. They said, "Put the Eiffel Tower in there." I said, "I'm not all that great in geography, but I thought that was in France". "Yeah, yeah, yeah but we shot some stuff in Paris, we've got to get our production value. You gotta put the Eiffel Tower in there". I replied " It's going to say 'Shaft in Africa', its going to have all these scenes in Africa, and the Eiffel Tower?" "Yeah, yeah, gotta have that". So I put the Eiffel Tower in the center, and built everything else around it. I made a point out of it so it didn't look like we didn't know where it was. At the end, they looked at it and said, "That's fine, we love it. However, take the Eiffel Tower and move it over there behind this building." I said "If you put it behind the building, without the base of the tower, you can't tell it's the Eiffel Tower. It looks like an antenna." They said, "You're right. Make it a pyramid." ...
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
with Melvin Van Peebles
Shaft in Africa
with Richard Roundtree
with Pam Grier
with Isaac Hayes
Included are chapters on black film history, interviews with directors, actors, producers, hair stylists, in short everybody who contributes to a movie. A special delight is the filmography of about 100 black films with title, year of production, director, cast and a short plot.
Yeah, yeah, gotta have that book !