Movie Poster Collecting

This space is for information from The Movie Poster Page about movie posters.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Original Movie Poster?

What did they do for entertainment?

Putting up Paper Film Billboards Cairo 1991

Paper advertising like this is becoming less common everywhere. In Egypt they usually advertise films on printed vinyl these days.

Monday, January 11, 2010

BBC article in Persian: Pre-revolutionary Iranian Film Poster Exhibition

See it Here.

The exhibit is in Stockholm Sweden at the Ethnographic Museum under the title "Popular Culture before the Revolution." Most of the posters in the exhibition are from the 1950s and 1960s. The oldest one is for the film Ladder of Progress [nardban-e taraqi] from 1957, by Parviz Khatibi, which featured singing and dancing from the popular entertainer Mahvash. The exhibit will run until 21 February.

Anders Bjorklund, museum director, said it is very important for people who study the East to pay attention to film posters from an anthropological point of view.

A Gypsy's Anger [khashm-e kuli] (1968) starring Fardin and Puri Banai

This poster has a heroic look that looks inspired by the art of Soviet Russia. It is for a film starring the popular actor Fardin about a boy who was estranged from his family, adopted by Gypsies then grows up to fall in love with his cousin, not knowing she is his cousin, according to Iranian film encyclopedist Jamal Omid in his Dictionary of Iranian Films farhang-e filmha-ye sinemai-ye iran.

The exhibit consists of 50 photos and 30 posters from a collection of about 180 posters from Iran collected by Mostafa Ebadi, who lives in Sweden but has accumulated the collection over the last 10 years in trips to Iran. Ebadi is a film fan and before he began collecting Iranian posters he liked to collect foreign posters, especially Italian posters and posters for Westerns.

Mostafa Ebadi

The article has an interview with Ali Hasouri, a researcher on Iranian history and culture who opened the exhibition. Hasouri commented on the design elements needed in film posters as evident in these Iranian ones, on the influence of Indian film in Iranian pre-revolutionary films and on the tendency in these films to portray women negatively.

Regarding the artists who made the posters, Hasouri said they were a small group of poor people who worked up to 14 hours a day for very low wages. He said "most of them worked on the floor in dark isolated rooms with minimum resources. It often occurred that the posters were made in only one day with oil and color in large dimensions. In reality these were creative artists who were obliged to use such methods to feed themselves."

My thanks to Mahtab for sending me the link to the article.

Visit the Movie Poster Page!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Soviet Export Film Posters

The former Soviet Union produced thousands of films in a long run
of more than 60 years. Exporting these films was a major national
industry, and the posters were made for distribution in multiple nations in multiple languages. The posters for Soviet export films are bound to constitute an overwhelmingly massive category in the world cinema poster catalogue, but I have not seen any reference material on the subject.

My small collection is a chance accumulation, mostly from Egypt:

Adventures of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1980) starring Dharmendra, directed by Latif Faiziyev.
This film was made in India and the Soviet Union at Uzbekfilm (USSR) and Eagle Film Studios (India). The poster measures 31x47 inches; my guess is it was made for distribution in India, but the copy I have turned up in Egypt.

Tsirk (1936) starring Lyubov Orlova, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov. This poster is an undated rerelease. Judging from the aging of the paper I would put the date of the rerelease somewhere in the 1960s or 1970s. The poster has all the hallmarks of Egyptian poster production, printed by al-Nasr printers with art by Abdel Rahman, a well-known Egyptian poster artist. The English title on the poster "Circus Actors" was probably chosen for the Egyptian market, along with the Arabic title al-sirk al-azim "The Big Circus."

Direction of the Main Blow (1971) directed by Yuri Ozerov. The original Russian title is Osvobozhdenie: Napravleniye glavnogo udara; this is a history film about the Kursk tank battle of World War II. I acquired this 31x44 inch Spanish poster at a show from a Columbian dealer who used to make the rounds regularly at US poster shows.

This is an Egyptian poster for the 1971 film mentioned above, The Direction of the Main Blow. Liberation is an alternate English title for that film.

The Fall of Berlin (1949) starring Mikheil Gelovani as Marshal Josef Stalin, directed by Mikheil Chiaureli. This is an undated Egyptian rerelease, and again judging from the age of the paper I would put the rerelease in the 1960s or 1970s. The original Russian title is Padeniye Berlina. The title in English on the poster is The Battle for Berlin. The Arabic title ma'reket berlin could also be translated as The Battle for Berlin or simply The Berlin Battle.

Four Devils (ND). The poster states in Arabic that the film is a Soviet export film, but I have not yet found any information about it. The poster design is a collaboration between the artists Sayed Aram and Moaty, printed by al-Nasr printers.

Modern Weapons Power (ND). I have not found any information about the film beyond what it says on the poster. The Arabic in blue at the top translates as "the most powerful documentary film since the film The Second World War; then comes the Arabic title in red letters The Secrets of Modern Weapons. The Arabic phrase in black at top right identifies it as a poster for a Soviet Export film.

Risk II (ND). This is another poster for a film about which I have no information beyond the writing on the poster, which says it is a documentary film about World War II, and that the film is a Soviet Export film.

Romeo and Juliet (1955) starring Galina Ulanova as Juliet, directed by Lev Amshtam and Leonid Lavrovsky, based on the play by William Shakespeare with music by Sergei Prokofiev. This poster measures 28" x 42" and turned up in Iran. It was probably intended for distribution in multiple countries.

Father of a Soldier (1964) starring Sergo Zagariadze, directed by Rezo Chkheidze. The poster is Egyptian in a non-standard Egyptian size 26.75x39.5 inches, again with art by Abdel Rahman and printed by al-Nasr printers. The Arabic title is al-ab The Father.

Zhavoronok (1964) starring Gennadi Yukhtin, directed by Nikita Kurikhin and Leonid Menaker. This Soviet war movie is about an incident instead of a battle, where some Russian prisoners are used as target practice in a T-34 tank by the Germans in World War II. The Arabic title is al-modmeret al-qatela "The Murderous Destroyer" with the English title "T-34" at the top of the poster.

Visit the Movie Poster Page!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Trade Posters in the Egyptian Film Industry

Egyptian film posters have always been made by local printers who
served other trades. I have found two Egyptian trade posters made of the same paper stock and size as most of the standard Egyptian one-sheet (27" x 39") film posters, commissioned by workers in the film industry.

The first was commissioned by attorney and writer Adly El-Mowalid:

Adly El-Mowalid


It is not clear to me if this poster was intended to promote his
business as an attorney, as a writer, or both. There is no
mention of his work in film on the poster, but his name appears there
exactly as it is always shown on film posters that credit him for writing: "Adly El-Mowalid, the Attorney."

The poster was printed by al-Nasr printers, with art by Wahib Fahmy. Both of them worked on many film posters.

Here are some posters for films for which Adly El-Mowalid is credited as a writer:

An Abnormal Girl [fatat shaza] (1964) starring Shouweikar, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

From Home to School [min al-beit ila al-madrasa] (1972) starring Naglaa Fathy, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

The Giant (1964) starring Farid Shawqi, directed by Sayed Essa

Girls Complain [sha'awet banat] (1963) starring Soad Hosny directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

Lion of the Night [sabu' al-leyl] (1971) starring Rushdy Abaza directed by Hassan El-Seify

The Love of Teenagers (1970) starring Ahmed Mazhar, directed by Mahmoud Zulfikar.

Reckless Girl [bint shaqiya] (1967) starring Nadia Lutfi, directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

Son of Satan (1968) starring Farid Shawqi directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

The Student and the Professor (1968) starring Soad Hosny, directed by Ahmed Diaeddin

Student Follies [namar al-talamiza] (1965) starring Samira Ahmed, directed by Essa Karama

The Three Adventurers (1966) starring Soad Hosny, directed by Houssam El-Din Mustafa

The second non-film poster made in the film poster format I have was commissioned by the dancer Hermine:


Hermine was only featured in two films for which I have memorabilia:

Lobby card for We Live Once [al-omr wahed] (1954) starring Ismail Yasseen, directed by Ihsan Fergal

Film program for Cheers [fi sahetak] (1955) starring Hamdy Gheith, directed by Abbas Kamel

Visit the Movie Poster Page!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Five Doors Bar [khamsa bab] (1983, Egypt)

Fouad El-Mohandes, Adel Imam and Nadia El Guindy shown in an 11x14 still from Nader Galal's Five Doors Bar.

Plot Summary

This film is an Egyptian adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1963 film Irma La Douce starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. In the 40s Kollu Mashi (Fouad El-Mohandes) owned the Five Doors Bar in Cairo's Ezbekiyyah quarter, where illicit relationships were allowed. The prostitute Taragi (Nadia El Guindy) worked with the pimp Abbas (Fouad Ahmed) who took a share of her daily take and protected her and number of the other girls of the night in the neighborhood. The police officer on duty was in the habit of taking a fee in exchange for not disclosing what was happening.

An upright officer named Mansur (Adel Imam) was transferred to the neighborhood; all the efforts to bribe him, as had been done with his predecessor, failed. One night he even took everybody to the police station. The pimp Abbas contrived a retaliatory scheme, with help from Taragi, to stash some narcotics in Mansur's room, then reported him to the police. Mansur was then fired from the police force.

Mansur began working as a ruffian laborer, dominating the neighborhood. He fell in love with Taragi. He tried to save money for her so she could live a better life and disguised himself as a rich foreigner who appeared occasionally as one of Taragi's customers. This is the plot's weakest element, for the viewer is asked to believe that Taragi is sleeping alternately with Mansur and his foreigner alter ego without realizing they are the same man!

Mansur knew Taragi was supporting an invalid son at a nearby rehabilitation facility and paid the boy's expenses. He married Taragi after she repented and gave up prostitution, and the pimp Abbas was arrested after a dramatic fight scene in which Mansur gave him a good clubbing with some sticks he found in an alley.


This film was skillfully acted with the three lead characters played by some of the real giants of Egyptian cinema, Fouad El-Mohandes, Adel Imam and Nadia El Guindy. It had beautiful sets and high production values from Nader Galal, one of Egypt's great directors. The work provided the most wholesome sort of entertainment: a dramatic love story and a tale of moral restoration and evil vanquished.

Yet the film was banned, in all probabability due at least in part to the presence among the bar patrons of a male cross-dresser and dancer. This man, though prominently featured, was just an incidental character in the plot; but in 1983 Egyptian authorities might not have been ready for a public exhibition of gay behavior.

Since Egypt relies heavily on its police to maintain order and state control, it is also possible the film's portrayal of a criminal who outwits a policeman might have been deemed inappropriate as public entertainment.


Clips showing the cross-dresser (he's in the background at the beginning)

Egyptian film poster for Nader Galal's The Five Doors Bar [khamsa bab] (1983)

Visit the Movie Poster Page!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Contract to Print a Poster

Most of us who collect film posters are interested in them because they are nice to display and perhaps also because they are investments. We usually realize those collecting ideas are transmutations. Most film posters were not made for collectors. They were made to perform a business function--to help sell theater tickets--and were considered part of a film's marketing cost. After being used in that capacity they were usually thrown out, at least in the old days. There is a greater tendency to hang on to posters now, but most of them are still practically worthless and probably deserve to be thrown out.

It is interesting, to add background and depth to the hobby, to look whenever possible at information about the transactions that led to a poster's design and production. I have here a rare pairing of an 33-year-old Egyptian poster and a contract for its production:

I Am Neither Rational nor Insane [ana la 'aqela wa la magnuna] (1976) - (Mahmoud Yassine)

Contract dated 10/4/1975 between Arabic Cinema Printers and Ibrahim Shusha Films to print the above poster

The film was done by Houssam El-Din Mustafa, one of Egypt's greatest directors, and stars Mahmoud Yassine, then a major leading actor in Egypt. It is based on a story by Ihsan Abd al-Qudus (1919-1990), renowned Egyptian novelist and journalist who edited the Cairo newspapers Al-Akhbar and Al-Ahram.

The contract is the only one of its kind I've seen so far, done by Gasour, the most famous movie poster printer and artist in Egypt. A contract signed by him is itself something special to have for a poster collector! The director of Arabic Cinema Printers is named in the contract as Hassan Mazhar Gasour, but the printer company logo on the poster itself has the name H.H. Gasour. I suspect it is the same person because I've been told the "H.H." are the initials of Mr. Gasour's daughters, Hala and Hebba.

The contract provides that Arabic Cinema Printers will design and print 7,000 one-sheet posters, 400 24-sheet posters and 1,000 lobby cards at a cost of 1,208 Egyptian pounds, which includes a fee of 100 pounds (about $250 at that time) for designing the posters and lobby cards. The contract also says the task of designing and printing the posters and lobby cards will be completed 25 days after the contract is signed, and gives a schedule of installment payments to be made to the printer. It is signed by Hassan Mazhar Gasour (with the Arabic Cinema Printers official rubber stamp) and Ibrahim Shusha.

Visit the Movie Poster Page!