Edited by: Tony Nourmand
Writing: Sir Christopher Frayling
Foreword: Clint Eastwood
Fans out there won’t have any trouble recognising the likes of the Casablanca poster art, or the multitude of Clint Eastwood posters. You also get variations on some of these famous posters, sketches, rough works, publicity stills and photography – all of which mean you can decide whether you prefer the used and unused designs. Either way by the end of it you’ll remember the name Bill Gold.
Gold turned 90 in January 2011. His career spans 60 years and he received a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Reporter in 1994. Directors he worked with over the years included the likes of Kazan, Hitchcock and Fellini to name but a few.
The book is in chronological order opening with text by Clint Eastwood and editor Tony Nourmand. We’re then treated to the campaigns Gold worked on through the decades. Right from the get-go you notice some pretty big projects including the likes of The Adventures of Robin Hood.
And he seemed to hit his stride early with the Casablanca poster he designed from stills, having not seen the film. There’s also the innovative work that goes beyond mere single poster campaigns. The four dour panels for A Streetcar Named Desire are early examples of the character poster campaign that’s come back into fashion. He followed this through with the likes of Rio Bravo, Ocean’s 11 and The Wild Bunch.
I’m pretty sure I could namedrop several films and the first thing you think of will be the poster art represented in this book:
Enter The Dragon
A Clockwork Orange
Gold also worked across other cult titles like Modesty Blaise, Camelot and Papillon that you may also recognise (not forgetting all of those Eastwood films from Dirty Harry to Mystic River). He also carried out photoshoots for several designs – like Eastwood pointing his Magnum through a hole in a car windshield for The Enforcer.
There are also sets of unused poster campaign works for the likes of Alien and Goodfellas. Some of these unused works are real gems. A favourite of mine is the unused Get Carter poster which displays a shotgun lying along a bed, propped up slightly by the pillow at the end. The tagline simply says ‘He can do two things better than anyone… Killing is one of them‘. Why such cheeky humour would be considered too controversial is beyond today’s audience perhaps.
Another is Catch-22 which presents its message clearly with the overhead shot of a toilet with a toy bomber in the bowl. The tagline underneath the image simply says ‘The first film to put war in its place’. While that message does work with the film, perhaps it was a bit too risky a venture to go with at the time; or distributors felt that having a one-liner like this (despite the truth in it) wasn’t the best way to sell its movie. It’s great to have Gold’s version here though as any fan of the film will chuckle as it represents what they’ve seen and works well as a piece of art, more than a promotional piece.
Not every poster relies on undertones and underlying messages. Others get the social commentary across in their visual flair such as in the psychedelic works of the Woodstock and Hair campaigns.
Towards the end of the book there’s a section covering posters not featured in the previous pages for the sake of completion. There’s also an extended collaborator’s section with notes on each person.
Books like this only come along once in a while. They’re created for the avid collector who’s willing to save the right amount of cash in order to get it. And although you’ll need a chunk of change for this one, the work in a book of this calibre isn’t likely to let you down. The Drew Struzan book (that was released previously) followed the template of showing us popular and unused works, but it didn’t cover every campaign he worked on. This book does a more complete job, along with providing commentary from Gold on the campaigns he worked on. What you get is well researched and well presented, and provides you with depth. If you come home one day to find your house on fire and are told to rescue the baby it may be this you come out from the smoke clutching.
As a bonus you also get also an art folio of six limited edition prints of unseen Bill Gold poster designs for A Clockwork Orange, Catch-22, High Plains Drifter, All the President’s Men, The Way We Were and Get Carter.
Bill Gold Posterworks