art & design

Everything you ever needed to know about vintage James Bond film posters (and possibly a good deal more)

Bond experts and authors Ajay Chowdhury and Matthew Field offer insights into the classic 007 film posters featured in Christie’s online sale.

View these and other vintage film posters in the online auction, which is open for bidding 27 October – 10 November .

Dr. No

mitchell-hooks-b-1923-dr-no-1962-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Mitchell Hooks (b. 1923), Dr. No, 1962. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in.(76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £5,000-7,000. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Mitchell Hooks’ artwork captures all the assured charm of Ian Fleming’s Dr No, starring Sean Connery as 007. Note the emphasis on the novel and author being the main selling point. At this stage, the Fleming books were deemed to be the ‘above-the-line’ selling points. The famous three-girl formula is illustrated here: (from right) Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench, an initial Bond conquest, then Zena Marshall as Miss Taro, the villainous femme fatale whom Bond seduces and neutralises, and finally front and back views of Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, in her iconic, self-designed white bikini (sold at Christies in 2001 for over £40,000). It was with some confidence they announced it as ‘THE FIRST JAMES BOND FILM!’ Interestingly, this poster would form the basis of the one used for Everything or Nothing, the documentary film to celebrate 50 years of Bond in 2015.

mitchell-hooks-b1923-and-david-chasman-dr-no-1962-united-artists-us-james-bond-posters
Mitchell Hooks (b.1923) and David Chasman, Dr. No, 1962. United Artists. U.S., one-sheet. 41 x 27 in. (104 x 69 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

David Chasman was a creative director at United Artists, the studio behind Bond. Here, we see the famous gun barrel logo designed by Joseph Charoff who noted the 7 could be converted into the barrel of a gun. The line drawing at the bottom details the nuclear plant designed by Ken Adam and built at Pinewood Studios. The groundbreaking Bond film aesthetic would infuse future poster art, with Dr No arguably being the first film of the electronic age.

From Russia With Love

eric-pulford-1915-2005-and-renato-fratini-1932-1973-from-russia-with-love-1963-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Eric Pulford (1915-2005) and Renato Fratini (1932-1973), From Russia With Love, 1963. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £2,000-3,000. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Capturing the exotic locations of Istanbul, the poster art features Sean Connery in his iconic gun-across-shoulder stance. The gun was actually an air pistol as someone had forgotten to bring a Walther PPK for the photo shoot. Connery is now centre stage as the selling element in what turned out to be his favourite Bond film. Italian Miss Universe runner-up Daniela Bianchi played Tatiana Romanova whilst Robert Shaw played evil agent Red Grant employed by poison-shoe wearing Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, original singer of Mack The Knife). The scheme is devised by SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Revenge and Extortion), headed by villainous mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Goldfinger

david-chasman-and-robert-brownjohn-1925-1970-goldfinger-1964-eon-united-artists-us-james-bond-posters
David Chasman and Robert Brownjohn (1925-1970), Goldfinger, 1964. Eon/United Artists. U.S., one-sheet. 41 x 27 in. (104 x 69 cm.) Estimate: £800-1200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Bond came of age with this film, which was packed with memorable images: the golden girl (on screen Shirley Eaton, on the posters, Margaret Nolan, who played Dink in the movie), the Aston Martin DB5, Oddjob and his lethal hat and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore. The American campaign for the film also revolutionised movie marketing with Goldfinger being the first movie to open ‘wide’ — in a lot of cinemas at once, helping it become the fastest money making film in history to that point.

robert-brownjohn-1925-1970-goldfinger-1964-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Robert Brownjohn (1925-1970), Goldfinger, 1964. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £1,000-1,500. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Shirley Eaton who played the ill-fated golden girl Jill Masterson had made more films than Honor Blackman and was to have received equal billing. Her omission from the poster was corrected in some later versions, and on this one by the placement of a ‘snipe’ — a stickered correction. As well as the poster, Robert Brownjohn also designed the titles of this and the previous film, both of were projected on the body of a beautiful girl. Brownjohn’s inspiration arrived when his wife walked in front of a projection.

Thunderball

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-thunderball-1965-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-postersRobert E. McGinnis (b.1926), Thunderball, 1965. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £2,000–3,000. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Until Skyfall (2012), Thunderball was the highest grossing Bond film, taking into account inflation. Note the film was presented by usual Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli but produced by Kevin McClory. McClory was deemed to have contributed to the original Ian Fleming novel and after legal action, he was awarded the screen rights which included the character of Blofeld and the organisation SPECTRE. The film was one of the first to feature cinematic action underwater.

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-and-frank-mccarthy-1924-2002-thunderball-1965-eon-united-artists-us-james-bond-posters
Robert E. McGinnis (b.1926) and Frank McCarthy (1924-2002), Thunderball, 1965. Eon/United Artists. U.S., one-sheet. 41 x 27 in. (104 x 69 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

the pairing of artists Frank McCarthy and Robert McGinnis inaugurated some of the most classic film poster art of all time. The Bell-jet pack made its popular debut in the pre-title sequence, segueing into the Maurice Binder’s title credits. John Barry originally wrote a theme entitled Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which was recorded by Shirley Bassey (one of her four Bond songs), although Tom Jones ended up singing the Bond theme, Thunderball. Jones was the last British male solo act to do so until Sam Smith’s chart-topping Writing’s On The Wall, the theme for Spectre.

You Only Live Twice

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-you-only-live-twice-1967-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Robert E. McGinnis (b.1926), You Only Live Twice, 1967. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £1,200-1,800. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

By now so synonymous with 007 that posters blared ‘Sean Connery IS James Bond’, the Scot returned for Thunderball . The film was originally meant to have been followed by On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then You Only Live Twice, but the reluctant star was released from his contract early. The Japanese setting proved arduous for Connery and on one occasion his lack of privacy resulted in journalists following him into the toilet. The artwork conveys the scene where Bond is bathed by beauties, prompting a typical 007 quip, ‘I like the plumbing,’

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-you-only-live-twice-1967-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Robert E. McGinnis (b.1926), You Only Live Twice, 1967. United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £1,000-1,500. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Production designer Ken Adam heard about Wing Commander Ken Wallis’ autogiro, and the wartime bomber pilot flew ‘Little Nellie’ as Connery’s stunt double in cinema’s first helicopter chase. The sequence, however, proved too difficult to film in Japan, and resulted in cameraman Johnny Jordan being injured before being eventually shot over Torremelinos in Spain. The poster includes a detail of the interior of Blofeld’s volcano silo, a Ken Adam set at Pinewood Studios that was so vast clouds are said to have formed inside it.

Casino Royale

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-casino-royale-1967-columbia-british-james-bond-posters
Robert E. McGinnis (b.1926), Casino Royale, 1967. Columbia. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

When Broccoli and Saltzman bought the rights for the Bond books for Eon, two titles were not included in the deal: Thunderball and the first Bond novel, Casino Royale. Subsequently, Casino Royale was produced by Broccoli’s old boss, Charles K Feldman. The film was Initially intended to be a straight adaptation of the book but it became a bloated farce featuring several directors and several ‘James Bonds’. The huge cast list included Fleming’s friend and initial choice to play his titular hero, David Niven. The film was released prior to You Only Live Twice in the same year — the first battle of the Bonds.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

yves-thos-b-1935-on-her-majestys-secret-service-1969-eon-united-artists-french-lithograph-on-colours-james-bond-posters
Yves Thos (b. 1935), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969. Eon/United Artists. French, lithograph on colours. 123 x 47 in. (312 x 120 cm.) Estimate: £800-1200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

George Lazenby apes Connery’s stance from You Only Live Twice, augmented by skis rather than a space helmet. The neophyte Australian actor won the most coveted role in screen history through a mixture of bluff and diligence, and then went through an extensive process of learning how to walk, talk and act like Bond. Despite popular perception, the film was a huge hit but Lazenby, in a counter-culture moment, refused to sign to the series. This left the producers in the quandary of having to promote a film whose star would not stay, hence no mention of his name on the ski-themed Swiss-set film poster.

robert-mcginnis-b1926-and-frank-mccarthy-1924-2002-on-her-majestys-secret-service-1969-eon-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Robert McGinnis (b.1926) and Frank McCarthy (1924-2002), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969. Eon/United Artists. British, quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

To compensate for Lazenby’s inexperience, Diana Rigg was cast as the future Mrs James Bond, while Telly Savalas became Blofeld because director Peter Hunt had not liked the previous incarnation. The film featured innovative action on snow with Olympic champion Willy Bogner being filmed skiing backwards. Piz Gloria, Blofeld’s mountaintop hideout, had been a half-completed revolving restaurant on Mount Schilthorn before production paid for its completion. Today, it remains today a major tourist attraction for Bond fans. Louis Armstrong sung the poignant wedding theme We have all the time in the world — the couple and Lazenby, alas, didn’t.

Diamonds Are Forever

robert-e-mcginnis-b1926-diamonds-are-forever-1971-eon-united-artists-british-advance-double-crown-james-bond-posters
Robert E. McGinnis (b.1926), Diamonds Are Forever, 1971. Eon/United Artists. British, advance double-crown. 30 x 20 in. (76 x 51 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

For a reported $1.25 million and 12.5 per cent of the gross — the highest sum of money ever paid for an actor at the time (and which was donated to charity), Sean Connery returned to play James Bond. Here, we seem him flanked by two Bond girls, Tiffany Case (born at a jewellery store of the same name while her mother was looking for a wedding ring) and Plenty O’Toole (‘Named after her father, no doubt,’ smirks Bond). With its Las Vegas setting and plot inspired by Cubby’s friend, real-life reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, the film was a surefire hit.

The Man With The Golden Gun

anonymous-the-man-with-the-golden-gun-1974-eon-united-artists-us-james-bond-posters
Anonymous, The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974. Eon/United Artists. U.S., one-sheet. 41 x 27 in. (104 x 69 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s step cousin and had acted opposite Roger Moore, here starring in his second 007 adventure, when both were starting out on their careers. The three-nippled hoodlum of Fleming’s novel was refined into a counter Bond, and for the first time, the heritage of the franchise was cited on the poster with the line-up of villains who ‘tried to kill James Bond’. The Golden Gun, made up of cigarette lighter, holder and pen, was fabricated by a specialist manufacturer but it kept falling apart, meaning Christopher Lee had to practise reassembling it.

robert-mcginnis-b1926-the-man-with-the-golden-gun-1974-united-artists-british-james-bond-posters
Robert McGinnis (b.1926), The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974. United Artists. British quad. 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm.) Estimate: £800-1,200. The work will be offered in the the Film Posters online sale, 27 October — 10 November

The last film of Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli’s joint reign over Bond saw the producers credited in different order depending on which hemisphere the film was being promoted in. Saltzman sold his share in the franchise to the United Artists studio which became MGM before being bought by Sony, the current Bond studio. The film featured Swedish actresses Brit Ekland, Maud Adams and the diminutive Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack. The jump between bridges over a Thai klong, or canal, was one of the first computer designed stunts to appear in a movie.

Some Kind Of Hero: The Remarkable Story Of The James Bond Films by Matthew Field & Ajay Chowdhury (The History Press) is out now.

For more features, interviews and videos, visit Christie’s Daily.

Rispondi