Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Poster Art: Out Of The Past

William Rose, Out Of The Past
Original US poster print, 104x69cm, 1947

Poster Art Wednesday is back with the bang of a vintage Enfield revolver, as I opted to dig up this vintage Mitchum film noir.
     William Rose was one of the most prolific illustrators of the 1940s, preparing RKO cinema posters for everything from "the greatest film of all time" Citizen Kane to the cult B-movie Cat People (tagline: "She was marked with the curse of those who slink and court and kill by night!"). The artist also reportedly produced a painting a week for romance novels and society magazines, like Cosmopolitan and  American Weekly.
     The real interesting twist here is in the divided loyalties between these two sources of commissions. By all accounts, Citizen Kane was loosely based on the story of USnewspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who just happened to own American Weekly. Hearst had taken objection to the Orson Welles' film and done his damnedest to prevent its theatrical release in 1941. Given that there was a Rose original advertising Citizen Kane in foyers across the country, I can only presume he must have been a hell of a sweet talker to keep up the commissions from the notoriously no-nonsense Hearst.

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