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running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

007 Gun

Sunday, 28 November 2010

It's not often that an object featured in a poster becomes a sought-after piece of memorabilia in its own right, but that's what has just happened at Christie's in London.

A pistol held by Sean Connery in posters to promote the 1963 film 'From Russia With Love' has sold at auction for £277,250. The Walther PPK fetched more than 10 times its estimate of £15,000-£20,000.

So it's worth looking at what all the fuss is about - and here are three good examples for the aforementioned second James Bond film.


From Russia With Love 1

The original poster came in what is now an obsolete format, quad size (760 X 1040mm), and was designed by Eric Pulford. The style is typical of the period, a mix of traditional and modernist elements with some bad colour clashes, and features the classic Bond pose. The nod to modernism - angled sans serif type in red and black - is set in Helvetica Bold Condensed, which was a fairly new typeface at the time.


From Russia With Love - Red Panels

The second poster is a Saul Bass imitation, with a messy mix of typefaces (the straplines are in Cooper Black) and some poorly treated monochrome photography in four panels (the Walther features in two of them). I found a couple of other panel posters from the same series, including a quad layout, but this one was the most interesting.

The third poster here, a reprint for Film Review 1964, abandons both previous visual approaches and is by far the best.

This design has all the ingredients of contemporary cinema promotion. The text occupies the top and bottom thirds of the layout, and the black background has a cropped photo of the star positioned in the visual centre - set above and right of the middle of the poster.

The main typeface is a condensed elegant serif, and both the film title and the star's name are the most prominent pieces of information, organised into a classically arranged typographical hierarchy, moving downwards to the less important details.

This poster was way ahead of its time. It helps too that the gun looks great in it.

From Russia With Love 3

Christie's also plans to hold an auction on Dec 1st of Vintage Film Posters, with the Eric Pulford design featured amongst them.