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Rare Film Posters: Hollywood giants and iconic actors

Film advertisement posters are widely admired for their bold lettering and large format, with many film-goers collecting them as relics of cinematic history. Join us as we take a closer look at some of the world’s best-loved blockbusters that feature in our Rare Film Poster archive.

An original unfolded and double sided 1992 Rare Film poster advertising Reservoir Dogs

Original Rare Film Poster, Naked Lunch, 1991

Adapted from William S. Borroughs’ 1959 novel Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg’s surrealist, science fiction film of the same name follows the story of an exterminator who develops an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs.

After he accidentally kills his wife, he becomes involved in a secret government plot orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.

For much of the film, the exterminator spends his time writing reports on a typewriter which doubles as an insect that groans with pleasure as he works his fingers over its keys.

It has since become a cult film, acclaimed for its wonderfully-bizarre narrative. ‘Strange, maddening, and at times incomprehensible’, one reviewer wrote on the review-aggregation website for film and television Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Naked Lunch is nonetheless an engrossing experience.’

Original Rare Film Poster, for the 1999 re-release of Rear Window, 1954

Confined to a wheelchair after breaking his leg, professional photographer L. B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies spends his time recovering by watching his neighbours who keep their windows open during an intense New York heatwave. Convinced that he has witnessed a murder, he begins documenting their private lives through the lens of his camera.

American journalist, author, and film critic for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther called the film ‘tense and exciting’, concluding that the director, Alfred Hitchcock, expertly builds up the plot; carefully tricking, deceiving, diverting and amusing film-goers at every turn.

Today, Rear Window is considered one of the greatest films ever made. Receiving four Academy Award nominations, it’s just as loved today as it was upon its box office release almost 70 years ago.

Original unfolded and double sided 1992 Rare Film Poster advertising Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster film followed six criminals with pseudonyms, each strangers to one another, who are hired to carry out a robbery. The heist is ambushed by police and the gang is forced to shoot their way out.

When it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1992, Reservoir Dogs became the festival’s most talked-about film. Critic Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News compared its effect to the groundbreaking 1895 film L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de la Ciotat – an early film that featured a moving train approaching the audience who, believing it to be real, ducked in fear.

Bernard deduced that Reservoir Dogs had a similar effect – cinema-goers simply weren’t ready for it. Today it is regarded as a classic cult film.

Original US advance film poster for the 1996 film, Basquiat. 

Despite living a life of poverty in Brooklyn, African American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (played by Jeffrey Wright) strives to rise up through the 1980s New York art scene. With friends in high places like Andy Warhol (played by David Bowie), Basquiat soon becomes the brightest star of neo-Expressionism.

Comparing David Bowie’s portrayal of Warhol to others who’d portrayed him before, American film director Paul Morrissey said he was the best by far. ‘You come away from Basquiat’, he explains, ‘thinking Andy was comical and amusing, not a pretentious, phoney piece of shit, which is how others show him.’

Bowie, after all, actually met Andy Warhol. They went to the same parties. Interestingly, he was even able to borrow Warhol’s real wig, glasses and jacket from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to play his part in the film.

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