Sunset Boulevard by Waldemar Świerzy, 1957

Poster Volley, vol. 3

A conversation between postermongers Michael Buchino and Julia McNamara.

Oklahoma Crude by Jan Młodożeniec, 1975

Michael Buchino

Okay, picking up with more Polish posters for Western films.

Aesthetically I love this piece — the thick contour lines, the pattern on her dress, the simple color scheme.

But what’s awesome is the symbolism. She faces East, which represents emigrant Poles facing East toward home. Her helper (prosperity) is on the left side of the poster, her adversary (evil — exploiters wear bowler hats and smoke cigars) is on the right. Młodożeniec created a traditional piece of Polish art…for an Old Western film…and it totally makes sense!

El Dorado by Jerzy Flisak, 1973

Julia McNamara

So…I just found this poster for the first time and I think it is my spirit animal. They cowboy has a hat made of whiskey and is about to shoot someone with his crutch instead of a gun.

It’s also from 1973 — I really important year, in my opinion.


Incredible economy: A gunfighter and a drunken sheriff confront an evil cattle baron. He may be old and battered, but he is huge and dangerous.


That’s me: Old and battered — but huge and dangerous. Whiskey on my mind. And armed. With a single crutch.

I love the limited color palette paired with the shadow on the face. And the lettering on the legs. And the shape of the hat.

Cabaret by Wiktor Górka, 1973


This scares the crap out of me and totally intrigues me. A night club in Berlin during the Nazi rise to power…creepy, sexy, dangerous. Of course I want to see whatever this is!

Sunset Boulevard by Waldemar Świerzy, 1957


I found this poster a long time ago when you and I were working together on Sunset Boulevard for Portland Center Stage. Everything about it is so perfect. The film-strip hair falling out. The expression on her crazy face. The hand drawn type that just works perfectly. The design we ended up with for the PCS production fell short of the inspiration I felt after seeing this piece (a story for another time). I’m so glad I found this image along the way.

The Scream by Gerald Scarfe, 1981


Here’s a creepy face right back atcha. This was the image that promoted Pink Floyd’s film, The Wall — another story about a person’s mental decline, although for the opposite reason as Sunset.

Nie! (No!) by Tadeusz Trepkowski, 1952


The colors in the Scarfe image reminded me of this poster by Tadeusz Trepkowski. If you stacked these two posters on top of each other you can image that they almost belong together.

via MoMA:

The succinct and dynamic composition of Trepkowski’s poster captured the memory of the devastation wrought in World War II — just one in four buildings remained standing in Warsaw. The threat of further international conflict generated much propaganda in the 1950s promoting the cause of peace. The Communist central state focused its attention on the rebuilding of the capital as a symbolic center of a new utopian order menaced by “capitalist aggression.”


Well played. From Roger Waters’ opus on isolation, insanity and wartime daddy issues, back to war-torn Poland.

Peace by Joe Simboli, 1968


With current events the way they are, the peacenik in me says I need to alter the tone for a sec. I love this war/peace series by Simboli, a response to Herb Lubalin’s call for the “No More War” contest in Avant Garde.

This bird in the hand is worth a lot more than just two in the bush, no?

McCarthy Peace by Ben Shahn, 1968


Which just makes me think of Ben Shahn—I love that guy so much.

Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope poster was beautiful and unconventional, but this one just seems bizarre to me. There’s no image of Eugene McCarthy. There’s nothing slick about it. It’s simple and bold, but equally as important, Shahn’s style is folk art. It is of the people and for the people—less propaganda and more the fabric of our collective aspirations.


Poster Volley, vol. 1
Poster Volley, vol. 2
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