Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

How Kitchener inspired the nation for Dunkirk

August 4, 2017
Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

Kitchener leads the nation again in the week of Dunkirk from the cover of Picture Post (1 June 1940)

Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk has certainly brought the legend of the ‘Little Ships’ armada that rescued so many Allied troops back into the world’s imagination. In 1940, the media that the British will have turned to was BBC radio and Picture Post magazine.

And the image that editor Stefan Lorant chose to put on his magazine’s front cover the week of Dunkirk was Alfred Leete’s Your Country Needs You. It was a cover that will have gone to press before May 29, when the evacuation was announced to the British public. But then Lorant may well have known what was happening to the British Expeditionary Force through his contact with Churchill.

Boat owners certainly responded to the call – making up the bulk in number of the 860 vessels that were involved.  Some 200 of the small craft that epitomised the Dunkirk spirit were sunk. However, by the time the operation ended on June 4, 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved. Another 220,000 troops were rescued  from other French ports.

The presence of this force was undoubtedly a factor in forcing Hitler to rethink his invasion plans, but the war was not going well for Britain – its allies were dropping like nine pins – and Lorant must have been in more fear for his life than most people in Britain. Lorant was a Hungarian Jew who had been imprisoned by Hitler for his work on weekly papers in Germany. In Britain, he promoted the work of many other Continental exiles, including Walter Trier, who drew the Lilliput covers for 20 years, the photographer Bill Brandt and the photomontages of John Heartfield, probably best remembered for his Elephants Might Fly reaction to the Munich agreement (15 October 1938).

Lorant had lambasted the Nazi regime in his book, I Was Hitler’s Prisoner, which was turned into a BBC Radio play; in the pages of Weekly Illustrated, which he had launched for Odhams in 1934; in the delectible Lilliput, which he founded, as well as Picture Post. So he must have been well up on Hitler’s hit list.

Walter Trier's cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Walter Trier’s cover for first Lilliput magazine in 1937

Soon after Lorant went to America in mid-1940, Picture Post‘s two most important cameramen – Felix Man and Kurt Hutton, both German emigres – were interned on the Isle of Man. The magazine set about negotiating for their release, but their fates will not have assuaged Lorant’s fears and he emigrated to the US. As Lorant told his deputy Tom Wilkinson, who went on to become editor of Picture Post:

‘You British citizens will be all right – all you’ll lose is the freedom to say what you think. But we bloody foreigners will be handed over … I’ve been Hitler’s prisoner once in Munich, I’m not waiting for him to catch up with me a second time.’

The Kitchener-covered Picture Post issue was larger than usual and was focused on Britain’s leaders, with 32 pages devoted to government members. Lorant was a big fan of Churchill. The section starts with photographs comparing a ‘grimly determined’ Churchill in 1914 with him ‘grimly determined again’ in 1940.

Back in February 1939, Lorant had sent Wickham Steed, a former editor of The Times, and cameraman Felix Man to Chartwell and interview Winston Churchill at his home. As David Marcou writes in his thesis, ‘All the Best’:

‘Churchill – the man the Tories didn‘t trust – was no more than a backbencher under the Chamberlain administration. He‘d held no office since being Chancellor of the Exchequer under Stanley Baldwin a decade before. Steed concluded his profile: “His abiding care is the safety of Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth. Should some great emergency arise … his qualities and experience might then be national assets; and the true greatness, which he has often seemed to miss by a hair‘s breadth, might, by common consent, be his.” In its introduction, Picture Post added its own prophetic comment: At 64, the greatest moment of his life has still to come.’

Picture Post covered the German offensive with a dramatic story―’Blitzkrieg’ in the June 8 issue.

‘The lightning war smites Europe. It blisters its way between the Allied Armies, cleaving them in two. It carves out a charred road to the English Channel. It scorches the Belgian Army and stuns the Belgian King into surrender.’

Alongside the words is a full-page photo of a man with a girl lying nearby, which tells the story of what war was doing to innocents. The picture caption reads:

We dedicate this picture to the Fuhrer. We dedicate this picture to the ‘moderate’ Goering. We dedicate this picture to those of our own politicians who promised us that Germany would never be allowed to attain air-parity with Britain; that they had secured peace for our time; that they were abundantly confident of victory … It shows a Dutch father wounded all over, but forgetful of what he is suffering. The dead girl on the corner is his daughter.

It’s no wonder that Lorant decided to put the Atlantic ocean between himself and Hitler. However, he had burned his bridges well before. As I point out in A History of British Magazine Design, Tom Hopkinson identifies the seven pages of ‘Back to the Middle Ages’ (26 November 1938) as ‘the finest example of the use of photographs for political effect’. He describes how Lorant drew up the pages to hit back at ‘This bloody Hitler. These bloody pogroms!’

Magazines in the movies: Playboy in Steven Seagal’s Under Siege

December 28, 2016
playboy_1989_7jul_880.jpg

Playboy magazine, July 1989, as seen in the film Under Siege

A few weeks ago, it was James Bond reading a copy of Playboy magazine. Tonight, it’s a sailor goggling over a copy in Under Siege. The crew of the US battleship Missouri are anticipating the arrival of the July 1989 Playboy playmate of the month, Jordan Tate. In fact, the playmate that month was Erika Eleniak, who actually plays the Jordan Tate role in the 1992 film. She ‘wears’ a captain’s dress uniform, something that she also does in the movie, when she jumps out of a giant cake in front of Steven Seagal, playing the ship’s cook, Casey Ryback.

Eleniak also had a role in Baywatch, a TV series that later produced another popular magazine pin-up, Pamela Anderson.

It’s far and away the best Seagal film, and was followed three years later by Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, which takes place on a train. Watch out for the cameo role for an Apple Newton. This was the US company’s first attempt at an iPad-type device, though called a personal digital assistant in the jargon of the time. It featured handwriting recognition and was built around a British-designed ARM chip, the processor powering just about every Apple product since.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

James Bond’s Playboy days

December 13, 2016
Playboy, February 1969, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Playboy, February 1969, with Nancy Chamberlain on the cover, as read by James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Saw On Her Majesty’s Secret Service the other night and couldn’t help but notice that, after cracking open the safe of a lawyer who works for Spectre arch-villain Blofeld (Telly Savalas), Bond (George Lazenby) walks off reading a copy of Playboy magazine that he found in the lawyer’s office. He takes a good look at that month’s centrefold pin-up, Lorrie Menconi! On the cover of the US magazine is Nancy Chamberlain. Prominent product placement for the February 1969 issue.

There is a long history of connections between Bond and magazines. In 1962, the first issue of the Sunday Times Colour Supplement (now the Sunday Times Magazine) carried The Living Daylights. Even earlier, The Hildebrand Rarity, another short story, appeared in a 1960 issue of Playboy. And that same top-shelf magazine serialised On Her Majesty’s Secret Service over three issues in 1963, six years before the movie came out.

Yet the links don’t end there. In real life, Fleming worked for the Sunday Times, where his friend Robert Harling, the typographer and editor of House & Garden, was a design consultant from after the war until 1985. Harling had redesigned Admiralty reports and then served with Fleming’s 30 Assault Unit capturing German military secrets during the war. When the hardback books came out, Harling designed the Tea Chest font for the early Bond dust jackets. He is regarded as one of the men on whom Bond is based, and is mentioned in The Spy Who Loved Me (page 47).

Vivienne Michel, the woman at the centre of the novel, gets a job on the Chelsea Clarion, a ‘glorified parish magazine’ that is ‘stylishly made up each week by a man called Harling who was quite a dab at getting the most out of the old-fashioned type faces that were all our steam-age jobbing printers in Pimlico had in stock’.

The film also makes reference to the Bond family motto, The World is not Enough, which, of course, becomes the title of a later movie.

Jim Lee’s take on Julia Foster

December 22, 2015
Julia Foster profiled in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster profile in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster denies being a sex symbol like Julie Christie or Raquel Welch, but she was a big enough actress for a four-page interview and profile in trendy weekly Look of London. She was fresh from a role with Michael Caine in Alfie and was filming Half a Sixpence with Tommy Steele. And the second spread is devoted to a great portrait by photographer Jim Lee.

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee is not remembered in the same way as Bailey, Donovan or Lichfield, but he was up there in the 1960s and 1970s, as a Sarah Hughes profile of the fashion photographer pointed out in the Independent in August. His most famous image is probably ‘Aeroplane’ from 1969, for an Ossie Clark poster shoot with a ‘flying’ model.

 

Magazine cover design: the 3D nose effect

December 5, 2015
José Ferrer as Cyrano de Bergerac on this Everybody's magazine cover from 10 October 1951. The design has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

This Everybody’s magazine cover design from 10 October 1951 has a 3D effect, with the nose appearing to stand proud of the page

There was a push into 3D photography and films in the 1950s, and this found its way into magazines. Picturegoer used clever cover designs  to achieve a three-dimensional effect and this Everybody’s magazine creates a smile with its trick layout.

Everybody’s was a popular large format weekly magazine that was published by Everybody’s Publications at 114 Fleet Street and printed by Sun in Watford, but later taken over by Amalgamated Press and merged into John Bull. One of the articles in the above issue was ‘Football in French!’ by a 20-year-old Brian Glanville.

José Ferrer is the cover star who had won worldwide praise for his portrayal of the eponymous swordsman-poet in Cyrano de Bergerac, a 1950 black-and-white movie based on the 1897 French play by Edmond Rostand. Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess also translated Rostand’s original play into English. A 1990 French film put Gérard Depardieu in the lead role.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Magazine cover design – in search of the 3D effect

November 7, 2015
Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 23 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Picturegoer magazine cover design with 3D effect from 25 April 1953. Arlene Dahl is the film star model

Nowadays, there are many technical strategies that can be used to give a three-dimensional effect to a magazine cover design, including holograms and lenticular stick-ons.

The first magazine hologram I’m aware of was one stuck on a Venture cover from Redwood Publishing in about 1985. Lenticular imagery has been around at least since publicity postcards for the 1968 film of Alistair Maclean’s Ice Station Zebra, and became popular on magazines in about 2001.

But before these, clever graphical tricks were the only viable approach – I’ve never seen a publisher try the red/green printing with plastic glasses on a cover, though it has been used freqently on inside pages since the 1950s from magazines such as Picture Post.

This cover design on movie weekly Picturegoer from 25 April 1953 is a good example. It’s a complex photomontage and is also self-referential with parts of 10 other covers shown as the background. The main photograph is of the hands holding a black and white publicity photograph of Arlene Dahl, described by IMDB as ‘one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the screen during the postwar period’. The site lists no less than five of her films in 1953.

Note that the hands appear to be in colour. This is because the cover uses the second special colour for the title box as a tint to give a wash over the hands and a paler tint still over the background. The technique was common on gravure-printed weeklies in the 1950s.

All in all, an ambitious piece of work, though to my mind the title sitting over the photograph is a commercial compromise that destroys the overall visual logic – but then no publisher wants the title to be a subsiduary element when the magazine has to sell on a very competitive news-stand each week. However, as the Picturegoer magazine cover design below from 11 April 1953 shows, many issues did carry a much less prominent masthead.

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead

Picturegoer from 11 April 1953 with a less prominent masthead for a Kirk Douglas cover

Inside the Arlene Dahl issue of ‘The national film weekly’ from Odhams Press, the 3D theme continues with a review of Bwana Devil, described as Hollywood’s first full-length three-dimensional feature. The critic’s reaction will be familiar to many people who’ve seen any of the recent spate of 3D films (Gravity being the exception for me): ‘Picturegoers are bitterly disappointed in their introduction to Hollywood’s third dimension. They see a real danger in Hollywood’s giving them eye-straining technical tasters in place of sound, satisfying entertainment.’

>Film magazines

>>See my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Magazine cover design: whatever happened to this Woman’s Own cover?

November 6, 2015
Woman's Own title covers the model's face on this cover from 19 May 1955

Woman’s Own title covers the model’s face on this cover from 19 May 1955

Can this have been what the designer wanted to do with this Woman’s Own cover from 19 May 1955? The cover from the ‘national women’s weekly’ certainly focuses on the ‘playtime jacket’ cardigan being modelled by Dawn Addams, a British film star. But the masthead covering the actress’s face looks crude.

Her eyes peer just between the letters, but the magazine photographers usually famed the cover model to allow space above or had the title covering just part of the head, as in the cover design below from two weeks earlier.

Straightforward treatment for the title on Woman's Own two weeks earlier

Straightforward treatment for the title on Woman’s Own two weeks earlier

Dawn Addam’s career is summed up by IMDB: ‘Maybe because her beauty was too smooth or because her acting talents were limited or both, [Addams] had an undistinguished film career, in which second-rate pictures far outnumber quality ones.’ Inside the May 19 Woman’s Own, she is shown with her baby son, Stefano. She was married to Prince Vittorio Massimo of Italy.

>>>Women’s weekly magazines

 

£3300 on eBay for the first Monroe magazine cover

November 1, 2015
Leader magazine led the world in putting Marilyn Monroe on its cover in April 1946

Leader magazine led the world in putting Marilyn Monroe on its cover in April 1946

Can you believe it? A threepenny weekly magazine from 13 April 1946 sells on eBay for $5,100.99 – that’s£3,302 – after 45 bids. Gobsmacking, but it’s true. And the reason? It’s the first magazine to show Norma Jeane Mortenson, also known as Norma Jeane and later pin-up model and Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, on its cover.

That’s four years before her first decent film role in All About Eve and seven years before the Playboy first issue cover.

According to the listing, this is the ‘first solo cover in the world’ of Norma Jeane, with the British weekly predating the April 26 issue of Family Circle in the USA picturing Norma Jeane holding a baby lamb on the cover:

This issue of Leader is a complete 28 page double-staple bound style pulp magazine in very good condition. Cover photo is the same Andre de Dienes ‘M.M.’ photograph which appeared a second time in France only a few months later on the cover of the September 3 1946 issue of Votre Amie (‘Your Friend’). The Leader cover photo was published in black and white, while the negative was flipped and photo colorised for its appearance on the cover of Votre Amie.

The same seller also sold a copy of that Votre Amie cover for £900 on eBay.

Leader was at this time published by Hulton Press, whose other magazines included Lilliput, Picture Post and the Eagle.

>>Leader magazine history

 

Thunderbirds inspiration for 1967 advert

October 2, 2015
Cosak cloth advert with sci-fi look and Thunderbird inspiration from 1967

Cosak cloth advert with sci-fi look and Thunderbirds inspiration from 1967

This 1967 advert goes for a sci-fi look with a set that looks like something from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds – complete with Thunderbird 1 on the monitor screen. It was for Dormeuil‘s Cosak, a cloth mixture of terylene (a light and crease-resistant polymer) and mohair.

The headline font is inspired by the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Code that was developed for the banking industry in the 1950s.

Apparently, Dormeuil spent a massive £100,000 on advertising the cloth in  consumer magazines such as Town and Look of London as well as the influential trade title Tailor & Cutter. The headline look was slightly different in the latter, with a simpler sans-serif font.

Dormeuil’s website has a gallery of its past adverts, but this campaign is not mentioned.

Marilyn Monroe magazines from 1953 on eBay

June 21, 2015

Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Among the 815,281 magazines presently listed on eBay in the UK are two classic illustrated weeklies with Marilyn Monroe covers. The first is Picture Post from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on the cover from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire

Second is Illustrated magazine from 1953 with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable on the cover, from the film How to Marry a Millionaire.

Both these weekly magazines are priced at £29.99 from the Advertising Archives as buy-it-now or best offer lots.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design