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Friday, July 18, 2008

Le dolci signore - Belgian poster anyone?

Before the existence of the internet, production companies had to promote their movies with the means of that time at their disposal. In the 60's and 70's it was mainly through the printed media with posters, flyers, leaflets, pressbooks, lobby-cards... Each movie had several versions of their posters mostly painted or drawn with the most alluring scene's of the movie as a focus. In the mid '80's the production companies used more and more movie stills to compose their posters and the art of movie poster drawing disappeared in the background. Using stills was much cheaper then appointing and paying an artist to draw the posters. Who doesn't know the stunning drawings of Robert McGinnis with his posters for the James Bond movies with Sean Connery which are etched in our subconcious for ever. So having an eye catching poster was of the utmost importance and could often make or break a movie. Therefore almost always the production company told the foreign distributors what kind of movie poster they were allowed to produce in their home markets to sell the movie to the audience. Most American layouts were re-styled to fit the needs of the local foreign market. It was often the American poster with the foreign title and a re-arranging of the eye-catchers of the original American poster. Although this was true for most countries in the world there was one country that had it's own policy of promoting a movie: Belgium. Since the beginning of the movie history Belgium had a front runners role with people like Pierre Plateau and his Fenakistiscoop in 1831 which became the basis for the movie industry or a first showing of a movie by the brothers Lumière in Brussels, the capital of Belgium in 1896. Belgium was also in the centre of the Art Nouveau movement at that time with Victor Horta so when the two art forms, movies and art movement, found each other they produced some stunning examples of movie poster art. This tradition was carried over to the 60's and 70's and was never questioned by American production companies. For the Belgian market a new layout was drawn by mostly Belgian artists whom became masters in their craft. The Belgian poster is mostly in a horizontal style and has two titles, one in Flemish, the language of the majority of the Belgian people and French. Because most American production companies had their European seat in Paris (France) the translations of the (American) titles of the movies was often literally which often didn't correspond with the Flemish language and had a funny meaning to the Flemish people. A classic example is the Garry Cooper movie "High Noon" which becomes "De Trein Zal Drie Maal Fluiten" in Flemish or "The Train Will Whistle Three Times". So the Italian title "Le dolce signore" meaning "The Sweet Gentlemen" referring to the adulterous affaires of the married women in the movie becomes in English "Anyone can play", in French "Pas folles les mignonnes" and in Flemish "Niet gek de schatjes" meaning "Not crazy the cute ones". Nevertless the Belgian poster for "Le dolci signore" with Marisa Mell is one of the best Belgian posters with the stunning faces of Marisa Mell, Ursula Andress, Virna Lisi and Claudine Auger. The faces are life like drawn and have a realistic feel to it. Most of the faces and figures on other Belgian posters are drawn in a cartoon kind of way and not very realistic. Because the movie has no real action scenes, they are missing on the poster so you get only the four faces of the main actresses, their names, the director and color process and titles in the two languages and that's it. Plain and simple! Maybe to simple because the film was not a hit and got lost in the depth of oblivion!

In contrast to this poster is the poster of the French movie "Angelique" with French cult star Michèle Mercier as the heroine. In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful erotic and attractive Belgian movie posters ever made.

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