Movie Poster of the Week: The Posters of the Maysles Brothers

To accompany the retrospective at New York’s Film Forum, a look back at the Maysles in posters.
Adrian Curry

Above: US poster for Salesman (Maysles Brothers & Charlotte Zwerin, USA, 1968). Designer: Henry Wolf. Courtesy of Film/Art Gallery.

Starting today, Film Forum in New York is hosting The Maysles & Co., a comprehensive two-week long retrospective of the work of the legendary “Direct Cinema” documentarians Albert and David Maysles—best known for Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1976)—and their various collaborators, most especially Charlotte Zwerin.

Grey Gardens, a film whose title has entered the lingua franca, is the only documentary ever to be turned into a Tony-winning Broadway musical, an Emmy-winning TV dramatization, and an SNL-alumni parody, but its poster, a simple framing of a photograph by Herb Goro, doesn’t really do the film justice. Gimme Shelter, on the other hand—the Maysles’ biggest international success—has inspired a wide variety of designs. For me, the stand-out is the stark black and white one sheet with all-Helvetica type, the first one featured below.

Two of my favorite Maysles posters, aside from Henry Wolf’s wry, iconographic poster for Salesman, are for Albert Maysles two final films, both released after he died a year ago: the baroque, near-psychedelic portrait of Iris, and the blurry, elegiac window shots of In Transit (a film I urge everyone to see).

Above: 1980s re-release poster for What’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (David Maysles & Albert Maysles, USA, 1964).

Above: US one sheet for Gimme Shelter (David Maysles, Albert Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin, USA, 1970).

Above: alternative US one sheet for Gimme Shelter (1970).

Above: alternative US one sheets for Gimme Shelter (1970).

Above: 1971 Japanese poster for Gimme Shelter (1970).

Above: 1982 French re-release grande and 1990s US re-release one sheet for Gimme Shelter (1970).

Above: US one sheet for Grey Gardens (David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer & Susan Froemke, USA, 1976).

Above: US poster for Running Fence (David Maysles, Albert Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin, USA, 1978).

Above: US poster for The Love We Make (Albert Maysles, Bradley Kaplan & Ian Mankiewicz, USA, 2011).

Above: US one sheet for Iris (Albert Maysles, USA, 2014).

Above: US one sheet for In Transit (Albert Maysles, Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker & Ben Wu, USA, 2015).

Postscript: Film Forum just came across this wonderful photo of David and Albert in front of a wall of Salesman posters:

Posters courtesy of Heritage Auctions, Posteritati and Film/Art Gallery.

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Movie Poster of the WeekMaysles BrothersAlbert MayslesDavid MayslesChalotte ZwerinColumns
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