To make up for the summer we never had last year, or to whet our appetite for vacation days ahead, Film Forum and Rialto Pictures are reviving Jacques Deray’s sweltering St. Tropez-set erotic thriller La Piscine, a.k.a. The Swimming Pool (1969), on the big screen starting today.
The beautiful new poster for the re-release was illustrated by one of my favorite contemporary poster artists, the great Laurent Durieux, whose magnificent modern-retro designs for classic films are always drop-dead gorgeous, impeccably detailed and invariably very clever. His Hitchcocks are especially remarkable.
His composition for La Piscine plays off David Hockney’s 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) which features a fully-clothed man standing on the edge of a pool looking down on a man swimming underwater. The reflections on the water in Durieux’s painting are undeniably Hockneyesque, but he replaces the man on the pool side with a bikinied Romy Schneider looking down on a sunbathing Alain Delon. Durieux’s posters often have hidden details that are the key to the whole design but the kicker in his La Piscine is somewhat of a spoiler so I’m loath to point it out, except that it is spelled out far more aggressively in a couple of the original release posters below.
The Durieux design was originally created for Nautilus Art Prints in 2019 for the 50th anniversary re-release of the film in France. It was originally conceived as a horizontal design—which makes more visual sense—and a green variant was also produced.
With its cast of beautiful people (the film also stars Jane Birkin but she doesn’t get a look in on the posters) lounging around in beautiful places, La Piscine should have always been a no-brainer to promote, but curiously the original French posters for the film featured neither the pool itself nor the stars in their swimsuits. Instead, designer Jacques Vaissier opted for a gritty black and white image of Delon and Schneider with enlarged half-tone dots that make it look like a zoomed-in surveillance photo.
The photo is ripped at the bottom, to add to its gritty charms, and we feel a long way from the Riviera. At least another of the French posters, also by Vaissier, had the good sense to exploit Schneider’s charms beneath a scowling Delon close-up.
The same composition was used for the Spanish poster though artist Francisco Fernández Zarza (better known as “Jano”) painted Schneider instead of using the photograph, the better to cover up her modesty with a bikini.
The American poster upped the thriller ante with two edgy taglines and images that left little to the imagination.
(Note that pool-shaped title treatment!) Meanwhile the American half-sheet and the lobby card go more for eroticism than action with the whoa-mama tagline “Warm, wet bodies fresh with the sweet heat of loving.”
Sadly I haven't been able to find Polish or Czech posters for the film, which may have been way too decadent for an Eastern Bloc release in 1969, but I have found a few other international variations, like the Belgian poster:
The Italian poster:
The German poster (one of my favorites):
The Japanese poster:
And this Russian poster which seems to be from a belated 1991 release of the film:
Finally here are two French re-release posters for the film by Brandon Schaefer. The first was made for a 2010 re-release:
And the second for the 50th anniversary re-release in 2019:
And lastly, one fun fact, the aforementioned Hockney painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was featured in Midnight Marauder’s poster for Metrograph’s 2019 re-release of the 1973 Hockney documentary A Bigger Splash (which documents that painting’s creation). And in 2015 Luca Guadagnino made a loose remake of La Piscine with Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes and called it... A Bigger Splash.
Many thanks to Rialto Pictures, Film/Art Gallery and Brandon Schaefer.