One of the best and most inventive movie poster designers currently at work, the L.A.-based artist known as Midnight Marauder should be no stranger to followers of my Movie Poster of the Day Tumblr and annual top 10 lists.
A graphic designer for some 20 years, MM a.k.a. Emmanuel, has been designing movie posters for the past five years. He has had two very fruitful collaborations in that time, first with Terrence Malick for whom he has designed a number of posters, most notably the teaser for Knight of Cups, and more recently with the great Berlin-based Italian illustrator Tony Stella with whom he has been producing beautiful alternative posters for films like The Phantom Thread. Together they also designed the poster for the 50th anniversary release of The Great Silence, which opens in theaters today.
I asked Emmanuel if he would play the near-impossible game of selecting his all-time favorite movie posters and while he found the process “pretty damn difficult” and said, “I don’t think I would have picked this exact selection 6 months ago,” his selections are both unpredictable and illuminating. One thing, which even he might not have realized, is that he sure loves long shadows.
I present his Top 10 below in ascending order with his own comments.
10. Persona (1966)
US one sheet. Designer unknown.
Kind of a precursor of sorts to the Silence of the Lambs poster. I love both designs equally. I had the chance to work with [Lambs poster designer] Dawn Baillie and I should have asked her about her inspirations, but I didn’t dare.
9. Swimming to Cambodia (1987)
US one sheet. Design by Ross Culbert Holland & Lavery. Inc. Photo by Marian Goldman.
I lot of people have asked me about my social media avatar. I’m not really sure why I picked Spalding Gray as my persona for online use… Sure I’m neurotic, but I think it was the blue color with the wobbly waves that attracted me to the idea that I was way over my head making posters for a living.
8. Baby Doll (1956)
US one sheet. Designer: Bill Gold.
I’d like to think that someday I will be able to design something as beautiful as this poster.
7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
US one sheet. Designer: BLT Communications.
Reminds me of a Tintin cover and I love it!
6. The Wild Bunch (1969)
French grande. Designer: René Ferracci.
This poster seems to make its way into every single project research folder. It’s my good luck charm. I love the billing block and the multi layered grains and halftones. It’s also hanging in my house.
5. La femme Nikita (1990)
French grande. Designer: TBD
Love all those old school Luc Besson posters. Every poster made for Nikita is awesome, but this one is quintessential bande dessinée française (French comic book).
4. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
French grande. Designers: Jouineau Bourduge.
I just love the cut and paste nature of Joe Buck and Ratso. Hoffman puffing away on that cigarette. Don’t get me wrong, the US one sheet is a masterpiece, but it’s all about that grain and the blue backdrop.
3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
US one sheet. Illustrator: Roger Kastel.
I know this is a homage to Gone with the Wind, but it just takes my breath away every time I see it.
2. Shadows and Fog (1991)
US one sheet. Designer: Burt Kleeger, photographer: Brian Hamill.
It’s got that Orson Welles feel that I love, that looming shadow with the rope in his hand. The poster has the slightest touch of that Woody Allen 70s grain to it that makes it my favorite Allen poster.
1. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
US one sheet. Designer: Intralink, art by: John Alvin.
This poster haunted my dreams for years as a child. I still can’t shake it off. That’s what a poster should do.
Many thanks to Emmanuel. You can see more of his work here.