Though this French poster for the 1961 Hammer horror The Curse of the Werewolf—with a lycanthropic Oliver Reed bursting through a window (and his shirt) against a garish pink sky—is terrific by itself, it is as part of a series that it is particularly memorable. Designed by French illustrator Guy Gérard Noël, who often made more than one design for each film, the posters for The Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, Kiss of the Vampire and The Evil of Frankenstein are all notable for their lurid fields of color and their dynamic yet stripped-down mise-en-scène (victim cowering in the foreground, monster looming behind).
One of the great French movie poster illustrators, Guy Gérard Noël was born in 1912 and started designing movie posters in 1943, after two years in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He worked steadily for the next 23 years producing countless posters in every genre. According to a recent book on the artist, despite his reputation, but as was the custom in his profession, he had to audition throughout his career, submitting proposals for each film to the heads of publicity at production and distribution houses. “What a young artist endured to gain recognition became more and more difficult to bear as he gained experience, and he suffered toward the end of his career from having to pass tests that should have been reserved for newcomers.” When offset printing took over definitively from lithography in the mid 60s and illustrators became less in demand Noël stopped designing movie posters and retired to the countryside to devote himself to illustrating books and record covers as well as painting for pleasure. He died in 1994 at the age of 82. I will feature some of his other, non-Hammer designs in a week or two, but I thought these needed to be seen today. Happy Halloween!