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Movie Poster of the Week: The Films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz

A selection of the best international posters for this year’s NYFF-feted auteur.

Above: German poster by Rolf Goetze for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).  

Some twenty-two years ago, just a couple of months before Joseph L. Mankiewicz passed away at the age of 83, New York’s Film Forum held a retrospective of his work. The one thing I knew about Mankiewicz  back then was that Andrew Sarris had consigned him to The American Cinema’s circle of hell that was “Less Than Meet the Eye.” “The cinema of Joseph L. Mankiewicz is a cinema of intelligence without inspiration” he argued. Needless to say I went rather reluctantly to see his films, but by the end of the series I was a convert to his special brand of literate, sophisticated and genuinely moving cinema.

As a sidebar to the New York Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is hosting a new retrospective of Mankiewicz’s films that runs through October 14. When I started to search for posters for his films I felt a little uninspired myself and wondered whether Mankiewicz’s smart, wordy cinema didn’t really lend itself to inventive visual representation. Some of his best films, like The Ghost and Mrs Muir and A Letter to Three Wives, had very mundane American posters. But, digging deeper, I found that there was more than meets the eye, especially among international posters for his films.

The posters for two films in particular stand out, with the variety of renditions of their female stars in iconically alluring poses: Ava Gardner clutched from behind in The Barefoot Contessa (in Ireland in the 1950s the man clutching her was erased from the poster) and Elizabeth Taylor crouched on the beach in Suddenly, Last Summer. Mankiewicz was a brilliant director of actresses and Sarris did concede eloquently that “his vibrant women...shine with special brilliance from midnight to three o’clock in the morning of the soul.”

So, below are some of my favorite posters for Mankiewicz’s films, including a slew of Barefoot Contessas. 

Above: US one-sheet for Somewhere in the Night (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1946).

Above: Italian poster by Anselmo Ballester for The Late George Apley (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1947).

Above: German poster for A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1949).

Above: German poster for House of Strangers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1949).

Above: US one sheet for No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950). 

Above: Swedish poster for All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950).

Above: German poster by Georg Schubert for All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1950). 

Above: US one sheet for 5 Fingers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1952).

Above: US one sheet for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: US three sheet for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954). 

Above: French poster by Cerutti for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: Italian 4-foglio by Canavari for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: Swedish poster for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: Belgian poster for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: Spanish poster for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954).

Above: Japanese poster for The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1954). 

Above: French grande for Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1955).

Above: Italian poster for Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1955).

Above: French grande by Bourdon for Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1959). 

Above: German poster for Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1959). 

Above: Italian poster by Ercole Brini for Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1959). 

Above: Polish poster by Erik Lipinski for Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1963). 

Above: Polish poster by Jakub Erol for There Was a Crooked Man... (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1970). 

Above: US six sheet for Sleuth (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1972).  

Posters courtesy of Heritage Auctions, Una Pagina de Cine and KinoArt.net.

Excellent, excellent collection! And, you know, I think you’re onto something here. It makes a kind of strangely perverted (and to me at least, unexplainable) sense that the “foreign” take on Mankiewicz’s movies… particularly the females… would reflect back via the posters.
This is a wonderful collection of movie posters you can find movie posters to download at http://fmpds.com. Posters can be searched for by year and you will find movie images and actors picture that can be downloaded for free. this website is great i love it.

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