Review by C.J. Bunce
Only a few Hollywood movie stars have reached icon status as Clint Eastwood has, from TV actor and film star in Westerns to street-smart leading man and pop culture idol, playing against type and then back again, and onward to award-winning director. Eastwood has made his mark, and it makes sense that enough movie posters have featured his image and films to justify a book focused exclusively on the subject of the artwork instead of spotlighting any specific artist. Not so much a survey of artwork as much as a comprehensive guide to movie posters featuring the star, Clint Eastwood: Icon–The Essential Film Art Collection is available this month in a revised and expanded edition for the first time in a decade.
In many ways Clint Eastwood: Icon would make for the ultimate auction catalog were all the items pictured for sale. But it’s more than that. Writer and compiler David Frangioni’s approach to collecting and his details about key posters will educate and inform even the passing film fan and collector. Film expert and professor Thomas Schatz provides commentary on the context of Eastwood and his films within each decade. Every area of collecting should be so lucky to have such a presentation in this format for its fans to admire. Frangioni and Schatz include references to the artists when known, which is rare over the course of these hundreds of images. The collection of work from these artists provides another niche study area for the history movie posters, including an international array of artists like Michelangelo Papuzza, Renato Casaro, Sanford Kossin, Peter Max, Jack Davis, Hans Braun, Lutz Peltzer, Lorenzo and Giuliano Nistri, Ron Lesser, John Alvin, Frank Frazetta, Bob Peak, Birney Lettick, Roger Huyssen, and Gerard Huerta. Definitely a few names movie poster and pop art fans will recognize.
The posters represented aren’t only those styles seen by audiences entering American movie theaters. These include many variations that appeared in theaters across the globe, some by artists whose names are lost to time, with decade-appropriate type styles and language to match. As time marched on, more and more posters featured photographic images of Eastwood from the films, or other marketing photos of the actor inserted with or without additional artwork and text. Why use a painting of Eastwood to advertise a Dirty Harry film when a photograph is most likely to reel in filmgoers?
At least four audiences should be impressed with the content of Clint Eastwood: Icon: Collectors, movie poster fans, Clint Eastwood fans, and pop art enthusiasts. First, Frangioni approaches the book as a collector of Eastwood posters and related memorabilia. This is not a book about collecting the original artwork, but the posters used in advertising the films, which, despite being far more widely available (and accessible to readers and collectors), include some rarities that Frangioni points out (but one unanswered question readers may have is “where is the original artwork behind these posters?”). This is not a deep evaluation of style of quality or comparative study as the “Film Art Collection” as the subtitle may suggest, but Thomas Schatz provides his take on the artistic content of the posters, lobby cards, and other items presented. It is a chronology of more than 400 images of some familiar Eastwood characters. The reproductions are top quality, full color, thick matte finish paper, and in an oversized format that allows “the rest of us” to admire what we otherwise would never get to see up close and personal–visually both the history of each decade as Hollywood publicity departments saw it and the progression of Eastwood’s star power as reflected by studio and other artists throughout his career.
Look forward to some giant images of some classic films, many marketed in posters in a variety of ways, like A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Paint Your Wagon, Kelly’s Heroes, Play Misty for Me, High Plains Drifter, Every Which Way But Loose, and Unforgiven to Sully and this year’s The 15:17 to Paris.
Updates since the original 2009 edition include new pieces located or acquired by Frangioni in the interim decade, featuring primarily posters from movies with Eastwood in the role of director. The book jacket and cover artwork make for a cool coffee table discussion piece, and the end papers feature images of Eastwood that particularly define that cool, Clint Eastwood quality millions of fans know him by.
A book that will appeal to many areas of fandom, Clint Eastwood: Icon–The Essential Film Art Collection, The Revised and Expanded Edition, is published by Insight Editions, available now here at Amazon.