The Poster Art of Robert McGinnis: Bond and Beyond

The Posters

You've seen those Posters. They often tell a story. They seem so full of sheer action the images threaten to pop out three dimensionally. There is poetry in action. There is usually so much happening, your eyes are overwhelmed. The men are immaculately dressed. The women are gorgeous and oh so feminine.

Coming from the numerous paperback covers that helped those pulp thrillers sell millions of copies, Robert McGinnis was brilliantly suited to design the films of that era, full of verve, immensely cool and always sexy.

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's

It started with the stunning rendition of elegant Audrey Hepburn clutching a cigarette holder, in her little black dress, immaculately coiffed, and looking at you from the poster of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Compared to garish film posters of that time, this had a minimalistic charm with all that white space neat fonts, and small romantic scene unfolding in the background as Audrey Hepburn charms the foreground. A classic composition.

He revisited Audrey Hepburn's style for 'How to Steal a Million'

McGinnis : How to steal a Million
McGinnis : How to steal a Million

McGinnis, the 'Poster boy' of 60s and 70s


This iconic poster brought Robert McGinnis, the ace cover artist for countless paperbacks, into the world of film. and we are all the more lucky for it. For the career in poster art that started in Breakfast at Tiffany's moved soon to what was part of a phenomena in the 60s and 70s.

Bond, James Bond.

Robert McGinnis' artwork has become synonymous with the heyday of Bond.

McGinnis' ability to render beautiful women, gadgets and action went hand in hand with the Bond epitome of cool.

Could anyone beat the Look up, Look down, Look out! poster below.

Iconic Bond

McGinnis continued to supply the poster art for Bond well into the Roger Moore era. These are now considered some of the most collectible poster art in film history.

A new Style is born

Hollywood couldn't get enough of this style. Over the next couple of decades they kept commissioning Robert McGinnis artwork in a variety of films much to the film goers delight.

He did more bond posters, stole the hearts of cult film goers with his Barbarella poster that immortalised Jane Fonda in that outfit.

Beyond the obvious appeal of the feminine charms, he often rendered a sequence or key 'money shots' into the poster almost like a static trailer montage.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Robert McGinnis (1926 -)A fistful of DynamitePlaza Suitesinful Davey
Robert McGinnis (1926 -)
Robert McGinnis (1926 -)
A fistful of Dynamite
A fistful of Dynamite
Plaza Suite
Plaza Suite
sinful Davey
sinful Davey

Two Decades of Poster Art

Robert's heyday of poster art was in the sixties and seventies where he did Bond, several comedies, Blaxplotation films and even some saucy posters for some soft core titillation. He has been attributed to over 50 odd posters and there are sure to be more. It is hard to get a true number as there is no clear catalogues of his work.

It has only been with the renewed interest in his paperback art and paintings that the posters are becoming collectible and enthusiasts are starting to catalogue his efforts.

I've researched many on-line stores and sources to come up with fifty of his poster attributions spanning the sixties and seventies. I've put them on the table below ..They are a real mix of immensely popular to obscure, but always beautifully rendered and a pleasure to look at.

The Poster Art of Robert McGinnis

Year
Film
1961
Breakfast at Tiffany's
1965
Thunderball
1966
Arabesque
1966
How to steal a Million
1966
Run for your Wife
1967
The Ambushers
1967
Casino Royale
1967
Jack of Diamonds (with Frank McCarthy)
1967
You only Live Twice (with Frank McCarthy)
1968
Barbarella
1968
The Biggest Bundle of Them all
1968
Half a Sixpence
1968
The Odd Couple
1968
Stay Away Joe
1968
Where were you when the lights went out?
1969
The Assassination Bureau
1969
On Her Majesty's Secret Service ( with Frank McCarthy)
1969
Sinful Davey
1969
Sweet Charity
1970
Cotton Comes to Harlem
1970
How do I love Thee?
1970
You Can't win 'Em all
1971
Diamonds are Forever
1971
A Fistful of Dynamite
1971
Plaza Suite
1971
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
1972
Avanti
1972
Come Back Charleston Blue
1972
The Honkers
1972
The Inncoent Bystanders
1973
The Day of the dolphin
1973
Live and Let Die
1973
The Optimists
1973
Scorpio
1974
The Man With the Golden Gun
1974
Sleeper
1975
Brannigan
1975
Let's Make a Dirty Movie
1975
The Sunshine Boys
1975
The Teasers
1976
Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars & Motor Kings
1976
Gator
1976
The Girl's who'll do anything
1977
Semi-Tough
1978
Bread and Chocolate
1978
Comes a Horseman
1978
The Teasers go to Paris
1980
Ffolkes
1980
The Serial
1980
Wholly Moses

Themes across Genres

Robert McGinnis originally worked in Walt Disney Studios before the outbreak of war and learnt animation drawing Mickey and Donald and honed his craft at Ohio Art University. When the outbreak of war put of stop to animation studios temporarily he left and after the war joined an ad agency called Fredman-Chaite Studios illustrating many ad campaigns.

He did cover art for Dell publishers and went on to become the most popular and successful paperback cover artist ever.

His paintings of the feminine form are stunning to look at, beautifully drawn and his posters seem to follow this theme.However his way of rendering key scenes in the movies and anchor the poster in plenty of action is a style that is unique and instantly recognisable.

This style has served well for diverse range of films. Whether it was an action adventure like Bond or a comedy caper like Woody Allen's Sleeper. along the way he has done posters for Billy Wilder films ( Odd couple, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes) , some Burt Reynolds fare, Musicals ( Annie, Sweet charity) and some Blaxplotation films ( Cotton goes to Harlem) , McGinnis was there to provide the art.

Each one exquisite and full of little delights.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
ArabesqueHow to steal a MillionRun for your WifeBiggest Bundle of 'Em allThe Honkers
Arabesque
Arabesque
How to steal a Million
How to steal a Million
Run for your Wife
Run for your Wife
Biggest Bundle of 'Em all
Biggest Bundle of 'Em all
The Honkers
The Honkers

BOND & BEYOND

Poster art for a Australian one sheet version of You only live Twice
Poster art for an Australian one sheet version of You only live Twice
Unused concept art for Thunderball ' Bond & Domino'
Unused concept art for Thunderball ' Bond & Domino'

The BOND Years

McGinnis was contacted by United Artists to deliver the concept art from thunderball along with artist Frank McCarthy.

The now classic Bond 'pose' is attributed to McGinnis as it appeared first in the Thunderball poster art. The artwork dominated billboards and hoardings and was displayed several storeys high at times Square.His Bond posters are iconic 60s and 70s masterpieces and fomr part of the graphic art renaissance of that era.

The exceptional artistry displayed in there composition, the dynamic pose and action, the attention to detail all make them worthy of admiration.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thunderball: McGinnisOn her Majesty's Secret Service: McGinnisYou Only Live Twice : McGinnisThe Man with the golden Gun: McGinnisDiamonds are Forever: McGinnisYou only Live Twice: McGinnisLive and Let Die: McGinnis
Thunderball: McGinnis
Thunderball: McGinnis
On her Majesty's Secret Service: McGinnis
On her Majesty's Secret Service: McGinnis
You Only Live Twice : McGinnis
You Only Live Twice : McGinnis
The Man with the golden Gun: McGinnis
The Man with the golden Gun: McGinnis
Diamonds are Forever: McGinnis
Diamonds are Forever: McGinnis
You only Live Twice: McGinnis
You only Live Twice: McGinnis
Live and Let Die: McGinnis
Live and Let Die: McGinnis



McGinnis' last bond poster was for The Man with the Golden Gun ( I think) .. the subsequent artists however were largely influenced by his styling and composition. As you can see from Daniel Goozee's poster for Octopussy.

Octopussy
Octopussy

Billy Wilder, Lemmon and Matthau


McGinnis also did quite a few poster artwork for Billy Wilder films, and also Neil Simon films featuring the famous duo Walter Mattthau and Jack Lemmon in comedic farces.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Odd CoupleThe Private Life of Sherlock HolmesAvantiSunshine Boys
The Odd Couple
The Odd Couple
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Avanti
Avanti
Sunshine Boys
Sunshine Boys

Matt Helm



In Dean Martin's comedic re imagining of the rough and tough Matt Helm series, McGinnis provided the artwork for the posters. 

These ' anti-bond' capers were played for laughs and spoofed the spy genre unlike the serious thrills of the novel series.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The silencersMurderer's RowThe AmbushersWrecking Crew
The silencers
The silencers
Murderer's Row
Murderer's Row
The Ambushers
The Ambushers
Wrecking Crew
Wrecking Crew

'Blaxpoitation'

The 70s blaxplotation films got an extra dose of colour with Robert McGinnis' artwork.

The 'hip' and 'cool' got hipper and cooler!

I wonder how big McGinnis sets his canvas for these painting as the facial detail and the colour are astounding.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cotton goes to HarlemCome back Charleston BlueBingo Long Travelling all-Stars & Motor Kings
Cotton goes to Harlem
Cotton goes to Harlem
Come back Charleston Blue
Come back Charleston Blue
Bingo Long Travelling all-Stars & Motor Kings
Bingo Long Travelling all-Stars & Motor Kings
Click thumbnail to view full-size
ScorpioffolkesThe Day of the DolphinJack of DiamondsThe Assassination Bureau
Scorpio
Scorpio
ffolkes
ffolkes
The Day of the Dolphin
The Day of the Dolphin
Jack of Diamonds
Jack of Diamonds
The Assassination Bureau
The Assassination Bureau

Musicals

McGinnis provided the posters for the popular musicals 'Annie' and ' Sweet Charity' and 'Half a Six-Pence' and also gave an Elvis movie some glam.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sweet CharityAnnieHalf a six-penceStay Away Joe
Sweet Charity
Sweet Charity
Annie
Annie
Half a six-pence
Half a six-pence
Stay Away Joe
Stay Away Joe

Naughty, Naughty

McGinnis is synonymous with sexy art and these posters have that naughty appeal.. Between 1974 and 1978 a company called Group 1 bought the rights to some European softcore films which enjoyed much B grade success in USA.

It is no doubt that some of the success could be attributed to posters designed by McGinnis for these films. However, the company decided to rehash some the poster designs and created a right mess by re-releasing one of the films ( The Teasers) under the title Sophomore Swingers but using a collage of the McGinnis poster for the film 'Teasers go to Paris'. This lead to 'widespread confusion understandably ( if you are into that sort of thing)!

You can also see how the poster art is a rehash of the earlier work for the Burt Reynolds 'classic' Semi Tough.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Teasers go to ParisSemi- Tough v1Semi- Tough v2Let's Make a Dirty MovieThe Four of usThe TeasersThe Girls who'll do anythingThe Man from S.E.X
The Teasers go to Paris
The Teasers go to Paris
Semi- Tough v1
Semi- Tough v1
Semi- Tough v2
Semi- Tough v2
Let's Make a Dirty Movie
Let's Make a Dirty Movie
The Four of us
The Four of us
The Teasers
The Teasers
The Girls who'll do anything
The Girls who'll do anything
The Man from S.E.X
The Man from S.E.X

Woody Allen

Nobody does goofy like the wonderful Woody Allen in Sleeper and McGinnis' poster sums it all up nicely.

 Sleeper
Sleeper

And Finally

Shane Black's underrated 2005 comedy noir 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer ( I urge you to watch it if you haven't) is loosely based on a Mike Shayne pulp novel 'Bodies are where you find them' by Brett Halliday

Robert McGinnis used to do the covers for Mike Shayne paperbacks.

In one of the best in-jokes of them all, in the film, they refer to a Mike Shayne style 60s PI called Johnny Gossamer , who is a star of pulp thrillers and TV. In a delicious scene, one of the characters pulls out a few paperback from the shelf at a party. Much to the delight of paperback art fans who are 'in the know', the covers were remarkable mock ups of those old 60s style paperbacks and looked extremely authentic.

So they should, for these' mocked up' paperbacks were illustrated by none other than the grand master himself, Robert McGinnis. The Art director of the film specially commissioned these covers for that authentic 60s look.

I've shown the Original Paperback cover on which the film is based on and the four mock paperbacks from the film...

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The Talent

McGinnis, without doubt is a supreme artist deserving of wider recognition. Just because he did paperback covers, ads and movie posters doesn't take away the intensity of his talent.

His eye for colour, composition, lighting and detail are worthy of renaissance masters. I remain, forever, in awe of his talent. Everytime I look at a piece of art my McGinnis, that little boy who discovered those pulpy yet pictorially supreme paperback covers leaps within me.

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

moncrieff profile image

moncrieff 5 years ago from New York, NY

I adore this kind of art and style, but to my shame I have never heard about this artist, or simply never paid attention. Great job and awesome illustrations!!!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks moncrief. I knew Robert McGinnis through his paperback covers ( related hub) and only recently came to know about his poster art. He is an underrated and unassuming maestro. You should see his paperback covers they are stunning.I kinda fell in love with the style and wanted to share it.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

What a talent McGinnis is! Amazing artwork and posters. Thanks for the intro, Docmo. Beautiful hub.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

Thank you, drbj, he is a great talent indeed.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

A great collection, a great tribute. Well done.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

@chspublish- Thank you for dropping by and your comments. Much appreciated!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Not only is his artwork beautifully rendered, and wonderful ad copy, they serve as a reflections of those times. Great hub. Lynda


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

thanks Lynda, he is a great craftsman. A true master at work.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Fascinating, specially like the James Bond posters and the images set to music! I like his statement that he painted what he liked and through his own visions!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Since I can remember poster art mesmerized me. At a stage I collected posters although I was not allowed to hang it against the walls of my bedroom. Thanks for a lovely hub.


jstankevicz profile image

jstankevicz 5 years ago from Cave Creek

Great tribute to McGinnis. Awesomme artwork.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

This is wonderful, and an amazing collection of images of his work. Very nicely done, and intriguing at the same time.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

@ Fossillady, MartieCoaster, jstankevicz and Genna .. thanks for dropping by to appreciate Robert Mcginnis' art. He deserves all the kudos!


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland

Thanks for the glimpse into the world of McGinnis. You're right, I've seen the posters but never would put it all together and the man is such a talent. Its an amazing collection you have gathered here! Namaste.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Erin, I find this incredible trend in hub pages where we stumble upon so much new information and make links to thinks we may only be partially aware of. This is my effort to comprehensively capture a relatively little known. ( outside the enthusiast's circle) artist to light. I am glad it is being seen and appreciated.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I got a kick and had to look twice to make sure I read the title of "Straighten Up and Die Right" correctly. Of course, the striking cover would get more attention than the title! I know it sounds ridiculous, but Robert McGinnis appears a typical, businessman sort, yet his paintings are of extraordinary women with the most beautiful faces and bodies. Although, he appears ultra conservative, in his time, he must have been viewed as very avant garde and risque...a playboy in his appreciation of the most extravagant, curvaceous, pin-up worthy beauties. Interesting, extremely well done tribute to an exceptional artist not readily recognized by the masses. Bravo and a standing ovation from me, Mohan!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Wow great hub!

I never knew there was so much to know about posters. Thanks to your extensive and well put together hub, I know alot more. Glad you shared your knowledge. Rated up and awesome.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK Author

@Amy - thanks! He certainly deserves the recognition.

@toknowinfo- glad you enjoyed this... thanks for dropping by.


dsmythe profile image

dsmythe 5 years ago

I love the vintage art work here. So cool!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

A spectacular hub. Love that artwork. Well done.


David 5 years ago

I am curious about where you got the info on the fact he produced Sugarland Express, Avanti, Sunshine Boys, The Wrecking Crew, Bingo Long Travelling all-Stars & Motor Kings, and Annie.

My own research and subsequent article did not uncover these, so before I am very keen to cross check your references before I add them to my list!

http://www.thevintagemovieposternetwork.com/articl...


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

Truly an amazing artist - I love his style. Terrific hub. Up and awesome.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Koffeeklatch - I agree he is a gifted artist with a very unique style . thanks for your comments.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@David- Most internet movie poster archives list McGinnis as the illustrator for these movie posters- perhaps I need to double check the resources again to avoid giving inaccurate information. Your article is well authenticated. thanks for letting me know and sorry I missed your comment as I was away from home when it must have appeared.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi Mohan, they are great aren't they? I remember seeing on the Antique Roadshow a while back, someone brought in a load of these to sell, I remember he said that he had more at home! wow! I wouldn't have got rid of them! great hub, cheers nell


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

These are the movies and posters of my youth. How many times did teenage boys gaze at the women of these posters and wonder, "Where in the world can I find a girl like that?" (That lasted only as long as it took to get your date to the balcony seating, inside.) A tremendous artist and Hub! Great Job!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I have always wondered who drew the early James bond pictures! What a great source of information. Thank you for sharing :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working