Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Harrowing Drama of Disaster Movie Posters

I love disaster movies, no doubt about it.

There is just something about taking one or two big name movie stars surround them with a supporting cast of popular television actors and faded greats from the bygone era and then throwing them into a life-threatening crisis with plenty of room for drama, pathos and overacting, and you've got yourself a good time in the making.

But what I wanted to write about tonight isn't the movies themselves, or even really the movie posters, abut instead I want to take a look at what I like to call the "Star Bar", that list of pictures along the bottom of the all those 70's movie posters showing who the various celebrities facing danger this time around are.

Airport (1970)

Airport is a frothy, big screen soap opera, based on a book by Arthur Hailey, starring Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin, and a great supporting cast backing them up.

The shots used for the stars though are standard glossy stock shots of the actors and really don't give much sense of danger or much of anything else for that matter.Which does make sense since the original Airport was much more the type of big screen soap opera that Hailey had been churning out since the 1950's with the airline disaster that takes up the last part of the story a crucial but not sole focus of the film.

The Airport movies in my opinion really don't do a very good job of portraying any kind of tension in these shots, take a look below you will see what I mean, nothing really but stock shots.

Airport '75

Airport '77

Airport '79

The Towering Inferno had the same issue of standard stock shots with very little going on.

The Towering Inferno

 The producers of Earthquake on the other hand recognized that these pictures would be more effective if there was more to it then the standard glossy. 


The shots of Chuck Heston, George Kennedy and Lorne Greene are just great and really push the feeling of "danger" especially, with Kennedy looking like the poster is going to collapse on top of him. 

Really, in the end the only one of these Star Bars that does a good job of showing action, conflict and drama is the Star Bar for the classic The Poseidon Adventure.
The Poseidon Adventure

Now I like this bar. 

Everyone in it, even Leslie Nielsen looks dramatic and the shots help to push the tension, plus the pictures work well with the rest of the poster and don't look like a quick studio add on at the end.

The Poseidon Adventure Full Poster

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