Before the release of NO TIME TO DIE, I continue my brief analysis of the Bond Movie posters.
My reviews for the Roger Moore Bonds are elsewhere on this blog (although direct links to each review are in the headings for each film below).
Some of the information here is linked to a fantastic web site: https://www.filmonpaper.com/
Roger Moore was already an established star when he became Bond. The star of Ivanhoe, The Saint and The Persuaders was already a famous, bankable name, and he gets his name above the title.
Bond is in the tux, looking out to us, gun near his chin, the pose established in the Connery posters. The tarot card design echoes the story, alongside crocodiles, boats, cars, creepy villains, and explosions – all key features of the movie and promising a lot of “Bond” to the audience. While the main image on the left is very busy it doesn’t seem cluttered, and is an image that delivers more detail the more you investigate it.
The spectacular explosion of flames behind Bond’s head serves the dual purpose of highlighting the new Bond actor’s head, and of course suggesting that he will be just as explosive as the previous Bonds. Reassuring for audiences seeing the third actor in as many years.
Then of course there are the females, clad in bikinis, one of which appears in the film.
This poster continues the same design as before, Bond in the same pose, surrounded by the action.
Unsurprisingly there is a lot of yellow and gold on the poster which depicts action from the film: cars, explosions, guns, explosions, Kung Fu. And more bikinis (Britt Eckland spends the finale in a bikini). For me the images are too warm, creating a faded, tobacco stained feel.
For the first time, the artist of the title song Lulu, is prominent on the poster.
The best thing about the poster is the golden gun in the foreground. The gun is painted from our point of view, and it is being loaded with a bullet marked “007”. We are Scaramanga, the assassin who is apparently targeting Bond.
For many, The Man with the Golden Gun disappointed in many levels. The next film aimed high, with a bolder story, elaborate stunts, and colourful locations. Marvin Hamlisch added disco beats to the soundtrack and Bond had the ultimate gadget: the underwater Lotus car.
The poster also shows a change in direction with new artwork which fills the available space with action and detail. Gone are the bikini girls, instead we have likenesses of Roger Moore and Barbara Bach in costumes from the film. The conventions are retained though, with submarines, underwater action, a jet ski, and that car.
The poster is rather busy though and interestingly shows no trace of that villain Jaws. Though that perhaps shows that they had no idea that the character would resonate with audiences across the world. Sadly, the poster shows no hint of the spectacular Egyptian and Italian locations that are so beautifully photographed in the movie.
The resounding success of The Spy Who Loved Me led to the producers taking Bond to the limit – and into space. While the film does visit exotic locations in France, Italy and South America, the poster focuses on the space excitement. Perhaps inspired by the success of Star Wars, the poster shows the interior of the brilliant Ken Adam designed space station. Space shuttles, a space battle, the villain and the characters in zero gravity demand attention.
Lois Chiles is pictured next to Bond in the skimpiest of outfits, as are the other females (which connects with the villain’s evil master race plan). We see Jaws above Bond, as he returned after his overwhelming popularity in the previous film. Bond is in action pose, feet firmly on the ground, in his space suit. Gone is his MI6 issued handgun, replaced by a space blaster.
Shirley Bassey, the singer returning for her third title song, is prominently displayed on the poster. The dark background makes for high contrast with the images and the lettering making it a poster which encourages the viewer to look closer.
This poster makes a bold stylistic choice, with the inverted V shape of the lady’s legs dominant front and centre, surrounded by the action on either side, and Bond standing framed within her legs.
The action is very representative of the movie, with ski chase, sea planes, guns, cars, a helicopter, and underwater scenes. The main theme of the film is hinted at as the woman carries a crossbow in her hand, the weapon of choice for Melina Havelock as she is on her own mission to avenge the death of her parents.
Bond is necessarily smaller in the frame and looking off to the side, but the legs dominate. Of course Melina doesn’t wear that outfit or high heels in the film, but the image does its job in catching your attention.
When prepping the poster the leg model had to wear the leotard/underwear back to front to create the desired exposure of flesh. Interpretations vary, from criticism of the overly sexualised legs, to the suggestion that she is dominant over Bond as the story is very much about her revenge. Either way, this “grounded” Bond film, following the excesses of Moonraker, wanted to firmly reassure audiences that they would still get what they expected from their favourite franchise.
Yet this may have contributed to the disappointment of some viewers, for the film doesn’t really deliver on those legs.
Designer: Renato Casaro, Daniel
Octopussy brings Bond back to dominance in the composition, surrounded by the customary glimpses of the action and locations. Again it is not obvious that the film has extensive locations in Germany and India, but the images contain enough action and mystery to peak interest.
The poster also has the brilliant concept of the character of Octopussy standing behind Bond with eight hands surrounding him. Each hand either admiring Bond or hinting at elements from the film. One caresses his hair, others his chest and gun, holding a cocktail and adjusting his bow tie. Others hold a Faberge egg, a dangerous curved knife and finally reaching down to unbutton his jacket.
The font also plays with the seemingly nonsensical title with tentacles stretching out from the “O”.
In contrast to the past two films, the background is largely white and vacant, giving a lot of space for the other images to breathe.
In this poster for Moore’s last film we see two main images, both of which were individual posters on their own, but combined in this version.
There is a lot of empty space in the poster again, allowing a focus on the main images which are both striking. The tilted image is complicated on its own, depicting the full colour spectacular finale to the film on Golden Gate Bridge. Awkward perspective aside this image is like classic Bond imagery with Bond in his tux protecting Stacy Sutton, with the villain bearing down on them from an airship.
The rest of the poster is another striking composition with Bond and villain May Day standing back to back. This is a major change to the Bond poster tropes, and emphasised by the tagline “Has James Bond finally met his match?” Bond still gazes at us, gun in hand, but the painting of May Day shows a muscular bold figure, confidently smoking and staring at us with more intensity than Bond himself.
This promises much – especially as at the time of release Bond had not faced a decent female antagonist since Thunderball.
For me, the empty background seems a little disappointing, some minimalism creeping in on posters which used to burst with excitement and colour.
Following this film, Roger Moore departed the franchise, and EON Productions were looking for the next actor to take on the role of 007. Next time, we look at the James Bond Movie Posters – The Dalton Years.
My favourite? Live and Let Die
A version of this article was first published on ReelAnarchy.
For my views on the poster for the other Bond movies, please see the links below: