Jack Davis, an artist whose work I, and many comics and movie fans, grew up on, passed away today at the age of 91. Davis is best known for the over six decades of work he did for Mad Magazine, but he also illustrated many other major magazine covers including those of Time and TV Guide, and contributed art for such memorable record album covers as Johnny Cash's “Everybody Loves a Nut” and “The Greatest of the Guess Who.”
But as this is a film blog, I thought I'd pay tribute to the amazing movie poster art that Davis produced during the '60s and '70s.
So here are my 5 favorite of his movie poster designs - starting with one that I bet will top most film fan's lists:
THE LONG GOODBYE (Dir. Robert Altman, 1973)
This wasn't the original poster for Altman's unorthodox early '70s Raymond Chadler adaptation - you can see the Dirty Harry-ish first try on the IMDb's page for the film when you click the title above - but after THE LONG GOODBYE's disatrous opening, it was withdrawn and a new advertising campaign for it was divised which included Davis' radical redesign above. Altman puts it like this on a making-of featurette on the film's DVD: “We went to Jack Davis of Mad Magazine and they came up with this ad of this Mad magazine kind of look of all the characters that were in it and we opened in New York and we were a smash hit.”
Sure, the poster makes the movie look like it's a lot wackier than it actually is, but it captures the film's comical counterculture atitude so well that it's more than okay with me.
IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (Dir. Stanley Kramer, 1963)
Now this poster reflect exactly how wacky the actually film is. Incidentally, Davis parodied his own work for the 1965 Mad paperback, “It's a World, World, World, World, Mad.”
THE BAD NEWS BEARS (Dir. Michael Ritchie, 1976)
CRIME BUSTERS (Dir. E.B. Clucher, 1977)
All of these may not be classic movies (I'm looking at you, CRIME BUSTERS) but they all have classic Davis art work. Don't just stop here though, Google image search the man's work - you'll be glad you did.
R.I.P. Jack Davis (1924-2016)