Collection Spotlight #2 – Gangs of New York Posters
This week in the collection spotlight are a couple of posters from Gangs of New York (1938 Republic Pictures).
After Ann Dvorak left Warner Bros in December of 1936, she began freelancing for various studios, including Republic Pictures. Known as a B-picture studio, Republic poster art sometimes reflected the lower budgets of its films. Initially, I was not crazy about the poster for the American release of the film because of the duo-tone coloring and the use of photos of the actors instead of artist renderings. After I started dating my comic-book-writing husband, I came to appreciate the gritty artwork on the left hand-side. As it turns out, the artwork makes the film look far more interesting than it actually is. Gangs of New York is noteworthy only because it’s one of Samuel Fuller’s early screenplays. The film, which has Charles Bickford playing duel roles as a gangster and a cop who are not related, but look identical (a plot device that irritates the hell out of me), makes me wonder why Ann was in such a hurry to leave Warner Bros.
While I have only recently come to appreciate the American artwork for Gangs of New York, the Belgian poster has always been one of my favorites. I love how striking the bright colors are and positioning of the Republic logo on the gun. Another reason this is one of my favorites is that it is printed on the back of a map. The film was released in America in May of 1938, but I am assuming its debut in Belgium was delayed. It’s possible that war-time paper shortages is the reason a map was used as a canvas for this one.
I once chose Belgium as a travel destination because I am partial to their posters and thought it would be wise to go to the source. That turned out to be a lame idea, as I did not find a single poster from any of Ann’s movies and bought this one on eBay. Beautiful country though.