1969 The finished poster, the result of a 21 year old art student. Notice the slight differences in color from the original.
1969 Lace, colored paper collage with pencil, pen and ink and watercolor. 18 x 18 in. Amsel's winning design for HELLO DOLLY!, after a nationwide contest held by 20th Century-Fox. This catapulted Amsel's career, who was only 21 at the time, and stil in art school. In November, 2002, the original mock-up of watercolor and paper collage was sold by Michael Amsel at auction for $8800.
1970 Acrylic, colored paper, and photostat print on board 32 1/4 x 21 3/4 in. Printed poster: 23½ x 16½ in. This poster was used for the film's release in German cinemas.
1970 Acrylic and watercolor on board 22.5 x 25.5 in. Amsel used this image as the mailer in his portfolio, sent to ad agencies and studios in the early 70's.
Here's a comparison between the more commonly seen piece (left) and a more direct reproduction of Amsel's original design (right). Note the variation in colors, and the presence of Amsel's signature.
1970 20 x 14 in. Unused poster concept. Ink and colored paper on board.
1971 Oils and acrylics on wood (Size unknown.) Amsel wasn't just a talented illustrator but an ingenious designer. Here, for Robert Altman's period western, Amsel's "canvas" was an actual piece of wood! Notice, too, his mastery of lettering, long before computers made such elaborate typestyle commonplace.
1971 Oils and acrylics on wood (Size unknown.) A closer detail of Amsel's work, painted directly on a wood board. Whether or not this is a photo made from the original piece I do not know; notice how the board is smaller from what appears on the final poster. If this is the original, then it must have been modified to allow more headroom for the talent names and title above. (See how the shapes of the columns at left and right are simpler than the board on the poster?)
Modified design for the film's recent rerelease on home video.
1972 Final poster design.
1972 Barbra Streisand was one of Amsel's most frequent subjects. This is a modified version of the original poster for the more recent DVD release.
1972 Watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, pen & ink on board. 13 x 20.5 in. Unused poster concept that went through some redesigns. This is color detail was modified slightly, to digital remove some text.
1972 Watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, pen & ink on board. 13 x 20.5 in. Black and white image of the full illustration.
1972 Color photographic stats w/ watercolor, gouache, pen & ink on board. 21.5 x 19.25 in.
1972 The final poster.
1972 Size and medium unknown.
1972 (Size and medium unknown.)
1973 One of two Amsel posters for Robert Altman's oddball take on the crime thriller.
1973 Size and medium unknown. While it lacks Amsel's signature, I have verified that this is indeed Amsel's work. I can also verify that it has a very creepy cat.
1973 Size and medium unknown.
1973 Gouache, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencils, pen and ink on board 30 x 22 in. Amsel's art wasn't used in the initial release. Portions of it were included within a 1977 rerelease poster. Special thanks to Thomas Nixdorf for this image.
Only the portraits from Amsel's original artwork were used within this 1977 rerelease poster.
1973 Oil on board 46 x 46 in. Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. Amsel's design paid homage to the painting syle of J.C. Leyendecker, and evoked both Leyendecker's "Arrow Collar Man" and beloved Saturday Evening Post covers. Leyendecker's technique is extremely difficult for even skilled painters to emulate; Amsel was in his mid twenties when he did it. The original artwork is reportedly owned by art director Bill Gold.
1974 The final poster, used mainly in international markets. I've presented two posters here, demonstrating the great difference in color balance. This version is skewed quite dark...
1974 Alternate vertical poster. This image is skewed heavily towards magenta colors. I wasn't sure exactly what Amsel's original color scheme was until I saw the next image...
1974 Gouache, airbrush 23 x 16 1/2 in. It took me a while to track this down: A photo of Amsel's original artwork. At last we can see the original color scheme!
1974 (Size and medium unknown.) Amsel's illustration for Stanley Donen's underrated and under appreciated musical. David Byrd stated that this poster was the first time he took notice of Amsel's name; the two soon became fast friends.
1974 The final poster. See below for more details.)
Woodstock (2 images; 1 used in Germany, the other unused)
Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (unused)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (unused)
Up the Sandbox
Avanti! (used only in print ads)
What's Up, Doc? (unused)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
Fuzz/Here Come the Fuzz
The Long Goodbye (2 images, both used)
The Last of Sheila (unused)
The Thief Who Came to Dinner
Papillon (unused; portions included in 1977 rerelease)
For Pete's Sake (unused)
The Little Prince
Murder on the Orient Express
Titles in red are unpublished posters or sketches I'm still trying to locate.
BEHIND THE POSTERS: 1969-1974
Behind the scenes of select concept sketches, final illustrations, and triva regarding Richard Amsel's
movie poster work. They're listed below in chronological order.
My favorite Steve McQueen film is PAPILLON. (If you haven't seen it yet, DO IT. You'll be amazed how powerful it still is.) Amsel's original art (top left) wasn't used for the initial release in 1973, but snippets from his artwork were used within a 1977 rerelease poster (second from left). Very special thanks to Thomas Nixdorf for providing me with a new scan of Amsel's original artwork. Compare the radical difference in image quality and color between what I originally had in my gallery vs. the improved image Thomas gave me..
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)
1974 The final poster.
1974 Gouache, colored pencils, acrylic on board 28.5 x 15.75 in. A big creative challenge for any illustrator: meeting the demand of the "Likeness Clause" in the contracts of a film's many stars, where the size of a given actor's likeness must be equal to all the others in the advertising campaign. Such was the case for this lavish emsemble adaptation of the Agatha Christie story. Amsel keenly incorporated the shape of a knife, while using the Orient Express as the blade's "handle".
1974 Gouache, colored pencils, acrylic on board 28.5 x 15.75 in. Scot Ryersson kindly provided me with this alternate image of the ORIENT EXPRESS artwork, taken from a CD cover for "Poirot Goes to the Movies." Ryersson stated that Amsel was asked to modify Lauren Bacall's portrait for the final poster. Here is the illustration in its original form.
1974 Early concept sketch.
Amsel had an extraordinary ability to capture an actor's likeness, even in simple forms. His sense of composition was unrivaled, particularly in taking what could otherwise be a jumbled montage of faces and unifying them into a clever stoytelling form. As with DEATH OF THE NILE, Amsel's artwork for MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS shapes the actors' portraits into a larger framework -- in this case, the form of a dagger, with the train doubling as the handle. Notice the change in Lauren Bacall's face in the earlier sketch and initial color finish (the latter image found on a low rez pic of an early soundtrack album); she's originally in full profile. At the far right is a pic of the original artwork, as it appeared in the 2000 Christie's Los Angeles auction, within a beautifully matted frame.