Monday, April 10, 2017


Joseph Smith was a British artist who painted many film posters in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Horror and science-fiction seemed to be his forte. Mr. Smith considered his GORGO poster among his best.

This 19" x 24" concept "rough" is rendered with charcoal on illustration chip board. He also used gesso to cover and clean up his sketches. This was a preliminary work and another version was the one actually used for the posters.

Smith said that when he was asked to make the letters look like stone for the movie, BEN-HUR, that after that, everybody wanted that look. His influence could be seen afterwards on numerous fantasy, adventure and sword and sandal movie posters.

Gorgo (MGM, 1961). Joseph Smith Original Movie Poster Art (19" X 24").
Treading in the giant footsteps of Godzilla and King Kong, came the British shocker, Gorgo. The movie borrowed heavily from both of these films (monster from Godzilla and plot from King Kong).The story follows the events after an earthquake shakes up the ocean floor and releases a dinosaur. A small village on the Irish coast is attacked by the dinosaur and a group of seamen capture the beast before it can wreck any further havoc. They then have the very novel idea of putting it on display by selling it to a circus in London. And everything should have been okay at that point, until they realize their dinosaur was only a baby-- and mother is on the way to protect her infant. The following destruction of London by the 200 foot tall Gorgo has one of the best series of special effects of the era. This incredible original work of art depicts Gorgo as she destroys all of London. In the foreground one can see Big Ben and the London Bridge falling down among other landmarks of the city. The artist, Joseph Smith, signed the work in the lower right of the art and considered this one of his better works. He did all of his concepts (or 'roughs' as he called them) in charcoal and used gesso to cover areas he didn't want seen or when he wanted to clean up the art. He did another concept for the film that was actually used on all the posters but Smith personally considered this design to be far superior. One of the things he was requested to add were the letters in a 'stone motif'. Smith later recalled, "I did letters for Ben-Hur that looked like stone. Then everybody asked for that look." For the first time, this original work for one of the classics of movie posters is being made available. Very Fine+ on Illustration/Chip Board.

1 comment:

Dr. Theda said...

Cool post... we were a big fan of Gorgo as kid... did not learn of this British giant monster till it re-release a few years later...


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