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Selling the Movies by Janet Moat
Introduction The Star Image Fashion Marketing Techniques Graphic Styles Social History
Fact & Fiction Conclusion        
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The 'Star' Image

An important component of the film marketing strategy has always been the film's stars, ever since Edward L. Berways, generally credited with the invention of the press book, created a campaign to advertise Cleopatra (US, 1917).

In A Tale of Two Cities (1958), Dirk Bogarde was presented as the ideal romantic leading man, smouldering from the press book in the tight trousers and cropped jacket of the late 18th century period of the story, while a column on another page listed several trivial facts about him, for the delectation of his legion of (female) fans.

Just three years later, Bogarde's image was transformed for Victim (1961). The press book presented an anguished face fragmented behind shattered glass, and a pair of upraised, clenched fists, as Bogarde assumed the role of a brilliant lawyer being blackmailed for his involvement with another man.

Stewart Granger was possibly the nearest British approximation to a traditional Hollywood screen idol in the 1940s - a romantic man of action with sex-appeal, attributes which the press book for The Magic Bow (1946) exploited to the full.

1960s screen icon Julie Christie dominated the art-work in the press book for the hit film Darling (1965), 'a woman's eye-view of the society-sex game', and as the Victorian Bathsheba in the Thomas Hardy story Far From the Madding Crowd (1967).

Charles Laughton, one of Britain's best, and best-loved, character actors, is the focus of the publicity for Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939), which hardly features the legendary director at all.

The press book for Chaplin (1992) presents an interesting variation on the iconic image of the little tramp in the bowler hat, which manages to suggest secrets and mysteries that the film might reveal about the screen legend, while also boosting the career of rising star Robert Downey Jnr.

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Click on the images to view enlarged versions

Image from Darling
Image from Far From The Madding Crowd Image from Chaplin
Image from Jamaica Inn Image from The Magic Bow
Image from Victim Image from A Tale of Two Cities