Paperback covers #1: Chris Foss

The Stars Like Dust

The first in a series looking at some of my favourite book covers and cover artists, mostly taken from my own collection.

#1 Chris Foss’ covers for the Isaac Asimov novels published by Panther Science Fiction, circa late 1970’s.

It will probably come as no surprise to visitors to this site that as a child my main literary interest lay with comics. Marvel comics were my main staple but DC, 2000AD or any of the cartoon weeklies (Buster, Cheeky, Whizzer and Chips, etc) were all fair game. It’s hardly surprising that with such a diet of fantasy, adventure and heroics I then graduated to myths and legends – the greek and norse myths being particular favourites – and after that I made the natural progression to Science Fiction and Fantasy. I dipped my toe into some of the greats, Clarke, Bradbury etc, but found them all a little dry and I eventually settled on the John Christopher Tripods novels and early David Eddings, to name a few.  Continue reading Paperback covers #1: Chris Foss

One Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West Italian poster
Once Upon a Time in the West Italian poster

“You don’t understand, Jill. People like that have something inside… something to do with death.”

In December 1966 directors Sergio Leone, Bernardo Bertolucci (“Last Tango in Paris”, “The Last Emperor”) and Dario Argento (“Suspira”, “Tenebrae”), three life-long fans of the American Western, discussed the possibility of creating a new film incorporating well-worn motifs and cliches from the genre. The film would not just be a pastiche but something new, a homage that would be greater than the sum of it’s parts – a new kind of Western. Over the next few months they created a story outline referencing over 50 other Westerns – from films as diverse as “Iron Horse” (1924) to “Johnny Guitar” (1954), “High Noon” (1952) to “The Searchers” (1956). They incorporated well used character motifs such as the gunfighter bent on revenge, the thief with a conscience, the stone-cold killer and the whore with the heart of gold. Continue reading One Upon a Time in the West (1968)

The Long Good Friday (1979)

The Long Good Friday
Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand

“You don’t crucify people! Not on Good Friday!”

I’m still in a thriller/gangster mood so tonight it’s the turn of The Long Good Friday (1979). A refreshingly detailed and thoughtful script, great characters and a memorable soundtrack combine to infuse this film with a freshness and vitality that endures to this day. It’s also got a great cast: Bob Hoskins (in his breakthrough role); Helen Mirren; Paul Freeman; Derek Thompson; Eddie Constantine; Pierce Brosnan (in his first film appearance) and a very young Dexter Fletcher (blink and you’ll miss him). It’s even got Jacko from Brushstokes! Continue reading The Long Good Friday (1979)

Touch of Evil (1958)

Original theatrical release poster for Touch of Evil

“He was some kind of a man.
What does it matter what you say about people?”

For all it’s dense structure and dialogue heavy script the plot is deceptively simple: Mexican drug enforcement official and moral advocate Miguel Vargas (played by Charlton Heston) runs afoul of corrupt, bigoted and thoroughly repugnant cop Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles). Heston threatens to expose Quinlan so the cop plots to discredit him by framing Vargas’ wife on charges of drug use and indecency. Continue reading Touch of Evil (1958)