In an earlier entry I mentioned three types of movie production stills. My favorite group is the one of the publicity stills. They differ from the scene stills or behind the scenes stills in that they clearly are set up to let's say over-dramatized effect. They are made in order to accentuate a specific feature of the movie. It's these stills that were used the most in advertising campaigns as they were most suited to highlight protagonists or subplots. Very often this means luscious and glossy close-up portrait shots of the featured cast. I will feature those in the next entry or so. Portraits aren't always glossy or necessarily true depictions. THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) pictured above was not known to stand up straight or do the Mexican wave.
I like props and poses the best though. They are sly and humorous and often have a twist in referring to a small but key part of the plot. It's easy to understand that lovely Nan Grey is a bit unsure of the embrace with her mystery man in THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940) and that said man has reason to hang on, or putting it more precisely cling on, to the love of his life.
On the other hand you might wonder why Melanie Griffith's mum , Tippi Hedren, is making such a fuss during THE BIRDS (1963).
1963 was a good year for our black feathered friends. Here's Olive Sturgess showing off hers in Roger Corman's THE RAVEN, though it's fair to say that this not-parrot wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it.
All pictured poses reveal some of the bonds between protagonists in the movie. In the fantastic, definitely must-see THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) poor Grant Williams is the victim of radiation and is slowly but surely shrinking into infinity. Common household objects, such as match boxes, pins and pencils are used to show this shrinking process. This publicity still zooms in on the production design that visualizes the process.
In some cases props personify. Has anybody seen PSYCHO (1960)? Here's the almost complete cast with Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh and .....
It's not only doom and danger though that's represented in publicity stills. Comedy productions tend to have a more happy approach and ending. In SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) it is obvious that Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe are meant for each other.
Not all ends are happy though. The last still here is an all-time favourite. It's a great ensemble composition. Everybody's is ready to go and full of determination. They're as hungry as a junior football team getting to their first finals. You'll never see them in the actual movie like this though, nor will neither of them manage to get to the finale of the picture.
These are Hans "Mr. Takagi won't be joining us for the rest of his life" Gruber's (Alan Rickman) terrorist boys who will all be put straight by Bruce Willis in DIE HARD (1988)