Robert McGinnis – Poster boy for the 1960s generation of film-makers.

Posted on February 11, 2010


Robert McGinnis might not be a name that readily springs to mind when thinking of 1960s cinema. You might easily be forgiven for never having heard of him. After all, he is not an actor, director, producer or writer, yet he still remains responsible for some of the most enduring images in cinema from that period.


So, who is he? Well, McGinnis is an American artist and illustrator who has been responsible for creating some of the most iconic movie posters from the 1960s and 70s.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s? That was him. Barbarella? That was him, too. Indeed, many of the James Bond films were promoted with posters produced in his unique style. Much of his artwork for the Bond films was never used, but they remain incredibly vivid snapshots of the adventures, as this unused promotional painting from Thunderball illustrates.


McGinnis was a prolific artist and was also widely known for his provocative illustrations that adorned the covers of many pulp detective and romance paperbacks. His illustrations of the female figure, often depicting the heroine or femme fatale of the novels in a pose that was sexually suggestive and risque, but that still fell within the bounds of modesty, were alluring and imaginative. His heroes were strong jawed, muscular men who reeked of danger, brutality and raw sex appeal.

The covers of these pulp novels hooked the reader in with the promise of romance, sex and violence. They told a story in one image that often eclipsed the content within.

For me his film artwork is as evocative of the era as the films are themselves and his work personifies the dynamic spirit of that time as well as remaining effortlessly cool and decidedly retro.