To coincide with the complete retrospective of the films of Sam Peckinpah currently running at the Locarno Film Festival, I thought I might try to select the best posters of one of my favorite directors. But when I looked at all the posters for Peckinpah’s films it was clear that the best Peckinpah posters were made in Poland. There are a couple of great American one sheets from the 1970s—those stark black and white photographs for Straw Dogs and The Getaway—but nothing quite matches these six Polish designs for visual panache.
Jerzy Flisak’s typically witty and playful poster for the most light-hearted of Peckinpah Westerns, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, is one of Flisak’s greatest designs and one that beautifully encapsulates the story of an old prospector exploiting a well in the Arizona desert. Maciej Hibner’s saloon door poster for Peckinpah’s elegiac Ride the High Country, on the other hand, is a gorgeous piece of art but less concerned with conveying the film it represents (it could stand in for any number of Westerns).
Polish posters stars Jacek Neugebauer, Elzbieta Procka, Mieczyslaw Wasilewski and Andrzej Pagowski also created arresting designs for Peckinpah films—all shown below. But it seems none ever turned their talents to The Wild Bunch or, even more regrettably, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a film that would have been a perfect assignment for the more grand guignol of Polish artists like Starowieyski or Walkuski.