With Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You opening in the U.S. next week, I thought it would be as good as time as ever to look back over the posters for one of Britain’s greatest living filmmakers. Starting in 1965 with a celebrated series of docudramas for the BBC, Loach, now 83, has been making films for over half a century and has won the Palme d’Or not once but twice. Between Poor Cow in 1967 and Sorry We Missed You in 2019 he has directed 25 feature films, mostly concerned with the lives and labors of the British working class. But the problem with going through Loach’s impressive filmography in posters is that, for the most part, the posters for his later films just aren’t that interesting. There is something about Loach’s urgent, low-key social realism that doesn’t really lend itself to particularly interesting design. That said, the posters for Loach’s first three films are a significant exception to that rule. These were the films that made Ken Loach’s name, though it was ”Kenneth” Loach back then. His debut, Poor Cow, was a surprise box office success, not just in the U.K. but in the U.S. and all over Europe too, and there are numerous interesting posters for that film, in a wild variety of styles. So here below are the best posters for Poor Cow (starting with my very favorite, the German design by Fritz Fischer), his masterpiece Kes (1969) and his third feature Family Life (1971).
Sorry We Missed You, which to my mind is one of Ken Loach’s strongest films in years, opens on March 4th. The US poster, while not up to the standard of many of the above, is not bad (full disclosure, I art directed it and I work for the distributor).