A tribute to one of the great artists of movie poster art.
Frank McCarthy was born in New York City in 1924, interested in art from a young age he studied at the Art Students League of New York.
He became a freelance artist in 1946 and opened his own studio in 1948.
He created artwork for the covers of many magazines of the 1950’s including – True, Colliers, Argosy, Redbook and Outdoor Life.
He also produced covers for paperbacks for publishers Fawcett, Dell and Avon.
He started working on movie posters in the late 1950’s, there was no other movie poster artist at the time that could create action-packed artwork the way McCarthy could. The characters in his images would usually be depicted running or shooting or fighting, always in action.
"There was no one better than Frank McCarthy for the action movies," remarked illustration historian Walt Reed.
Some of the films he provided posters for were The Ten Commandments, The Great escape, Khartoum, Taras Bulba, Duel at Diablo, Once Upon a Time in the West, Hatari, Where Eagles Dare, Rio Conchos, The Dirty Dozen, Von Ryan’s Express, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice.
By the early 70’s McCarthy had moved away from poster art and started working primarily on paintings of the American West.
He moved to Arizona where he would be surrounded by the magnificent landscape of the ‘Old American West’, which offered him plenty of inspiration for his work.
In 1997 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.
Frank McCarthy succumbed to lung cancer at his home in Arizona in 2002, he was 78.
There have been several books showcasing his artwork including - The Art of Frank McCarthy (1992 William Morrow & Co), Paintings of the Old West (1977 R.W. Norton Art Gallery) and The Western Paintings of Frank McCarthy (1975) Ballantine).
Selected Movie Posters -
Africa, Texas Style (1967)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Beau Geste (1966)
The Blue Max (1966)
The Chairman (1969)
Circus World (1964)
Custer of the West (1967)
Dark of the Sun (1968)
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Duel at Diablo (1966)
Genghis Khan (1965)
The Great Escape (1963)
The Green Berets (1968)
Is Paris Burning? (1966)
Kings of the Sun (1963)
Krakatoa - East of Java (1969)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Rio Conchos (1964)
Sands of the Kalahari (1965)
Solomon and Sheba (1959)
Taras Bulba (1962)
The Ten Commandments (1956 re-release)
The Train (1964)
The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
Von Ryan’s Express (1965)
Where Eagles Dare (1968)
You Can't Win em All (1970)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
PAUL GULACY on August 05, 2016:
MCCARTHY HANDS DOWN A HUGE INFLUENCE ON MY STYLE.
peter wood on January 17, 2013:
I have a 24 sheet original poster of The Blue Max for sale.
Please contact me or tell your friends. firstname.lastname@example.org It ahs never been used and is in near mint condition. At nine by twenty feet it is a rare find.
KENNETH MOURINO on October 29, 2012:
Not certain the artwork you posted for the 1989 release of the Ten Commandments was made by McCarthy. It is his original concept design for the '66 , '72 re-releases but adapted (borrowed) by another artist. If the original artwork is perfect and unsurpassable, why did Paramount hire another artist to re-do the artwork who would never reach McCarthy's perfection?
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on September 13, 2012:
Thanks GetitScene, appreciate the comment. Frank McCarthy was one of the greats, such a shame he quit poster work in the early 70's.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 13, 2012:
Wonderful artwork. I have a collection of movie posters myself and these are gorgeous.
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on August 28, 2012:
Frank McCarthy was one of the best poster artists, his art was so dynamic.
Thanks for commenting!
Domenick Dicce on August 28, 2012:
I love movie posters. Thanks for putting all these great works in one area.
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on May 02, 2012:
Thanks for the comment and vote rabbit75. McCarthy was a dynamic artist, he knew how to capture action perfectly. Glad you mentioned pulp art, those pulp artists are really underappreciated, loved those old magazine covers. Luckily there are sites on the web that showcase the artwork of those nearly forgotten artists.
Vic on May 02, 2012:
The artwork back then was amazing, and there's really only a handful of artists today who can actually capture that Pulp art look and feel that also inhabited movie posters as well.
Awesome hub Steve...I loved looking at all the artwork. Frank McCarthy is indeed a legend of movie poster art. I think he should be recognized as a great artist as well.
It's too bad we don't learn more about artists like him in art classes.
Voted up and awesome and shared!
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on April 26, 2012:
Thanks for that bit of info Flora. Or you can do what I do sometimes, watch an old movie while working on an article or browsing the internet. :)
Flora Breen Robison on April 25, 2012:
Re: choir rehearsal-the closer I get to the concerts, the less time I will have to do anytghing else. Between looking for a new job, choir rehearsal, and looking after Amy, the next two weeks I will have to watch films less than 90 minutes long (no epics ) and likely *either* watch the movie *or* spend time online. My concerts are on the first weekend of May. After that, I'll have time for movies *and* online again--until June when another concert starts rehearsals. I think the women's chorus is invited to that one. But I'm not sure.
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on April 25, 2012:
Thanks Bruce, appreciate the comment and vote. One quarter of my views total come from the 22 artist hubs I've published. The more obscure the name the more popular the hub, go figure.
I haven't seen The Chairman in years, I'll have to check my collection to see if I have it on DVD, I know I had it on VHS taped off the telly.
Bruce Cogerson on April 25, 2012:
It looks like Frank McCarthy put together a very impressive career. Looking at some of the posters, I noticed that many of them I was seeing for the first time. I would say his posters are better than the ones that I am familiar with.
I really liked his You Only Live Twice poster....and the poster for The Chairman actually has me interested in seeing. Volume 6 is a nice addition in your series....as always awesome photos/posters and very educational. It always amazing me how little I know about movie art. Voted up and awesome.
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on April 24, 2012:
Hi Flora, you've seen a lot of films girl, how do you find time for choir practice? ;)
Hmmm I like The Chairman poster, it makes the movie look a lot more exciting than it really is. :)
The Bond posters are my favourite, I should do a hub on Bond poster artwork. Next time.
Thanks for posting.
Flora Breen Robison on April 23, 2012:
I've been busy all evening so just reading this now.
These are the films I have seen in the order you list them:
Battle for the Planet of the apes
The Blue Max
The Dirty dozen
Duel at Diablo
The Great Escape
Is Paris Burning
On His Majesty's Secret Service
Von Ryan's express
Where Eagle's Dare
You Only live Twice
And of the films not listed but you show the posters, I have seen:
Once Upon a Time in the West
Regarding the art of the posters:
Some of these I've seen before, others are brand new to me.
My favourites are the Bond posters, Great Escape, Dirty Dozen and Von Ryan's express. The poster with Gregory Peck I find a bit bothersome - I think it's his left hand and the way it is designed and placed against the countain clock.
However, he does beautiful work and all of th eposters have a flair to them.
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on April 23, 2012:
Thanks cloverleaffarm, the comment and vote is appreciated.
I enjoy finding out who the artists are on the classic movie posters, as well as the artistry on paperback and magazine covers. Really talented people.
Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on April 23, 2012:
Awesome job. The art work is amazing. Thanks for putting it all together. Voted up+
Steve Lensman (author) from Manchester, England on April 23, 2012:
Hi Jools, thanks for commenting. McCarthy really can capture action in his artwork. The Green Berets is an amazing piece. The film itself came under attack for supporting the war in Vietnam.
Tragic Mary Ure, only 42 when she died, suicide? Could be. And her hubby the great Robert Shaw was only 51 when he died.
Jools Hogg from North-East UK on April 23, 2012:
Steve, another nice hub, loved the big posters. He uses a lot of autumnal colours in some of them and it's really effective. My favourite of those featured is 'The Green Berets', it is all action!
Interesting to see a few movies starring Mary Ure, she was married to Robert Shaw but died young.