|Radio Times 22 Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974 p.27|
The thing that really caught my attention in the 1970s was Frank Bellamy's artwork in the Radio Times. I'd seen his "Heros the Spartan" and "Thunderbirds" comic strips, his "Captain Scarlet" and "Joe 90" covers, his Sunday Times work and of course his "Garth" strip in the Daily Mirror. But it was the design element of his work I loved.
One of my favourites appeared in the Radio Times, the UK's leading magazine at the time, published then by the BBC itself with only BBC programmes listed, dated 22 December 1973 - 4 January 1974. At that time Philip Jenkinson was reviewing the upcoming films for the Christmas period. This is what he said about "How the West was won":
Star-packed oater about three generations of Western pioneers. The best 'episode' is George Marshall's railroad sequence, but everywhere the giant screen visuals are too gimmicky for their own good. Terrific musical score
Did you see the word? Apparently, 'oater' refers to the feed bags that horses had and therefore were very common in westerns. Did you ever see one in a movie? I might have seen one, but 'common'? I don't think so, so where did that word come from? The Oxford English Dictionary says it's a colloquialism for "horse opera also a radio programme or book of this nature" Its first usage recorded by them is "1946 Time 29 Apr. 94/2 The first successful storytelling movie made in the U.S...was what the trade calls an oater—a Western."
Oh well, let's get on. Why am I so obsessed with the word 'oater', it's because it appears beneath Bellamy's splendid drawing.
|Radio Times cover 22 Dec 1973- 4 Jan 1974|
The way that Bellamy has shown the wide angles of the three projectors process "Cinerama" is brilliant in my opinion. The title wraps from left to right and crosses the last word which fades from right to left. The curves continue to the right to show an apparent complete screen but it actually isn't equal in terms of the full screen curves and the edge of the filmstrip with its sprockets emphasises this incompleteness as we wouldn't see this in the cinema. The loaded scenery in the bottom right balances the left side of the image where, if we follow the receding word 'WEST' (notice it's in that stocky Playbill font!), we see a wagon travelling away from us, but also those famous Bellamy 'swirls' are emphasising the forced perspective in the word 'West'. Beautiful design! The experience in designing cinema cut-outs in the 1930s back in his home town of Kettering must have inspired his love of film and brought out this imaginative scene.
But interestingly the figure in the bottom right caught my attention as I immediately realised that it matches one of Alan Davis' polaroids that he rescued from the Bellamy house rubbish sacks
|Cowboy shooting gun|
|Alan Davis polaroid|
As is Bill Storie for reminding me he's seen this somewhere else:
I knew I'd seen that cowboy before !! Wonder if the Hombre strip was intended to be a spin-off from the movie?? Was also a bit surprised to see the Radio Times pic again after so many years - haven't seen it since first published in the magazine - but in my mind's eye the version I thought I'd seen then had a steam train racing towards what looked like a wall of logs or a barrier of some sort and about to impact it rather violently. Weird - dunno if I'm thinking of another Radio Times illo by another artist - the old neurons are a bit fuzzy these days but even when younger I recall seeing that image somewhere and always attributing it to Frank.
|Blow-up from the famous photo of Frank in his studio|