Monday 31 January 2011

Police Academy: The Posters

With World's Greatest Dad finally out on DVD this week, lets take a look at the posters for the series of films where Bobcat Goldthwait first made his name. Ladies and Gents, it's time to join the Police Academy...

Who could have guessed what the 1984 original film would lead to? This poster is taken from a Drew Struzan designed landscape image, introducing us to all the main characters. A few are easily recognisable (Mahoney, Hightower, Tackleberry), but there's some of the rare, first film only characters too. It's quite a dark, dense image, and the area between the front row and the back row has just been crudely filled in. I'd imagine Struzan designed it so the film's title could be placed over this area, but that composition would never have worked in a one sheet. P.s. If you're looking for the Drew Struzan signature, it's written up Harris' leg.

The second Drew Struzan poster in the group, this one gives you a better idea as to who the main character is, placing Steve Guttenberg's Mahoney front and centre. Most of the 'classic' cast are present, although this was the only film in the series not to feature the buxom Callaghan. I don't know who the blonde next to Guttenberg's meant to be, as she's not in the movie at all. The second film did see the introduction of Bobcat Goldthwait's Zed, although he didn't make it onto the poster this time. I'm not quite sure what the arrows on the road signify, but I'm assuming the characters are going the wrong way down a one way street. The peering eyes are a little bit cartoony for me, and god knows why they felt they needed to give the ones in the sewer a rather crappy speech bubble. Again, for the Struzan signature hunters, it's on the bottom of the mail box.

This is the original Drew Struzan artwork for the third film, before the 'Back In Training' title was added on (FYI, it was placed slap bang in the middle of the target). Callaghan's return to the series is announced with a display of her ample bosom, and even Mauser makes an appearance from behind the target. There's some obvious errors with the crotchline bullet holes (where is the rest of Mauser and Lassard's bodies?), but at least the gag introduces Zed's inclusion into the gang. Signature? It's on the grass.

Without a doubt my favourite poster (and my favourite film) from the entire series, as the iconic cast have never looked so good. Perhaps signifying his growing appeal as a cult icon, Zed is given a much more prominent position in this poster. He's also not wearing the dark blue uniform, so the eye drifts towards his yellow t-shirt. As for the hot air balloon, well it may hint towards the film's airborne finale, but really it's just an excuse to put all the characters into one cramped location, causing them to 'explode' out from the centre of frame. As well as having the last appearance from Mahoney, this was also the final Drew Struzan poster for the Police Academy series. His signature is at the bottom of the wicker basket.

Assignment Miami Beach was the first Police Academy film without Mahoney as the lead character, creating the awkward situation of deciding who to focus the poster on. In the end it just decides to spread the remaining cast as far as it can. I'm not sure what this Tarzan swing has to do with the fifth film, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere. Jones is rarely without some sort of Karate paraphernalia on the posters, this time teaming his head band with a life jacket. In fitting with the holiday themed story, most of the cast are without their uniforms, although poor Commandant Lassard and his nephew Nick are made to keep theirs on. They must be roasting. I can't find any record of who designed this poster, but it tries its best to continue the tradition Drew Struzan set up.

My second favourite poster of the series, Police Academy 6 actually showcases some new ideas. Yes, the cast are still doing the whole 'exploding' thing, but the ominous silhouette is a very nice addition. For some reason they've gone to great lengths to make sure every cast member is holding something, with Tackleberry holding perhaps the biggest gun I've ever seen. To say Matt McCoy's Nick Lassard was meant to be the new Mahoney, he's quite sidelined here; in fact, it doesn't even really look like him at all. Quite unbelievably, this is the first poster to feature Capt. Harris since the first film, and he brings Proctor along for his one and only poster appearance too.

And finally, bringing up the rear, is Mission to Moscow. Dropping the numerical factor for the first time, this seventh film was clearly a painful failure to relaunch the franchise with a new young frontman. Front and centre is the new addition to the series, Charlie Schlatter's Cadet Connors, surrounded by the few actors who agreed to continue on despite diminishing returns. It's an okay poster, and sticks as close to the tried and tested formula of the series as it can. Fishbowl? Check. Cleavage? Check. Tackleberry holding a big gun? Hey, it's all here. It's worth noting that the fairly unremarkable font used for the logo in the first film managed to stay until the very end, and now is an instantly recognisable component of these films.

From the initial group of cadets only Jones and Tackleberry remained at the end, and they along with Commandant Lassard hold the distinction of appearing in all seven films and on all seven of the posters. As you'd expect from a series that has so many entries, some of the posters were good, some of them not so good. Seven films in a ten year timeframe is pretty good going, but perhaps after the failure of Mission to Moscow, it was a probably a good idea to give the folks from Police Academy a well earned rest.

Thanks to impawards for supplying me with the poster images. I also recommend Drew Struzan's website where you can buy the original prints, just as long as you've got a spare $700,000 to $100,000 hanging around.

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