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Kapralik: Movie Artist Supreme

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by Leonard Maltin
August 30, 2012 1:10 AM
3 Comments
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Little has been written in recent years about Jacques Kapralik, one of the most distinctive artists ever to lend his talent to movie posters, main titles, and promotional work…until now. Many film buffs will recognize his distinctive decoupage caricatures, which were a mainstay of MGM promotions throughout the 1940s (featured in trade ads and the lavish studio publication The Lion’s Roar). They even appeared in the main title sequences of such films as Presenting Lily Mars, Come Live With Me, and Pat and Mike. He was a featured cover artist for the Sunday newspaper supplement Pictorial Review for several years after that, and his work also turned up in a variety of magazine ads. (In the late 50s, MGM rehired him to illustrate posters for three more releases: Designing Woman, Silk Stockings, and Don’t Go Near the Water.)

Now, thanks to blogger Adrian Curry at mubi.com, we can all learn more about this gifted artist and his work. When Curry first wrote about Kapralik on his site last fall he learned that the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming has an archive of the artist’s original pieces and papers, including records of what he was paid for his freelance work over the years. If you click HERE, you can see wonderful photos of Kapralik and his wife cutting and preparing their intricately designed and costumed figures, and even a shot of him shooting the main title card for the Ritz Brothers’ version of The Three Musketeers. Links within the site will take you to materials I never thought I’d see, including preliminary sketches and closeups of the paper caricatures. Wow!

Archivist Emily Christopherson promises that even more original materials will be digitized and put online in the near future. I can hardly wait. I’ve been collecting Kapralik pieces for years and never dreamed I would find such a treasure trove.

My thanks to artist and fellow caricature buff Drew Friedman for this lead. Drew always posts interesting artwork and commentary at his site:drewfriedman.blogspot.com.

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3 Comments

  • Luís Tomaz Pires | January 11, 2013 7:27 AMReply

    Dear Leonard,

    First of all let me tell you I have been an admirer of yours ever since I purchased my very first Maltin book in 1994, Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia.
    Last August I read your Kapralik post in your blog and really enjoyed it, for I have been a Kapralik fan for ages.
    I now wrote and designed a small book showing some material from my personal Kapralik collection. It is not meant to be published - it was just a private effort of a portuguese young man who always wanted to own a beautiful lavish book covering this talented artitst career and decided to write one for himself.
    Would you be so kind as to see it? Just click:
    http://fotorama.foto.com/flash/share_display_direct.php?id_pedido=ACVxLkRIOxQmVCMONuP&email=luistomazpires@yahoo.com

  • Luís Tomaz Pires | January 11, 2013 7:26 AMReply

    Dear Leonard,

    First of all let me tell you I have been an admirer of yours ever since I purchased my very first Maltin book in 1994, Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia.
    Last August I read your Kapralik post in your blog and really enjoyed it, for I have been a Kapralik fan for ages.
    I now wrote and designed a small book showing some material from my personal Kapralik collection. It is not meant to be published - it was just a private effort of a portuguese young man who always wanted to own a beautiful lavish book covering this talented artitst career and decided to write one for himself.
    Would you be so kind as to see it? Just click:
    http://fotorama.foto.com/flash/share_display_direct.php?id_pedido=ACVxLkRIOxQmVCMONuP&email=luistomazpires@yahoo.com

    Kind regards,

    Luís Tomaz Pires

  • jeff abraham | September 1, 2012 4:41 PMReply

    FANTASTIC - THANKS FOR POSTING!

    Of course, I gotta love the Ritz Bros photo.

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