Index: Shirley MacLaine

Irma La Douce

You’d expect the artwork for Irma La Douce to be top drawer. The pedigree is peerless – the 1963 comedy starred Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. It was directed by Billy Wilder. This bawdy confection sits in the middle of one of the insanely great runs of film making, starting with 1957’s Witness for the Prosecution, continuing with Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Irma, the unjustly maligned Kiss Me, Stupid, The Fortune Cookie, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, until 1972’s Avanti!

So yes, sharp stuff – stylish and well executed modernist film poster design. It’s the depiction of MacLaine, though, in each that just knocks your socks off.  The caricature developed for the American poster captures her essence perfectly. The typically lysergic Czech poster taps into her undercurrent of sultriness. If anyone ever deserved to be described as a cocktail, it was the young Shirley MacLaine – a fizzy syrup of pixie-ish mischievousness, good-natured lasciviousness, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart.