The film poster for the UK release of the Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back is one of the quirkiest images around.
It features a Dylan caricature holding a guitar shaped like a woman – one breast popping out and a leg hitched up to reveal white stockings.
Quite how such a striking image came about though has remained something of a mystery – until now.
The poster was designed by Alan Aldridge and Harry Wilcox to promote the UK release of the hit movie, which had been put out three years earlier in the U.S. in 1967.
A company called Docurama were responsible for distributing the film in the U.S. They also designed they U.S. version of the film poster for Don’t Look Back – a much more straightforward black and white image of a young Dylan with a cigarette in his mouth.
While the U.S. poster is somewhat ubiquitous, and the design is much like a lot of Dylan items, the UK poster is much more left-field, and original versions are highly sought after.
The background of the poster
What few people know about the Alan Aldridge poster is that in the UK the film was distributed by one Miss Rita Jarvis.
It was she who commissioned the well-known designer Alan Aldridge to create the poster. He joined up with Harry Wilcox and they both came up with the distinctive image.
‘I was the distributor for Don’t Look Back,’ she told undertheredsky.com.
‘I commissioned this poster when the film was released about 45 years ago.
‘I knew Alan Aldridge when we both worked at the Sunday Times. He and Harry Wilcox designed the poster.’
The film was first screened at the Roundhouse theater in Chalk Farm, London. On that night and rock band The Pretty Things performed.
‘The Dylan [documentary] topped the bill,’ Rita added.
‘Then I showed it at various musical venues and subsequently on the Rank and EMI circuits.’
Rita removed the posters from each venue after the showings. She gave some away but kept most of them herself, before selling some of them individually in 2015.
The remainder of the posters were sold to a private collector. These are now believed to be the only uncirculated versions in existence.
How much is a Don’t Look Back poster worth?
The value of the UK versions of this poster range from £150 – £500. The poster has sold at Christies auctioneers and Bonhmams auctioneers in London for more than £500. There are also a small number of sites that have it listed for sale at around this same price.
Other auctioneers have sold the same poster for lower prices. A lot depends on the condition of the poster. There are no MINT or unused copies in existence – they have all be kept at home by the original distributor, or were used in the initial promotion of the film. The poster is still worth a lot.
Millers Antiques, the renowned antiques guide, gives a valuation of £280 – £320 for the poster.
The above valuation is fairly accurate, but just to be sure we’ve put this small table together to show the lowest and highest prices realised for the poster at various auctions, and some of the asking prices where the poster is currently available for sale online.
Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London, auction in December 2015 sold for £562. More here.
On May 24, 2016, an excellent condition version of the poster sold at Omega Auctions in Liverpool for a hammer price of £190. With the premium and other auction costs added on, it came to about £250
In July 2008 the Don’t Look back film poster sold at auction at Christie’s in South Kensington, London for £163
A UK collector sold two separate copies of the poster on eBay in 2015 with each one for just under £150 each
The poster is also listed on a small number of websites as for sale. They include L’Imagerie Gallery where the price is $350usd, Relived Art Posters where it is listed for $800, eBay.com for $379.99usd, Posters60s for 600Euros, ReelPoster for £750gbp.
Based on all of the above information, it’s clear that the UK poster for the Bob Dylan Don’t Look Back documentary by D A Pennebaker is a unique design, that’s sought after and highly collectible, with a value of around £300.