Laurence King Trump Cards: Review

Trump Cards

Here’s the thing about cinema. Movies alone are not enough. Sidestepping arguments about certain films being little more than overblown toy advertisements, it is nevertheless true that many of us are drawn to the ephemera surrounding movies. T-shirts; posters; action figures; replica props; comics, the list goes on. Publishing house Laurence King is no stranger to this fact, and hot on the heels of their Dead or Alive: Gangster Trump Cards, released in July this year, they are releasing two sets of movie trump cards. Set to come out on 28th August 2017, the first set is Love and Romance, while the second is Action and Adventure, both by Magma.

Dead or Alive: Gangster Trump Cards

A motley bunch of criminal low-lifes are brought together in this niftily designed deck. Designed by illustrator and pattern designer Adriana Bellet (JeezVanilla), and written by Stephen Ellcock, the cards are appealing and informative. The set includes many familiar faces, from Bonnie & Clyde to the Kray twins, conjuring memories of their various biopics. The cards are a reminder to re-watch some classics, including Mesrine (2008), Gangs of New York (2002), and American Gangster (2007). They also serve as an index of characters to keep an eye out for in the movies. Who doesn’t love a good gangster flick? Especially when real lives make for more interesting tales than fiction. A case in point is the story of Pearl Hart, famed for being the only woman ever to have been convicted of stagecoach robbery. Screenwriter Jeremy Rafuse’s script about Pearl Hart was an Official Selection at the 2017 Beverly Hills Film Festival. Hopefully that will hit screens before too long.

Love and Romance: Movie Trump Cards 

Love and Romance

Love and Romance

“This selection aims to represent diversity in the genre, rather than personal taste or prestige derived from intrinsic critical value.”

The creators of this set may have been better off avoiding the use of the word ‘diversity’ and gone for ‘variety’ instead. They use the word diversity to explain some of their left-field choices: films by Tarantino and Lynch, standing alongside big hitters (Gone With the Wind, Brief Encounter, anything by Nora Ephron). It is a very white, hetero selection, which is a disappointment – out of 32 cards there are only one gay and two non anglophone romance films. I think we can do better than that these days. Here are a handful I would throw into the mix: Blue is the Warmest Colour; My Beautiful Laundrette; Broken Embraces; Appropriate Behaviour; Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

The painterly illustrations by Marc Aspinall are stylish, depicting many iconic moments, and the descriptions contain plenty of treasure. Nuggets of obscure information to keep film buffs happy – the kind of gold you want up your sleeve at a film quiz.

Action and Adventure: Movie Trump Cards 

Action Adventure

Action Adventure

For this deck Sam Hausermann (writer/researcher for both sets of cards) teams up with illustrator Luke Brookes. It’s impossible to pick a favourite out of so many striking images, from First Blood to Die Hard; Seven Samurai to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the quality is fantastic. The descriptions are consistent, and illuminating, and both packs are expertly presented with design by Elsa Benoldi. I will leave you with a couple of questions: Which film has the superior trump card – Die Hard or Lethal Weapon? Which film contains more violence – The Fellowship of the Ring or Jaws? The answers might surprise you.

Movie Trump Cards are released by Laurence King Publishing on 28th August 2017

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Esme Betamax is a writer and illustrator. Often found in the Cube Microplex. Favourites include: I ♡ Huckabees, Where the Buffalo Roam, Harold & Maude, Being John Malkovich and In the Shadow of the Moon.



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