Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design (Screen Classics)
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Iconic graphic designer and Academy Award–winning filmmaker Saul Bass (1920–1996) defined an innovative era in cinema. His title sequences for films such as Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) and North by Northwest (1959), and Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch (1955) introduced the idea that opening credits could tell a story, setting the mood for the movie to follow. Bass's stylistic influence can be seen in popular Hollywood franchises from the Pink Panther to James Bond, as well as in more contemporary works such as Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can (2002) and television's Mad Men.
The first book to examine the life and work of this fascinating figure, Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design explores the designer's revolutionary career and his lasting impact on the entertainment and advertising industries. Jan-Christopher Horak traces Bass from his humble beginnings as a self-taught artist to his professional peak, when auteur directors like Stanley Kubrick, Robert Aldrich, and Martin Scorsese sought him as a collaborator. He also discusses how Bass incorporated aesthetic concepts borrowed from modern art in his work, presenting them in a new way that made them easily recognizable to the public.
This long-overdue book sheds light on the creative process of the undisputed master of film title design―a man whose multidimensional talents and unique ability to blend high art and commercial imperatives profoundly influenced generations of filmmakers, designers, and advertisers.
there was even a style C). Bass usually designed style A, but in some cases his were designated style B; for example, for The Big Country, the style A poster is dominated by conventional pencil sketches of the four principal actors. In the 1960s and 1970s illustrations and typography were usually printed on white backgrounds, a style that gave way to full-color photographic images as a background for text in the post-1980 period. As in the case of titles sequences, Saul Bass bucked these trends
consider. 147 SAUL BASS Bass also began circulating “improved versions” of certain posters (e.g., The Man with the Golden Arm, Exodus, In Harm’s Way), which to him meant removing their most obvious advertising features—photos and credits. Bass began this practice quite early, as Metzl’s description in a 1963 book demonstrates. The author describes Bass posters as having “succeeded in relegating the inescapable and egocentric credits to a single line of small type at the bottom of the poster,”
Entertainment Tonight: “When I started watching Cape Fear and the titles came on, I was mesmerized. Watching those titles reminded me of how much a creative title sequence can do to set the tone 165 SAUL BASS of the film.” The Hollywood Reporter’s film critic chimed in: “A shimmeringly eerie title sequence, pulses and punctuates with steady, coursing energy. Depths of praise to title-ists Elaine and Saul Bass for the surging undercurrents.” Finally, New York Magazine commented on Bass’s
began working in film advertising in 1938, more than fifteen years before his “official” start in the business. However, Bass’s own chronology from posters to film credits to films to corporate identity breaks down: he was directing commercials and industrial films long before his first official film, The Searching Eye, and his corporate identity work dates from the early 1950s, immediately after he opened his own design studio. Interestingly, given Bass’s obvious desire to manipulate and control
to work wood.”6 Even more revealing is his statement about montage at an American Film Institute seminar in 1979, where craft is supplanted by an intellectual and intuitively visual process: “What I’m saying is that montage editing is in your head, you’re really creating the thing. The choices are arbitrary.”7 While Bass’s early live-action titles for The Racers, The Big Knife, 192 Modernism’s Multiplicity of Views Johnny Concho, and Storm Center consist of essentially single takes over which