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Category Archives: Saul Bass

Saul Bass’ work is most often associated with the great Alfred Hitchcock. He worked on 3 Hitchcock movies between 1958 and 1960, the first of which was Vertigo.
Another influential design was that for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959),(the movie that James Stewart’s father wanted banned!).
The poster for Spike Lee’s 1995 movie Clockers is clearly based on this image. Designer Art Sims claimed this was a homage to Bass, but Bass was unimpressed.

...the minimalist auteur who put a jagged arm in motion in 1955 and created an entire film genre…and elevated it into an art.
New York Times obituary-1996.

Ever dream a movie of your life?
Not the whole thing. Maybe just a few frames?
I do it all the time.
Of course, it’s Noir- Eddie Constantine is playing me-João ‘Kartoshka’- I walk along past brick facades criss-crossed with fire escapes- open sash windows breathe in the air-no, hang on- it’s raining, the cars swish by, throwing up spray. I’m smoking. The soundtrack- maybe like Sonny Rollins’ Alfie? no, too jaunty- Quincy Jones- In Cold Blood– that would’ve been a great soundtrack- for some other film…I digress- maybe that’s the title of the film- I Digress…– here come the titles- which of course, would be by Saul Bass.

The cans containing the reels of film for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, carried a note which read: “Projectionists – pull curtain before titles”.

Until then,1955, nobody had been expected to pay any attention to the opening credits of a movie, but Preminger wanted his audience to see The Man with the Golden Arm’s titles as an integral part of the film.

Saul Bass (1920-1996) was a film maker in his own right- he actually claimed to have been instrumental in the direction of the legendary shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)- he was also a leading graphic artist responsible for a number of iconic logos. His legacy to the world of modern design, however, came from his work in animated motion picture title sequences and movie posters.

During his studies Bass was influenced by the Bauhaus style and the works of the Soviet Constructivists.
His first Hollywood job was designing the poster for
Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (1954). Preminger was so impressed he asked Bass to design the opening sequence as well- and he approached this task in a truly innovative manner. The following year when Preminger released his gritty tale of drug addiction starring Frank Sinatra, Bass made his name with his contribution, again designing the title sequence and the poster.