Some time ago I was looking for posters for a particular film when I chanced upon others that immediately got my attention. Some of these were for films I’d never heard of before. These are great posters, with colors and images that really pop. These posters — mostly from the late 1920s and through the ’30s — rely less on photographs and more on illustration. They’re imaginative and engaging, evocative and atmospheric. I’m seldom knocked out by film posters today the way I am by just about any of these.
Many reflect a pulp magazine sensibility, as can be seen below. Compare the “Argosy” magazine cover with the “Behind the Mask” film poster, both from 1932. They’re practically interchangeable.
I was startled to see the following poster of Love Before Breakfast, a screwball comedy from 1936. It was apparently considered amusing to advertise the leading lady with a black eye and a coy smile. Times have changed.
Movie posters used to reflect a level of artistry not much in evidence today. Here are some of my favorites from the 1960s through the 1990s. Many of these have become iconic.
Dates for films not already indicated are as follows (in the order they appear above and below):
Bordertown (1935), Supernatural (1933), Rain (1932), White Shoulders (1931), Bad Girl (1931), Dawn Patrol (1938), Metropolis (1927), The Silver Streak (1934), Shadow of Chinatown (1936), Vertigo (1958), Taxi Driver (1976), Mean Streets (1973), Jaws (1975), Dawn of the Dead (1970), Alien (1979), Silence of the Lambs (1991), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Chinatown (1974), Things to Come (1936), Blade Runner (1982).
This post is a follow-up to one I did at the end of June in 2014 titled “Movie Poster Art: Foreign Versions,” which can be accessed here.
If you’re interested in film posters, there are many more where these came from. They can be easily found online. It’s a kick to discover ones you’ve never seen before.
That’s all for now. See you next year. – Ted Hicks