Movie Poster Art for Art’s Sake

bordertown-poster-1935supernatural-1933-posterrain-1932-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

argosy-1932-pulp-coverbehind-the-mask-1932-posterHere is a sampling of what I found.

white-shoulders-1931-posterbad-girl-31-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dawn-patrol-1938-postermetropolis-posterthe-silver-streak-1934-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shadow-of-chinatown-posterBelow are two beautiful Italian posters for To Have and Have Not (1944) and Flamingo Road (1949), and a French poster for Shanghai Express (1932).

to-have-and-have-not-44-itaian-postershanghai-express-1932-french-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flamingo-road-49-italian-posterI 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.

love-before-breakfast-1936-poster______________________________________________________

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.

vertigo-1958-postertaxi-driver-1976-poster2taxi-driver-1976-poster

mean-streets-1973-posterjaws-1975-posterdawn-of-the-dead-1970-posteralien-1979-poster

silence-of-the-lambs-1991-posteronce-upon-a-time-in-the-west-68-posterfear-loathing-1998-poster

chinatown-1974-poster__________________________________________________________

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

things-to-come-1936-posterblade-runner-1982-poster

About Ted Hicks

Iowa farm boy; have lived in NYC for 40 years; worked in motion picture labs, film/video distribution, subtitling, media-awards program; obsessive film-goer all my life.
This entry was posted in Books, Comics, Film, Home Video and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Movie Poster Art for Art’s Sake

  1. Davi M. Fromm says:

    Quite interesting and informative.

  2. Jim Schwantes says:

    I really liked these (went back to the earlier one as well. Well done, T. Happy New Year to you.

  3. I love these posters, Ted. It’s a shame they don’t make them like that any more!

  4. The older posters, esp. the pre-Code ones, made the movies look a lot more lurid than they actually were. I wonder if the posters helped fuel the Production Code reaction.

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