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Tag Archive: Saul Bass


It’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest and most celebrated films.  Pairing Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, Hitchcock explored the ultimate con, the perfect murder, and a hopeless love story.  In Hitchcock’s stylish 1958 film Vertigo, the director also paints one of the most beautiful travelogues for the San Francisco Bay area.  The American Film Institute has declared it the all-time best mystery, the #12 best film score, the #18 best romance, the #18 best thriller, and the ninth best movie of all American films.  Over the years international critics’ polls have seen Vertigo move back and forth with Citizen Kane for the designation of best film of all time.  Celebrated directors François Truffaut and Martin Scorcese have heralded the film.  Vertigo is also the only film that featured Hitchcock himself as a trumpet player–you’ll just need to keep a watchful eye for his cameo.  And you can do that this weekend, as Vertigo is returning to theaters nationwide for two days to celebrate its 60th anniversary beginning this Sunday, March 18, 2018, as part of Turner Classic Movies, Universal Pictures and Fathom Events’ retrospective screenings of film classics.

Even more so than Otto Preminger’s haunting 1944 film Laura, Vertigo delves into obsession like no other film.  Stewart’s take on an ex-cop observing the beautiful wife of an old friend at that friend’s request is a character far removed from any other role Stewart had ever taken on.  And Novak really plays two women as the film is cracked into two halves–one a dangerous and enigmatic stranger, the other a young romantic from Salina, Kansas, trying to escape the decisions of her past.  You, too, will find it hard pressed to avoid becoming obsessed with the film (I’ve seen it at least twice in theaters and dozens of times on home video over the decades).

Behind the scenes film aficionados will appreciate that Vertigo was the first film to use the dolly zoom, the camera taking the dolly out while zooming in, thereby creating the dizzying vertigo effect throughout the movie.  John Whitney used an M5 gun director–an actual World War II anti-tank firing predictor, along with famed graphic designer Saul Bass’s spiral motifs, to create the film’s unusual opening title sequence.  Edith Head’s spectacular designs were behind Novak and Stewart’s memorable wardrobes.  The film was nominated for two Oscars, George Dutton for sound, and Hal Pereira, Henry Bumstead, Sam Comer, and Frank R. McKelvy for Art Decoration/Set Decoration.

But probably most significantly for the ambience of the film, Bernard Hermann’s score is one of Hollywood’s finest, and Martin Scorcese summed up the music his way:  “Hitchcock’s film is about obsession, which means that it’s about circling back to the same moment, again and again…  And the music is also built around spirals and circles, fulfilment and despair.  Herrmann really understood what Hitchcock was going for — he wanted to penetrate to the heart of obsession.”  Years later the 2011 Oscar winner for best picture The Artist would use the spiraling love theme from Vertigo to achieve the emotion needed for its key scene.

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star-trek-juan-ortiz

Review by C.J. Bunce

What do the art of Saul Bass, Salvador Dali, and Jackson Pollack, Russian film posters, Milton Bradley Board games, Aurora model kits, pulp novel cover art like that of Frank Franzetta and Joaquin Pertierra, Gold Key comics, Beatles and Jimi Hendrix album promotional art, and boxing match posters all have in common?  They are all part of the imagery and nostalgia that defines what we think of as “retro” today.  They also were the inspirations for a new book about 1960s Star Trek.

This month Titan Books is releasing what is probably the most attractive hardcover, coffee table-style book about Star Trek ever created.  And it’s incredibly unusual in its contents.  Back in 1966 to 1969 when the original Star Trek first aired, what if TV episodes had movie posters to advertise them?  And what if you found a box full of these folded posters and published them today?  In truth, no one created such a poster back in the 1960s.  But that didn’t stop artist Juan Ortiz from taking on a personal project of creating pulp novel style poster art in a contemporary style for each of the 80 episodes of the original Star Trek series in his new book Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz.

Juan Ortiz Arena

How do you come up with such creations?  In part, for thirty days back in 2011 Ortiz committed to producing a poster every day of the month.  This was enough to sell the concept so he could complete the series.  If Ortiz can obtain this quality in such a short period of time, the sky’s the limit for this artist’s career.  Mainly designing work under the direction of other creators, Ortiz has worked for Disney, Marvel Comics and Warner Bros.  For this project, the ideas and implementation were all Ortiz.

If you are fond of 1960s mod imagery and pop art design, Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz will no doubt deliver your own blast from the past.  And each page could be trimmed out and framed–most of these full-page posters would edge-out their Mondo poster counterparts in creating cool, evocative images–some obvious but most subtle in their messages, pulling just the right bits and pieces from each episode.  Ortiz’s pop art goes beyond this book–you can buy prints, T-shirts, posters, even wine, emblazoned with Ortiz’s Star Trek images.  Check out his website for more information.

ST_EP_28_QMX

Admirers of Ant Lucia’s incredible retro-style art posters and collectors of Mondo posters featuring revisited movie imagery will be sure to be fans of Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz Ortiz’s book could also serve as a clip art book of sorts for ideas for creating posters, ads, and other signage for art directors and other creators of historic TV series and movies.  The design elements are all believable and if you didn’t know these were created in 2011 and 2012 you’d assume these posters were classic film entertainment memorabilia.  An added component is the aging of the posters Ortiz applies to make the posters seem fresh out of 45 years of storage, including folded pages, smudges and crinkled paper.

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