Film Posters Of The 50′s

Edited by: Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh

The faces begin to change again in another decade, but it is decade that seems lost in time as the artworks in this book range from disastrously dated (Les Quatre Cents Coups) to way ahead of their time (Vertigo – and most of Saul Bass’s work).

There is heavier use of photography in some pictures, but they are still unsure of how to utilise such media. It is usually snips of people randomly inserted into artwork. Take the All About Eve poster or even Sunset Boulevard on the following page.  But then you compare to the wild and extravagant Sunset Boulevard poster opposite the first and you can see quite a different design, although retaining the same maddening subtext.

Personalities were played to in this decade quite a bit.  You see the emergence of Rock Hudson and Marilyn Monroe and their posters are all about them! There is also quite a leap forward for the horror genre- and by leap we mean 3D as Bwana Devil demonstrates on its reverse side.

Sex symbols are taken a step further with more cloth removal in the cases of many foreign cinema releases. Oo that naughty Roger Vadim! He wasn’t far away from Barbarella! Speaking of foreign films we also get A Bout De Souffle and even some very interesting (but not very telling) artwork for Les Diaboliques.

This year’s Green face poster goes to Panic in the Streets with Richard Widemark. 12 Angry Men has an interesting image and is followed by the Hitchcock movies from the decade featuring To Catch A Thief, Dial M For Murder, Rear Window, North by Northwest and the infamous Vertigo poster! Truly one of the greatest posters ever conceived – Saul Bass is just an absolute genuous. And you see his poster campaigns continue through The Man With The Golden Arm and Anatomy Of A Murder. Let us not forget the young James Dean leading the way of the teenage dramas like Rebel Without A Cause.

Some of the more creative poster arts come in the form of the sci-fi and horror crowd. 50ft women and creatures from lagoons feature alongside the likes of Gort and Robby the Robot. Plus the chances of anything coming from Mars increases with War of the Worlds. That’s if you don’t get body snatched first or taken on by the Thing. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee do it the Brit way in Hammer Horror’s Dracula.

Kirk Douglas took on the painters life in Lust For Life with its Van Gough styled poster. All the while the western never went away and if anything added more names to the genre. But why not end with a song. After a few from Asia we settle in to the world of Hepburn and Astaire, Caron and Presley. Another satisfying viewing of the decade has just gone by.

Steven Hurst

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