Film posters: The images that draw the audience in

A new book celebrates the art of film posters. Sadly, they don't make them like they used to, the author tells Charlotte Cripps

You've probably seen the movie but have you seen the original movie poster? Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961), King Kong (1933), Rosemary's Baby (1969), Vertigo (1958) – even the B-movie Attack of the 50ft Woman (1958) showing a giant woman straddling a motorway, are just a few of the classic posters that have been selected by vintage movie poster expert, Tony Nourmand for his new book. 100 Movie Posters: The Essential Collection includes the German poster for Metropolis (1927), regarded as “the holy grail of posters”, which was the most expensive one ever sold when it fetched $690,000 in a sale brokered by Nourmand in 2005.

“The posters I have chosen are personal – I just thought, ”Which one of these posters would I actually hang on my wall?“ says Nourmand – who was Christie's London consultant for posters for 12 years. ”It wasn't based on value or rarity, or the importance of the film, but about which ones work as a standalone art work.“

The brightly coloured large format French poster for From Here To Eternity (1953) is one of the few posters in the film's worldwide campaign to feature the scene of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing on the beach.

“It is actually very rare for a movie poster to feature the key scene from a film,” says Nourmand. While the British poster for David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945) was printed on the back of a “Re-elect Winston Churchill” campaign poster due to paper shortages during the Second World War – “only a few of them have survived”.

The British poster for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), which is the only poster Hitchcock made a cameo appearance on, shows the director looking sternly at his watch next to the words, “No one...BUT NO ONE...will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance...” He didn't want audiences walking in late and seeing the heroine killed off in the shower scene.

Most movie poster designers are not well-known, but the most collectable poster designer is Saul Bass whose simple graphic poster campaigns included Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murderer (1959) and The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) featuring the iconic jagged arm. “This was groundbreaking for movie posters because the artwork is just made up of symbols,” says Nourmand. “But after the film's New York premiere, studio heads at United Artists insisted that Bass insert photographs of Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker on it, which just destroys it.”

The US poster for Teen Age (1944), about juvenile delinquency, is “one of the most beautiful examples of exploitation poster art” with red lips smoking a cigarette and a strapline, “What is wrong with modern youth?” “It predates the word 'teenage' going into the Encyclopedia Britannica as a new word in 1947,” says Nourmand.

Posters can have a long-lasting effect on a film's cult status – indeed the US teaser poster for A Fistful of Dollars (1964), the first of the Sergio Leone trilogy, which did not give away the film's title, presented Clint Eastwood's character as “the man with no name”. “But in the film Clint Eastwood had a name – he is called Joe,” says Nourmand. “It is the poster that started this whole thing off.”

One of the weirdest posters is the Italian poster for the silent sci-fi movie, Le Avventure Straordinarissime Di Saturnino Farandola (1913) – only one copy of this poster is known to exist, which shows underwater warfare.

The American teaser poster for Unforgiven (1992), “the last great studio released movie poster”, according to Nourmand, shows Eastwood with his back to the viewer holding a gun. It is just one of many movie posters by Bill Gold, now 93, whose first poster was for Casablanca in 1942.

“Both Eastwood and Gold wanted this poster for Unforgiven to be the general release poster but Warner Brothers said the cast who they had spent a fortune on, including Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman must be pictured on it.”

The American poster for the musical comedy Cabin In The Sky (1943), featuring two dancing caricatures, is “one of the most stylish posters from this period” by one the most famous illustrators ever, Al Hirschfeld.

The original US poster for Rosemary's Baby (1968) of a pram on a mountain with Mia Farrow's face superimposed across the green sky is by the original Madison Avenue “Mad Man” Steve Frankfurt.

“Movie posters are very immediate –you either like them or you don't,” says Nourmand. “But the focus of the design is not there anymore – it's all about ego. It is very rare that you see a movie poster that actually pops out at you and you say, 'Wow, that's a nice design.'”

'100 Movie Posters: The Essential Collection' by Tony Nourmand is published by Reel Art Press on 31 July, £29.95 (realartpress.com)

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?