Saul Bass: Designer of the Seventh Art

Saul Bass is the genius behind movie legends such as The Shining, The Man with the Golden Arm, Vertigo and Anatomy of a Murder. During his 40-year career Bass worked for some of Hollywood’s most prominent filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese.

It was his work for The Man with the Golden Arm that made Bass widely known in the film industry. The poster caused quite a sensation. The subject of the film was a jazz musician’s struggle to overcome his heroin addiction. Bass chose the arm as the central image, and the titles featured an animated, white on black paper cut-out arm of a heroin addict.

Bass also created effective, memorable title sequences, inventing a new type of kinetic typography, for North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), working withJohn Whitney, and Psycho (1960). This was novel. Before him, title sequences titles were generally static and separated from the movie.

In a sense, all modern opening title sequences that introduce the mood or theme of a film can be seen as a legacy of the Basses’ innovative work.

Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at

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