Sampling some (Saul) Bass
While browsing on iTunes, I noticed that they had added the soundtrack for Vertigo for $3.99. That was irresistible; I’ve always remembered Bernard Herrmann’s score as one of the greats in movie history, and, sure enough, the 16 tracks sound great by themselves as well.
I then started thinking that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie. I still haven’t watched it recently, but I searched for and found the opening sequence on YouTube. The sequence is designed by Saul Bass:
Saul Bass has a unique place in movie history. He was a graphic designer who designed title cards for movies. Not only was he the most famous person in his field, I would say that he’s the only famous title card designer in movie history.
Famous may not be the right word; he’s not James Dean-famous, but his worked has endured to an incredible extent. There are roughly a BILLION tributes/parodies on YouTube. Here is one of the best known:
I was little surprised by how much of his work was on YouTube, but I shouldn’t be; his title card sequences were 2-3 minutes long, are their own self-contained pieces of art, and are perfect for sites like YouTube. Here is the sequence for Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, 1960:
The internet has, of course, become a perfect medium for movie trailers. Saul Bass’ title card sequences are similar, except that they’re way better. Will title cards make a comeback? If I were trying to use social media to promote my film, I’d much rather use one of Saul Bass’ works than a movie trailer, which all seem the same and rarely generate much buzz.
Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, 1991: