22 February 2013 8:32 AM, PST | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

Above: 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (Michael Curtiz, USA, 1932).

When I wrote about the posters of 1933 last week this was one poster I deliberately held back (though 20,000 Years in Sing Sing was released on Christmas Eve 1932, it is included in Film Forum’s retrospective). The early 1930s, no less than today—though the execution was a lot more interesting— was an era of big floating heads in movie posters. While 1920s movies had the occasional floating head poster for their biggest stars, artists and studios still favored the look of early silent posters with their head-to-toe portraits and snippets of narrative. Though Norma Desmond said famously of the silent era “We didn’t need dialogue...we had faces!” it was ironically with the coming of sound that faces started to dominate movie posters and, until Saul Bass, minimalism in American movie posters was almost non-existent.

All that makes the 20,000 Years poster, »

- Adrian Curry

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