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Seems like this is the week of the title sequence. Saul Bass is perhaps the only title sequence designer that most cinephiles know by name. Having designed opening sequences for films like Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder, Psycho and Goodfellas, he has a high pedigree and a distinct style. In celebration of a book on Saul Bass’ work being named among the 11 best Design and Art Books of 2011, Ian Albinson has put together a short film honouring his design work.
Seven soundtracks from the 50s, when jazz was the musical element that defined film noir. From Ziggy Elman's lubricious trumpet at the start of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) to Jim Hall's sparse guitar notes at the close of Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), it's an enthralling collection. Other scores include Elmer Bernstein's The Man With the Golden Arm (1955) and Ellington's superbly bravura Anatomy of a Murder (1959). The notes, by compiler Selwyn Harris, are a model of clarity and insight. All on five CDs in a box, which should make any jazz-fan film-buff's Christmas.
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- Dave Gelly
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Feb. 21, 2012
Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
It’s great to see Criterion give its stunning treatment to a classic James Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life) murder mystery. Although 1959′s Anatomy of a Murder didn’t win any Academy Awards, it was nominated for seven: Best Picture, cinematography, adapted screenplay, editing, Best Actor for Stewart and two Best Supporting Actor awards for Arthur O’Connell (The Poseidon Adventure) and George C. Scott (Patton).
In the movie, Stewart plays a small-town lawyer who takes on the case of a young Army lieutenant (Ben Gazzara, The Thomas Crown Affair) accused of killing the local tavern owner, who he believes raped his wife (Lee Remick, The Omen).
Photos from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Playing the Field, Brave, Arthur Christmas, This Must Be the Place, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Butter, and Ada Wong on the set of Resident Evil: Retribution.
"Walt Disney Studios have proudly announced that a new animated short film based on "Tangled" will screen with "Beauty and the Beast in 3D" opening on January 13th 2012. The short spotlights the royal wedding of Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and »
- Garth Franklin
The Criterion Collection continually release some of the best and most important films (not to mention the best picture, sound and supplements packages) one could hope to find in the Blu-ray format and today's announcement of their February releases further cements this belief.
In February, The Criterion Collection will be releasing six films, five new additions to the numbered spine count, as well as one upgrade. The upgraded title consists of two films, La Jeéte and Sans Soleil, directed by Chris Marker. Both films, the former being about time travel through the use of still imagery, the latter about a trip from Africa to Japan, are completely different but inherently connected.
From Sci-Fi to Samurai, the five new additions to The Criterion Collection run the gamut of genres, all representing some of cinema's finest moments. There's World on a Wire, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's futuristic noir tale that was originally »
Nowadays it seems like every movie has to have a fancy opening title sequence. But it wasn't always that way. The idea that opening credits could be an art form came from legendary graphic designer Saul Bass. Bass got his start in the mid-50s and quickly gained notoriety after his work on The Man With The Golden Arm. Over the years (and until his death in 1996), he continued to work on a number of memorable films for legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock (Anatomy Of A Murder, »
- Mike Sampson
In our newly on-camera law courts, it's a matter of time before someone can't handle the truth
Allowing television cameras inside English and Welsh law courts might be a good thing for democratic transparency, but in entertainment terms, it'll be a disaster. On the one hand it will reveal the gaping chasm between legal dramas like Damages or Anatomy of a Murder and the mundane reality of some old duffer in a wig droning on interminably. Worse still is the prospect of that extra limelight encouraging our proud legal system to amp up its performance aspects.
So brace yourself, magistrates, for a sudden rash of mavericks operating out of their cars (Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer), ditzy prosecutors using the courtroom as a catwalk (Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde), or macho barristers chewing the oak panelling (Al Pacino in … And Justice For All, The Devil's Advocate, you name it).
If we're lucky, »
- Steve Rose
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design will be published in November 2011. The book was compiled by Bass's daughter Jennifer Bass and design historian Pat Kirkham, and even comes with a forward by Martin Scorsese. The 440 page hardcover book has a hefty cover price of $75, but Amazon  is offering a preorder discount of 39% off -- $45.84. Hit the jump to see some of the pagespreads from the book, showcasing the art of Bass over his career. Gallery of pages from the book: [gallery columns="2"] Official Information on the book: This is the first book to be published on one of the greatest American designers of the 20th century, who was as famous for his work in film as for his corporate identity and graphic work. Saul Bass (1920-1996) created some of the most compelling images of American postwar visual culture. Having extended the remit of graphic design to include film titles, he »
- Peter Sciretta
With Matthew McConaughey returning to the legal drama genre for last month’s DVD and Bd release of The Lincoln Lawyer (you can catch our review here), it seems a sensible time to consider the truly great courtroom scenes and films of cinema history.
No, this is not intended to be a definitive list and no, I haven’t watched every single courtroom sequence ever committed to celluloid. But I do think the following are pretty good, either as entire films, or as scenes in their own right.
Exhibit A: To Kill A Mockingbird.
An obvious choice, but only because the film defies superlatives. For the uninitiated, Gregory Peck stars as an attorney and father, defending a black man in the deep south of the USA on false charges of raping a white woman, at a time in history when any hopes of a fair trial under such circumstances were hopelessly futile. »
- Dave Roper
Lee Remick, Eve Arden, James Stewart in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder James Stewart on TCM: The Stratton Story, No Highway In The Sky Schedule (Et) and synopses from the TCM website: 6:00 Am The Last Gangster (1937) When a notorious gangster gets out of prison, he vows revenge on the wife who left him. Dir: Edward Ludwig. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart, Rose Stradner. Bw-81 mins. 7:30 Am The Shopworn Angel (1938) A showgirl gives up life in the fast lane for a young soldier on his way to fight World War I. Dir: H. C. Potter. Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Walter Pidgeon. Bw-85 mins. 9:00 Am Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) An idealistic Senate replacement takes on political corruption. Dir: Frank Capra. Cast: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Claude Rains. Bw-130 mins. 11:15 Am Wife Vs. Secretary (1936) A secretary becomes so valuable to her boss that it jeopardizes his marriage. »
- Andre Soares
James Stewart remains one of the most beloved film actors in Hollywood history. Well, at least in the United States, where Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are considered the apex of studio-era filmmaking. Stewart's shy, naive, wholesome, aw-shucksy boy-next-door (later man-next-door) manner continues to endear him to millions whose idea of shyness, naiveté, wholesomeness, and boy-next-doorishness has nothing to do with mine. In fact, I wonder if anyone anywhere, whether in the United States or elsewhere, has ever lived next door to a "boy" who acted, sounded, romanced, and punched — lest we confuse shyness with softness — like Stewart. I'm glad I haven't. Today, Turner Classic Movies has been presenting several James Stewart movies as part of its "Summer Under the Stars" film series. Right now, TCM is showing John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), considered by many the director's best post-The Searchers effort. »
- Andre Soares
Juan Gatti has been working with Pedro Almodóvar since 1988, but his teaser poster for The Skin I Live In, the baroque Spanish director's new film, marks a significant departure for the Argentinian graphic designer.
Gatti's earlier work was indebted to Saul Bass and Andy Warhol, sometimes wittily so; compare Gatti's titles for Volver, in which thick rectangular lines form themselves into tableclothes and wallpaper patterns, with Bass's classic expressionistic opening sequence for The Man with the Golden Arm, or his posters for Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (aka Átame) with some of Bass's most celebrated work, particularly his unforgettable advert for Anatomy of a Murder (detail above).
As for the Warhol influence, Gatti's poster for Volver, with its bright, non-realist blocks of colour, »
- Paul Owen
When it comes to actresses, the movie business has always had an eye for beautiful faces. Unfortunately, it has often only been an afterthought as to whether or not that beautiful face could do anything other than be beautiful. Leaf through the archives of any of the movie glamour magazines from long ago and you’ll find them a cemetery of beautiful faces primped and hyped by the Hollywood PR machine to be The Next Great Thing. Some never made it past a screen test, while others managed to survive a few screen roles, but through lack of talent, charisma, the right roles — whatever mysterious magic it is that causes a performer to click with an audience — soon disappeared, never to be heard of again. It’s a long, looong casualty list of forgotten pretties like Merrilyn Grix, Eleanor Counts, Kathy Marlowe, Myrna Dell, Sandra Giles, Jean Colleran, Sunnie O’Dea, »
- Bill Mesce
"Margot Benacerraf, now in her 80s, only ever made one feature-length film," begins Josef Braun, "but that film remains so extraordinary, so very nearly singular, that it merits an admiration on par with many more prolific and esteemed bodies of work. After studying and gathering numerous influential allies in France and elsewhere, Benacerraf returned to her native Venezuela, specifically to an island no one had heard of, though when was discovered by the Spanish 450 years earlier it was deemed a sort of paradise on account of its abundance of one resource: salt, as valuable back then as gold. We can see the ruins of colonial fortresses erected to protect the island and its salt marshes, once the center of piracy in the Caribbean, during the prologue of Araya (1959). But historical context quickly gives way to the seeming timelessness of hard labour, to Benacerraf's lyrical approach to depicting the life of a community that was, »
The remains of '50s B-movie actress and former Playboy model Yvette Vickers were found in her L.A. home. She was 82.
A neighbor noticed cobwebs on Vickers' mailbox, and when she entered the dilapidated house, she found the actress' decomposing body. Vickers had long been a recluse -- and could have been dead for as long as a year, reports the Los Angeles Times.
"She kept to herself, had friends and seemed like a very independent spirit, »
Last week we asked you guys to be judge and jury on some of the best courtroom dramas from over the years, and you made a collective ruling for Sidney Lumet's 1957 film 12 Angry Men with 35% of the total votes. No objections here. It was a pleasant surprise to see an older film top the poll since the votes usually skew toward newer stuff, but A Few Good Men ended up in second place followed by another classic, Robert Mulligan's To Kill a Mockingbird. JFK placed fourth on the list with Primal Fear and the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills both deadlocked for fifth. Do you agree with these results? 1. 12 Angry Men -- 34.9% 2. A Few Good Men -- 19.1% 3. To Kill a Mockingbird -- 15.4% 4. JFK -- 9.6% 5. Primal Fear -- 5.9% 5. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills -- 5.9% 7. Philadelphia -- 3.7% 8. Anatomy of a Murder »
A film's movie poster should make a statement -- but the really good ones go beyond that. From classics like "Jaws" and "Casablanca" to more recent films like "Avatar" and
"Alice in Wonderland," here are 55 stand-out posters of all time!
55 Greatest Movie Posters'Jaws' (1975)
'Anatomy of a Murder' (1959)
'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman' (1958)
'2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968)
'Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (1961)
Here's a fantastic video created by Ian Albinson that gives us a brief history of the art of the movie title design. The video presentation was made for the SXSW Excellence in Title Design competition screening.
A Brief History of Title Design from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.
Here's the list of movie title shown:
Intolerance, Phantom Of The Opera, King Kong, Modern Times, My Man Godfrey, Make Way For Tomorrow, Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Gun Crazy, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, Lady In The Lake, Fallen Angel, The Thing, Singing In The Rain, The Man With The Golden Arm, Anatomy Of A Murder, Psycho, North By Northwest, Vertigo, Grand Prix, To Kill A Mockingbird, Dr. No, The Pink Panther, Goldfinger, Dr. Strangelove, Bullitt, Barbarella, Soylent Green, Mean Streets, Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Superman, Alien, Raging Bull, The Terminator, Brazil, The Untouchables, Do The Right Thing, Forrest Gump, »
Put together to compete in the SXSW Title Design Competition, Ian Albinson has edited a large mix of some of the greatest film and television titles ever made. Slashfilm reports that the websites mission is:
A compendium and leading web resource of film and television title design from around the world. We honor the artists who design excellent title sequences. We discuss and display their work with a desire to foster more of it, via stills and video links, interviews, creator notes, and user comments.
It is a wonderful video, full of amazing titles, many of which I had forgotten about. The song featured is Ghostwriter by RJD2. You can view the video as well as a list of all the titles featured in their order below.
A Brief History of Title Design from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.
- Yiannis Cove
As part of the screening put together in relation to the SXSW Title Design Competition , Ian Albinson  from the website The Art of the Title Sequence  put together a nice two and a half minute compendium of excellent film titles. (That features an occasional piece of television, too.) For any long-time film lover, this little video will probably elicit quite a few responses simply on the strength of the title cards on display. I queued several films to re-watch after exposure to just a few seconds of their titles. Check out the collection after the jump. This isn't an in-depth study of title design. Rather, it is a simple reminder that, holy crap, the breadth and variety of film title design can be simply breathtaking. If nothing else, this might just be a good pointer to check out the website The Art of the Title Sequence, which has some more »
- Russ Fischer
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