Skip

Raiders of a Lost Art?
March 22, 2013 11:26 AM   Subscribe

25 (of the) Top Movie Posters of All Time with commentaries from non-movie-poster designers. Ignore or critique the ranking, note any obvious omissions, or just chuckle at the unstated similarity between #13 and #14. Still, a fine showcase of movie - and movie marketing - history.
posted by oneswellfoop (48 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think the Tom Jung poster is superior on aesthetic grounds, but my 1977 6 year old's heart still thrills to the Hildebrandt brothers' Star Wars poster (especially the earlier version without the droids).
posted by Auden at 11:54 AM on March 22, 2013


(scroll scroll scroll) GONE WITH THE WIND OK! We approve this list.
posted by alasdair at 11:57 AM on March 22, 2013


Not that it isn't lovely, but confused how Moon got in there.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are great (as is the movie poster genre in general). Though I'd imagine everyone's top 25 list would be different.

When I was young, maybe 6-7, I recall going to the movies and walking past the cinema's long display of historical and recent movie posters. There was one image that I found quite unsettling and frightening: a man's face with his eyes replaced/covered by a blank whiteness. It wasn't until recently that my wife and I were going through bad 80s movies on Netflix that I realized the film from which my childhood poster trauma sprang: The Stuff.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:58 AM on March 22, 2013


I feel like some of these are mixing up "movie we loved that the poster strongly reminds us of" with "inherently great poster." I get the feeling that if you were to make a selection of "great movie posters" from a cinema tradition you weren't intimately familiar with there's a pretty good chance you'd end up selecting posters for a quite a few cinematic duds and obscurities. Great graphic designers can get hired to sell crappy, unsuccessful movies.
posted by yoink at 12:03 PM on March 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree with most of this list. Somehow I don't think I'd seen the original Star Wars poster before -- it's a shame that no blockbuster today would dare be so adventurous with its art or do a hand-drawn montage.

Glad to see that Moon got some recognition. On a similar-ish note, I also found this image, which was frequently used in the promotion of Another Earth to be incredibly striking (and, man, it was just a fantastic and tragically misunderstood film). Google also turned up this sort-of hybrid poster between Another Earth and Moon that I quite like.

I almost universally love the alternate posters that The Criterion Collection creates for the films that it curates. Their poster for The Game probably gives away too much, but fits the film way better than the official poster did.
posted by schmod at 12:04 PM on March 22, 2013


Do we get to quibble now? Where's The Seven-Year Itch and The Graduate and Rosemary's Baby?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:07 PM on March 22, 2013


No Rosemary's Baby makes the list kinda pointless.
posted by dobbs at 12:10 PM on March 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


The classic arbitrary "here are my favorites" top 25. Everyone's top is different.
posted by cavalier at 12:19 PM on March 22, 2013


I agree with yoink, this looks a lot like a collection of favorite movies as opposed to the actual graphic qualities of the posters. Batman and Jurassic Park are just big logos. As logos go they are fine, but that's not much of a poster from a conceptual or aesthetic viewpoint.

As for the best original Star Wars poster, it's this one.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2013


My boss did #17. The bummer about working in entertainment advertising is that everyone knows that image, but her name is almost never connected with it.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:22 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Hard Candy poster. And the Cujo poster from Ghana.
posted by martinrebas at 12:23 PM on March 22, 2013


I appreciate the whole list being on one page.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:27 PM on March 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


So who's this asshole at the end who defends the choice of the Ghostbusters logo saying the film ain't that important? Fuck that guy.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The poster for A Clockwork Orange is good, but the uncensored version is better... because it's not censored and allows the image to stand better if the tag line were removed or diminished. www.movie-censorship.com NSFW, drawings of boobs that are are to see, but they're there anyway.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:42 PM on March 22, 2013


I really enjoyed learning about some of the inspirations behind images I consider indelible AND learned that graphic designers looooove their glamour shots. Win-win.

...this image, which was frequently used in the promotion of Another Earth to be incredibly striking (and, man, it was just a fantastic and tragically misunderstood film).

Also, yes, that. So haunting, so undeservedly ignored.
posted by psoas at 12:44 PM on March 22, 2013


that are are to see = that are hard to see
missed the edit window.
posted by Zack_Replica at 12:47 PM on March 22, 2013


This list is incomplete without:

1) A Robert McGinniss Poster.
I'd suggest the exquisite Cotton Comes To Harlem, or Breakfast At Tiffany's

2) A Jack Davis. His Poster for The Long Goodbye was awesomely Meta, as it took the form of one of the Mad magazine parodies that Davis was also famous for. But Nothing says 1970's or Screwball Comedy like a Jack Davis.

3)A Bob Peak. From Apocalypse Now, to Star Trek, to My Fair Lady, the man had amazing range.

4) Something featuring Burt Reynolds. I'd pick Gator, which is also a McGinniss, and therefore doubly good.

also: Wrong Side of The Art has an amazing gallery of b-movie posters, most of which are more exciting than that shit Ususal Suspects poster.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:48 PM on March 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is #1 Raiders of the Lost Ark? Check. OK thanks.
posted by chavenet at 12:59 PM on March 22, 2013


#11, Batman, was a complete failure for me. I saw the golden stunted scraggly teeth around a black maw and couldn't figure out what the heck they were trying to advertise.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Iconic," eh?

Let's see, what have I got around for that.
posted by RobotHero at 1:14 PM on March 22, 2013


A pretty good list, but I'm genuinely surprised not to see High Noon. That shot has been done a thousand times since in every form of image media.
posted by Palindromedary at 1:28 PM on March 22, 2013


Palindromedary, movieposterdb.com requests 'no hotlinking, please'.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2013


It's a rather poor and typical showing actually.
Plus, it is confusing what they are showing.

The headline reads:
The top 25 movie posters of all time

The subheading then reads:
We celebrate the most inspiring and memorable movie posters of all time.

Then the first sentence reads:
What makes a movie poster iconic?

So which is it?
Best?
Inspiring?
Memorable?
Iconic?

I would say these all lead toward iconic - but mainly because the marketing campaigns behind them or the popularity of the movie made them so - except for Moon.

If this is supposed to be a list of the best then whomever made the selection should do their homework because there are far better posters out there.
posted by Rashomon at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2013


magstheaxe - I wasn't aware of that - I just found it on a random Google image search - but thanks for the note.

Here's another shot at it.

And I was thinking iconic, simply because the note at the end about Ghostbusters made me forget all about the title and all the waffle at the start (though Moon sticks out as the oddity for me as well no matter what criteria you use).
posted by Palindromedary at 1:43 PM on March 22, 2013


Glad to see Jaws there. In my mind it is the very epitome of "iconic" movie posters, in that its recognizable & famous (I.e. iconic) and that the image itself is very simple, using icons (of a sort) to quickly explain everything you need to know about the movie.

Spielberg really dominates this list, doesn't he?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:51 PM on March 22, 2013


The Exorcist and Metropolis are just great works of art, removed from the movies themselves. I love the Raiders poster but if the film had been a turd I don't think I'd rate it so highly.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the Alien poster for the subtle suggestion of cinema seating in the texture at the bottom of the frame.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:57 PM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my pet peeves is seeing a beautifully designed first-run poster with a typeface that fits the overall look and feel - then watching the movie and, when the title is displayed, it uses a different, often generic font. I realize things are produced in diff time frames by diff people/departments, but it's still a letdown when it happens. (Maybe deep inside I have some weird longing for the idea of the Total Control Freaky Auteur who would make sure everything is consistent.)
posted by shortfuse at 1:58 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge fan of the movie itself, but I always thought this poster for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was perfect.
posted by xedrik at 2:25 PM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's not a list of the greatest movie posters of all time without Bob Peak.
posted by Mcable at 2:57 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel kind to lists like these. Authors have a hard time.

And i'm often transfixed by visual stuff like this.

----------

I've been reading Wade Davis' The Serpent and the Rainbow, which is a good book yet traumatic in places.

Anyway, there's a passage I read today from Chapter 7 'Columns on a Blackboard'

"Those who eat fugu are stupid. But those who don't eat fugu are also stupid."

It's a Japanese quote about craving food containing a paralysing nerve toxin.

---------------------

I also think of Paul Laffoley, who makes these paintings of fictional machines.

------------

"Total Control Freaky Auteur" that's a neat comment. That's funny because when you watch a

movie you like it's kind of like being in a voodoo trance or something...depending on your mood

of course.

----------

I guess the movie posters are whispering "hey you look at me, you're a teleonomic machine,

get some pop corn but don't drink too much coke or you might miss something"
posted by sirlikeitalot at 3:11 PM on March 22, 2013


So which is it?
Best?
Inspiring?
Memorable?
Iconic?


The answer is SEO.
posted by RobotHero at 3:22 PM on March 22, 2013


The answer is SEO.

I'm the answer?

Yes that is my real name. No I'm not interested in "further exploring our common professional interest in the web business". Thanks.
posted by shortfuse at 3:32 PM on March 22, 2013


#11, Batman, was a complete failure for me. I saw the golden stunted scraggly teeth around a black maw and couldn't figure out what the heck they were trying to advertise.

That's my exact same memory! I was a little kid and I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to be. I thought it was some dumb-looking cartoon mouth.

Here's my previous comment on movie posters, with links to far superior Polish and Classic Hollywood examples. The Criterion covers (already linked above) do interesting things more often as well.

Artists need to work arter not harder. Something that an ordinary creative high school kid would doodle during math class, more often than not, is actually more interesting to look at than a photorealistic painting of Harrison Ford's head. There's a reason Saul Bass is given at least perfunctory respect on almost all the Best Of lists, even though, yes, your six year old kid probably could do that. At least he was actually trying to make art, gawdammit.
posted by dgaicun at 3:33 PM on March 22, 2013


My choice of THE iconic Jack Davis is It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, widescreen version. Because it WAS used to promote Cinerama. (may require cutting into sections to show off all the detail)
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny. As you well know I was talking about zombies a minute ago and that Jerk scene where

Navin is running from that PI dude, throwing popcorn at him and grabbing those sticks.....

It just kind of POPPED in there while I was looking out the window at the bird feeder. It snowed

a lot here yesterday... :)
posted by sirlikeitalot at 3:44 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge fan of the movie itself, but I always thought this poster for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was perfect.

My apartment is decorated with movie posters and I have an original of that one. Most of mine are reprints but that one was, as I was told, send out as a teaser to theaters at the time then had to be sent back. Cost a fair bit. But you're right, it's great for telling the story in an image. Too bad the movies didn't do the job as well.

Those are all solid choices (although I have a different Pulp Fiction one.) I would have added Red, Hard Boiled, and this Saving Private Ryan one.
posted by Cyrano at 4:14 PM on March 22, 2013


Oh yeah, and Unforgiven.
posted by Cyrano at 4:23 PM on March 22, 2013


I always thought this poster for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was perfect.

Yeah. Imagine if the movie had lived up to that.
posted by yoink at 5:39 PM on March 22, 2013


I really like the poster art for the original Fright Night. This is the best link I can find on short notice but it's still awesome.
posted by wobh at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2013


What is going on at the bottom of the Alien poster? That horrible grid is deeply unsettling. Is it made of people?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:19 PM on March 22, 2013


I second that, two or three cars parked under the stars - I was about to click away thinking a slide show was in store.

One of my favorite posters has always been the Japanese poster for Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up.
posted by hoodrich at 8:01 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


HOODRICH

That reminds me of my friend.

Professional Trout Fisherman.

Sure he could flyfish good. He's an orphan you know. Been on the run for a long time.

Still doesn't want to talk about foster parents.

But he would have a fancy digital camera in one hand.

Doing a balancing act in swift shallow water.

Anyway, I'm ashamed to say that, I bribed him to do one of my graduate school

assignments for me.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 9:43 PM on March 22, 2013


Ahem.

2001: A Space Odyssey.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:05 AM on March 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite posters has always been the Japanese poster for Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up.

Yeah, that's nice, I'd never seen that before. I also really like the more-often-seen one.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:08 AM on March 23, 2013


I can't believe I'd never seen the original GWTW movie poster. With all of Selznick's micromanaging, that's what they came up with? The two stars look like they are in a contemporary film.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:30 AM on March 23, 2013


Was Morgan Kane inspired by Sheb Wooley's bum in High Noon when he shot the For Your Eyes Only movie poster? Or Luke Skywalker's abs in his work on Meatballs?
posted by wensink at 10:17 AM on March 23, 2013


« Older My Father's Horniness   |   I really wanna lose three pounds. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post