Titles Designed by Saul Bass
August 22, 2005 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Saul Bass may not be a name familiar to the casual movie fan, but in his forty year career he created some of the most striking credit sequences around. From comedy to creepy he left his mark on any movie he was involved with. Not Coming breaks down twenty-four of his most famous works.
posted by beowulf573 (16 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Really interesting stuff; the Not Coming link is particularly cool.
posted by chunking express at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2005

I love Saul Bass's credits. He was a master with a lot of influence. I remember thinking the credits for Catch Me If You Can seem to have been created in hommage to Bass's style.
posted by ancientgower at 8:29 AM on August 22, 2005

That Not Coming summary of his 24 most-famous titles is fascinating stuff. Count me among the long-time admirers of his work, particularly North by Northwest. I can't believe he'd been in the business for so long, though!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2005

Was talking with one of his protoges back around '95 who recounted Bass' own horror story. He was gettng something out of a pool that was about to be cleaned, maybe a couple of inches left in the deep end of green algae. He slipped and fell, broke something or other and apparently lay there helplessly for two days in a puddle.

I kept back copies of Commnication Arts including articles with Saul Bass and Associates, hoping to one day create as good an identity package as he did. AT&T was interesting. United was wonderful.
posted by hal9k at 9:22 AM on August 22, 2005

The first time I really noticed a title sequence was "Se7en". Completely set the mood for the creepy movie that followed. Some of my favorite title sequences lately are the opening credits to "Napoleon Dynamite" and the closing credits to the third "Harry Potter" movie.
posted by ColdChef at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2005

Wasn't Saul Bass a character on Seinfeld? Changed his name from Salman?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:06 AM on August 22, 2005

Very nice post, beowulf573, from the good old days when I was young ... and in the theater admiring most of those 'Not Coming' movies. Classic films, started off in a classy way with Bass's opening titles. Fascinating how the guy was so consistently stylist in such different pictures.

A particular favorite of mine is the opening sequence of NYC filmed from above in West Side Story, continued after the titles.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:16 AM on August 22, 2005

Until I read the "Not Coming" article, I hadn't realized Bass directed Phase IV, a movie I had seen on the late night horror show twenty something years ago. Makes me want to track down a copy and see if it's better than my memory of it.

A couple corrections, I meant the "Not Coming" link to be the primary one, and via.
posted by beowulf573 at 10:22 AM on August 22, 2005

DieHipsterDie, yes, Saul Bass is a character on Sienfeld. Kramer thought he was Salman Rushdie.
posted by dobbs at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2005

cool post, thanks.

have been created in hommage to Bass's style

hommage ripoff

The first time I really noticed a title sequence was "Se7en"

speaking of ripoffs that was a very good Brakhage ripoff
posted by matteo at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2005

The Saul Bass homage from the title sequence of "Catch Me If You Can" was a surprise treat for me too. The Simpsons in turn played on the title sequence in the Catch 'Em If You Can episode.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2005

The "comedy" link shows pictures of the titles for "It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". The images are apparently taken from the recent DVD release. That is not how Saul Bass's titles are supposed to look.

The background is actually supposed to change color several times during the sequence, but some idiot in MGM's home video department "corrected" it so the color would be constant the whole way through.

If you have an old laserdisc copy, you can compare and see the difference. More info here.
posted by Potsy at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2005

Bass. What a design hero. How cool is the stuff he made. It holds up so well today - even 40 years later. I wonder if there's a correlation between killer opening credits and the quality of the film? It's hard to find a bad film in that list from the Not Coming site.
posted by quadog at 4:15 PM on August 22, 2005

Great to see Mr. Bass getting some recognition.
The man directed the shower scene in "Psycho"; not too shabby.
posted by Dante5Inferno at 10:54 PM on August 22, 2005

Well, he didn't direct the shower scene so much as designed the storyboards and sequenced to the shots (as a "pictorial consultant").
posted by Down10 at 11:06 AM on August 23, 2005

He definitely did the storyboards, but there is speculation - which the idol-worshipper in me likes to believe - that Mr. Bass was given the reigns as 1st AD to shoot that scene. I should have noted it was speculation on the first post; my bad.
posted by Dante5Inferno at 6:48 PM on August 26, 2005

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