When Saul Bass worked for Hollywood studios he created a complete and consistent identity for films (main and credit titles, a symbol or trademark, trailers, posters, ads, album cover).
Director Otto Preminger persuaded studios to use Bass’ work, which was considered unconventional and differed from the norm. Hitchcock followed later and from 1955 to 1965 Bass created some of the most iconic and historically significant designs for films like The man with the golden arm (1955), Vertigo (1958) and Anatomy of a murder (1959). Today, fifteen years after his death, his work still remains relevant and keeps inspiring designers.
Marketing people in today’s Hollywood don’t seem to know much about design or film history. Maybe they’re too obsessed with Photoshop, gradients and floating heads. For whatever reason, they decided not to use Saul Bass’ artwork for DVD covers.
I’ve put the original designs next to the recent versions. I kept staring at them to figure out what makes the versions on the right superior to Bass’ designs, but it’s kind of hard to find an answer. Anyone?
EDIT: More information about Bass’ work can be found in the fantastic book Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design, by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham.
Designed by Saul Bass’s daughter Jennifer and written by distinguished design historian Pat Kirkham, who knew Saul Bass, this book contains more than 1,400 illustrations, many from the Bass archive and never published before, providing an in-depth account of one of the leading graphic artists of the 20th century.
Hardback | 1484 illustrations, 440 pages | £48.00 | Published in the UK by Laurence King Publishing.
EDIT: the Criterion Collection prove their knowledge of design and cinema history and used Bass’ design for the DVD and Blu-ray packaging.
Related: Saul Bass title sequences