Warner Bros. 1930s
movie poster typography

Script lettering from movie posters, inserts, window and lobby cards

Warner Bros. Haunted gold 1932 poster detail

HAUNTED GOLD (1932) one sheet poster detail

Ladies they talk about 1933 poster detail

LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933) insert detail

Lilly Turner 1933 poster detail

LILLY TURNER (1933) one sheet poster detail

Little giant 1933 poster detail

LITTLE GIANT (1933) midget window card detail

Warner Bros. Bedside 1934 poster detail

BEDSIDE (1934) midget window card detail

Easy to love 1934 poster detail

EASY TO LOVE (1934) midget window card detail

Hi, Nellie 1934 poster detail

HI, NELLIE! (1934) midget window card detail

Jimmy the gent 1934 poster detail

JIMMY THE GENT (1934) midget window card detail

Massacre 1934 poster detail

MASSACRE (1934) half sheet poster detail

Smarty 1934 poster detail

SMARTY (1934) one sheet poster detail

Black fury 1935 poster detail

BLACK FURY (1935) one sheet poster detail

Captain Blood 1935 poster detail

CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935) half sheet poster detail

Warner Bros. Frisco Kid 1935 poster detail

FRISCO KID (1935) title lobby card detail

Shipmates forever 1935 poster detail

SHIPMATES FOREVER (1935) window card detail

Give me your heart 1936 poster detail

GIVE ME YOUR HEART (1936) one sheet poster detail

Another dawn 1937 poster detail

ANOTHER DAWN (1937) half sheet poster detail

It's love I'm after 1937 poster detail

IT’S LOVE I’M AFTER (1937) one sheet poster detail

San Quentin 1937 poster detail

SAN QUENTIN (1937) lobby card detail

Hard to get 1938 poster detail

HARD TO GET (1938) one sheet poster detail

Warner Bros. Yes my darling daughter 1939 poster detail

YES, MY DARLING DAUGHTER (1939) one sheet poster detail

Warner Bros. 1930s movie poster typography

About five years ago the typeface Trajan was used so ubiquitously on movie posters it became known as ‘the movie font.’ Later, when the typeface Gotham was used in Obama’s campaign it became the new go-to font for movie poster designers.

Trajan got relegated to thrillers and horror movies. It became a genre-specific trend/cliché like handwritten fonts for indie comedies. Or Gill sans extra bold for mainstream Hollywood comedies. Or Didoni-style serif for romantic ‘chick flick’ comedy.

This made me curious about the times when there were no typefaces designers could cut and paste in Photoshop. I decided to pick posters from one studio (Warner Bros.) and one decade from Hollywood’s golden age (the 1930s).

I didn’t actually find any trends, but it wasn’t hard to spot what was different back then; without a computer designers were forced to do everything by hand, which resulted in beautiful, unique lettering. And some beautiful posters too (click on the images to see the original posters).

  1. Jason says:

    Love these examples. They’re kinda juicy and dignified at the same time.

    The Cagney one is especially great. I’d love to be able to write like that.