A Study Of Bill Gold’s Poster’s: Color And Typography

July 11, 2011 § Leave a comment


July 11, 2011

Bill Gold, called the greatest poster designer in Hollywood, has had an illustrious career designing classic posters for such films as “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “The Way We Were”, “Casablanca”, “Hair”, “My Fair Lady”, “The Sting”, “Barry Lyndon” and “Mystic River”.

Here are some examples of his colorful work and some of the rationale behind it.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

For his first major studio release, it was important to Gold to emphasize the patriotism in the story of George M. Cohan. So he used bright American colors and incorporated the flag design as part of the Uncle Sam hat. He did all the lettering by hand then had a sign painter come in and color it at his direction. The “C” in James Cagney’s name is the same type Gold used for Casablanca. 

My Fair Lady (1969)

Gold says he used Peak’s “squiggles to get his juices flowing”. The final poster is a collage of the charcoal drawings, to which Gold added color.

Dirty Harry (1971)

For his first collaboration with Clint Eastwood, Gold saw the police detective’s gun as a central image that he used in all of the poster variations. He exaggerated the size of the gun in the international and main U.S. posters. In the international, he used repeating images and “psychedelic” colors, which design critic Steven Heller praises for having “a pop art quality”.

The Sting (1973)

To capture the 1920s look of the movie, Gold took the approach used in The Saturday Evening Post developed by illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, for both the main poster and the alternate. “The texture of the clothing has a hand-painted quality,” Gold says. “The whole feeling of the story is there.” Gold also used the magazine’s classic lettering style.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

For Stanley Kubrick’s 18th century costume drama, Gold flew to London for three weeks of intense discussions with the director. Kubrick insisted on having a special hand-lettered alphabet created, and Gold suggested the illustrated outer framing. After Gold returned home, he and Kubrick spoke by phone each day for weeks while a Warners messenger flew back and forth daily with sketches. Kubrick kept adding shading around each illustration to make it more distinctive.

Hair (1979)

Gold and illustrator Bob Peak did a lot of experimenting, including the picture of the sun coming through hair. He also played with different lettering styles. 

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John Wayne is NOT a colorful dresser!

December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment


December 20, 2010

Hollywood Reporter
80 Years of The Hollywood Reporter
The most glamorous and memorable moments from a storied history

We came across this vintage photo of John Wayne, the super hero/cowboy star of so many westerns. When his studio attempted to dress him in bright colors to promote the film “The Big Trail” he responded by saying…


“Don’t make me do this…

You don’t put a red dress on

an elephant.”

-John Wayne , lamenting the costume (green shirt, yellow boots) that the studio insisted he wear to promote the film.

He is right, I could not find one image of an elephant in a red dress.

85 Years Of Treasures

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment


December 6, 2010

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Up From The Vault:
85 Years of Treasures From The Warner Bros. Photo Lab

The images below are just a few of the movie titles that are on view. Click the images for more information to the exhibition.

“165 photographs-some famous, many extremely rare or literally unseen by the public-grace the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery in this exhibition showcasing the remarkable archive amassed over the past 85 years by Warner Bros. Studios.”

“A broad range of photography is included, from glamour portraits to set reference stills, from ad art and publicity photos to behind-the-scenes shots and scene stills. New prints of images taken in black-and-white and color, and in nearly every photographic format, from early 4×5″ negatives to the latest high-resolution digital photos, are on view.”

“The Warner Bros. Photo Lab originated in the early days the studio, circa 1930, and remains the longest continuously operating studio photography department. Its purpose was, and still is, to process the unit photographer’s still images into proofs and prints for publicity and advertising. Staffed by printmakers, archivists and digital designers, the Warner Bros. Photo Lab works with millions of original negatives, photographic prints and digital images created during the making of Warner Bros. films and television programs.”

“The exhibition is organized by the Academy in association with guest curators Greg Dyro and Leith Adams.”

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