There's nothing harder than facing your worst fear.
The poster for Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 thriller Vertigo, designed by Saul Bass, is one of the most famous and influential promos ever made. Bass actually can't take full credit for it—he oversaw its creation, but the unique spiral pattern was made by John Whitney and the figures were drawn by Art Goodman. Bass and Co. made a couple of similar versions of the poster for the film's U.S. run. We showed you one a while back, and now the above version completes the pair. If you haven't seen Vertigo, we can't tell you much that hasn't already been written. Four years after starring in Rear Window Jimmy Stewart plays another damaged man for Hitchcock, a San Francisco detective who has of fear of heights, the result of a rooftop chase gone wrong. He later gets involved in a mystery that puts his acrophobia to the ultimate test. Many say this is Hitchcock's best movie. We don't think so, but it's definitely a landmark, particularly as it relates to co-star Kim Novak's role, its opening action sequence, and its reliance upon San Francisco locations to help tell its story. In fact, the latter aspect was why the film's world premiere took place in San Francisco today in 1958. Below you see some screen grabs, along with a beautiful promo poster that was made for the movie's run in India. Put Vertigo in your queue.
Hmm, I think maybe I’ll just keep this for myself.
Above, a promo image of the beautiful Kim Novak from the 1958 Academy Awards at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. She wasn’t nominated that year, though her hit film Vertigo was eligible. Instead she accepted the statuette for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium on behalf of winner Pierre Boulle, who had written the script for The Bridge on the River Kwai. No word on whether she ever actually gave him the Oscar.
Sandro Symeoni comes down with a case of Vertigo.
After focusing on Italian paperback artists lately, we thought today would be good for getting back to poster artists—namely Sandro Symeoni, who we’ve marveled at before. Symeoni veered from the realistic to abstract in style, and this very graphic poster for Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso, aka Deep Red, sees him working in the latter mode, which we’ve also noted on pieces like the Suono Libero album sleeve, viewable in panel four here. This is also a clear homage to Saul Bass’s famed Vertigo poster. For a look at many more Symeonis, just click his keywords below. Profondo Rosso, by the way, premiered in the U.S. this week in 1976, and is well worth a look for fans of Argento and/or giallo.
Working on a groovy thing.
This poster for Una sull’altra, aka Perversion Story, was painted by Angelo Cesselon, and the film was directed by Lucio Fulci, who would later become one of Italy’s grandmasters of cinematic gore. This flick is eerily similar in plot to Vertigo, complete with the death of the love interest and subsequent reappearance of her double. It’s even set in San Francisco like Vertigo, but the difference is Fulci notches the ’60s psychedelia up to the max, and offers up lots of Marisa Mell’s naked flesh. Mell had starred in the camp classic Diabolik the previous year, and here she is getting groovy again, particularly in one motorcycle striptease that’s probably worth the time spent watching the rest of the film. As a side note, you’ll see Jean Sobieski here, who happens to be Leelee Sobieski’s dad. Una sull’altra opened in Italy this week, and France today in 1969.
Polish poster designer hits the target.
Here we go again with Vertigo. This time we have a brilliant bullseye themed Polish one sheet to add to the amazing French and Italian ones we posted a while back. Again, we can’t choose a favorite. The three are distinct, and awesome.
A sudden recurrence of Vertigo.
We posted the amazing French one sheet for Vertigo last month, and talked briefly about Kim Novak. We also told you Hitchcock posters turn up almost anywhere you look, and in whichever country. Well, today Vertigo premiered again, this time in Italy, and below you see a promotional poster that is completely different from the French version, not just in language of course, but in design as well. We couldn’t choose a favorite if we tried.
The psychological thriller Vertigo couldn’t hold a candle to star Kim Novak’s real life.
Hitchcock really cranked out films. Vertigo was maybe his fiftieth effort. We’d have to count to more than fifteen to be sure, and we’re way too lazy to try. We just know Parisians first saw the flick today in 1958. By this time Hitch was so famous his films screened in virtually every corner of the globe, which means you can find posters of his movies in Russian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and so forth. When we stumbled across this nice French art we were reminded what a cool film Vertigo is. It has Jimmy Stewart, a great plot, period fx that still work despite their clunkiness, and a Bernard Hermann score. But really the best thing about this movie is Kim Novak.
After only a year in film, her classic beauty turned heads in the 1955 heroin addiction drama The Man with the Golden Arm, in which she played opposite Frank Sinatra. About two years later, when she was arguably the most famous and desired woman on the planet, she embarked upon an affair with brat-packer Sammy Davis Jr., which set off an avalanche of events that eventually resulted in the Mafia forcing Sammy to marry a Vegas showgirl who happened to be his own race. Novak’s story is too complex to condense into a blurb—it involves gangland bosses, hush money for secret nudes, obsessive suitors, and all the best staples of pulpdom. Through it all she pretty much told the world to screw itself if it didn’t like her exactly the way she was. And she’s still with us at 75. We’ll write more about this amazing person later on.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1937—Amelia Earhart Disappears
Amelia Earhart fails to arrive at Howland Island during her around the world flight, prompting a search for her and navigator Fred Noonan in the South Pacific Ocean. No wreckage and no bodies are ever found.
1964—Civil Rights Bill Becomes Law
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill into law, which makes the exclusion of African-Americans from elections, schools, unions, restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas and other public institutions and facilities illegal. A side effect of the Bill is the immediate reversal of American political allegiance, as most southern voters abandon the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.
1997—Jimmy Stewart Dies
Beloved actor Jimmy Stewart, who starred in such films as Rear Window and Vertigo, dies at age eighty-nine at his home in Beverly Hills, California of a blood clot in his lung.
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon
, and Night of the Hunter
, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness
that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
1908—Tunguska Explosion Occurs
Near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia, a large meteoroid or comet explodes at five to ten kilometers above the Earth's surface with a force of about twenty megatons of TNT. The explosion is a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic blast, knocks over an estimated 80 million trees and generates a shock wave estimated to have been 5.0 on the Richter scale.
1971—Soviet Cosmonauts Perish
Soviet cosmonauts Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, who served as the first crew of the world's first space station Salyut 1, die when their spacecraft Soyuz 11 depressurizes during preparations for re-entry. They are the only humans to die in space (as opposed to the upper atmosphere).
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