Is it a bad move stealing images off other blogs? I took the above images from the excellent movie site The House Next Door. and I guess if it feels bad, it probably is. But I can't help it, those Saul Bass title grabs are too awesome. As an aside, the house next door blog is certainly the best blog of collected film (and tv) criticism I have ever come across and you should check it out. So maybe my stealing images from them is balanced out by talking about them and you'll check it out? maybe? Eh.
I dont have much to say about Bass. I dont know that much, but as an excuse to put up some beautiful stills, here are some random facts about this great versatile designer, director, and artist.
-worked as a corporate designer and did 'branding' for Warner Bros, AT&T, Exxon, Bell Telephone, United Airlines, Minolta.

-pretty much created the title design for movies single handedly: first with Carmen Jones, then on to such classics as The Man With The Golden Arm, It's Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Vertigo, The Seven Year Itch, Bonjour Tristesse, The Big Knife, North by Northwest, Around The World in Eighty Days(his work here is more like a cartoon short), and many others.
Martin Scorsese once described Bass' approach as creating: "an emblematic image, instantly recognisable and immediately tied to the film".
Hubba Hubba:

-Besides the cool titles he did for Psycho, Bass also directed the scene Hitchcock is most famous for, Janet Leigh in the shower being murdered. Yeah, the whole thing-he storyboarded it, shot it, and edited it.

It seems like many people want to dispute it, but Hitchcock himself never did. Bass doesn't do that familiar director thing of trying to hog all good ideas associated with anything they did, and mentions collaborators a lot in interviews. He seems less insecure and dickish than most people in his field, probably because he rarely worked center stage.

-He made a couple of short films, the last of which, Why Man Creates, won a 1968 Oscar! I wonderif any are available on tape or dvd, I would love to see these.
-He directed only one full length movie, the abstract Phase IV, about killer ants. I think made in 1974. A really weird movie, definitely one of the strangest mainstream movies since 2001. It starts out fairly linear but by the midway point, it seems like bass is more interested in these super close up shots of ants underground fighting each other than he is in mustached scientists in the desert. Its a great movie and worth seeing. Of course it was a super flop on release.
It's maybe worth noting that the titles to his feature are deliberately super no frills especially compared to his other efforts.
After that he just kept doing more work in titles and graphic design, which is too bad, because Phase IV is a great movie.

-Designed the poster for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
(I couldn't find this poster online to save my life-sorry)

-Died in 1996 a year after doing the credit sequence for Casino:

Thats all I got.

posted by sammy at 4:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bass also directed the scene Hitchcock is most famous for, Janet Leigh in the shower being murdered. Yeah, the whole thing-he storyboarded it, shot it, and edited it." No he didn't. Hitchcock told him what shots he wanted, Bass went off and story-boarded it to show Hitch what it would look like, and that was the extent of his involvement with the sequence. Everyone, from Janet Leigh on down to the PA's, say that Hitchcock was the only one to direct that scene.

3:32 PM  

Blogger sammy said...

hmmm, well my source is an article from cinefantastique vol.16 #4/5(october 86). in there there's a quote from hitchcock saying all bass did (besides titles) was storyboard the dective murder/falling down the staird bit, but didn't like bass' work on it. bass says hitchcock let him direct the sequence 'spur of the moment', since he liked the storyboards and bass had been around which sounds weird I agree, especially when you consider how important that scene is. but bass points out that the whole style of the scene is nothing like hitchcock and gives some details of the shoot. though, of course he could be lying. and CFQ has tendencie to shit on well known directors....anyhow, if you want I can scan the article and put it on the blog.

1:57 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Donald Spoto's "The Dark Side of Genius," which doesn't stint on uncomplimentary material:

"...he (Hitchcock) delegated the design and the shooting of it... "I'm going to get Saul Bass to do a storyboard for the shower scene," he told Joseph Stefano (another collaborator on "Psycho")... "so we know exactly what we're going to do."
...As it happened, Hitchcock made two important-- and personally revealing-- additions to Bass' designs: the quick shot of the knife entering the woman's abdomen... and the shot of water and blood running down the drain. "It had been my idea to do it entirely a s a bloodless sequence without overt violence," according to Saul Bass, "but he insisted on inserting those two shots."

7:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Why Man Creates' and 'Bass on Titles' are available
from Pyramid Media

5:33 PM  

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