Cover may differ from image shown

Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design

by Jan-Christopher Horak

Availablecloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-4718-5
Screen Classics
492 pages  Pubdate: 11/18/2014  6 x 9  45 b&w photos

Iconic graphic designer and Academy Award–winning filmmaker Saul Bass (1920–1996) defined an innovative era in cinema. His title sequences for films such as Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) and Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) and North by Northwest (1959), and Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955) introduced the idea that opening credits could tell a story, setting the mood for the movie to follow. Bass’s stylistic influence can be seen in popular Hollywood franchises from the Pink Panther to James Bond, as well as in more contemporary works such as Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002) and television’s Mad Men.

The first book to examine the life and work of this fascinating figure, Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design explores the designer’s revolutionary career and his lasting impact on the entertainment and advertising industries. Jan-Christopher Horak traces Bass from his humble beginnings as a self-taught artist to his professional peak, when auteur directors like Stanley Kubrick, Robert Aldrich, and Martin Scorsese sought him as a collaborator. He also discusses how Bass incorporated aesthetic concepts borrowed from modern art in his work, presenting them in a new way that made them easily recognizable to the public.

This long-overdue book sheds light on the creative process of the undisputed master of film title design—a man whose multidimensional talents and unique ability to blend high art and commercial imperatives profoundly influenced generations of filmmakers, designers, and advertisers.

Jan-Christopher Horak is director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, editor of Lovers of Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919–1945, and author of Dream Merchants: Making and Selling Films in Hollywood’s Golden Age.

This is a detailed study of one the most important and influential graphic designers in the history cinema, done by one of the most distinguished and knowledgeable film archivists and historians in the discipline, and is a first rate piece of work. Horak is one of the field's top scholars, and this massively detailed, superbly written book brings every facet of Bass's career to life, from main title designer to director in his own right. -- Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of Streaming: Movies, Media and Instant Access

Self-aggrandizing and committed to notions of creativity as ineffable intuition, visualist Saul Bass has long been an elusive object for study within cinema. But combining his well-known acumen in the archives with his equally masterful understanding of the complexities of modernist experiment as it meets American populism, film historian Jan-Christopher Horak offers a sharp, trenchant analysis of Bass's works and aesthetic philosophy and well captures the meanings of the Bass brand and its stylistic and thematic regularities. This is an important volume for scholars of cinema as well as anyone interested in visual design in relation to moving image culture. -- Dana Polan, Cinema Studies, New York University

A wonderful book. Carefully researched and lively, Horak's study delivers the comprehensive account of the artistry and authorship of Saul Bass we have long needed. Attentive to the formative role of vanguard European aesthetics on Bass' graphic idiom, and the history of film studio publicity campaigns, Horak successfully demonstrates how Bass, master of the corporate image, cannily fashioned his own brand amidst the transformations of the Hollywood studio system in the postwar period. What emerges from Horak's intelligent study is a portrait of Bass as a commercial modernist, whose impossibly cool style not only transformed the look of movies, but retooled modernism's utopian vision at midcentury in the service of another impossibility: a humane, socially-responsible capitalism. This important book will have broad appeal to film and design historians, scholars of modernism and the avant-garde, and artists everywhere who continue to look upon Bass' work with awe. -- Justus Nieland, Michigan State University

When a film historian/scholar turns a probing lens on a graphic designer who made work for the screen, synapses fire on all jets. While Saul Bass has been a subject of fascination to graphic design, missing has been meaty critical analysis. Horak's illuminating interrogation, Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design, is a gift to graphic design history, to the emerging field of motion graphics, and likely to film studies as well. It is an intriguing tale where modern graphic design and avant garde film-making intersect. And where the Hollywood industry meets a relentless and challenging game-changer. -- Louise Sandhaus, author of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986

Although Jan-Christopher Horak’s Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design (University Press of Kentucky) isn’t the first book length treatment of the designer, the author focuses on Bass’ place in art history and his role as poster boy—almost literally—for marketing Modernism in commercial design. -- Express Milwaukee

For those interested in Bass, it is essential. -- San Francisco Book Review

Horak weaves a fascinating network of formal and conceptual interrelations crossing different cinematic forms and connecting works that are sometimes separated by decades… a superb contribution to the study of one of the key figures at the intersection of film and design. -- Journal of Film Preservation

Ambitious, wide-ranging, diligent, and consistently interesting, Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design should be considered essential reading for any Bass scholar or enthusiast.

[. . .] [T]he detail and intelligence of Horak’s writing ensures the value of his book as a companion piece to that earlier volume, which it both complements and supplements. -- Journal of Film and Video