Though it's been out for some years I still look through and enjoy this cornucopia if poster art. Not without a flaw (i'll get to that) so only four stars. I appreciate the thoroughness of the editorial, for instance there is a chapter about printers and distributors of the posters during the twenties, thirties and forties. Chapter four is perhaps the key one as it deals with artists and art directors who were responsible for all these wonderful works buts it's worth say that there is real typographic finesse to any of these works. Page 110 has an interesting point: the studios used photographers to take shots of the stars to be used as reference by the artists but by the late thirties this idea started to fade out in favor of using only on photos on posters though it took some years for photo posters to overtake paintings.
The first chapter suggests that the book covers poster art to the 1950s but there seem to be very few past 1945. The majority are from the thirties and they sold Hollywood round the world. The twenty chapters look at most movie genres each starting from an historical perspective and nicely there are plenty of mono photos to illustrate points in the text. The captions to each poster has technical details (date; studio; art director; artist; dimensions) then some background detail about the movie. Three pages at the back of the book have comprehensive biographies of the artists and there is a short bibliography.
The book's printing is first class using a 175 screen on a thickish matt art paper. There is a design flaw, in my opinion, in that so many posters are angled on the page. It seems so unnecessary to use this technique to create visual interest when the posters themselves are fascinating enough, it also means that many posters could have been bigger if they hadn't been angled.
Published in 1988 but probably still the best coffee-table book about poster art of the past.
on 23 May 2002
This groundbreaking book at first appears to be the most lavish, comprehensive and thorough film poster book ever published. That it is. What makes it all the more fascinating is that it tells the story of how films were promoted and publicized. The writers even unearth the identitities of many of the artists, famous and unknown, who created these posters, even to the extent of giving artist biographies. No other poster book comes close to being as elegant, well-organized and comprehensive. It's really fantastic. I can't recommend this book more highly and I've found it makes a superb gift.