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Reel Art: Great Posters from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen (Tiny Folio) Paperback – 17 Sep 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press Inc.,U.S.; New edition edition (17 Sept. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558594035
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558594036
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 10.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 406,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars spectacular book well worth having 19 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a must have book, even if you aren't "into movies". It is a sheer visual delight and a worthy addition to any library. Those with an interest in the graphic arts should definately acquire it. Arranged in a thoughtful manner, the glorious artwork is accompanied by intelligent text that is never dry and always informative.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This undisputed classic actually surpasses its reputation. 10 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This undisputed classic actually surpasses its reputation. The sumptuous, coffee table-style volume, over 340 pages, would be worth owning alone for its eye-popping reproduction of rare poster images that advertised such films as King Kong, It Happened One Night, Dracula, The Old Dark House, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Casablanca, Gilda, Gone With the Wind, It's a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz and hundreds of others. Each chapter is beautifully organized into genres making the tome as compulsively entertaining as it is enlightening. Don't mistake this one for any of the other copycat poster books, though, which merely display page after page of images with no analysis or comment. What makes Reel Art a must-have, definitive book on the subject is its witty, hefty, impeccably informative text and extended captions which reveal so much about how the old-time Hollywood publicity and marketing machines worked to sell the moviegoing world not only on particular stars, directors, films, but also on the sexiness of things like cigarette smoking and the patriotic duty of going to war. Talk about "The Hidden Persuaders"! I especially appreciate the groundbreaking information Rebello and Allen reveal about the actual artists (some very famous, like Norman Rockwell, Al Hirschfeld and Miguel Covarrubias) and art directors who were responsible for the distinct visual style of posters from MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, RKO and even the so-called "poverty row" studios. There's even a lengthy section of illustrators' biography, complete with actual poster credits -- something I have never seen anywhere before this. What research the book must have taken! Awesome and essential, as I guess is to be expected from author Rebello, who also did the first-rate Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of `Psycho.' Only quibble: this book cries for a follow-up, so when will the authors get around to the sequel?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Golden real art 30 May 2014
By Robin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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. 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 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.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History Under a Microscope. 21 April 2010
By Steven Daedalus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You ought to see the poster for D. W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), the movie that President Woodrow Wilson described as "history writ with lightning." It's a heroic poster of a Knight of the Ku Klux Klan on a rearing steed, a burning cross held aloft. The figure wears flowing robes -- shades of David's Napoleon -- underneath which his scarlet cuirasse is emblazoned with a white cross. His helmet -- yes, a helmet, not just a pillowcase with eye holes -- has a threatening foot-long spike atop. Spooky stuff, in more ways than one, yet in 1915 such a poster was a stunning icon, representing a movie whose director believed to be no more than a particularly dramatic but nevertheless realistic historical tale. The Klan rides to the rescue of white women.

One of the more impressive features of this thick little book is the stylized ways in which the actor's faces are drawn and painted. Most of the stars in the romances are a bit more, well, pretty than they were on screen. Some are beautified almost beyond recognition. Tyrone Power has the head of a mannequin. If I didn't know it was Mary Astor in "The Maltese Falcon," I wouldn't be able to tell from her poster. Others, monsters and manticores, are appropriate ghoulish. Sometimes the golden green gloom is used for effects other than the macabre. Man, do they bring out those Bette Davis eyes. You know -- the Bette Davis of "Now Voyager" (1942). The actress who murmured the immortal lines, "Oh, Jerry, let's not ask for the moon. We have the stars!"

There is an introduction describing the background of studios that are long disappeared -- Vitagraph, Pathe -- before they ALL virtually disappeared, but the text is only about two dozen pages long. It's interesting enough, and the subject is so seldom addressed, that one wishes for more. Nor is there any information to speak of for the individual posters. The artists, one presumes, were anonymous studio hacks but it would be nice to know something about them. Were they just doing a job? Were they Manet manque? Probably just doing a job, but they brought some talent to it. I'd love to know what the late Don Ivan Punchatz would have made of these illustrations.

All in all, with almost every stroke of the brush, they violate Samuel Goldwyn's pronouncement about movie posters: "That's the kind of advertising I like. No exaggeration. Just the facts."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written, sumptuous presentation 14 Nov. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
...This is a groundbreaking book, the first (and only one since!) that truly unearths the story of how movie posters were created, who drew them, why each studio had a certain 'look' to their posters and what impact they had on the popular culture. The text is wise, witty, thoroughly enjoyable while it imparts vast amounts of fresh and fascinating information. And as for the images, they are magnificently chosen and reproduced, each one of them accompanied by intriguing and smart observations on the films themselves, their making and their role in Hollywood history. This is an ambitious undertaking, yet it's an ideal book to get lost in during a lazy weekend. Hard to put down, beautifully done and crying out for a sequel. A classic!
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