Check Out “Bullitt, Blow-Up, & Other Dynamite Movie Posters of the 20th Century”

Artwork:  Blow-Up. Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni. Perf. Vanessa Redgrave, David Hemmings and Sarah Miles. MGM, 1966. Film poster.

Once upon a time in an analogue world, print ruled supreme. Perhaps it was the tangibility of the medium and its ubiquity that made paper a populist’s dream. Leave it to the masterminds over in Hollywood to dream up glorious ways to captivate imaginations in the hopes of driving ticket sales, using the poster as its vehicle for crafting a complex cinematic story into a single image.

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In celebration FraenklelLAB, San Francisco, presents Bullitt, Blow-Up, & Other Dynamite Movie Posters of the 20th Century, on view now through October 1, 2016. Curated by Ralph DeLuca, the exhibition focuses on seldom-exhibited posters that incorporate photography into their designs in new and innovative ways that propelled graphic design forward during the golden age of Hollywood.

Psycho. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Marin Balsam. Paramount, 1960. Film poster.

Psycho. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Marin Balsam. Paramount, 1960. Film poster.

Remember the good old days? Probably not. You’re probably younger than me, and I ain’t old myself. But back in those days none of us were here for, movies had limited runs. They played in theaters, and then they were gone. They rarely showed them on television, until cable came along. It is, as Norma Desmond raves in Sunset Boulevard, “I am BIG. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Back when going to the pictures was big, the posters were even bigger. They were tantalizing teases, promising the best is yet to come on the silver screen. Imagine the thrill of seeing posters for Alfred Hitchcock’s next knockout, never knowing what was in store. The posters perfectly reflected the ethos of the film, evoking a feeling rather than telling a story, beautifully using design to make us look.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Dir. Russ Meyer. Perf. Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Ray Barlow, and Sue Bernard. Eve Productions, 1965. Film poster.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Dir. Russ Meyer. Perf. Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Ray Barlow, and Sue Bernard. Eve Productions, 1965. Film poster.

And what do we see but the best of the best, from recent icons like Platoon, The Crying Game, and Reservoir Dogs to vintage classics including All About Eve, Rear Window, and Psycho, the exhibition provides a masterful tour through the art of movie promotion. But never let it be said that Hollywood had it on lock when indie greats like Russ Meyer were out here tearing it up.

Bullitt, Blow-Up, & Other Dynamite Movie Posters of the 20th Century is beautifully presented, with the works free from their frames. Unencumbered the beauty of their printing captivates. Strong bold colors float on the page, catching the eye with a mesmerizing fantasy. The posters are a promise—one they intend to keep for there is not one film in the exhibition that does not live up to its name. Whether it’s Un Chien Andalou or Dirty Harry, Belle de Jour or The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, the posters are as cutting edge and iconoclastic as the films themselves. Taken as a whole, they remind us of how powerful media can be when it understands that what captures the imagination is a spell that is almost impossible to break.

Bullitt. Dir. Peter Yates. Perf. Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, and Robert Duvall. Warner Brothers, 1968. Film poster.

Bullitt. Dir. Peter Yates. Perf. Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, and Robert Duvall. Warner Brothers, 1968. Film poster.


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.