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Reel Art: Great Posters From The Golden Age Of The Silver Screen Hardcover – 1988

8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1988
$36.50 $6.78

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Packed between the covers of this undersized volume are classic film posters drawn by the likes of Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton, and many unknown illustrators. Bambi, Gone with the Wind, The Phantom of the Opera, Casablanca, The Thin Man, and King Kong are just a few of the film titles readers will recognize from Hollywood's heyday. The exaggerated lettering, the dramatic rendering of the movie stars' faces, the bright colors, the sensational slogans, and the overall layout of the posters have all but disappeared from contemporary movie advertising. The wide selection of posters promises to please movie buffs and design fans alike. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The value of old movie posters has soared, and the numerous stunning examples in this book show why. At their best, posters conveyed (and often surpassed) a film's promise of excitement to eager moviegoers. In their lively, intelligent survey of poster art from the early days to the end of the 1940s, the authors effectively demonstrate how the poster combined with other elements (promotional gimmicks, theater lobby design) to lure patrons to the box office. They go on to discuss different approaches to poster design, the working methods of the various artists, and the history of the early studios, also offering brief biographies of the major poster artists. Movie buffs will love this book for its glorious illustrations, and students of popular culture will also be intrigued. Stephen Rees, Bucks Cty. Free Lib., Levittown, Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st edition (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896598691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896598690
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 11 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Rebello is a screenwriter and author of the best-selling Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho.' The motion picture HITCHCOCK, based on that book, will be released in 2012 and internationally in early 2013. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Ralph Macchio, Michael Wincott and Richard Portnow. Mr. Rebello wrote several screenplay drafts and is currently working on new film projects. His non-fiction books include Reel Art - Great Posters From the Golden Age of the Silver Screen (largely featuring the poster collection of Richard C. Allen), Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and he is also known for having written feature articles for such magazines as Playboy, Movieline, Hollywood Life, Statement, GQ, More and Cosmopolitan. His celebrity interviews have drawn out provocative revelations from Matt Damon, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Beyonce, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Drew Barrymore, Charlie Sheen, Scarlett Johansson, Clive Owen, Jerry Bruckheimer, Eva Mendes, Benicio Del Toro, Sharon Stone, Lee Iacocca, Pierce Brosnan and Tom Cruise, among others. Born in Massachusetts and a resident of Southern California, he is a Playboy magazine Contributing Editor. His screenplays include several for Disney and independent features.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 1999
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?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 2002
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Daedalus on April 20, 2010
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.
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