Man with the Golden Arm · Saul Bass · 1955

mass production
battle for public space
anti- corporation

Style: Swiss International style

Genre: commercial

Location: movie theaters
, walls, storefronts

Saul Bass was best known for his animated motion picture sequences such as the one in The Man with the Golden Arm from 1955, commissioned by the movie director Otto Preminger. The film dealt with the “gritty, urban theme of drug addiction”(Eskilson). The film poster was composed of rectangular planes in bold color to create a geometric grid, which typified the Swiss International style. Yet these bold rectangular shapes were slightly irregular to seemingly wiggle within the frame. This slight kinetic force creates an unusual composition that distinguishes itself from the typical Swiss composition. The contorted arm in the center breaking through the title conveys Bass’s concept in the simplest and most effective style of design, a silhouette. As a single strong motif, the hand symbolizes the protagonist heroin addiction and summarizes the film’s complex idea. Bass’s hand and arm imagery was so successful at summarizing the themes of drug addiction that a new light was casted onto title sequences.