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Posts tagged “Goodfellas

Saul Bass: Famous Title’s from Preminger to Scorsese

Acclaimed titles designer Saul Bass worked with some of Hollywood’s most legendary directors during his 40-plus year career, and on some of their best pictures. His first title credit was on Otto Preminger’s 1954 Carmen Jones. From there, Bass went on to collaborate on over 60 films, many of which have become much deserved cinema classics.

In this hour-long compilation, YouTube user FlaneurSolitaire pieces together scores of Bass’ revered title sequences in chronological order, starting with The Man with the Golden Arm (also directed by Preminger), from 1955. Bass also did the titles for Spartacus (1960), which you can find at the 20:19 mark of the video.

Preminger isn’t the only director to bring Bass aboard more than once. Bass also developed long lasting working relationships with such historic and undeniably influential talents as Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo, and North by Northwest to name but a few) and, later, Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino). In fact, Casino is the last sequence Bass did before he passed away in 1996.

Just look at these designs. Bass’ unique eye and aesthetic helped capture the essence of each film he worked on, often in less than three minutes.


Scorsese: An Art Show Tribute

Martin Scorsese_portrait art Spoke Art has taken over New York’s Bold Hype Gallery for Scorsese: An Art Show Tribute, featuring work based on films such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Departed, Gangs of New York, Casino and many more. Artists such as Scott Campbell, Joshua Budich, Dave Perillo, Fernando Reza, Jayson Weidel, Jessica Deahl, Jon Smith, New Flesh, Paul Shipper, Rhys Cooper, Rich Pellegrino and Sam Smith have all contributed to the show, which is open Friday April 19 through Sunday April 21.

Scorsese: An Art Show Tribute takes place April 19-21 at the Bold Hype Gallery, 547 West 27th Street, 5th floor, New York, NY. The hours are 6 p.m.-close April 19 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 20-21. Check out some of the prints here and on the official facebook page HERE

Martin Scorsese_Taxi Driver_Poster Art


Gangs of New York – The Television Series

gangs-of-new-york-five-points-brawlThis is how it should have been done originally, Deadwood style… Gangs of New York is being developed for the small screen.

Scorsese is now working with his Gangs of New York distributor Miramax (or the current version of Miramax, at least) to develop a TV series based on the 2002 film.

The idea is not just to explore the area of early New York covered in the film, but to look at gangs in cities such as Chicago. And while the show would no doubt lack the commanding presence of the film’s top-level cast, this seems like a much better idea than a Goodfellas show, which was originally planned a few years back. By expanding the scope, the creators would have ample opportunity to break away from what we saw in the film. And while Goodfellas is a look at a single iconic character in the sweep of American crime history, Gangs offers the potential to craft an on-going story that would not affect or diminish the better aspects of the film. After his success with the superlative Boardwalk Empire, this looks promising.

In short, Gangs of New York is great material, but while the film has incredible aspects, it was not exactly an exceptional exploration of the story. There’s a lot more to play with.

Via Variety, Scorsese said in a release,

This time and era of America’s history and heritage is rich with characters and stories that we could not fully explore in a two hour film. A television series allows us the time and creative freedom to bring this colorful world, and all the implications it had and still does on our society, to life.

Current Miramax head Richard Nanula said,

No one better exemplifies what the new Miramax is and will be better than Martin Scorsese. His dedication to quality and the art of storytelling continues to excite everyone that works with him and watches his films and television programs. We could not think of a better partner for this project than the creator of the wonderful film on which it is based.


Saul Bass

Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) was a graphic designer and filmmaker, perhaps best known for his design of film posters and motion picture title sequences.

Saul Bass was born on May 8, 1920, in the Bronx, New York, to Eastern European Jewish immigrant parents. He graduated from James Monroe High School in the Bronx and studied part-time at the Art Students League in Manhattan until attending night classes with György Kepes at Brooklyn College. He began his time in Hollywood during the 1940s doing print work for film ads, until he collaborated with filmmaker Otto Preminger to design the film poster for his 1954 film Carmen Jones. Preminger was so impressed with Bass’s work that he asked him to produce the title sequence as well. This was when Bass first saw the opportunity to create something more than a title sequence, but to create something which would ultimately enhance the experience of the audience and contribute to the mood and the theme of the movie within the opening moments. Bass was one of the first to realize the creative potential of the opening and closing credits of a movie.

Bass became widely known in the film industry after creating the title sequence for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). The subject of the film was a jazz musician’s struggle to overcome his heroin addiction, a taboo subject in the mid-’50s. Bass decided to create a controversial title sequence to match the film’s controversial subject. He chose the arm as the central image, as the arm is a strong image relating to drug addiction. The titles featured an animated, white on black paper cut-out arm of a heroin addict. As he expected, it caused quite a sensation.

For Alfred Hitchcock, Bass provided effective, memorable title sequences, inventing a new type of kinetic typography, for North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), working with John Whitney, and Psycho (1960). It was this kind of innovative, revolutionary work that made Bass a revered graphic designer. Before the advent of Bass’s title sequences in the 1950s, titles were generally static, separate from the movie, and it was common for them to be projected onto the cinema curtains, the curtains only being raised right before the first scene of the movie.

Bass once described his main goal for his title sequences as being to ‘’try to reach for a simple, visual phrase that tells you what the picture is all about and evokes the essence of the story”. Another philosophy that Bass described as influencing his title sequences was the goal of getting the audience to see familiar parts of their world in an unfamiliar way.

He designed title sequences for more than 40 years, and employed diverse film making techniques, from cut-out animation for Anatomy of a Murder (1958), to fully animated mini-movies such as the epilogue for Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and live action sequences. His live action opening title sequences often served as prologues to their films and transitioned seamlessly into their opening scenes.

Toward the end of his career, he was rediscovered by Martin Scorsese who had grown up admiring his film work. For Scorsese, Saul Bass (in collaboration with his wife Elaine Bass) created title sequences for Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), and Casino (1995), his last title sequence. His later work with Scorsese saw him move away from the optical techniques that he had pioneered and move into the use of computerized effects. Bass’s title sequences featured new and innovative methods of production and startling graphic design.

Saul Bass designed emblematic movie posters that transformed the visuals of film advertising. Before Bass’s seminal poster for The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), movie posters were dominated by depictions of key scenes or characters from the film, often both juxtaposed with each other. Bass’s posters, however, typically developed simplified, symbolic designs that visually communicated key essential elements of the film. For example, his poster for a Man with a Golden Arm, with a jagged arm and off-kilter typography, starkly communicates the protagonist’s struggle with heroin addition. Bass’s iconic Vertigo (1958) poster, with its stylized figures sucked down into the nucleus of a spiral vortex, captures the anxiety and disorientation central to the film. His poster for Anatomy of a Murder (1959), featuring the silhouette of a corpse jarringly dissected into seven pieces, makes both a pun on the film’s title and captures the moral ambiguities within which this court room drama is immersed.

He did great work for Stanley Kubrick, Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Billy Wilder among other. His last commissioned film poster was created for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), but it was never distributed. His poster work spanned five decades and inspired numerous other poster and graphic designers. Bass’s film posters are characterized by a distinctive typography and minimalistic style.

In some sense, all modern opening title sequences that introduce the mood or theme of a film can be seen as a legacy of Saul Bass’s innovative work. In particular, though, title sequences for some recent movies and television series, especially those whose setting is during the 1960s, have purposely emulated the graphic style of his animated sequences from that era. Some examples of title sequences that pay homage to Bass’s graphics and animated title sequences are Catch Me If You Can (2002), X-Men: First Class (2011), and the opening to the AMC series Mad Men.

Check out some iconic Saul Bass opening titles HERE


Martin Scorsese – Part 3 (Mid 80’s – Early 90’s)

Scorsese’s next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983). A satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Visually, it was far less kinetic than the style Scorsese had developed up until this point, often using a static camera and long takes.
The expressionism of his recent work here gave way to moments of almost total surrealism. It still bore many of Scorsese’s trademarks, however, such as its focus on a troubled loner who ironically becomes famous through a criminal act (murder and kidnapping, respectively). The King of Comedy failed at the box office, but has become increasingly well regarded by critics in the years since its release. Also, Scorsese apparently believes that this is the best performance De Niro ever gave for him.

In 1983 Scorsese began work on a long-cherished personal project, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, based on the 1951 (English translation 1960) novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis. The project collapsed under pressure from outraged Christian groups.

After the difficulties he experienced with Last Temptation, Scorsese again saw his career at a critical point, as he described in the documentary Filming for Your Life: Making ‘After Hours’ (2004). He saw that in the increasingly commercial world of 1980s Hollywood, the highly stylized and personal 1970s films he and others had built their careers on would not continue to enjoy the same status.
With After Hours (1985) he made an aesthetic shift back to a pared-down, almost “underground” film-making style – his way of staying viable. Filmed on an extremely low budget, on location, and at night in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, the film is a black comedy about one increasingly misfortunate night for a mild New York word processor (Griffin Dunne) and featured cameos by Teri Garr and Cheech & Chong. A bit of a stylistic anomaly for Scorsese, After Hours fits in well with popular low-budget “cult” films of the 1980s, e.g. Jonathan Demme’s ‘Something Wild’ and Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’.

As well as the 1987 Michael Jackson music video “Bad”, in 1986 Scorsese made The Color of Money, a sequel to the much admired Robert Rossen film ‘The Hustler’ (1961) with Paul Newman reprising his role of Fast Eddie Felson and Tom Cruise. Although typically visually assured, The Color of Money was the director’s first foray into mainstream commercial film-making. It won actor Paul Newman a belated Oscar and gave Scorsese the clout to finally secure backing for a project that had been a long time goal for him: The Last Temptation of Christ.

Like the novel, the Paul Schrader scripted film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust. Even prior to its release the film caused a massive furore, worldwide protests against its perceived blasphemy effectively turning a low budget independent movie into a media sensation. The main source of the controversy centered on the final passages of the film which depicted Christ marrying and raising a family with Mary Magdalene in a Satan-induced hallucination while on the cross.

Looking past the controversy, The Last Temptation of Christ gained critical acclaim and remains an important work in Scorsese’s canon: an explicit attempt to wrestle with the spirituality which had under-pinned his filmsup until that point. Scorsese received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and Hershey’s performance as Mary Magdalene earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Along with directors Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola, in 1989 Scorsese provided one of three segments in the portmanteau film ‘New York Stories’, called “Life Lessons”. That was a stepping stone to one of his greatest achievements.

Gangster epic Goodfellas (1990) was a return to form for Scorsese and his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull. De Niro and Joe Pesci in Goodfellas offered a virtuoso display of the director’s bravura cinematic technique and re-established, enhanced, and consolidated his reputation. After the film was released, critic Roger Ebert, a friend and supporter of Scorsese, named Goodfellas “the best mob movie ever” and is ranked #1 on Roger’s movie list for 1990, the film is widely considered one of the director’s greatest achievements.

However, Goodfellas also signified an important shift in tone in the director’s work, inaugurating an era in his career which was technically accomplished but some have argued emotionally detached. Despite this, many view Goodfellas as a Scorsese archetype – the apogee of his cinematic technique. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Scorsese earned his third nomination for Goodfellas but again lost to a first-time director, Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves). Joe Pesci earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Goodfellas. Scorsese and the film won over a numerous of different awards, including five BAFTA Awards, a Silver Lion from Venice.