Talk about a legacy. 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’ credits from that year alone also include Robert Aldrich’s “The Big Knife,” “The Shrike” helmed by José Ferrer, Billy Wilder’s “The Seven Year Itch,” and “The Racers,” which starred Kirk Douglas and was directed by Henry Hathaway.) “The Racers” wasn’t the only Kirk Douglas film Bass did the titles for; he also designed them for a much more famous Douglas pic, “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. Sure, his work sometimes exceeded credits, such as when he took a turn directing shorts. But it’s his titles, which have earned him a permanent place in cinema history.
Check out FlaneurSolitaire’s full hour-long video below, and keep in mind, as comprehensive a collection as it is, it’s not inclusive of all the great and long-lasting films Bass contributed to.