Everyone loves movie posters – or as they’re called in the industry, one sheets. When successfully designed and executed, they evoke the epitome of the emotion and experience you are promised in the film. Until fairly recently (around the mid-1980s), all cinematic one sheets were comprised of expert illustration, usually of the lead actors and actresses since the faces of the contract players were the biggest selling point of any film. Illustrator legends included Richard Amsel, Bob Peak, Drew Struzan, John Alvin, Frank McCarthy and Saul Bass.

Below is a special treat I came across that makes the internet momentarily worthwhile- original movie posters (mostly recent) without all that typography and credits to gum up the works! These images are not only beautifully realized likenesses (before Photoshop!), but also convey a sophisticated appreciation for composition and graphic design.

It’s a shame there’s isn’t enough representation of classic movies before the mid-1960s (wth a few exceptions – David Lean’s The Ten Commandments is there, but no Lawrence of Arabia? Bridge Over River Kwai? Doctor Zhivago?). It’s a sad fact that after the initial original distributions to the movie houses, they were re-collected and disposed of making the rare survivor a collectors item.

Perhaps out there in a dusty Los Angeles warehouse sits piles of camera-ready art from the Golden Age – but thanks to conservationists and archivists like Martin Scorsese and others, we’ll always have the films to revisit like old friends. Enjoy!


Note: Of course not all the images here are illustrations, but painted-over photography (Black Swan, Harry Potter, Casino Royale, etc)… however great art is great art!