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Saul BassAnatomy of Film Design$
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Jan-Christopher Horak

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813147185

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813147185.001.0001

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The Urban Landscape

The Urban Landscape

Chapter:
(p.227) 5 The Urban Landscape
Source:
Saul Bass
Author(s):

Jan-Christopher Horak

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813147185.003.0006

Cityscapes were a major inspiration for the work of Saul Bass, yet his depictions of urbanity sometimes appeared reductionist. On the one hand, the grid structure in his design work mirrored the perpendicular lines of urban architecture in the twentieth century, just as his visualizations of cities privileged vertical-horizontal movement. On the other hand, Bass was fascinated by urban nightscapes and their perpendicular arrangement of spots of light, reducing a city’s architecture to the light spectacles on Broadway theater marquees. Bass employed a variety of strategies to depict the urban landscape in his title sequences: the pure modernist art abstraction of Billy Wilder’s Seven Year Itch (1955); the indexical abstraction of Four Just Men (1959); the live-action geometric designs in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), Something Wild (1961), and Alcoa Premiere (1961); the visual chaos of big-city graffiti in Robert Wise’s West Side Story (1961); and the flashing lights of his two Las Vegas movies, Ocean’s Eleven (1960) and Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995).

Keywords:   cityscapes, Broadway lights, urban architecture, Billy Wilder, Martin Scorsese, West Side Story, Casino

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