Saul Bass: The Hollywood Connection

Saul Bass's storyboard for the shower scene in Psycho
Saul Bass's storyboard for the shower scene in Psycho

Hollywood Gothique made it out to the Skirball Cultural Center for an afternoon screening of VERTIGO. This was part of an exhibit called "Saul Bass: The Hollywood Connection," dedicated to the graphic designer who provided poster art work and opening title sequences for many classic films. Though Bass did not specialize in horror films, his work will forever be remembered by fans of classic terror, thanks particularly to his work on Aflred Hitchcock's PSYCHO and VERTIGO.

Bass's artwork is on display in two areas. Outside the theatre auditorium you could see some posters, some old vinyl LP soundtrack covers, and the storyboard drawings for the famous shower sequence murder in PSYCHO. Deeper in the museum, there was a room dedicated to Bass's artwork, featuring several more movie posters, plus a screen showing a tape loop of some of Bass's distinctive opening credits sequences.

The poster artwork effectively displays Bass's distinctive style, which used start simple, almost geometric drawings to capture the eye, but the real highlight is the video. Even Bass's credits for non-horror films, like MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM and WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, feature dark, haunting imagery that makes you want to sit through the entire films (aided by some nicey jazzy soundtrack music). Of course, the memorable titles sequences from PSYCHO and VERTIGO are there, along with the one from Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

"Saul Bass: The Hollywood Connection" is not quite elaborate enough or informative enough to be worth a special trip just to look at the posters and video, but it is defiintely worthwhile if you make it down for one of the films that are screening in conjuction with the exhibition. And of course, the Skirball Center itself is worth a look, thanks to its lovely grounds and its wonderful museum dedicated to Jewish cultural history.

The exhibition - which is free of charge - runs through April 1. Remaining screenings include ANATOMY OF A MURDER on Tuesday, February 6 at 1:30pm (free) and Bass's only feature-film directing effort, the science fiction film PHASE IV, on Thursday, February 22 at 7:30pm (for $5). The Skirball Cultural Center's address is 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. Call 310-440-4500 for advance tickets.