The 100 Best Movie Posters of the Past 100 Years
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1936: Go West Young Man
Unlike a lot of films, this one implemented a very artistic representation of the star. It tells us nothing about the film and entices viewers to go into the movie with no preconceived notion.
1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Here’s the film that launched Disney. It uses the same artistic delight that the film unleashed onto the world.
1938: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Errol Flynn set the bar for all subsequent Robin Hoods. Here he is in all his glory, ready to take out a villain with his bow and arrow.
1939: Gone With the Wind
It’s the most magnificent picture ever; at least according to the poster for perhaps one of the most iconic films of all time.
1940: A Chump at Oxford
This animated poster implements caricatures of Laurel and Hardy to help show the film’s slapstick nature. It’s almost as funny as the movie itself.
1941: The Maltese Falcon
Good-looking people: check. Guns: check. Maltese falcon: che wait a minute. The film is famous for using the title artifact as a MacGuffin and the poster uses the same technique, leaving viewers to question how important the falcon is.
All that the greatest love story ever told needs is the two lovers embracing. What’s so poignant is the look of worry they have on their faces, which hints at the fate of their affair.
1943: Girl Crazy
By the looks of this poster, the girl is crazy.
1944: Double Indemnity
The best part about this poster is the tagline and the worried onlooker in the corner. It tells you everything that you need to know without telling you anything at all.
1945: The Lost Weekend
Here’s the floating head at its best. The film’s plot isn’t revealed in the slightest, but at least we all know who the star is.
Rita Hayworth is all this poster needed.
1947: Monsieur Verdoux
By the late 1940s all Chaplain needed to sell a film was his face, his mustache and a bowler derby.
Of course there’s Hamlet himself, but in the corner is one of the most dramatic scenes in the story.
1949: The Third Man
The detail of the three silhouettes is genius. The poster is starting to use abstract ideas that represent the film instead of focusing on the stars or depicting a scene from the film.
1950: Sunset Boulevard
This is a true Hollywood story. The knot in the film reel symbolized the main theme of the film and Gloria Swanson’s face is captivating.
1951: Alice in Wonderland
Here’s a great introduction to all of the zany characters that the film contains in one shot. Not all of these characters interact with each other, but the artist did a great job of putting them all around a table for tea time.
1952: Singin’ in the Rain
They’re singing and they’re in the rain. How much more literal can this poster be? Even the tagline is a great representation of what the film is all about.
1953: From Here to Eternity
What’s the best way to get five big-name stars on one poster? Boxes (like The Brady Bunch did much later).
1954: Dial M For Murder
Hitchcock’s movie uses a graphic representation of a woman reaching for a phone in a struggle. It’s a very thrilling image for one of the best thrillers on film.
1955: The Seven Year Itch
This poster made Marilyn Monroe synonymous with her flowing white dress. The image has been recreated and parodied so many times, but never matched.
1956: Forbidden Planet
This is the first film to be entirely set on a different planet. The now-classic robot carries what seems a lifeless body.
1957: 12 Angry Men
At the top are the 12 angry men of the title, but front and center is the knife that plays such a central part in the plot of this murder trial. The great use of foreshadowing is enough to forgive the cheesy tagline.
1958: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
The iconic 50 foot woman beat out Vertigo to be on this list. While that’s no easy task, the sheer number of references to this poster outweighs anything else that was released this year.
1959: Anatomy of a Murder
What a wonderful image to help give the sense of an actual autopsy being performed. And to do it with only four colors was brilliant.
1960: La Dolce Vita
The title’s translation means “the sweet/good life” and the poster depicts what the 1960 good life was: having an attractive woman and smoking while maintaining a sense of mystery in the shadows.