A Look Inside Martin Scorsese’s Vintage Movie Poster Collection


When Mar­tin Scors­ese isn’t mak­ing films, he’s busy pre­serv­ing them, from help­ing fund the restora­tion of clas­sics to col­lect­ing the ephemera of his youth, espe­cial­ly posters. A selec­tion of his movie poster col­lec­tion, rep­re­sent­ing the height of film adver­tis­ing from the 1930’s to the 1960s, cur­rent­ly hangs at MoMA through Octo­ber 25, 2015.

The pow­er that a poster held in the imag­i­na­tion decades ago should not be under­stat­ed. For many it was the only knowl­edge they had about the film they were about to see, and many artists, hired in house by the stu­dios, hyped up the sex­i­est parts of the films. It sold tick­ets.

The MoMA exhib­it is cen­tered on the bill­board sized poster for Pow­ell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoff­mann (1951), a stun­ning work when seen large. (For an under­stand­ing about the impres­sive size of most posters, check out this graph­ic.)

Imacon Color Scanner

It’s only because of col­lec­tors like Scors­ese and Ira. M. Resnick (for whose book Scors­ese wrote an intro­duc­tion) that the artists behind these posters have been named and rec­og­nized.

Although the MoMA web page pro­mot­ing the exhi­bi­tion is sur­pris­ing­ly stingy when it comes to nam­ing all the artists in the show, some inter­net sleuthing brings up some names. The illus­tra­tor behind the Hoff­mann poster, Marc Stone, was also a painter of World War II pro­pa­gan­da posters in the UK.

The min­i­mal, Risko-esque ren­der­ing of Veron­i­ca Lake for Sullivan’s Trav­els (1941) is cred­it­ed to Mau­rice Kallis, though an anony­mous com­ment on the movie poster blog Cit­i­zen K. cred­its it to Fritz Siebel, the commenter’s father. Siebel, who immi­grat­ed to the U.S. from Vien­na, wound up illus­trat­ing A Fly Went By for Dr. Seuss’ children’s book imprint and cre­at­ing the famous Yul Bryn­ner-looka­like and clean­ing prod­uct mas­cot Mr. Clean.


René Péron, who cre­at­ed the beau­ti­ful Expres­sion­is­tic design for Erich von Stroheim’s The Lost Squadron (1932) start­ed his career with posters for silent clas­sics like Abel Gance’s Napoleon and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Pas­sion of Joan of Arc (1928). But he’s prob­a­bly best known for the icon­ic car­i­ca­ture of Jacques Tati grac­ing the poster for Mr. Hulot’s Hol­i­day.


Both the poster for Pow­ell and Pressburger’s Black Nar­cis­sus and Kazan’s On the Water­front are by one of the Ital­ian kings of movie posters, Ansel­mo Ballester. His style is lurid and pulpy, and if there is one dame in dis­tress in a movie, he would make her the sell­ing point of the poster. He was also known for his love of Rita Hay­worth, for whom he would pro­duce his best work. (Just look at this poster for Salome, which is way more inter­est­ing than the pic­ture it rep­re­sents.)


Last­ly, Scors­ese has added one of his own film’s posters: Peter Straus­feld’s stun­ning wood­block poster for Mean Streets. The British artist had a very par­tic­u­lar style (text on one side, graph­ic on the oth­er), and was hired by the Acad­e­my Cin­e­ma in Lon­don as their design­er. (Now, *that’s* a job.)

The fact that we can watch trail­ers on our tele­vi­sions and now iPhones has long dimin­ished the pow­er of the poster. How­ev­er, there are still signs of life in the indus­try, and the amount of artists cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful lim­it­ed edi­tion prints of posters for their favorite films increas­es every year.

via Quartz

Relat­ed con­tent:

50 Film Posters From Poland: From The Empire Strikes Back to Raiders of the Lost Ark

100 Great­est Posters of Film Noir

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Gaze at Glob­al Movie Posters for Hitchcock’sVertigo: U.S., Japan, Italy, Poland & Beyond

The Strange and Won­der­ful Movie Posters from Ghana: The Matrix, Alien & More

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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