Good Movies as Old Books: 100 Films Reimagined as Vintage Book Covers

At one time paper­back books were thought of as trash, a term that described their per­ceived artis­tic and cul­tur­al lev­el, pro­duc­tion val­ue, and utter dis­pos­abil­i­ty. This changed in the mid-20th cen­tu­ry, when cer­tain paper­back pub­lish­ers (Dou­ble­day Anchor, for exam­ple, who hired Edward Gorey to design their cov­ers in the 1950s) made a push for respectabil­i­ty. It worked so well that the sig­na­ture aes­thet­ics they devel­oped still, near­ly a life­time lat­er, pique our inter­est more read­i­ly than those of any oth­er era.

Even today, graph­ic design­ers put in the time and effort to mas­ter the art of the mid­cen­tu­ry paper­back cov­er and trans­pose it into oth­er cul­tur­al realms, as Matt Stevens does in his “Good Movies as Old Books” series. In this “ongo­ing per­son­al project,” Stevens writes, “I envi­sion some of my favorite films as vin­tage books. Not a best of list, just movies I love.”

These movies, for the most part, date from more recent times than the mid-20th cen­tu­ry. Some, like Jor­dan Peele’s Us, the Safdie broth­ers’ Uncut Gems, and Bong Joon-ho’s Par­a­site, came out just last year. The old­est pic­tures among them, such as Alfred Hitch­cock­’s The Birds, date from the ear­ly 1960s, when this type of graph­ic design had reached the peak of its pop­u­lar­i­ty.

Suit­ably, Stevens also gives the retro treat­ment to a few already styl­ized peri­od pieces like Steven Spiel­berg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Joe John­ston’s The Rock­e­teer, and Andrew Nic­col’s Gat­taca, a sci-fi vision of the future itself imbued with the aes­thet­ics of the 1940s. Each and every one of Stevens’ beloved-movies-turned-old-books looks con­vinc­ing as a work of graph­ic design from rough­ly the decade and a half after the Sec­ond World War, and some even include real­is­tic creas­es and price tags. This makes us reflect on the con­nec­tions cer­tain of these films have to lit­er­a­ture, most obvi­ous­ly those, like David Fincher’s Fight Club and Stephen Frears’ High Fideli­ty, adapt­ed from nov­els in the first place.

More sub­tle are Rian John­son’s recent Knives Out, a thor­ough­go­ing trib­ute to (if not an adap­ta­tion of) the work of Agatha Christie; Rid­ley Scot­t’s Blade Run­ner, which hybridizes a Philip K. Dick novel­la with pulp detec­tive noir; and Wes Ander­son­’s Rush­more, a state­ment of its direc­tor’s intent to revive the look and feel of the ear­ly 1960s (its books and oth­er­wise) for his own cin­e­mat­ic pur­pos­es. Stevens has made these imag­ined cov­ers avail­able for pur­chase as prints, but some retro design-inclined, bib­lio­philic film fans may pre­fer to own them in 21st-cen­tu­ry book form. See all of his adap­ta­tions in web for­mat here.

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

157 Ani­mat­ed Min­i­mal­ist Mid-Cen­tu­ry Book Cov­ers

Vin­tage Book & Record Cov­ers Brought to Life in a Mes­mer­iz­ing Ani­mat­ed Video

When Edward Gorey Designed Book Cov­ers for Clas­sic Nov­els: See His Iron­ic-Goth­ic Take on Dick­ens, Con­rad, Poe & More

Songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costel­lo, Talk­ing Heads & More Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers

Clas­sic Songs Re-Imag­ined as Vin­tage Book Cov­ers Dur­ing Our Trou­bled Times: “Under Pres­sure,” “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” “Shel­ter from the Storm” & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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