You know Saul Bass, even if you've never heard of him
Saul Bass had a huge role in modern design. Today's Google doodle pays homage to some of his work, but it only scratches the surface. The man, who would have turned 93 on Wednesday, created some of Hollywood's most iconic opening credits and corporate America's most recognizable logos.
1. The 'Psycho' shower scene
Everyone remembers it, the scene in "Psycho" that made you scared to shower without checking your doors. The scene that forced you to make sure there was no one else in the bathroom with you; we’re talking about the infamous shower. An unsuspecting victim, the water draining, shower curtain falling, and that very long knife – the scene is as iconic and its director, Alfred Hitchcock. However, it was Saul Bass who created the storyboard for it.
While it is Mr. Hitchcock who receives the fame and glory for that unforgettable scene, it was Mr. Bass who styled it in the first place. The contrast between the scene and the storyboard show that Hitchcock changed a few things as he saw fit. But, the vital parts of the scene are pure Bass.
There was some controversy after Hitchcock's death as Bass claimed that the late filmmaker had allowed him to direct the scene. Janet Leigh, star of Psycho, contradicted Bass's claims. However, it has been noted that perhaps what Bass meant when he said "directed," referred to his influence over the scenes. It was, after all, filmed with his storyboard "direction."
Bass also created the title sequence for "Psycho." In fact, Bass created the idea of title sequences as we know it today specifically for Hitchcock. Bass's first title sequence was Otto Preminger's "The Man with the Golden Arm," however, it was the revolutionary font typography that he created for "North by Northwest" that cemented his place in movie history. He specifically created a style that he would carry on to other Hitchcock films and revolutionized titles. Before Bass, the titles of films were static. In fact, titles were often shown on the curtains of the theater. The curtains were only raised right before the first scene in a movie. Bass changed all of that with his minimalist style and inclusion of the title sequence into the movie.
Bass went on to work on movie titles for more than 40 years. His influence can still be seen to this very day; Mad Men, for example, borrows from Bass’s style. His revolutionary techniques for titles and penchant for creating luring scenes fostered a longer and prosperous career.
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