Photo: Warner Bros
Bill Gold, the 92-year-old movie poster designer who created iconic ads for A Clockwork Orange, Alien, and The Exorcist, gave a fascinating interview to UnBeige, the design blog, recently.He revealed that one of his original drafts for the 1942 Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca left out a crucial detail. Without this detail, the movie poster makes no sense at all.
Casablanca is probably the best movie ever made, and it was advertised with one of the most memorable classic painted posters created by Hollywood. It depicts Bogart in the final scene of the movie, wearing a white raincoat and a wide-brimmed fedora.
In that scene, of course, he shoots the Nazi commander who has been pursuing him, and walks off into the fog as he tells Claude Rains (the French police captain), “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Receding behind him in the poster, in ochre shadows, are the other stars of the movie, including Ingrid Bergman, Sydney Greenstreet, Rains and Peter Lorre.
The plot of Casablanca is so complicated, however — it’s a wartime romance in which Bogart and the Nazis both pursue a set of valuable visa papers and the resistance leader who needs them to leave the country — that it’s impossible to convey the gist of it in a single, still image.
Initially, Gold says, he thought the lineup of characters would be interesting enough:
This was one of my first posters. My initial thoughts were to put together a montage showing all the characters depicted in the film. They appeared to be an interesting ensemble of notable characters. Something was missing, however. And I was asked to add some more ‘excitement’ to the scene.
The characters alone didn’t hint at the threat of violence that lurks throughout the whole movie. So Gold added … Bogart’s gun:
I added the gun in Bogart’s hand, and the poster suddenly came alive with intrigue.
As is now obvious, the gun is the focal point of the entire ad, and the only part of the ad not covered in partial shadow.
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