Sometime during World War II, graffiti of a man with a long nose peering over a wall and the message “Kilroy was here” began popping up in the most unlikely and often dangerous places. It was boldly hand drawn on rocks and trees on the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific, painted on the side of warplanes, on U.S. troopships, Army jeeps and bombed out buildings. The little Kilroy man became the logo of American GIs, and a way to taunt the enemy that there was no safe place to hide. The more remote and inaccessible the location, the more likely a GI would paint the graffiti to announce they had been there first.
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Years ago designer Saul Bass explained how he approached film title sequences to me when I interviewed him for an article. “Find an image that will be provocative, seductive yet true to the film,” he said. “It has to have some ambiguity, some contradiction, not only visually but conceptually. Not just isolating the prettiest frame, but finding a metaphor for the film.“
Beginning with his 1955 work on Otto Preminger’s “The Man with the Golden Arm,” Bass transformed the way film title sequences were perceived forever. He approached the task with a graphic designer’s eye, so that stills from his title sequences easily translated into a powerful iconic poster for the movie.
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