Last week’s post on the 3-dimensional collage designs of Jacques Kapralik caught the attention of Christian Annyas. If you don’t know who Christian is and have never visited his website before you have been missing one of the great curatorial endeavors on the internet.
His Movie Title Stills Collection is an astonishing act of curation, assembling the main title and end cards from thousands of movies from 1902 to 2011. The cards are arranged chronologically and there are glorious subsections for Film Noir and Westerns. And Annyas has not only found and collected all of these, he also presents them on one of the most elegant and user friendly websites I’ve ever seen (he is a brilliant web designer as well as a devoted cinephile—he makes it a rule only to include films he’s actually seen, and he’s seen plenty). He also writes blog posts on related subjects like The Typography of Jean-Luc Godard, not to mention the extraordinary graphic design collections (Warner Bros. 1930s movie poster typography, the typography of Sanborn New York City maps, Chevrolet Speedometer design and much more) that he posts on his other blog.
There is something about seeing all these title cards together in one place that elevates them as an art form, that makes you look twice at something you’ve probably never paid much attention to before. Sure we’ve all swooned over Saul Bass title sequences, and Annyas, of course, has a superb section devoted to them too, but have you ever really considered Warner Brothers end titles before? To see all these cards together is to discover a breadth of type design and handlettering, impeccably and inventively used over and over again. Maybe it's because I’m both a designer and a cinephile, and perhaps it wouldn’t wow everyone quite the way it does me, but this site just takes my breath away.
Anyway, Christian was quite taken with my post about Kapralik and recognized his work from some of the titles in his collection. And so he was generous enough to provide Mubi with three of Kapralik’s title sequences (all for MGM, all unsigned and uncredited) for Clarence Brown’s Come Live with Me (1941), Norman Taurog’s Presenting Lily Mars (1943) and George Cukor’s Pat and Mike (1952).
When I first saw these stills I wondered if the sequences were animated, but Christian has posted the Come Live with Me titles online which shows that they were actually static collages.
I know Kapralik very probably did not choose the lettering for these titles, but I have to make special mention of the typeface used for Presenting Lily Mars, below, with its eccentric “r”. The shower curtain in the 4th frame, however, is the perfect Kapralik touch.
Many thanks, of course, to Christian Annyas.