The Man with the Golden Arm: A Golden Movie

         I chose to write an essay on The Man with the Golden Arm, directed by Otto Preminger in 1956. I have never actually seen it all the way through, but it is important because it was the first film to include opening credits that had art direction rather than just words that flashed on the screen. This opening sequence was done by Saul Bass, a legendary graphic designer, who used stop animation to create a black and white scene out off straight pieces of paper and lettering painted on glass. It is amazing how much time and work into something so simple that could be done with a computer program in a matter of hours or maybe even minutes.

         Since this film, opening credits have become so elaborate, and sometimes the most memorable part of the movie. They can range from anything from sophisticated computer graphics, to mechanical contraptions built by hand. The main point of the opening sequence is to introduce the film and the people who worked on it and also to give the viewer a feel for what the movie will be like.

         While The Man with the Golden Arm was nominated for several major awards, including three Oscar nominations, what makes this film stand out to me and important to the history of the cinema has nothing to do with acting, directing, or producing. It had everything to do with a designer who was given the task to produce opening credits for a film about drug use, and he went above and beyond what had been done in the past, to essentially change the way movies are made today. If it had not been not for Saul Bass and this film, we might still be looking at plain white words spanning over solid backgrounds instead of the creative and ingenious opening sequences that we have today.

Paulina Combow

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