The Man With The Golden Arm

Based on a novel by Nelson Algren, Otto Preminger's controversial and groundbreaking 1955 drama The Man With The Golden Arm starred Frank Sinatra in an Oscar-nominated performance as a recovering heroin addict struggling to stay clean. One of the best-regarded and most influential graphic designers of all time, Saul Bass worked with Preminger to come up with a design for the film's opening titles and marketing campaign that would capture the horror of addiction without resorting to sensationalism. In the book Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design, author Pat Kirkham breaks down Bass' design: He created an arresting image of a distorted, disjointed arm.

The semi-abstract form helped distance the image from the harsh realities of shooting up, although they are implicit in the (dis)figuration. As well as being disconnected from a body, the black arm has the appearance of being petrified and transformed into something else, just as the Sinatra character in the film is transformed by his addiction. Bass' bold original design was somewhat diluted by the studio executives who requested the addition of the stars' faces to his abstract blocks of colour. Nevertheless, the pioneering design was enormously influential and remains highly prized among collectors. This is the rare British quad format poster for the original UK release of the film in January 1956.

Excellent (A-)
Conservation backed on linen in the European style with no restoration whatsoever. Prior to backing this poster had one horizontal and three vertical machine folds as issued, with a few tiny splits to folds and cross folds. The backing has smoothed and diminished the folds. A few small printing imperfections to black and teal colour blocks. Image and colours otherwise excellent.

British Quad Film Poster
40¼ x 30 in. (102 x 76 cm.)

  • Romance
  • Country of Origin: Printed in England by The Haycock Press, Ltd., London