Those devil horns and that crooked arrow strongly suggest that the ghost of legendary art director Saul Bass created the new one-sheet of ThinkFilm’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. The arrow appears to have been borrowed verbatim from the bent-forearm concept in Bass’s poster for Otto Preminger‘s The Man With The Golden Arm, and what a splendid idea it was.
You need to click on the larger version of ThinkFilm’s poster to read the slogan: “No one was supposed to get hurt.”
Nobody seems to use this kind of high-concept key art in movie posters these days. Congratulations to ThinkFilm honcho Mark Urman for getting creative as well as paying tribute. 1:52 pm update: Urman just told me he went to Devil director Sidney Lumet and said “I want something Saul Bass-y…something simple and strong with lots of room for review quotes in newspaper ads. Sidney agreed and we had the L.A.-based ad agency Cold Open do the renderings.”
I don’t want to get too referenced, but the shape of the letters forming the title of the Lumet film are vaguely similar to the letters in Bass’s poster for Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse. This next one is a stretch, but it also recalls a title design created for a not-very-good 1961 action drama with Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra called The Devil at 4 O’Clock. [Thanks to HE’s “Burma Shave” for pointing out the Devil art.]
key art from Saul Bass poster for The Man With the Golden Arm; title design for The Devil at 4 O’Clock