Remembering the Iconic Film Posters of Designer Bill Gold

The artist behind promotional posters for <i>Casablanca</i>, <i>Bullitt</i>, and more died on May 20

Modern Hollywood film posters can be whipped up using digital images and editing tools. That wasn’t the case in 1942, when artist Bill Gold hand-illustrated his first advertising posters, for Casablanca and James Cagney’s Yankee Doodle Dandy.

From that auspicious start, he would go on to create posters for hundreds of movies throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond, working with filmmakers and collaborators like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut. Gold died on May 20, 2018, at the age of 97.

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“My objective is to ‘sell’ the film, to entice an audience to see it through a revealing and striking image and typography,” Gold said in a 2016 interview with the American Film Institute about his career. “To provoke an interest in the story of the film is what I am able to do best.”

He would work in house at Warner Brothers until launching his own design company in 1962, allowing him to rapidly expand his portfolio to films from all the major studios. A small sampling of the film posters he created  includes A Streetcar Named Desire, Dial M for Murder, Bonnie and Clyde, Bullitt, Funny Girl, Woodstock, Diamonds Are Forever, All the President’s Men, Hair, and Splash. 

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One of his most productive collaborations was with Clint Eastwood, whom Gold met whilw creating a poster for Dirty Harry. Eastwood would continue to turn to Gold for posters for decades, including commissioning last three posters Gold would ever design, for the films Space Cowboys and Mystic River in 2000 and 2003. Gold officially retired after those projects, but made one last poster for Eastwood’s film J. Edgar in 2011. Gold was 90 years old at the time.

The artist may have passed, but he’ll live on through his influence on art and design, for the film world and beyond.

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