NYJFF Celebrates Otto Preminger and Saul Bass Collaborations


Paul Newman in Otto Preminger's Exodus

As we focus on Hollywood great Otto Preminger during this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, we’ll also be highlighting the work of graphic designer Saul Bass, who designed some of the most influential film title sequences of the 1950s and 60s. The two began their collaborations together after Preminger hired Bass to design the movie poster for Carmen Jones (1955). He was so impressed with Bass’ work, he asked him to design the title sequences as well. Fittingly, we're screening three Preminger films for which Bass designed the title sequences: The Man with the Golden Arm (1956), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and Exodus (1960).

Screening first is Anatomy of a Murder, based on the novel by Robert Traver and featuring a score by Duke Ellington. James Stewart stars as Paul Biegler, an attorney who is asked to represent Lt. Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), who is on trial for killing his wife’s assailant. Biegler enters the case, urging Manion to plead insanity for his crime. The trial goes on to untangle the events leading up to the alleged rape of Laura Manion. The January 12th screening also marks the world premiere of a new digital restoration.

Come back to NYJFF on January 13 to see the The Man with the Golden Arm, which features one of Frank Sinatra’s most critically acclaimed roles. Sinatra plays Frankie, a man who was recently discharged from a federal narcotics hospital. His attempts to live straight and narrow are constantly thwarted by the people around him and his reputation. The film’s poster and title sequences featured cutout shapes forming an arm. The unique image representing both Frankie’s profession (dealing poker games) and addiction to heroin made Saul Bass a renowned figure in Hollywood.

Finally, on January 19, we're screening Preminger's zionist epic Exodus, based on the celebrated novel by Leon Uris. Paul Newman plays Ari Ben Canaan, a Palestinian-born agent of the Haganah underground military organization. In attempts to make waves for Jewish people to get their own state in the region, Canaan plans to smuggle 600 Jewish refugees from the island of Cyprus to British Mandate Palestine aboard a stolen cargo vessel. The screening will feature an introduction by Eric A. Goldman, author of The American Jewish Story through Cinema

With stunning graphic designs by Saul Bass, star power from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Paul Newman and James Stewart, and featuring compelling (and often controversial) themes, Otto Preminger’s work is refreshing and unique, and the New York Jewish Film Festival's celebration of him is not to be missed.

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