Mad Movies: Favorite Film Posters from the “Mad Men” Era

Eric Tretbar is a
film enthusiast who lives and breathes cinema every day.

Not only is he a visual
arts professor at the Minneapolis College of Arts and Design, but he also makes
films. He released his most recent film, “Girl Meets Bike,” after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Tretbar’s own film
posters are influenced by the posters of the “Mad Men” era. We asked Tretbar to
pick three of his favorite movie posters from the 1960s.


The Skinny: 

  • Fun Fact: Tretbar’s film, “Girl Meets Bike,” was featured
    at the Minneapolis Film Festival.
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
    2501 Stevens Ave.
    Minneapolis, MN 55404
  • 612.874.3700

“Girl on a Motorcycle” | 1968 | Director Jack

“Whether or not
the leather-clad hips are those of the film’s leading lady, Marianne Faithful,
is irrelevant. In larger posters, Faithful is pictured head-to-toe in the same
one-piece leathers, so the connection–and fantasy–is made. Faithful was,
at the time, married to Mick Jagger, making her somewhat of an international ‘it’ singer-actor-superstar. The poster borders on the style of
exploitation film, promising more sex than its art-film execution actually
delivers. But the lowered zipper, the texture of the leather, the
strangely-positioned hands, and the hand-drawn main title fitted into the belt
buckle all create an aesthetic intimacy long-gone from even smaller indie films
today. The presence in the film of ‘60s Euro heart throb, Alain Delon, adds to
the poster’s erotic moto fantasia. This poster is resurrected in the one sheet
for my own new film, ‘Girl Meets Bike.’”

“Man with the Golden Arm” | 1955 | Director Otto

“Even though
this is a film from the 1950s, graphic designer Saul Bass anticipated much of ‘60s
design by creating it in the ‘50s. Bass raised graphic design from anonymous,
ad agency work to international auteur status, designing not just posters, but
title sequences for many Hitchcock films, special montages for films like ‘Grand
Prix’ (1966), and a unique, recognizable cut-out and pen and ink style for films
of his own like ‘The Point.’ The artwork for ‘Man with the Golden Arm’ has
been copied by countless music albums and movie titles for good reason. Its
stark, irregular graphic boxes communicate the sharp, unpredictable nature of
the film’s story. Bass places high-contrast still photos of the main cast
within and around his graphic boxes, using his design as a surreal set through
which the film’s action seems to take place. Bass dramatizes graphic design,
taking it from a passive, static art to one which complements and sometimes
even overpowers the film it seeks to promote.”

“La Notte” | 1961 | Director Michelangelo Antonioni

poster is likely the product of an anonymous designer in the Italian film
industry. The poster neatly conveys the filmmaker’s bold, minimalist
style, as well as his background as a fashion photographer. The elegant
layout leads the viewer’s eye down Jeanne Moreau’s elegant neckline to the
bold, white title text.  Below, Antonioni’s star, Monica Vitti pops in
high white relief to the reddened supporting characters. Though this film
was black and white, the posters minimal color palette also alludes to the
filmmaker’s taste for a stripped-down expression of the then-fashionable themes
of existential alienation and the insurmountable space between lovers.”