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They Just Don’t Make Movie Posters Like These Anymore

There was a time when a poster was all it took to pique people’s interest in a film. Today, production houses tend to rely more on teasers and trailers to generate buzz for their movies. Posters, unfortunately, are taking a backseat. They are still used, of course, but are largely forgotten in a few weeks and are mostly generic. Try to recall the most recent film poster that had an impact on you. We bet you'd likely find it difficult.
This wasn’t the case in the 20th century. Many movie posters back then were works of art in themselves. The annals of cinema are filled with classic film posters with dazzling color schemes, abstract representations of key moments, or simply clever concepts. Today, we will take a look at some of the coolest classic movie posters to ever grace cinemas.

1. Richard III (1912)

 Classic Movie Posters, Richard III (1912)
Although hardly many people are aware of this silent film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play, its poster will always be remembered. Its evocative depiction of Richard III crying out in front of the carnage is a work of art.

2. The Last Days of Pompeii (1913)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Last Days of Pompeii
The film is set in the final days before Mount Vesuvius erupted in Pompeii in 79 AD and is based on Edward Bulwer-1834 Lytton's novel of the same name. While Pompeii’s history is now well-known, this poster does an excellent job of presenting Mount Vesuvius as a sort of larger-than-life nemesis of the story.

3. The Kid (1921)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Kid
Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid is the heartwarming story of a friendship between a tramp and an orphan child. The poster mentions that Chaplin worked for a full year to craft this comedy. In addition, it also brilliantly conveys the bond between the two leads, touching viewers' hearts in an instant.

4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This was the first known screen adaptation of Victor Hugo's renowned novel from 1831. In contrast to the Disney rendition from the 1990s, this version depicts Quasimodo as the grotesque figure he’s supposed to be. You care about him a lot more after seeing the poster.

5. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Thief of Bagdad
This is an original Arabian Nights fantasy that remains one of the most visually stunning spectacles of all time. Despite being nearly a century old, the film had exceptionally strong special effects, and the poster helps get viewers in the mood with its depiction of a flying horse over a majestic landscape.

6. Metropolis (1927)

 Classic Movie Posters, Metropolis
In 2005, the “international” poster for the 1927 film Metropolis was sold for a whopping $690,000. It still holds the record for the most expensive film poster of all time! The German science-fiction film was way ahead of its time and portrayed a highly stylized futuristic city in a utopian society. This poster is truly a wonder to behold; it has a mysterious and futuristic feel to it.

7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

 Classic Movie Posters, All Quiet on the Western Front
This poignant film follows a young German soldier who eagerly enters World War I. But after witnessing the brutality of the conflict firsthand, his excitement begins to waver. Despite being a film about war, the poster is rather quiet. The soldier is just sitting there, silently staring out from the black abyss. 

8. Dracula (1931)

 Classic Movie Posters, Dracula
This was the first sound adaptation of the famous novel by Bram Stoker, and the poster, featuring yesteryear actor Bela Lugosi, still gives us chills. This was not the only poster used to promote the film. However, it drew the greatest attention and remains one of the rarest and most sought-after movie posters among collectors. The original version of this poster fetched $525,800 in an auction.

9. King Kong (1933)

 Classic Movie Posters, King Kong
The image of King Kong, the giant ape, rising to the top of the Empire State Building has long been imprinted on the imaginations of moviegoers. While different versions of the fictitious monster have appeared in various media over the decades, the 1933 iteration will always remain the original and perhaps the most iconic. The vintage poster is full of thrilling action and drama.

10. Dante’s Inferno (1935)

 Classic Movie Posters, Dante’s Inferno
The devils of Hell are pressing through and climbing upon the city in this dramatic poster for the 1935 film Dante's Inferno. The film is about a former banker named Jim Carter who joins a carnival for a show called Dante's Inferno. To make the show more popular, Jim plays up the sensational aspects of the glimpse into hell. This poster is an interpretation of one of the film's major sequence, which is enhanced by the frightening artwork.

11. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Adventures of Robin Hood
Errol Flynn's 1938 Robin Hood has certainly set the bar when it comes to film interpretations of the legendary character. You can see him here in all his magnificence, preparing to take down a villain with his trademark bow and arrow. A truly impressive work of art.

12. Gone With the Wind (1939)

 Classic Movie Posters, Gone With the Wind
The film needs no introduction. Neither does its poster. It’s safe to say that the Gone With the Wind poster is one of the most iconic ones in the history of cinema. Even someone who hasn't seen the film can understand that it's a passionate romance set against the turbulent history of the American Civil War just by looking at this poster. It brilliantly encapsulates the epic scale of the narrative and the historical scope of the film.

13. Casablanca (1942)

 Classic Movie Posters, Casablanca
This one-of-a-kind poster for Casablanca was one of about 2,000 printed to be put up outside Italian movie theaters in 1946. The classic romantic film was made four years earlier, but Italy was then ruled by the fascist regime, which rejected the American-produced film. The movie began screening after the Second World War, and Warner Bros. commissioned artist Luigi Martinati to create a brand-new design. At the time, the poster was considered far superior to those created by American artists. It fetched an eye-watering $478,000 at an auction.

14. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

 Classic Movie Posters, Singin’ in the Rain
The three principal characters in this well-known musical are singing in the rain. Can a poster be more literal? But it serves its purpose and informs the audience of the film's genre. Even the tagline captures the essence of the film: a lighthearted, romantic musical.

15. Forbidden Planet (1956)

 Classic Movie Posters, Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi classic in which a human crew journeys in a spacecraft to investigate a distant planet’s colony. There, they discover the deadly secrets of a lost civilization, along with two survivors and a powerful robot. Back then, it was the first film to be entirely set on a different planet. The image of the robot holding a lifeless woman's body has become a classic shot in cinema history.

16. 12 Angry Men (1957)

 Classic Movie Posters, 12 Angry Men
A poster for a gritty courtroom drama can’t be easy to make. Yet, this one does it perfectly. At the top are the "twelve angry men" of the title. But the knife, which is so crucial to the story of this murder trial, takes center stage. It's an excellent example of foreshadowing. Yeah, the tagline may seem a bit cheesy now, but that was the norm in those times.

17. The Sound of Music (1965)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Sound of Music
The message conveyed by the poster for this musical is straightforward: let's all dance about on the hillside and sing joyful songs. Of course, the film was much more than that, but this poster perfectly depicts its essence. The effervescent Julie Andrews is in the spotlight, and it's clear that music is crucial to her persona.

18. The Graduate (1967)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Graduate
The Graduate stars Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate who becomes enmeshed in an affair with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's business partner. This proved to be Hoffman's breakout role. The movie won a Best Director Oscar for Mike Nichols and became one of the most popular and influential films of the late 1960s. The poster immortalizes the iconic shot from the film where Hoffman’s character delivers the famous "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me" quote.

19. The Godfather (1972)

 Classic Movie Posters, The Godfather
This poster for the film The Godfather displays the classic thriller/gangster film vibe. This poster's black background suggests an air of mystery while evoking feelings of fear and darkness. The only vivid color in the poster comes from a red rose. This rose was featured in the film's promotion as well. Retrospectively, we can see how it foreshadows what happened to the Godfather.
There is something magical about this movie poster, from the typeface to the puppet strings as well as the Godfather himself caressing his cat. Such an legendary film deserves nothing less.

20. Jaws (1975)

 Classic Movie Posters, Jaws
The Jaws movie poster works so well because it teases the film's initial attack while also offering the audience a preview of what it's all about. You can't help but picture yourself in the swimmer's shoes, fearful of the shark lurking underneath you, ready to attack. The shark's size is exaggerated for dramatic effect, but that's precisely what such a creature feature needs. The antagonist had to be larger-than-life, and here it is, poised to devour the woman whole.

21. Rocky (1976)

 Classic Movie Posters, Rocky
The movie's poster shows Sylvester Stallone with his back to us. This may have been because almost no one knew about him in 1976. As we all know now, Rocky turned out to be one of the greatest films ever made and catapulted Stallone to super stardom.
New posters were released after the film's popularity, but this one retains its allure. It has the classic tagline "His entire life was a million-to-one shot," and it presents Stallone's Rocky with his arms raised at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is the iconic stair sequence that we've all emulated at least once in our lives.
The poster focuses on the athletic triumph of Rocky, and knowing how his story unfolds, we can’t help but cheer him on.

22. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

 Classic Movie Posters, Raiders of the Lost Ark
This rare vintage adventure poster from the ultimate adventure movie wonderfully represents one of cinema history's most beloved and successful series.
The original poster of this classic featured a similar image, but with a closer shot of Indiana Jones. Then an updated poster was released for the ‘official’ re-release in 1982. This time, designer Richard Amsel created a more exciting, action-packed offering, with Jones in his trademark bull-whip cracking pose set against the Ark of the Covenant.

23. E.T. (1982)

 Classic Movie Posters, E.T.
This and the poster showing the well-known image of the bike soaring in front of the moon are the two available variants of the E.T. movie poster. This one is more popular since it depicts the famous "finger-touching" moment from the film. Steven Spielberg, the film's director, thought of the concept for this poster and wanted to feature E.T. and Elliot’s fingers touching in a nod to Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam painting.
The poster's designer, Hollywood artist John Alvin, requested his daughter to pose as Elliot's hand. It won multiple awards and was praised for successfully conveying the film's emotions in a single picture. 

24. Home Alone (1990)

 Classic Movie Posters, Home Alone
Starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, and Catherine O'Hara, Home Alone is one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time. It revolves around an eight-year-old troublemaker who must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Culkin grasping his face in a state of fright is an image that people instantly associate this classic holiday film with. Also noticeable is the funny tagline: “A Family Comedy Without The Family," which is exactly what the film is all about.

25. Jurassic Park (1993)

 Classic Movie Posters, Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg's 1993 science fiction blockbuster Jurassic Park is regarded as a special effects wonder for the way it made the dinosaurs in the film appear lifelike. Given the epic scale of the film, the poster is pretty understated. Surprisingly, no dinosaur appears in the poster. It only shows a logo. And that works brilliantly! Designer Sandy Collora, who developed the logo, drew inspiration from the cover image made by artist Chip Kidd for Michael Crichton's 1990 novel Jurassic Park.
Since then, the T-Rex skeleton has been a part of popular culture, and it is one of the most recognizable icons of the 1990s. It’s the most fitting representation of the film’s deeper themes and proves that sometimes less is indeed more.
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