As any New York cinephile knows, Film Forum is in the middle of a four-week, 66-film retrospective devoted to what Dave Kehr in The New York Times called “the last full year of unbridled Hollywood filmmaking before the Code,” or what Film Forum is trumpeting as “Hollywood’s Naughtiest, Bawdiest Year.”
I’ve written about pre-Code posters before, but 1933 as a whole offers more than just silk robes and daringly revealed flesh. I’ve gathered as many posters, inserts and window cards as I could for the films programmed in the series, sticking with American posters (though there are some stunning European variations on these, like this Swedish Hold Your Man) and American films (though Bruce Goldstein has also programmed a handful of foreign titles). The quality of draughtsmanship varies wildly, with the poster for Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day, above, among the finest. But for me the most interesting thing about the posters of 1933 is the variety of Deco hand-lettering. There is barely a serif to be found.