Logoredux

Warner Brothers-Seven ArtsI have fond memories of drawing movie studio logos in my schoolboy notebooks. The United Artists logo (the somber one that appeared before James Bond movies) was one I tried to copy with painstaking ineptitude; I even made a pass at the TransAmerica symbol that accompanied UA’s stamp after the 1967 merger. Additionally, I turned my hand to various Warner Brothers logos, namely those for Warners-7 Arts (above), reflecting that 1967 merger, and the Warner Communications Company (below), which looked like two and a half red cold capsules floating in the black void of space before morphing into two and a half white cold capsules floating on an eyepatch in a sea of blood.

Warner Communications Corp logo

Oddly, I never attempted the classic Warner Brothers shield (below), which is as strong and brassy a logo as they come… yet I never warmed to it. You can’t argue with the effect but it was never close to my heart.

Classic Warner Brothers logo

I really liked the new American International Pictures logo (below), which was put to use around the turn of the decade. There was something about the shade of orange-yellow they used for the A and the I that just signaled danger to me. But maybe that was guilt by association, as AIP tended to broker in movies that bitch-slapped you to attention and then kicked you out of the cinema to think about what you had just seen.

AIP logo

This logo is just cool and way better than the austere, cod-presidential seal the company went with before this. Speaking of cold and hard-to-love, that’s the Paramount logo for me all over. (See below for a modern version of a logo that has stayed largely the same over the years.) As with the 20th Century Fox symbol, the Paramountain occasionally gets pulled into the action of the movie it’s fronting (Raiders of the Lost Ark comes immediately to mind) but beyond that it’s just a big old hill to me.

Paramount logo

 

Brr! More palatable to me is the Columbia Pictures logo, which has since 1924 depicted a stately lady holding a torch in the manner of the Statue of Liberty. First Columbia Pictures logoThe original design (below) had the lady holding a fistful of sparklers and wearing an American flag as a mantle but this changed in the 1940s to become the generic toga that endures to this day. Bette Davis alleged that the model was showgirl Claudia Dell, who played Octavia to Claudia Colbert’s Cleopatra (1934) but wound up starring in Poverty Row productions and doing uncredited bits in A-films, such as the 1939 Davis’ vehicle Juarez. Another candidate is former Columbia extra Jane Bartholomew, who claimed that she was paid $25 to model for the studio logo. Yet another name put forward was one Amelia Batchler, who may have answered the same cattle call as Bartholomew on the Columbia lot. It's a mystery that's likely never to be solved (I'm only saying this so somebody proves me wrong) but whomever the subject really was, Lady Liberty has enjoyed a few moments of fame, being frightened by The Mouse That Roared (1959) and transforming into a six-gunning Jane Fonda for the opening frames of Cat Ballou (1965).

Columbia logo post 1992

The Columbia logo changed over the years and is now represented by the rather underwhelming presence of model Jenny Joseph, who brings to the job of Torch Lady the narrow-shouldered stature of a soccer mom. (Wikipedia mistakes this Jenny Joseph, a Huston-based muralist, for the British poet Jenny Joseph, who would have been about 60 at the time the painting was done.) There were rumors for years that the model for this painting by Michael J. Deas was the actress Annette Benning, a bit of misinformation fueled by the fact that Benning's mug was superimposed over the Lady's face for the 2000 comedy What Planet Are You From?. Apparently Mrs. Warren Beatty bought the rumor at face value and began to tell interviewers that she was the inspiration. Critic Roger Ebert finally put paid to the myth in an October 31, 2004 Movie Answer Man column.

To be continued…

References:

The History of a Logo: The Lady with a Torch, Reel Classics, 2001.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About American Film Company Logos but Were Afraid to Ask by Rick Mitchell, Hollywood Lost and Found

22 Responses Logoredux
Posted By RWR : November 23, 2007 5:13 pm

Columbia's stately lady also starts dancing as the credits for THANK GOD IT"S FRIDAY (1965) begin to roll.As with your own choices the 20th Century Fox logo has always been top gun among the big studio logos, and it still excites to this day when presented with its classic fanfare.  The first time I saw the 1930s and 1940s editions of the Universal logo as a little kid watching late night horror movies it gave me goosebumps.  The RKO tower was equally fascinating (I actually cheered when it appeared at the start of the John Cusack comedy HOT PURSUIT), and seeing that AIP logo stoked anticipation that something involving a Phibes, a Yorga, a Blacula, or a two-headed transplant was about to unspool. Incidentally the 1970s edition of Universal's logo was never more eerie than at the beginning of JAWS. I also personally love the spinning Avco-Embassy logo of the 1970s (at its best with the little theme which was sporadically used), the Rank Organization gong (somehow you always expected an epic to follow that…talk about building unreasonable expectations!), Golden Harvest's logo, and just seeing New World Pictures appear before a movie.    

Posted By RWR : November 23, 2007 5:13 pm

Columbia's stately lady also starts dancing as the credits for THANK GOD IT"S FRIDAY (1965) begin to roll.As with your own choices the 20th Century Fox logo has always been top gun among the big studio logos, and it still excites to this day when presented with its classic fanfare.  The first time I saw the 1930s and 1940s editions of the Universal logo as a little kid watching late night horror movies it gave me goosebumps.  The RKO tower was equally fascinating (I actually cheered when it appeared at the start of the John Cusack comedy HOT PURSUIT), and seeing that AIP logo stoked anticipation that something involving a Phibes, a Yorga, a Blacula, or a two-headed transplant was about to unspool. Incidentally the 1970s edition of Universal's logo was never more eerie than at the beginning of JAWS. I also personally love the spinning Avco-Embassy logo of the 1970s (at its best with the little theme which was sporadically used), the Rank Organization gong (somehow you always expected an epic to follow that…talk about building unreasonable expectations!), Golden Harvest's logo, and just seeing New World Pictures appear before a movie.    

Posted By RWR : November 23, 2007 5:15 pm

1965? How did that happen? It should have been 1978 for THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY.  I guess the dancing lady hypnotized me.

Posted By RWR : November 23, 2007 5:15 pm

1965? How did that happen? It should have been 1978 for THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY.  I guess the dancing lady hypnotized me.

Posted By Rick J : November 23, 2007 7:39 pm

For some reason or other, I have been fascinated with the Warner Bros logo.  Something about the shield, medieval like.  Also the old musical introduction from the late 1930's into the early 1950's.  I believe that the intro was from the Earl Flynn flick, "The Sea Hawk", composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Posted By Rick J : November 23, 2007 7:39 pm

For some reason or other, I have been fascinated with the Warner Bros logo.  Something about the shield, medieval like.  Also the old musical introduction from the late 1930's into the early 1950's.  I believe that the intro was from the Earl Flynn flick, "The Sea Hawk", composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Posted By The Flying Maciste Brothers : November 26, 2007 6:00 pm

My favorite permutation of the Columbia logo was Michael Powell's nude torchbearing Helen Mirren at the beginning of AGE OF CONSENT — in it's restored version which aired on — you guessed it — TCM only last night!

Posted By The Flying Maciste Brothers : November 26, 2007 6:00 pm

My favorite permutation of the Columbia logo was Michael Powell's nude torchbearing Helen Mirren at the beginning of AGE OF CONSENT — in it's restored version which aired on — you guessed it — TCM only last night!

Posted By Skizziks : November 27, 2007 4:40 pm

How about the decapitated Torch Lady that closes out William Castle's classic PSYCHO pastiche STRAIT-JACKET?

Posted By Skizziks : November 27, 2007 4:40 pm

How about the decapitated Torch Lady that closes out William Castle's classic PSYCHO pastiche STRAIT-JACKET?

Posted By Frank : November 28, 2007 1:46 am

Funny, I loved the annimated Cold Capsule Warner's logo of the 70's. I envisioned the beginning of my super epic, so big it needed TWO studios to present it! I was excited to see how the logos would be presented with the coming of The Towering Inferno, so with eager anticipation I awaited the opening of the movie in second run. When I finaly got to see it and the movie started, alas no cross dissolving logos, but just a plain title card in Irwin Allen's signature typeface (Futura semibold italic?)

Posted By Frank : November 28, 2007 1:46 am

Funny, I loved the annimated Cold Capsule Warner's logo of the 70's. I envisioned the beginning of my super epic, so big it needed TWO studios to present it! I was excited to see how the logos would be presented with the coming of The Towering Inferno, so with eager anticipation I awaited the opening of the movie in second run. When I finaly got to see it and the movie started, alas no cross dissolving logos, but just a plain title card in Irwin Allen's signature typeface (Futura semibold italic?)

Posted By Stephen Cooke : December 16, 2007 12:33 pm

And let's not forget Tony Randall joining in the 20th Century Fox fanfare at the start of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter! I believe The Simpsons Movie also includes young Ralph Wiggum singing along to the fanfare at the very start. 

Posted By Stephen Cooke : December 16, 2007 12:33 pm

And let's not forget Tony Randall joining in the 20th Century Fox fanfare at the start of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter! I believe The Simpsons Movie also includes young Ralph Wiggum singing along to the fanfare at the very start. 

Posted By BrainGun64 : April 8, 2008 11:37 pm

I love the late 1970s Avco Embassy Pictures logo with the byline "An Avco Embassy Film."http://www.clg.yahoo.com

Posted By BrainGun64 : April 8, 2008 11:37 pm

I love the late 1970s Avco Embassy Pictures logo with the byline "An Avco Embassy Film."http://www.clg.yahoo.com

Posted By piledriveit : December 10, 2008 10:42 pm

The greatest 20th Century Fox fanfare transition comes as the penultimate note is drawn out, distorted off a half pitch and spirals into the rumbling theme of ALIEN 3.

It’s that attention to detail that plucked David Fincher from music videos to a more promising career.

Posted By piledriveit : December 10, 2008 10:42 pm

The greatest 20th Century Fox fanfare transition comes as the penultimate note is drawn out, distorted off a half pitch and spirals into the rumbling theme of ALIEN 3.

It’s that attention to detail that plucked David Fincher from music videos to a more promising career.

Posted By maerekaete : April 7, 2009 11:12 am

I used to think that Susan Hayworth was the model for the Columbia lady…

Posted By maerekaete : April 7, 2009 11:12 am

I used to think that Susan Hayworth was the model for the Columbia lady…

Posted By dwayne : January 15, 2010 12:15 am

My grandma was the lady who was in the logo. Her name was Jane Chester then and Jane Bartholomew now. She proved it and hollywood knows it. Whether others did it after her who cares. But she was the first one. She even was invited to hollywood by them and was in magazines, tv shows newspapers etc.

Posted By dwayne : January 15, 2010 12:15 am

My grandma was the lady who was in the logo. Her name was Jane Chester then and Jane Bartholomew now. She proved it and hollywood knows it. Whether others did it after her who cares. But she was the first one. She even was invited to hollywood by them and was in magazines, tv shows newspapers etc.

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