The More the Merrier: Posters from the Ten Best Picture Nominees, 1936–1943

From the collection of Mike Kaplan and the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library

This year’s return to the Academy’s past practice of nominating ten films for the Best Picture award revealed an amazing list of eclectic films that were nominated during the Academy’s first two decades. While the specific number of Best Picture nominees ranged from three to twelve in the Awards years from 1927/28 to 1944 (when the number was set at five, as it remained until 2009), there were eight consecutive years with ten Best Picture Nominees: 1936 to 1943.

The Academy’s exhibition featured campaign art for all 80 of these nominated films and showcases some of the most creative images from the golden age of film poster design, including previously unseen artwork. Drawn from the collection of Academy member and award-winning poster art director Mike Kaplan and augmented by materials from the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, American, European and South American posters were represented in a variety of sizes and feature the work of key artists and illustrators including Norman Rockwell, Al Hirschfeld, Jacques Kapralik, France’s Boris Grinsson and Pierre Pigeot, and Italy’s Ercole Brini.

Like the fascinating and often surprising choices among the ten Best Picture nominees, the variety of these designs will elicit favorites and stir debate. Many are the best posters produced for these classics and some are arguably the best movie posters ever created. Highlights come from: France – “Casablanca” (1943), “The Maltese Falcon” (1941); Italy – “The Philadelphia Story” (1940), “Citizen Kane” (1941); Argentina – “Jezebel” (1938); Denmark – “Dark Victory” (1939), “Heaven Can Wait” (1943); Belgium – “Dead End” (1937), and the United States – “Libeled Lady” (1936), “The Awful Truth” (1937), “A Star Is Born” (1937), “In Old Chicago” (1937) and “Stagecoach” (1939).

Among the rarities were the only known three-sheet for “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936), the special British cinema display for “Lost Horizon” (1937), and an original painting for “Gone with the Wind” (1939) by the prolific Sergio Gargiulo, who designed posters for nine different countries.

Exhibition Information

Through April 25, 2010
The Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery
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