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The 5 Most Iconic Vintage Movie Posters Of All Time
Locking down the best vintage movie posters is a nearly impossible task without putting some specific qualifiers in place. You could easily go back to the early 20th Century for selections.
We’d consider those antiques. For our purposes, we’d like to stay vintage, which can be difficult to define on its own.
The age of something considered “vintage” varies depending on what type of item you’re talking about. Cars, for instance, can be vintage at 30 years. Movies are generally the same.
It’s safe to say anything older than 20 would qualify. In the following article, we go back about 40, with one addition. These posters are iconic in their imagery.
In other words, a picture says it all. Let’s get started!
1. Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott’s original sci-fi shocker didn’t give away much in its initial poster. The image of a hatching cocoon, mysterious ectoplasmic green spilling from the core, promised something foreboding.
But audiences couldn’t be sure what form the terror would take. They only knew that “in space, no one can hear you scream.” The screaming has continued through six films.
(We’re all in agreement the Alien vs. Predator series doesn’t exist, right?)
2. Jaws (1975)
Yes, this one also recently made the ten best animal movies list, but no discussion of vintage movie posters is complete without it, so we’re revisiting.
The poster is a recreation of the original book cover, except in this case, the shark has teeth, and the daylight is showing through over the depths.
The subtle message here: day or night, you’re not safe in the water. It was a terrifying proposition for a country in love with summer vacations at the beach.
The poster also defied basic monster movie conventions by showing you what the monster looked like front-and-center. Filmmakers typically preferred hiding that bit from their audience until the final 15 minutes or so.
Jaws would follow suit in the film itself, but that was more because of faulty animatronics.
3. E.T. (1982)
E.T.’s poster achieves an iconic status for leaving just enough to our imagination to hold the intrigue. The original image featured a view of Earth from space.
Two fingers, one alien and the other that of a human child, connect fingertip-to-fingertip. Together, they form a beam of light that represents the warmth and love of this classic family film.
It’s a striking image for a poster release that could have easily played up the iconic flying bicycle scene. Subsequently, future posters would do just that, but none were as powerful as the point-of-light original.
4. Star Wars (1977)
A muscular bare-chested Luke shooting his lightsaber skyward. Cover model Princess Leia baring leg and blaster. Droids in the background. The shadow of Darth Vader and the Death Star looming.
Few vintage movie posters can lay claim to so much iconic imagery. And if that’s not enough, there’s the tagline: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
It’s a movie poster design that is flat-out impossible to beat!
5. Rocky (1976)
Before there was Michael B. Jordan in Creed, there was Philadelphia’s favorite son, the Italian Stallion Rocky Balboa.
Rocky in the classic Y pose from the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art would become a pop culture phenomenon. To this day, you don’t visit the City of Brotherly Love without climbing the steps and striking a pose of your own!
Your Vintage Movie Posters Picks?
With thousands of movies across more than a century of filmmaking, we’re bound to have missed a few that belong on this list. Now it’s your turn, readers. What would your top five be? Sound off in the comment section below!