Here are the six rough sketches Saul Bass had Al Kallis do for the 1954 musical version of “A Star Is Born.” I love how in the first drawing Bass had the idea of having the words of the title done in the shape of a star. And note the similarity of No. 6 to Magnificent Obsession No. 3. Both have the same type of facial illustration accompanied by the illustration of a strip of film. Clearly Bass liked this image, and thought if Universal-International didn’t like it, perhaps Warner Bros. would.
Unfortunately for Bass, these six ad/poster treatments were rejected by Warner Bros., a similar result to what happened with the work he had Kallis do for Universal-International’s “Magnificent Obsession.”
Here is an ad that was used for “A Star Is Born.” Kallis had nothing to do with it. Whether or not Bass designed the ad I don’t know.
Similarly, here are some of the posters that were actually used for “A Star Is Born”:
Jan-Christopher Horak, the director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the author of the 2014 book “Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design,” has also seen the Kallis-drawn works designed by Bass. Of them he wrote, “In [Bass’s] movie advertising work with Al Kallis between 1953 and 1957, one can see that Bass is still struggling to break away from the industry’s figurative and realistic representations of a film’s visual elements in advertising.”
As for the Kallis sketches for Bass for “A Star Is Born” specifically, Horak notes that in all but illustration No. 5 one can see Bass playing with the notion of a “star” as a logo for the film. Furthermore, he observes that the Bass work by Kallis shows Bass working to achieve “a severe reduction in images and text compared with more conventional, ballyhoo advertising.”
The links below take you to the other Bass/Kallis work in this story: