In their third collaboration in 1954 Bass and Kallis struck pay dirt. It was Otto Preminger’s movie version of the musical “Carmen Jones.” It was the first film for which Bass designed a title sequence. That sequence is very simple. It shows the outline of a black rose being consumed by fire.
As you can see in drawing No. 1, above, that symbol, or logo, of the rose engulfed by flames, was also proposed by Bass to be used in the print campaign, in the upper part of the page. On the bottom is an iron headboard (or footboard). Framed within is an illustration of the title character, Carmen Jones. Showing up faintly on the entire right side of the illustration is a music sheet.
For the final drawing, Bass asked Kallis to make it in color and Bass added a few tweaks. He asked Kallis to kill the fire logo and the accompanying dummy type, make the iron headboard with five slots instead of four, and move the music sheet in the background to the other side. Kallis recalls that he was paid $80 for the picture. It became the billboard (24-sheet) used for the movie, and the smaller posters became variations of it.
The 24-sheet was recognized by both the Los Angeles Art Directors Club and the New York Art Directors Club. The latter awarded the poster its prestigious Art Directors Club Medal for excellence.
Below is the 24-sheet, followed by the one-sheet:
Here are the other five initial drawings Kallis did under the direction of Bass:
Of these five other drawings, the only one I have found that was actually used in some form was No. 4, which was used on the cover of sheet music from the movie:
One reason the Bass/Kallis work was used for “Carmen Jones” was because the film was made by Otto Preminger, who was a powerhouse in Hollywood in the 1950s through the mid-1960s. The collaboration of Bass and Preminger over those years –beginning with the titles and posters for “Carmen Jones” — produced some of the best title sequences and ad campaigns the movies have seen.
The links below take you to the other Bass/Kallis work in this story: