Recently I was commissioned by The Criterion Collection to create a new cover for a re-release of a classic 1930’s ‘pre-code’ drama starring Sylvia Sidney and Frederic March. I hadn’t been aware of the film, but it’s well known for featuring one of Cary Grant’s earliest celluloid appearances as well as being directed by one of the few female directors of the time, Dorothy Arzner.
It’s also an interesting glimpse into a more permissive society that of course was rarely, if ever, seen in American film after the introduction of the Hays Code in 1934.
The cover image hangs on a pivotal moment when Jerry and Joan, after a somewhat flawed and whirlwind ‘romance’ head to the altar. Jerry, portrayed as an alcoholic reporter, misplaces the ring and has to make do with something ‘handy’.
The artwork itself is a multilayered digital file, interpreting details from the scene, using a combination of linework and painterly techniques. Freeze framng the film allowed me to pinpoint the perfect expressions of the characters to capture a sense of their unease with inevitability of the consequences of their decision.