Maurice Binder

Report by Jake Friedman, DESMA 155 Typography In Motion

Maurice Binder was a film title designer renowned for his work on fourteen James Bond films, including the first, Dr. No, in 1962. Throughout his career Binder worked on over 100 movies, with roles ranging from special effects to art direction.

Binder was born in New York in 1925. He was an art student who later became the head of advertising for Macyís, prior to going into film. A lifelong bachelor, he was an art collector and a lover of women whose sensibilities were a perfect match for Bondís. He worked mostly in Britain from the 1950ís onwards, and died in 1991 of lung cancer. Always a charmer but also a very private man, one friend of his describes going to Binderís funeral, seeing many people she knew, but having no idea that they too were friends of his.

The James Bond producers first approached Binder after being impressed by his title design for the 1960 Stanley Donen comedy, The Grass Is Greener.

For the first Bond film, Dr. No, Binder created the signature gun barrel sequence that opens most of the films in the series. This, along with an artistic display of scantily clad or naked silhouetted women dancing, jumping on a trampoline, or firing weapons became trademarks of the James Bond movies.

The work of Maurice Binder remains significant to motion graphics and typography design today for several reasons. Not only has Binder's work served as the inspiration for countless title sequences and animations since, it has also played a larger role as proof of the power and necessity of strong title sequences for feature films. The profile of such pieces has played a significant role in the development of motion graphics within mainstream culture. These sequences, brilliant narratives in and of themselves, serve to bring context and intrigue to the films that follow them. They are also highly successful in employing typography as a key tool to aid in this process, communicating both information and narrative at the same time.

Binder's work stands alongside that of other title design greats like Saul Bass and Pablo Ferro as the creator of some of the most iconic title sequences ever conceived. While he is remembered for his work on James Bond, Binder accomplished great pieces for many, many films. Much can be learned from the ways in which he relates his titles to the greater story, and develops a visual language to carry the audience through an entire sequence. Those who have since replaced Binder on the Bond series continue to reference his aesthetic and approach in their titles, regardless of the changes in fashion, style, and technology in the last 40 years — the ultimate testament to his work.

Brennan, Sandra. "Maurice Binder." AllMovie.

"Maurice Binder." The Internet Movie Database.

"Maurice Binder." Obvious.

Taylor, Charles. "The James Bond Title Sequences."