An independent archive of typography.

Hitchcock/Truffaut book cover

Contributed by Herb Lubalin Study Center on Jan 18th, 2020. Artwork published in .
Hitchcock/Truffaut book cover
Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

Cover of Hitchcock/Truffaut, a book by François Truffaut about Alfred Hitchcock, published in English in 1967. The use was spotted on Robert King’s website blog. In the post, he compares the first and later editions of the book, and the rather unnecessary adjustments made to the cover design for the later edition. The design of the cover is very much in keeping with the Modernist tradition of design, an objective design that foregrounds the main subjects of the book, set in the preferred typeface of early Modernist designers, Akzidenz Grotesk. The type is meticulously kerned and is set very tightly, taking advantage of the typeface’s design which allowed for such a tight setting. The mirroring of the two names echoes the fact that the book is a conversation between these two legendary film directors.

The design is by the iconic mid-century book jacket designers, and husband and wife team John and Mary Condon. Greg D’Onofrio and Steve Heller wrote about this design of this cover in their book, The Moderns: “One of their best-known jacket designs was for Hitchcock/Truffaut, an interview with Alfred Hitchcock by François Truffaut, which is a veritable bible for filmmakers. Their names spelled out in tightly kerned Akzidenz-Grotesk and delicately printed in silver on a black background, offers a classic example of typographic symbolism: the celebrated directors going head-to-head. Upon being sent the design comp, Truffaut handwrote on the flap, ‘Très magnifique! — Truffaut.’”

Wikipedia describes this book:

First published by Éditions Robert Laffont, it is based on a 1962 exchange between Hitchcock and Truffaut, in which the two directors spent a week in a room at Universal Studios talking about movies. After Hitchcock’s death, Truffaut updated the book with a new preface and final chapter on Hitchcock’s later films.

2 Comments on “Hitchcock/Truffaut book cover”

  1. Another benefit of this layout is that it gives the two names virtually equal billing, solving that age-old problem (especially in film marketing) of who deserves more prominence on the page.

    Coincidentally, this reminds me of Jack Stauffacher’s cover for Art in Cinema at the SF MOMA in 1947.

    Image: Letterform Archive

  2. Thanks for referencing my blog post about this beautiful cover design. It’s very interesting to read what Greg D’Onofrio and Steve Heller had to say about this, as well as Stephen Coles’ observation above about the issue of “equal billing.” That “Art In Cinema” brochure is excellent!
    The historic Hitchcock interviews were also made into a movie / documentary of the same name. It had its own poster design which lacks the book cover’s intellectual elegance and economy of means.
    One hallmark of a brilliantly simple design is that it cannot be improved upon. I’m reminded of Paul Rand’s response when asked about the longevity of his logo design for the ABC television network (still going strong after many decades). I’m paraphrasing, but he said words to the effect of “Eventually they may change the ABC logo, but no one will ever design something better. It’s three circles inside another circle — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Post a comment