Classic film caricatures

January 07, 2010

I love it when I'm trying to find a photo on google and end up stumbling upon something not even remotely related to what I was looking for, but even better! This happened to me today when I was searching for photos of Reginald Owen for an upcoming post. In the image results, I saw a small vintage caricature of Reggie that piqued my interest, even though I was only looking for photos.

Once I clicked over to the source site I discovered that someone had scanned an entire book of caricatures of classic Hollywood stars, character actors and filmmakers by Henry Major. Some of these are pure genius, so I just had to share them!! While I found every one of them to be spot-on and terrific, it was the supporting star portraits that I enjoyed the most.

Caricature artists always amaze me, because as long as you have some underlying talent you can draw somebody's face as it is... but it really takes something special to zero in on what makes a face different from other faces, amplify it and turn it into a cartoon. Despite the fact that these are simplified sketches, you can instantly recognize the faces -- maybe even moreso than if the artist had drawn them realistically!

I have a small sample of my favorites posted here, but to view the entire collection please visit The Gay Philosopher, the site dedicated to this artists' work!





























22 comments:

NoirGirl said...

OH me OH my! These are some of the most thrilling things I've seen for some time. The part that amazes me most about them is that the artist used either a charcoal stick or a fat pastel to draw them, not the easiest of mediums. And no stray sketch marks, either! Wow!

I have the same awe for caricature artists that you do. I've never been able to boil a face down to its essence like this man can. How I wish I could!

Kate Gabrielle said...

Aren't they incredible?? I want to print some for my wall! You should click over to the original page I found them, they have a DFJ drawing too! :-D

Nicole said...

These are so utterly neat! Love the Melvyn Douglas one! :D

Harley said...

Amazing!

I love the Fred Astaire & William Powell ones!

Mercurie said...

These are so cool! I think I like the ones of Boris Karloff and Fred Astaire best!

Kim said...

These are so adorable and I love how they included a lot of character actors. Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

They look fantastic! Thanks so much for uploading them for us all to see!

Millie said...

WOWZIE KAZAM THESE ARE AMAZING!

Chris Edwards said...

The one-liners at the bottom are gold.

Sally said...

Those are awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing!

Cliff Aliperti said...

Of course, Warren William has to be the only one with a stain on him!

Somebody had been selling these individually on eBay awhile ago, $35-$40 each, kind of pricey, but possibly worth a look of you're hunting them down.

Thanks, Cliff

zoetropa said...

These are amazing! William Powell, Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, all of them. Love the descriptions too.

Sarah said...

So spot on! I love the Laughton and Powell!

Sarah said...

Have you seen Hirschfeld's?
http://2009and-scene.blogspot.com/2009/10/al-hirschfelds-characters.html

The Vintage Vamp said...

Hi there! I found your site while searching for classic movie blogs, and I LOVE it! Yours is my favorite by far, and you are such a talented artist! xoxoxo :)

The Vintage Vamp said...

And also nice find on these caricatures! I love the William Powell!

KC said...

They're all so good! What an amazing find. I love Joan Blondell and the long eyelashes on the William Powell pic.

Jennythenipper said...

I love these. It's great that the character actors are all on the same footing as the big stars. I'm chuffed to see Herbert Marshall, Brian Aherne and Warren William in here. Right click and save, baby, right click and save.

Also, can't wait for the Reginald Owen post.

C.C. Baxter said...

These are great, I'd never heard of Henry Major before but I'm heading straight over to that site now.
I worked in a uni library a few years ago and one day stumbled on a book of Al Hirschfeld's caricatures, I knew him form his work with SJ Perleman but had never seen his theatre/movie caricatures before. They had to send a search party out for me that day.

Sam said...

Kate, you are fabulous! In a word... WOW... I love your work. Just happened upon your terrific blog and thought I'd stop for a good read. I am now your loyal follower. One day when time allows, come and see mine. I'd be honored to have you as a follower too. www.samwich365.com, Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

Charles Sherman Ruggles said...

wow, thank you for this picture Charlie , i love Charlie Ruggles

cc said...

These are so amazing! I love the William Powell. His beautiful eyes and long lashes stand out.