Google honors genius behind 20th century’s greatest movie posters

You may not know who Saul Bass was, but if you've ever watched the opening titles to Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" or gazed at the original black-on-red art for the film version of "West Side Story," you know his work.

So iconic are his silhouetted protagonists, set in motion against primary colored backgrounds, that Apple should probably pay the Bass estate a royalty fee for its famous iPod ads. Alas, Bass, born in 1920, passed away in 1996 — but not before designing the posters for "Schindler's List" and "Goodfellas." No, the poster for the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading" wasn't dreamt up by Bass posthumously, but it was a nice homage (and fitting, given the Billy Wilder-esque nature of the film).

Saul Bass promotional posters for "West Side Story" and "Anatomy of a Murder"
Saul Bass promotional posters for "West Side Story" and "Anatomy of a Murder" IMDB

Speaking of homages, today's Google doodle is a YouTube video tribute to the minimalist genius of Bass — with none-too-veiled references to "Spartacus," "Vertigo," "West Side Story," "Anatomy of a Murder," "Psycho" and more.

For people who want to cut to the chase, here's a quick link to some of his top film posters, and another one containing videos of some of Bass's brilliant title sequences.

Wilson Rothman is the Technology & Science editor for the NBC News Digital Group. Catch up with him on Twitter at @wjrothman, and join our conversation on Facebook.