Hollywood Lost and Found - Studio Logos - Warner Bros.
Hollywood Lost and Found

Everything You Wanted To Know About
American Film Company Logos
But Were Afraid To Ask

by Rick Mitchell

Page 6 - Warner Bros.

Although its basic image, a shield, has remained the same, the Warner Bros. logo has probably undergone the most changes over the last seventy years. None of the various books written about the company have ever gotten into its origins or initial use. The earliest film the author has seen it on is "The Jazz Singer" (1927) which has the shield with the front of its Sunset Blvd. studio inside it and "Warner Brothers Pictures presents" around it in black. By 1930, the studio had been dropped and the shield reduced, with the letters "WB" added inside it, to make room for "and the Vitaphone Corporation" in the presentation credit. In the early Thirties the shield disappeared altogether, replaced by flags.

1935 saw a new logo, the shield double exposed over billowing clouds and zooming toward camera. Two years later, this was replaced by a full frame shield with a halo around it and "Warner Bros. Pictures" on a band around the shield, accompanied by Max Steiner's fanfare, appearing first on "Tovarich." Although a special version of the logo was done for "The Adventures Of Robin Hood" (1938), the halo version was also photographed in three-strip Technicolor for use on the company's subsequent color films.

In the late Forties, another version was done with a somewhat fatter shield against a background of painted clouds. In the Fifties however, both the clouds and the fanfare were increasingly dropped in favor of matting the shield over whatever background was being used for the opening of the picture. This remained Warner Bros.' practice until 1971.

In 1967 Jack Warner sold the studio to Seven Arts, Inc. The new company's logo was a simple animated "W7" inside a shield accompanying the credit "Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Presents" over the opening shot or credit sequence background and was first used on "Reflections In A Golden Eye." When Kinney Services bought the company and changed its corporate name to Warner Communications, they first chose a stylized shield as a new logo, used initially on "Dirty Harry" (1971); then, beginning in 1973, a stylized oval with a "W" in it.

Certain film buff directors were allowed to use the old logo on their films: Peter Bogdanovich on "What's Up, Doc?" (1972), Mel Brooks on "Blazing Saddles" (1974), Robert Benton on "The Late Show" (1976), Nicholas Meyer on "Time After Time" (1979); and after Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante had Pacific Title do a new version of the late Forties logo for "Gremlins" (1984), management decided it might be good for the corporate image to return to that logo, which, for a subsidiary called "Warner Bros. Family Films," Bugs Bunny was added, leaning on the logo while eating a carrot. More recently, they’ve gone to a CGI version which starts with a view of the studio and ripple dissolves to the logo, often accompanied by the opening notes of "As Time Goes By."

I suppose it was too much to expect the current Warner regime to revive Max Steiner’s Warner Bros. fanfare, which is just as famous as Newman’s for Fox. From 1937 to the early Fifties, it was used on almost all Warner features except those scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold or Franz Waxman. Its last use before the post-Sixties nostalgia boom was apparently on "Battle Cry" (1954). It would later be used on "Blazing Saddles" and "Time After Time"; though Joe Dante got to use it on his two "Gremlins" films, he wasn’t so lucky with "Looney Tunes: Back In Action" (2003).

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