Website last updated: 25-11-2022

Film Forum's NY screening of By Design: The Joe Caroff Story

By: Anders Frejdh
Film Forum By Design The Joe Caroff screening
FSWL friend and contributor Mark Cerulli (pictured to the left in the photo above) produced and directed a new documentary on the remarkable life of graphic artist Joe Caroff – who created many iconic movie logos including the original 007 logo.

By Design: The Joe Caroff Story was produced in associate with Turner Classic Movies and Paul C. Rosen, who also edited the film. Along with documenting Joe’s iconic movie work, (yes, you get to see Joe hand-draw the 007 logo and explain why it looks the way it does), By Design: The Joe Caroff Story also chronicles his long, exceptional life – with images of the Great Depression, World War II and the NY advertising scene from the 1950s – 1990s. Along the way Joe talks about love (he’s been married 80 years) and the artistic senses that guide him to this day.

By Design, The Joe Caroff Story, New York, screening
On 14th November 2022, Film Forum, a well-known cinema dedicated to independent movies, held a special screening in New York City that was attended by the filmmakers and Joe Caroff himself. As soon as he entered the lobby, the 101-year-old artist was swamped by autograph collectors and fans, which he handled with grace and humor.

Joe Caroff, New York, screening, signing autographs
Joe Caroff signing autographs before the New York screening of By Design. Photo courtsey of Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.

After the screening, Joe answered questions - like his relationship with designer Saul Bass with whom he’s sometimes confused. (“I admired his work but never met him.”) or if he met many of the major directors whose films he designed logos for. (“Not really – although I did have a long working relationship with Woody Allen.”) The moderator asked Joe what sketches he kept from his work and Cerulli answered – “None. Joe didn’t even keep a business card,” which got a laugh from Joe. (Imagine what his original sketches for 007 would be worth today.) One thing Joe DID keep is the 007 OMEGA watch sent to him by producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for his 100th birthday. “I’m wearing it right now,” Joe added proudly.

Mark Cerulli, Joe Caroff, Paul C. Rosen
Mark Cerulli, Joe Caroff and Paul C. Rosen during the Q&A after the screening. Photo courtsey of Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.

Along with family and friends, a contingent from the Linden, NJ Historical Society (Joe’s hometown) showed up – a member showed Joe photos of his father’s work that was still preserved almost 100 years later. It was a great evening where this quiet, unassuming artist finally got the recognition he deserved.

In the U.S., By Design: The Joe Caroff Story is on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and streaming on HBO Max. There are plans to license it for Europe in the near future.



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