Letterpress in movies

The latest to add to the list is Paddington (Bear) 2 which has two brief shots of a Heidelberg cylinder.

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not a movie, but there’s a nice looking platen press in netflix’s godless

I know that there is an extremely long thread on this subject, but don’t know if there has been a list created of specific DVDs created about letterpress.

Here is a list of one’s that I have that are all simply marvelous:

TYPEFACE, 60 minutes, Kartemquim Films, kartequim.com - About the Hamilton Wood Type Museum at its original location.

MAKING FACES, 45 minutes, P22 Type Foundry. Documents the work process of the late Jim Rimmer on the lost art of pantographic type making.

THE SIDEY REPORT, 59 minutes, Iowa Public Television. A documentary about the Adair County Free Press. Four generations of an Iowa family running a letterpress newspaper in Greenfield, Iowa.

PROCEED AND BE BOLD, 94 minutes, 20K Films, www.proceedandbebold.com. Fascinating documentary of the life of Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., humble negro printer.

And….not yet released……
PRESSING ON, The Letterpress Film, 100 minutes, Bayonet Media. letterpressfilm.com. How letterpress printing survives into the digital age.

There are probably a lot more out there, so lets get a list going.


Enemy at the gate has several scenes, though I think they are drum presses

OK: this is TV, not movie, but that has been done before in this thread
Saw an episode of Hawaii 5-O the other evening.
Interior of a print shop with rows and rows of slope front cabinets which I associate with furniture.
I did not see any Hamilton “flat-file” or Vee drawer type
Actor playing the printer did used the term “pied” to describe
a metal pan full of type in a pile so that’s a good thing, right?

Last night, saw an animated Christmas commercial for Maker’s Mark bourbon with a few seconds of a side view of a platen press as part of the production process, which ends with the neck dipped in red wax. Anyone notice if their labels are printed by letterpress?

Yup….I too saw that press in the Maker Mark commercial the other day. I just found it out on the web and was able to snag this picture from it. Sort of a blend of different presses and has the new rollerless inking system.


On another movie note I’ve seen some trailers on the new movie coming out called “The Post”…..seen quick shots of a running Linotype. Where there is a Linotype there has to be a letterpress!!!!

image: makersmark press.jpg

makersmark press.jpg

“Last night, saw an animated Christmas commercial for Maker’s Mark bourbon “

I saw that commercial, too…. and it inspired me to look at the label. Unfortunately, after I got it out of the cabinet, I decided to take a drink (or two… or three) first and forgot all about looking at the label.

So… yes it was very tasty. And no, I don’t recall if it was letterpressed.

I am watching “Sweet Dreams,” the Patsy Cline movie. Her husband, Charlie Dick, works in a print shop.

According to his bio, Charlie Dick was a Linotype operator “at a local newspaper”, which was very likely the Winchester Evening Star.

The trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrXlY6gzTTM for the to be released movie, “The Post,” has scenes of a Linotype keyboard, a line of mats that read “The Pentagon Study,” and one view of what is supposed to be the Post’s composing room showing 2 Linotypes. There are some newspaper press scenes with the paper being printed but they are not letterpress units but appear to be offset units.

I don’t know the conversion date for the Washington Post but like many large US daily papers, they converted their letterpress printing operation to flexo using photopolymer wrap around plates. Until the late 1990s they were using a 4-color Vandercook proof press to proof their 4-color plates and I worked with them on that press, but then all of a sudden, it all went offset. At least this movie’s producers appear to have done some research into how things were still done in the early 1970s.

I was talking to Dave Seat today and he said that the Linotype scenes and composing room shown in The Post were filmed at the Woodside Press in Brooklyn. Now we don’t have to wonder where and what.

This is a show, not a film, but Babylon Berlin (now on US Netflix) has several scenes that take place in a print shop in the first few episodes. I’m not sure of the specific kinds of presses, but there are quite a few!

I hope by now you’ve all seen the movie: The Post.

Steve - A truly great movie!!!!!!


There is another new, short video on how The Post was filmed. It is: http://whattheythink.com/video/88582-frankie-goes-hollywood/ This is another Frank Romano effort that shows how the front page was replicated in hot metal and locked up in a stereotype chase for the film making as it would have been done at the Washington Post. My one observation is that the pictures show the initial stages of placing linotype slugs and cuts into position in the chase, but opposite from how it was actually done. Most makeup men, and it was mostly men who did this work, worked with the head or top of the page directly in front of them on the stone, with the foot of the page at the far end of the chase, thus upside down and backwards. When I worked on a letterpress paper while in college, that’s how pages were made up at our printer, the Western Newspaper Union. Those who have little letterpress experience do imposition and lockup in a right reading manner. I checked Carl Schlesinger’s film, etaoin shrdlu to verify my memory. And in that process, I came across this short video of Carl promoting another film, Linotype, the Film: https://vimeo.com/43420072 and it has a shot of a newspaper page makeup. Minor point, but illustrative how techniques are lost over time and through lack of use.

Frank slides over some of the letterpress terminology like a stereotype mat, and the stereotype shell casting he refers to as a cylinder, but I guess that’s ok. And the photoengravings they used for the reproduction page are mounted on wood, and had that been a page for real, the wood base would have been crushed in the mat rolling machine, but for filming, we can ignore that factoid as well.

“Most makeup men, and it was mostly men who did this work, worked with the head or top of the page directly in front of them on the stone, with the foot of the page at the far end of the chase, thus upside down and backwards.”
I don’t think this is backwards but anyhow agree the stone work I learned at a small daily was always done this way. In fact if you are working at the foot of the page, everything really is backwards.
Same positioning used when correcting galleys of type.

I just saw part of The Goonies the other day and there is a Heidelberg that the “bad guys” are using to print money. I had never noticed it before!