I don't know who at Google had the wit to think that the 93rd birthday (?) of the late Saul Bass (??) was an occasion calling for celebration via a "Doodle" -- a one-day tribute on the home page.
But whoever that person was, was right. The click-to-play montage of Bass's classic movie-title sequences that now occupies Google's home page is sublime, especially as set to Dave Brubeck's Unsquare Dance.* Anyone who knows the movies of what we now consider the Mad Men era will recognize the visual references, including Psycho, Spartacus, West Side Story, North by Northwest, Anatomy of a Murder (source of the initial static shot below, which opens and closes the number), and more:
It's worth recognizing small touches of elegance that shine out from the chaos and dross that often surround us. The execution of this Doodle is such a touch. I had not realized that just one person had been responsible for so many of the design elements that played a large part in setting the style of an era, let alone been aware that the person was Saul Bass. Now I do know, thanks to whoever thought up and produced this feature. I am glad, too, that the powers that be at Google** have decided an ongoing investment in Doodles, and an allowance for their quirkiness, is worthwhile.
* Brubeck's Take Five is so universally known that its 5/4 time signature now seems almost normal. The less-well-known Unsquare Dance is written in much-less-familiar-sounding 7/4 time.
** Routine disclosure: many of my friends work at Google, as does one of my sons.
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James Fallows is a staff writer at The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Jimmy Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the 2018 book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which was a national best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.