59 thoughts on “The Story Behind… The MGM Logo

  1. Dammit Nostra, I thought that you were going to explain why there is a gimp mask below the lion in all of these logos! It’s one of those things that when you notice it, it glares at you every time you see the logo!

    Shame about the version that was used on 2001; I think that looks really cool.

    • Of course I don’t want to disappoint you, so I did a quick google. It’s a drama mask which was used in classic Greek theater (other ones were used there as well to show various expressions). Hope that answer makes you happier 😉

      I quite liked that version too, even though it’s very old I think it does look very modern.

  2. I love that that awful blue logo wasn’t all that popular… just ugly!

    I’m left with 1 question… how did they “audition” the lions? Roar please!

  3. It’s been fun to see how the logo has been amended, changed and modified over the journey – it’s still one of my favorite logos alongside Fox and Universal’s.

  4. Was the lion chosen for the logo because of the “Loewe” connection, or because it was the Columbia University mascot, and the “Loewe” was just a fortunate coincidence?

  5. I like how in the earlier versions each of the original company names (Metro, Goldwyn and Mayer) had their own fonts. They gradually moved away from that, though, and the current logo only retains a subtle difference with the elongated stylized letters in the name Goldwyn. You can see the letter Y in Goldwyn is different from the Y in Mayer.

    But in the older ones, the difference in the fonts is much more pronounced. The M of Mayer is completely different from the M in Metro, for example, even though they’re both at the start of the name and therefore should both be capital letters.

  6. MGM recently debuted a new logo where the various elements come together, then you hear Leo’s roar. I don’t know if it debuted with the latest Bond film, “Skyfall,” but that’s one of the movies it’s attached to.

  7. I have always enjoyed that Poor-Puddy -Tats roar,it seem I grew up with it.When I was in the care of my nanny, I asked why the roar, and was told someone was trying to bit the big cats tail.That I should take heed and never hurt or bite a cats tail.Funny how you remember things. Thanks so very much for all the wealth of information.

  8. Doesn’t that “Greek theatre” mask under the lion represent the Devil, while the Lion represents the “defeated” Christ (lion of Judah)?

  9. Just discovered your fantastic website. Great stuff!

    I read somewhere that Howard Dietz was inspired by the lion statues in front of the New York Public Library.

    Interestingly, the lion at the beginning of the 1925 ‘Ben-Hur’ roars silently, while the lion at the beginning of the 1959 (sound!) ‘Ben-Hur’ is silent – just a still photo.

    Tanner is by far the most ferocious!

    The revised ‘from the eye’ logo at the beginning of ‘The Hobbit’ is brilliant, I think.

    The ‘2001’ logo was best used for posters and print ads, but I agree that it was perfect for two such ‘modern’ films. A variation was used for the Vegas/Reno casino operations.

    In the late 30s to 40s, Franz Waxman composed a modest but appealing fanfare for Leo.

    All the classic logos are great, and it’s reassuring that the studios still have the sense to preserve them, variations and all.

    Also one of my favorites: the Selznick Studio, with its elegant sign in front of the Mt. Vernon-style office building. Several variations, including the most famous: ‘Selznick International Pictures’ for ‘Gone With The Wind’. In some, the camera tilts up to the sign, while in others, the camera tilts from the sign to the building. The great Alfred Newman composed the remarkable ‘gamelan chimes’ fanfare. In Selznick’s 1956 ‘A Farewell To Arms’, though released by 20th-Fox, the Selznick logo opens the picture, done over in CinemaScope, with the fanfare revised by Mario Nascimbene, who scored the film.

    Selznick himself was never satisfied with his logo. He thought the 20th-Fox logo was ‘crummy’!

    Newman also composed a fanfare for the logo-less Samuel Goldwyn, which was equally as good as his 20th-Fox & Selznick fanfares.

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