"The human leg has evolved continually over many eons, adapting from an underwater propeller to its current form. But on book covers and on film and theater posters, the leg has evolved very little. In fact, the “A-Frame,” a cutoff-torso-spread-leg framing device, is the most frequently copied trope ever used. From steamy paperbacks designed in the ’40s (Pamela’s Sweet Agony), hardly a year has gone by without at least one ham-fisted advertisement using this perspective. The earliest known uses were 19th-century engravings that showed spread-legged, Simon Legree–type slave masters lording over cowering victims. In Westerns, the quintessential showdown frames one duelist through the legs of the other, and mid-20th-century pulp magazine covers were known for their noir images of recoiling women seen through the legs of menacing men. Eventually, designers used the conceit to frame all manner of things, from retro musicals (Cry-Baby) to the James Bond flick For Your Eyes Only (plus the Austin Powers spoof Goldmember) and gritty, contemporary Westerns (3:10 to Yuma)."- STEVEN HELLER
For a slideshow of all the images on this page, click here.