"They're Wooin' and Doin' the Things Boys and Girls Like to Do . . . ." This is the message of many of the posters made for Hollywood musicals currently being exhibited at the National Film Center in Tokyo. Liza Minnelli, Mitzi Gaynor and Gwen Verdon, among others, titillate with unfeasibly thin waists, long legs, accentuated breasts and catch lines like "I'll see you in my dreams" and "Les Girls (Rhymes With 'Playgirls')." This is surprising for a genre that is more usually considered light family entertainment, but it goes to show that the musical can be quite a flexible format.

This is reflected in some posters being relatively restrained, such as the one for "Gigi" (1959), which features the hand-painted title with a partial portrait of the eponymous heroine, or the statuesque black silhouette of Audrey Hepburn for that of "Funny Face" (1957). The vast majority, though, offer a cornucopia of colorful graphics whose main purpose was to be eye-catching and sensational.

They are supremely good at it, too, but that is not the only reason to enjoy this exhibition. Now faded and creased, the posters on show allude to how things have changed in terms of cinematic fantasy and graphic design, of course, but also in language and social norms.