Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Favorite Film Title/Credit Sequences Part 3

This is my continuation of a blog series arc I started a short while ago featuring my favorite film title or end credit sequences.

Main Title - The Birds: This is the opening titles for Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 suspense masterpiece. The fragmented movie titles play out against the grainy, blurred images and silhouettes of flying birds with only their synthesized sounds as a score. It is quite a unique and eerie start to this tension-filled classic.

Closing Scene - The Birds: This is the closing scene in the suspense classic. This has to be the director's most unexpected, head scratcher of an ending. With the principal players quietly trying to get out of the house and escape, and the birds laying passively in wait with only their eerie sounds heard, it remains a startling scene. And when the survivors drive away, there are no closing credits at all!

Opening Scene/Titles - Pulp Fiction: Quentin Tarantino's second film, released in 1994, had one of the most unexpected of intro's. The seemingly matter-of-fact discussion between a man and woman in a coffee shop that explodes into the profane "This is a robbery..." shouts definitely got your attention. The sudden movie titles and blaring score (Miserlou by Dick Dale) is just unexpectedly great.

Opening Scene - Contact: Robert Zemeckis' 1997 adaptation of Carl Sagan's sci-fi novel includes another extraordinary intro. The opening sequence is a thing of beauty - a long pull back from Earth to the edges of the Universe, to the wonder in a young girl's eye.

Main Titles - North by Northwest: Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 adventure thriller has a classic opening sequence done by the great Saul Bass. The titles hurl across the screen in linear fashion to Bernard Herrman's great score, and title sequence culminates with one of Hitchcock's better cameos. It is a great entertaining introduction to a classic film.

Closing Scene - North by Northwest: This is Hitchcock's fine and thrilling end sequence on Mount Rushmore. When the audience reaches the "The End" title overlay on the closing and very symbolic train and tunnel shot, it is clear that the British director is enjoying one of his classic innuendos.

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  1. Yeah, CONTACT is a great one! I have fond memories of seeing this film in theaters and being blown away by these opening credits. Great use of sound (or lack thereof).

    Another opening credits I like the one for BEETLEJUICE that starts off with live action shot over a small town and then as it continues you gradually realize that it's changed to a model only to end with a spider crawling over a house. Fantastic stuff.

    I was just watching TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A. against last night and its opening credits are very effective in establishing the geography of the city and setting just the right tone.

  2. We do not watch tv just netflix, movies, concerts and docs. So I really enjoy reading your movie insights.
    a post suggestion? Movies that we watched on tv,when we were kids, that were all chopped up, that we now enjoy on dvds unedited. Such as "The Good the Bad and the Ugly", comes to mind. You would never run out of ideas, but ..........

  3. I love the North by Northwest opening sequence, it's just sticks to my memory -- maybe I'm just a linear thinker.

    I like the opening and closing of The Birds, but not much of what's in-between. And me a Hitchcock fan, too.

  4. I was just getting over the flu the first time I saw CONTACT, and that opening sequence gave me such vertigo that I finally had to look down from the screen. Yep, that was pretty effective!

  5. J.D.: that long pull back from CONTACT is a great one (I have one more like it coming - you'll probably guess it now). BEETLEJUICE is a fun one, too. For the life of me, I can't recall the TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A. titles! And, it's a favorite of mine. Guess I'm going to have re-watch it.

    HnL: that's a great idea. I know some of the movies my kids catch on TV are heavily edited. Ever see what they did to ROBOCOP?

    Naomi: yeah, NORTH BY NORTHWEST is so iconic when it comes to movies titles. What? You didn't like that phone booth scene where Tippi was getting bombarded in THE BIRDS? Although, I think I was scarred as a kid when Suzanne Pleshette's character dies in it.

    Jeff: I could see the timing with that and that intro getting to you. Nowadays, I have issues with films that deploy too much shaky cam in them (THE HURT LOCKER, THE KINGDOM, CLOVERFIELD, etc.).

    Thank you all for your fine thoughts and comments.

  6. I didn't see THE BIRDS until I was, I don't know, at least 30. So maybe I was past the age of impact. Anyway, when the birds went for Tippi, I was on their side.

  7. Hehe. I mentioned this to my wife, and she agrees with you. She thought Tippi's character was annoying. Thanks, Naomi.

  8. I remember when Brian and I went to see Pulp Fiction in the theater, there was an elderly couple in there as well. We looked at each other and thought, these guys have no idea of what they're about to see. Sure enough, they were out of there after about 15 minutes.

    I'd forgotten about Contact's opening. It really is beautiful.

    Cary Grant...'nuf said. *heavy sigh** ;-)

  9. Thank god they left before The Bonnie Situation came on screen! I'm sure the paramedics would have had to have been called. But, you know, that's the wondrous thing about seeing movies at a theater. The interactions or observations of people there in a that communal setting makes for those kinds of memories that are so indelible.

    I have one more long pull back sequence coming up, too. And if there's one actor I'd want to be, it's Grant (still after all these years).

    Thanks for adding to this, Christine.

  10. NBNW may well be the ultimate Hitchcock opening. I'm fond of Vertigo's titles too but NBNW seems to sum up what a Hitch movie is all about, and in a very positive way.

    I'm really enjoying these but I have a question: Where's The Omega Man? It's hard to beat seeing Chuck cruising down those lifeless streets to the strains of "A Summer Place" - only to have the lush melodies cut short by a burst of his machine pistol before Ron Grainer's haunting score takes over.

  11. OMG, we laughed so hard at The Bonnie Situation! I don't know if that scene or the fact that others found it so funny would have distressed them more. ;-) Thanks for posting that link, lp13! And you're right, the experience at the theater can really add to the remembrance of the flick.

    My mother's father reminded us a great deal of Grant. Grant will never go out of style.

  12. Livius: it's been too long for THE OMEGA MAN. That's a great opening. I do (barely) remember that sequence you speak of, so I much rectify and take it all in again.

    Christine: hear, hear ;-).

    Thanks to you both for adding to all of this with your comments.