Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Favorite Film Title/Credit Sequences Part 4

This is my final post in the blog series arc I started a short while ago featuring some my favorite film title or end credit sequences. Hopefully, we'll end it on a high note.

Opening Sequence - Heat: Michael Mann's great 1995 crime saga opening is not very flashy, but it is elegant. The fade in/out titles (using what looks like an old-style label font) follows the entrance of Neil MacCauley from the L.A. Metro-Rail station (while the title song by Kronos Quartet plays in the background). It remains a cool and atmospheric start to this masterwork.

Closing Scene/Credits - Heat: Michael Mann's final scene with the lead actors on the outskirts of LAX (using Moby's God Moving Over the Face of the Waters track to great end and going through to the end credits) is a lasting image from this film. It remains a moving and poignant moment in the film. When I reach this point in the movie, it gets to me every time I watch it.

Main Titles - Star Trek First Contact: The best of The Next Generation movies includes a great visual opening sequence where the blurred titles are pulled back into clarity (with Jerry Goldsmith's grand score playing). It's a great lead-in that then blends into the long pull-back shot from Capt. Picard's iris to the hive of a Borg ship, and to his awakening.

Main Titles - High Plains Drifter: Clint Eastwood's second self-directed film from 1973 begins with the eerie, mirage-like appearance of the "Man With No Name" (with the fearful Dee Barton score played with the titles). The red letters foretell what's coming for the town of Lago, and the stranger's ride in serves to introduce the other principals of the story. For this unique and noirish  western, the titles are "dead on", so to speak. [no embedding allowed, so click the image to watch this on YouTube]

Main Titles - Halloween: John Carpenter's seminal 1978 horror film proves that a film doesn't require expensive design graphics to be effective. The simple, but foreboding, movie titles are enhanced by the director's own one-of-kind score. The camera slowly zooming into the sinister jack 'o lantern's eye is quite a nice touch, and a hallmark for Carpenter.

Main Titles - Panic Room: David Fincher's film titles from his 2002 thriller are a beautifully realized design and look stunning on the screen. Layed out as though they were naturally built into the scenic New York City high-rise landscape, they are a great homage to North by Northwest main titles. [clicking on the image below will take you to The Art of the Title site's clip of this sequence]

Main Titles - Bullitt: this 1968 Peter Yates-directed crime film included the vanguard of movie car chase sequences, but it also had one of the most stylish opening titles, ever. Pablo Ferro's incredible and clever design sequence (accompanied by a brassy, jazzy Lalo Schifrin theme) incorporates the broad titles moving into/out of the frame, and coolly performing cutout reveals within the titles themselves to the very next scene. Like the star of the film, Steve McQueen, this was the epitome of 60's cool.

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  1. I like it, I like it!
    can I throw in a honorable mention, "the Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark"


  2. Nice wrap up here. I too find the ending of Heat to be a real gut wrencher, partly because the "wrong" man gets it and partly because, looking back, it was probably the last really good movie either De Niro or Pacino made.

    Nice choice with Bullitt too - very cool score and very evocative of the period.


  3. HnL: alright! Those are a couple of good ones.

    Colin: excellent point about De Niro and Pacino and their films after HEAT.

    Thank you both for your comments.

  4. Nice to see you giving a shout-out to HEAT. Very cool and I would certainly agree. I also like the opening credits for THE INSIDER as they play partially over a blind-folded Pacino. And in a nice touch, the actual credits disappear like a cigarette burning down.

    I also dig the ones for PANIC ROOM. Is it just me or does Fincher have some of the best opening/end credits for pretty much all of his films? It's good to see that he deems them just as important as the rest of the film.

  5. That is a very cool touch with THE INSIDER's credits, J.D. And as you say, director Fincher does have a flair with film titles, too. Mann and Fincher would be a great pair filmmakers to highlight with regard to this key aspect in their films. Thank you for the kind words, J.D.