Getting everyone’s name up on-screen at the beginning of a movie can be a difficult experience to make interesting. Not for these movies though – they totally nailed it.
An auteur like David Fincher takes as much time over his credits as he does the rest of the movie and several of his films have iconic titles.
But none of them are quite as effective as the one for his 1999 cult drama, which is propelled by a pulsating Dust Brothers tune and follows synapses from the narrator’s fear centre as we watch terror percolate through his body, out of his pores and up the sight of a revolver. It’s daring, weird, visceral and very, very cool.
‘The Man With The Golden Arm’
Ask a movie nerd to name a title designer and chances are Saul Bass is what they’ll come up with.
The legendary artist changed the way movie credits were made by doing what he described as “making the ordinary extraordinary”.
This 1955 junkie drama starring Frank Sinatra was way ahead of its time and the spare but beautiful titles illustrate a heroin addict’s arm through the medium of cut-out paper. Awesome.
‘Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery’
Ridiculous, over-the-top and absolutely in tune with what he was spoofing, the start of Mike Myers’ Sixties spy caper includes twisting policeman, lovely ladies, Kings Road idiocy and some awesome uses of freeze frames.
Hell, there’s even a marching band. It’s a happening, baby.
Benjamin Braddock’s ennui is what ‘The Graduate’ is all about and this opening scene sums it up perfectly.
As Dustin Hoffman stolidly makes his way through an airport to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ (wow, that travelator), the fear and insecurity that proves the catalyst for the rest of the movie is etched on his face.
‘Get Over It’
Not many people have heard of this 2001 teen comedy starring a young Ben Foster, but it’s one of the funnier ones in the YA genre (mainly thanks to a scene-stealing performance by Martin Short).
One thing that does mark it out is its spectacular one-take credit sequence.
Dumped and handed a box of possessions by his girlfriend, our hero Berke plods miserably down the street while singer Vitamin C and a cavalcade of randoms parade – sometimes literally – around him to the tune of Neil Sedaka’s ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’. Hilarious, technically brilliant and there’s some great face acting by Foster.
Okay, so we couldn’t not include a Bond film. But Daniel Craig’s 007 debut moved away from the increasingly cheesy limber women lounging on gun barrels and cartwheeling across what appears to be a silhouetted lagoon.
Instead, in keeping with the 2006 flick’s effort to re-invent James as a hard-as-nails, realistic agent, the credits (by longtime Bond designer Daniel Kleinman who took over from original guy Maurice Binder) mix the movie’s card theme with some bruising pugilism.
Allied to Chris Cornell’s rockier theme and what you’re left with is something which smells like Bond, but looks millennial and fresh.
‘The Naked Gun’
One way to use a title sequence is to let the audience know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. That’s what the filmmakers behind this spoof decided to do, taking a symbol of authority – the light on a police car – and making it extremely silly as it drives into someone’s house, around a rollercoaster and even into a girls’ locker room.
Stupid, but incredibly funny.
How many groups of male friends have copied this on a stag do, or on a night out in the middle of Hull?
Tarantino’s 1992 debut introduced the sharp-suited gang in slo-mo to the sound of ‘Little Green Bag’ by the George Baker Selection. Following on from the Madonna discussion scene in the diner, the director summed up his unique homage-centric style in two perfectly-executed sequences.
‘Do The Right Thing’
Who knew Rosie Perez could dance like that? Well Spike Lee clearly did – for his combustible 1989 joint he took the actress (who actually began her career as a dancer and choreographer) and threw her together with Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ against a shadowy set.
The rage and heat that permeates the film, as well as its kinetic energy, is clear from the moment it begins.
Handmade opening titles for a homespun movie.
Whoever came up with the idea to spell out the credits in a variety of household items and foods deserves an extra slap on the back.
It immediately brings you into the quirky world of Napoleon – and how often do you say you want to dip your tortilla chips in the name of the supporting actor?
‘Saturday Night Fever’
John Travolta’s big-screen breakout was all about attitude and you get that in spades in this title scene, as we see Travolta’s Tony Manero strut down the street in his neighbourhood.
It’s bold, singular and makes you desperate to see who this guy is.
When faced with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal comic book, director Zack Snyder was left with an almost impossible task – try and explain decades of complex superhero mythology and political machinations to an audience without making a ten-hour film.
If he’s done nothing else, Snyder achieved that, creating a clever, witty and above all understandable prologue beautifully accompanied by Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A Changin’’.
Image credits: Rex_Shutterstock