- Not really classic BUT the opening shot of "Interview with a Vampire" is really cool: the slow tracking shot (I think that is what they call it) of San Fran.
- Good subject, OP.
I'm always totally whacked-out over the beginning of the film "Contact" with Jodie whatever her name is.
To attempt to show the enormity of the Universe, the camera pulls out from Earth, past all the planets and moons in our solar system, past all sorts of nebulae and other galaxies and keeps going and going and going and going and until I'm as small and miserable about my role it than any Woody Allen joke.
- Philadelphia with that John Mellencamp song depicting urban life in the city.
- I love the opening to "Hairspray" showing all the dancers getting ready for Corny Collins.
- Hitchcock has some great openings:
North by Northwest
All different and all memorable.
- Catch Me if You Can
- The beginning of West Side Story with it's flyover of those areas of NYC that no longer exist. The neighborhoods where they danced were destroyed for the building of Lincoln Center and surrounding gentrification. It is a time capsule of a lost part of New York.
- Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. An unforgettable dream come true for the children of my generation!
- Oops, that's "Willy."
- Anatomy of a Murder
West Side Story
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
- The Dunwich Horror
- Touch of Evil Opening Shot... all one shot
- Another vote for Pyscho. Those lines and those violins set your nerves on edge and it never really lets up.
- It's a camp classic, but the faux-Saul Bass opening credits of LADY IN A CAGE really sets the hysterical, misanthropic tone of the film.
- The Saul Bass opening for "The Age of Innocence". Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
- Kiss Me Deadly
- Fahrenheit 451 with the spoken credits and the closeups of the antennae, and that dreamy Bernard Herrmann music.
- Another one shot "Boogie Nights".
- Foxy Brown
- The Birdcage (American remake with Nathan Lane). Hated the movie, but that great opening with the zooming across the water towards the Miami strip and then seamlessly right in to the club.
- The huge one-take, no-edits opening for "The Player" is an all-time favorite.
- The opening of "Star Wars" was one of the best.
- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. We see a car pull into a driveway and someone gets out. We cut from the interior of the car to the exhaust pipe as it idles. We cut back to the inside of the car. We watch someone opening the gate. Back in the car we see someone slowly, methodically releasing the brake, pushing in the clutch, shifting the car into gear, and WHAMMO!
The Car was a Duesenberg.
- The opening of The Sound of Music where the camera zooms in to Maria in the Alps and she sings the title song. The movie is downhill from there on... steepest decline after Maria weds the Captain, although still a pretty goof flick. But that first scene, the shot, cinematography, the Alps, and the best song in the score beautifully sung.
- As someone who read the Watchmen comics, I was very pleased with the film's opening credits. It told the sometimes tragic story of the pre-Watchmen group The Minutemen in a way that was very familiar to the comic readers yet, and this I based on those I know who didn't read the comic, it was very intriguing and easy to understand for those who was not familiar with their story. Very well done.
- r26, about that opening sequence: it really was breathtaking, how Julie Andrews was able to run and sing and dance around without missing a note. My 10-yr old self found it eye-poppingly wonderful.
Then I read the Mad Magazone parody, (The $ound of Money) wherein it was revealed that she could do all those things because she was ... wait for it .. pre-recorded!
I never looked at another musical in quite the same away after that.
And it wasn't until years later that I got some of the jokes I missed the first time around, such as when Julie gleefully sings:
"With all these profits,
Things will be fine!
When we top "Fair Lady,"
Ven-geance... will... be... mine!"
- Julie has told the anecdote many times about how difficult filming the opening scene with her twirling around on that mountaintop was. The helicopter with the camera had a massive wind downdraft that would FLATTEN Julie every time it descended to get the close-up of her "twirl." She would wave up and signal that she could not stand up and they would just wave back! LOL. She said she ate a lot of dirt during that scene and that it took several takes!
- The introduction of the cast of THE WOMEN wherein each of them is likened to a different animal is a memorable indicator of the juicy bitch-fest that follows.
- The first 9 minutes of "Serenity" is amazingly well done... an info-dump to those not familiar with the Firefly series, yet still interesting for those who were. The transitions were great as well.
- A lot of the title sequences people like were done by Kyle Cooper who lived in my neighborhood as a kid, and graduated a year ahead of me in school. He was always into drawing, and art, but was a regular, rough and tumble, comic book collecting normal kid. I just discovered he's quite famous!
He designed all the video art for the Broadway Spiderman show too. I'm impressed.
- ^Ever see him changing/showering after gym class?
- All oldies ; So many created by Saul Bass
West Side Story - Bass
Exodus - Bass
The Cardinal - Bass
To Kill a Mockingbird - Bass
Vertigo - Bass
Walk on the Wild Side - Bass
Looking for Mr. Goodbar -great photos and music,sets the tone for the movie to come.
North By Northwest - Bass
My Fair Lady
The Great Gatsby - Redford, Farrow version
Spartacus - Bass
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Bass
Psycho - Bass
Cleopatra - Elizabeth Taylor
- The opening credits for American Psycho when you think its blood, but like the film, nothing's what you think it was.
- Manhattan and Saturday Night Fever - two films about living in very different parts of New York in the 1970's.
- The Pink Panther
The Spy Who Loved Me
Catch Me If You Can
Monty Python And The Holy Grail
Lord Of War
- Sunset Boulevard.
- Ed Wood
- The opening for You've Got Mail where the camera zooms in from space and gets closer and closer to NYC, finally ending up at a single house.
Of course now you can do it yourself with a single click on Google Earth, but back then it was pretty amazing.
- Best ever?
TOUCH OF EVIL.
Orson Welles at his craziest and most brilliant, with a 3+ minute tracking shot that sets everything and includes a bomb explosion and Charlton Heston as a Mexican.
- "The Palm Beach Story" where the credits are listed over a crazy film sequence (silent, except for the "William tell overture") that seems impossible and makes absolutely no sense--until the final three seconds of the movie, where it's explained very simply!
- The opening sequence for the James Bond films was good enough to use over and over for 30+ years.
- Ridicule, where the protagonist visits the man who once ruined him, on his death bed, whips out his dick, full frontal, and pisses on the old miserable fucker, who then dies.
It should be required DL viewing.
- Mommie Dearest
- Opening titles. How 20th Century. Now we just get 6 to 8 production company logos and no other credits until the end of the film.
The Stunt Man.
- I think it's generally agreed that, despite what some would call flaws, Lucy's MAME had one of the most artistically brilliant opening credit montages ever.
- The first ten or fifteen minutes of PURPLE RAIN are just awesome.
- [quote]The opening credits for American Psycho when you think its blood, but like the film, nothing's what you think it was.
Never saw this movie. But wow, that sounds very interesting. Unfortunately, I never saw it. Ever.
- [quote]The Stunt Man.
It's been too long for me. Can you remind me what the title sequence for this film is again?
- Casino Royale took the traditional Maurice Binder Bond opening title sequence and made it better.
- Raising Arizona owns this thread. I remember seeing it in the theater and secretly crying because I was so blown away by it.
- Hitchcock's titles for I Confess are tooooo creepy.
- r52 and the DL sequel Grease FIRE!
- The Fan with Betty Bacall with the typewriter and Michael Biehn crazy voiceover and the typewriter keys striking like blades
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Here's a great recent one: "An Education," with the terrific instrumental song "On the Rebound" by Floyd Cramer as the perfect accompaniment.
- "Monty Python And The Holy Grail" is the winner. Hands-down.
My sister was bitten by a Moose once
- For me its got to be SINS the TV film with Joan Collins and a gaggle of second rate actors in a multitude of implausible situations.
The opening scene scans the Eifel Tower top to bottom, the camera then pans out to a full lingering shot of the tower. Then the letters PARIS appear on the screen.
In just a few seconds it was clear we were in for many delicious hours of hysteria and pointed bitchery.
- To add to the aforementioned "Touch of Evil," and "Casino Royale" (1967), "Monty Python And The Holy Grail":
"Love in the Afternoon"
"Life of Brian"
"Midnight In Paris"
- Quick. Put on yer caftans and get ready for...
- "Sex & The City : The Movie". I liked the little intro sue me.
- Campy as fuck, but BYE-BYE BIRDIE!!!
- In The Name Of The Father - excellent soundtrack and lots of rioting and petrol bombs in the Troubles.
The Player - another long, one shot opening, similar to A Touch Of Evil.
The Untouchables - just a great build up with Ennio Morricone's score.
- "Boys In The Band"
- r66 wins. Hands down.
- My all-time favorite opening sequence is from Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers - first we see this beautiful and innocent shot of the mountains, but then the camera suddenly zooms in through the mountain where we see Gandalf fighting that flaming bitch Balrog.
I also like the opening scene of Carrie, where we see those girls showering in slow motion, accompanied by Pino Donaggio's dreamy score.
- The opening of "The Letter" with Bette Davis is perfect. You really want to know what led her to commit that murder.
- Jaws, where Chrissy takes a moonlight swim.
- I know a lot of people hate that movie, but Coppola's Dracula has one of the best opening sequences ever, with some stunning imagery.
- I always have loved the animated opening to "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", where the stars names battle for top billing.
- The Court Jester
- R48, I also thought of MAME. It's interesting to note that some very bad movies have great opening title sequences; another example is SOUTH PACIFIC.
OP, I wish you would have made a clearer distinction between opening title sequences and the first scenes of a movie, which are not the same thing.
One of my favorite opening title sequences is one of the simplest: THE WIZARD OF OZ. It's just the credits (in that beautiful font) over a pan across a cloudy sky, but the cloudy sky prefigures the cyclone in a subtle but very effective way. The first 15 seconds of the movie is the best-ever version of the M-G-M trademark with the roaring lion, because of the magnificent arrangement of the music that accompanies it. (It's actually Glinda's theme in a stunning, full-orchestra arrangement that makes it sound like Wagner or Strauss might have written it.) The music, and the arrangement of the music, under the entire credits sequence is equally stunning, and I love the way they use the female chorus. Really great stuff.
- [quote]One of my favorite opening title sequences is one of the simplest: THE WIZARD OF OZ. It's just the credits (in that beautiful font) over a pan across a cloudy sky, but the cloudy sky prefigures the cyclone in a subtle but very effective way. The first 15 seconds of the movie is the best-ever version of the M-G-M trademark with the roaring lion, because of the magnificent arrangement of the music that accompanies it. (It's actually Glinda's theme in a stunning, full-orchestra arrangement that makes it sound like Wagner or Strauss might have written it.) The music, and the arrangement of the music, under the entire credits sequence is equally stunning, and I love the way they use the female chorus. Really great stuff
I agree. And that music over the credits is always used as the overture in the stage version too. It is a classic..
- love actually
- Overture from "Dancer in the Dark"
- A Hard Day's Night
- Superman: The Movie (1978), with the titles flying at you from space, over John Williams' majestic fanfare. More of a grand overture than a title sequence. And really something to see on the big screen.
- r76, I totally agree. I’ve seen this film so many times since childhood and to this day there’s something about the opening credits orchestration and the way he goes back to Glinda’s theme (never thought of that – great ear) at the end after that glorious B&W close up of Dorothy saying the immortal lines “There’s no place like home” touches my heart to this day.
- R82, I never realized the first music you hear in THE WIZARD OF OZ -- and, as you point out, the last music you hear before the end credits -- was Glinda's theme until I read it somewhere.
The melody is definitely Glinda's theme. But for the main title and end title sequences, it's transformed harmonically and orchestrated with such power (aside from being played at a much slower, majestic tempo) that I never would have recognized it unless someone told me.
At any rate, there's something about that music the way it's presented at the very start of the film, under the MGM lion roaring, that still really gets to me every time I hear it, even though I'm sure I've heard it hundreds of times. Maybe that's partly because of early childhood memories of watching the movie, but I think that's largely because it's scored so brilliantly -- very powerful and grand, but also a little frightening because of the dissonances.
- The opening credits in "Panic Room" are very cool. My favorite opening sequence of any film is the beginning of "Poltergeist" using the Star Spangled Banner.
- "Written on the Wind" is just about perfect.
- Many people are putting opening "scenes", not opening "titles".
- R82, R83-Instrumental opening for THE WIZARD OF OZ. I tried to find a decent movie clip but had to settle for this overture from the London cast Recording of the musical. It's still pretty awesome.
- [quote]The Player - another long, one shot opening, similar to A Touch Of Evil.
IIRC one of the characters references A Touch of Evil in the opening to demonstrate how much better film were with longer takes and no "MTV-style" editing. Such a great opening.
- A few other films with great opening-title sequences, in no particular order: GONE WITH THE WIND (for the title sweeping across the screen in huge letters), GHOST (very creepy and somehow sad, but you don't realize exactly what you're seeing until the sequence ends), DAMN YANKEES (really fun animation), MARY POPPINS (the slow pan over that gorgeous painting of London), BEN-HUR (the very slow pullback from a close-up of "The Creation of Adam" from Michelangelo's fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel).
In all of these cases, the music contributes greatly to making the main title sequences so successful and perfectly setting the mood for each film.
- Gone With the Wind - the HUGE letters that sweep across the screen. Very MARY!
Casino - the blazing, kaliedescopic neon over the Operatic score
Manhattan - NYC never looked more beautiful
Eyes Wide Shut - the shocking cut to a black gown sliding off Nicole Kidman's statuesque backside
Days of Heaven - "Carnival of the Animals" plays over wonderfully edited vintage photographs.
Heathers - the color coordinated croquet match
Howards End - Vanessa Redgrave wandering through her yard just after the sun has set, a perfect encapsulation of the entire film
- R87, there are several different versions of THE WIZARD OF OZ main title music easily accessible on YouTube. Here's one.
- R89- unfortunately when GONE WITH THE WIND was released in "Full Screen Splendor" with 70MM and Full Stereophonic Sound in 1967, the sweeping GWTW titles were replaced with a stationary title card that did not sweep across the screen. I saw it when I was 17 right at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City. This movie should never have been blown up for 70MM, the ratio was all wrong as the movie was originally shot in standard flat screen. Also, there was grain on the film image the size of golf balls and Clark Gable's head was cropped out whenever there was a scene where he was standing... guess M-G-M wanted to cash in on the 70MM process which could be stunning (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, CLEOPATRA etc) for films from the 50's and 60's that were shot in the process. However, this 1967 re-release was successful in reserved seat engagements world wide. Fortunately, when GWTW was issued in general release, M-G-M wisely used the original film ratio and that is how all other theatrical and home video releases has been.
- Another vote for DAYS OF HEAVEN, a movie and soundtrack I adore. I know, I know... a big MARY!
- r92, I saw a re-release of Gone With the Wind in 70mm widescreen at the UA Cinema 150 in Syosset, NY, curved screen and everything (not in 1967, though, more like 1973) and I was terribly disappointed in the poor presentation. It was grainy and out of focus, with heads and feet cut off. A bad first impression for the first time seeing it.
Luckily, I saw a restored version at Radio City Music Hall about a dozen years later in the proper aspect ratio and in a word, wow!
- The Sound of Music titles, absolutely. It's even better on the big screen, just breathtaking.
- How about Rocky -- big, GWTW letters scrolling across the screen to Bill Conti's big Oscar-nominated trumpets...
- Cotton Club
The Stuntman's opening title sequence starts with a crow flying overhead and Steve Railsback, escaping the police, handcuffed and running. Lots of intricate fast paced slapstick-like jumps and falls, near collisions. He sees a Duesenberg drive off a bridge into the water, keeps running till he gets to a beach full of people where he feels safer and slows down. He looks down to the beach below where there is a war tableau,
then huge explosions, maimed soldiers, blood and complete carnage. Then everyone on the beach begins to scream.
It is a great film about illusion vs. reality in movies, paranoia vs. the sadism of film directors, the romantic politics of art, and movie stunts. Stars Peter O'Toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback.
I could have explained the opening better, but I think the underscoring music will remind you.
- R94- [quote]I saw a re-release of Gone With the Wind in 70mm widescreen at the UA Cinema 150 in Syosset, NY, curved screen and everything (not in 1967, though, more like 1973) and I was terribly disappointed in the poor presentation. It was grainy and out of focus, with heads and feet cut off. A bad first impression for the first time seeing it.
Ain't that the truth? I first saw GWTW in 1961 when it was presented and framed properly. I was 10 at the time and I thought it was one of the best movies this little kid had ever seen, next to THE WIZARD OF OZ of course.
Had I seen it for the first time as you did in 70MM, I would have had the same reaction.
The only good thing to come oout of that 1967 release, the souvenir program that they sold in the lobby and the 1967 poster art work that has become so iconic.
- Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?
- Thanks, R98!
- - Barbarella
- Last Year at Marienbad
- The Matrix! Carrie Ann Moss rocked the shit out of this role
- I hate that '67 GWTW artwork, r99! I think it makes it look like a pulpy, trashy romance novel, and I think in the longterm (since it was used for new paperback editions and home video releases at least through the '90s), it contributed to downgrading the book and film's reputation to being thought of as just a sort of high-toned romance novel/soap opera.
- Obviously the music for the WIZARD OF OZ credits is great, but I think you're all letting your feelings about the rest of the movie cloud your judgment if you're arguing that it's a great opening titles sequence - visually it's completely blah.
- Star Wars. I still remember how exciting that was in the theater.
- Cabaret. Great intro, song-Wilkommen. Really sets the tone for the movie, introduces the main leads, pulls the audience into the films world, it's atmosphere etc
- G_O_N_E_ W_I_T_H_ T_H_E_ W_I_N_D_
- I do see your point R104. Others have said the same thing. I have a book on the history of the movie and it has the various poster art through the years. I admit that I do like the more toned down poster image of Leigh and Gable for the 50's and 1961 re-releases. I think the blazing hot burned orange one created for 1967 was the studio's attempt to sell this classic in 'an exciting screen format' like never seen before. Did they need this? No, as the reissue would have been a success anyway they sell it. Which it was. Larger cities reserved seat engagements lasted for a year. And then there was the long general release no reserved seat runs that began around Thanksgiving 1968.
Carrie, for sure.
I also like the opening sequence of Fargo quite a bit: a lone Buick cruising along a wintry highway. The accompanying score is appropriately eerie and dramatic.
- To Kill a Mockingbird - ahead of its time
- & Dr. Strangelove
- R104- That 1967 art work is also on cover of the blu ray release box set. It's not used for the standard or no frills blu ray set. I once had the original GWTW press book from 1939. It was probably worth something... can't believe I got rid of it... found it in the basement of the old Landers Theatre in downtown Springfield, Mo which was being converted from a movie theatre to a legitimate venue for plays and musicals.
kcguy, the idiot
- Ugh, r113, I had no idea that GWTW artwork was still being used to this day! I sort of thought it had been retired, for both the book and the movie, since the '98 re-release.
I hate how it has it has Scarlett's dressing gown almost falling off her huge tits (much bigger than Vivien Leigh's) with erect nipples! And her bare leg poking out through the skirt. I hate the whole '60s poster trends of having female characters from period pieces showing all this skin that's completely period inappropriate. Even Mary Poppins appeared on the poster showing off her bare legs with no petticoats or bloomers, which I think would have marked her as a complete whore in 1910!
- West Side Story hands down followed by Kill A Mockingbird and the last James Bond movie.
- The opening to Norman Lear's COLD TURKEY, in which a dog strolls through the streets of the small town where the story is set, is a memorable beginning to a movie that is oddly overlooked and forgotten.
The credits start at 3;25 with a close-up of Bob Newhart's maniacal grin.
- Best film opening?
Now, best TV show opening -- THAT I can answer.
- Ruthless People's animated titles over Mick Jagger's vocals.
- kcguy, r94 here. Good to see you posting again!
- What a great thread, so many terrific (and favorite) examples.
Here's one. Beautiful montage by Wayne Fitzgerald and gorgeous music by Michael Kamen, perfectly evoking the decency and humanity at stake during the film:
- Mulholland Drive -- amazing opening because it was upbeat, mysterious, fun, scary, weird, and you could dance to it.
- Yes, is it the credits or the opening scenes...? Or does it matter?
- Another great, minimalist work from Saul Bass, "Carmen Jones": a drawing of a single rose engulfed in red flames, as the Carmen prelude plays on the soundtrack. Striking in it's simplicity, it perfectly sums up Carmen (Fox, damn them, had the video pulled from Youtube, but here's a still).
- I know we're talking movies, but the opening on Wild, Wild West fascinated me as a kid. If you recall there were a series of boxes filled with generic animation, and every time there was a commercial break they would fill in one of the boxes with a drawing from the episode.
- My Favorite Opening Titles/Film Sequences:
Bye Bye Birdie
The First Wives Club
My Best Friend's Wedding
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
- [quote]Star Wars. I still remember how exciting that was in the theater.
It was exciting because it did away with opening titles and jumped right into the action. This is common now, but it was not in 1977.
- ^ And that BANG of the title just appearing with that blare of the John Williams music. Stunning way to start it all.
- "Obviously the music for the WIZARD OF OZ credits is great, but I think you're all letting your feelings about the rest of the movie cloud your judgment if you're arguing that it's a great opening titles sequence - visually it's completely blah."
As I said, it's a very simple opening, but I totally disagree that it's "blah." The music is so great that it turns the whole sequence into art, but I do think the simple pan over those threatening clouds is wonderfully evocative and sets the tone perfectly. P.S. For the full effect, you really have to see it on the big screen.
OP asked for the "best" opening title sequences, which is not NECESSARILY the same as the "most technically elaborate" or even the "most creative." Someone else cited the CARMEN JONES main title sequence, and I agree -- very simple, but very effective.
- The 1978 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" intro is epic... showing the space seeds, falling to earth with the rain, germinating, and setting the stage for the whole movie. It's a great credits sequence.
- I always loved the opening to "American Graffiti"; the radio that leads into "Rock Around the Clock", Mel's Drive In silhouetted against the night sky, the film's title in bright neon lights, the main characters arriving one by one. It was all so perfect.
The Talented Mr. Ripley