Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved.
by John Tebbutt
The title sequence of a movie will tell you the names of the artists involved in filming it. That's its job. On top of that, anything goes. Some credits also try to entertain or give you an idea of what to expect for the next 90 minutes. A few have become institutions: the Bond movies have had those weird credits for over 30 years now, and the animated intros to the Pink Panther movies were popular enough to spawn their own TV show.
· Walk On The Wild Side (1962): In the remarkable title sequence, a black cat struts across the screen in slow motion, perfectly accompanied by the hauntingly dramatic theme music. Every step oozes confidence, focus, intensity. The cat's steely glare is hypnotic. Suddenly, another cat leaps out of the shadows and attacks. After a short but decisive battle, our hero struts victorious off into the night. The best performance by a cat in the history of film. Indescribably cool.
· Accion Mutante (aka Mutant Action) (1992): This wild black comedy is about a team of deformed futuristic terrorists. Sounds nuts? Believe me, it is.
The mood is set by the bizarre opening credits. (If you've never heard rap music in Spanish, here's your chance.) The handicapped protagonists repeatedly materialize and disappear like captions in Pop-Up Video, posing with ridiculously oversized firearms and getting jiggy with it. One character accidentally breaks the camera lens with a careless punch. Another guy's machine pistols keep jamming, and we see the props guy run up and fix them three times! The fact that this whole sequence is in untranslated, unsubtitled Spanish just adds to the wackiness.
· Peeper (1975): Michael Caine stars in this 1940s-style detective spoof. The actual film is fairly forgettable, but you'll remember the title sequence. Not a single word appears onscreen; the entire opening credits are read aloud by an astonishing Humphrey Bogart impersonator, Jerry Lacy. (Not yet available on video.)
· Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): Monty Python always provides great title sequences, usually with sick/hilarious animation by Terry Gilliam. This time around, the cartoons are replaced with an apparently serious dramatic title sequence, in which increasingly silly Swedish subtitles appear. It's a metaphor for the entire film; the seriousness of the quest is constantly undermined by silly nonsense.
"Wi not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer?"
"See the loveli lakes."
"The wonderful Telephone system"
"And many interesting furri animals."
"Including the Majestic Moose."
"A moose once bit my sister...."
"WE APOLOGISE FOR THE FAULT IN THE SUBTITLES. THOSE RESPONSIBLE HAVE BEEN SACKED."
"Mynd you, moose bites kan be pretti nasti...," etc. Just see it. I promise you'll like it.
· Superman: The Movie (1978): First, think back to the last time you saw this classic on TV. Got that theme song firmly stuck in your head? Good. Now remember the title sequence: a black starscape, with crystalline three-dimensional titles gently gliding into place before heroically swooping away. Each of the principal actors (my, there are a lot of them) get their names up there individually, looking ever-so-majestic. This takes rather a long time, and by the time they get to Ned Beatty, you're starting to get restless. You do a bit of channel surfing; when you return, the titles have only reached the composer. You get up and make a sandwich; now they're up to the casting director. "It must end soon," you think, and settle down and wait patiently for the movie to start. Ten minutes later they're showing the name of the key grip, and the credits are still rolling! Aaarrgh!
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