What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnings?

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louie

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What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnings?

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 1:51 pm

also wonder why this is an absolute practice for every film to this day? when did they stop having the film title come right after the studio id?
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PMBen

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 2:21 pm

I don't know but I hate it when they take a scene from the end of the 2nd act and glue it before the movie actually starts. The scene is taken out of context and that makes it intriguing, thus creating a strong beggining. On that level, it usually works.

But it has become sooo mechanical... almost every film does it, and although it may create curiosity and expectancy, it is sometimes completely pointless (i.e. it doesn't add anything to what the film finally tells).
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 2:44 pm

louie wrote:also wonder why this is an absolute practice for every film to this day? when did they stop having the film title come right after the studio id?


Ah! Yes. You've touched on another of my bugbears!

Once, when you saw the MGM lion, the lady holding a torch, a man hitting a gong, searchlights or stars on top of a mountain - you knew that the main picture was starting. Also, the feature film was on the second part of the programme, after interval. Nowadays of course, there is no first part to a programme, only a continuous barrage of trailers and advertisments, so that if a film does not start off in the proper manner, you would think that it is just another advertisement.

So many times I have completely forgotten what has happened in the first ten minutes of a picture because my mind has wandered thinking it all to be just another advertisement.

Whilst we are on the subject of our pet hates with today's films - how about bringing back "The End" as the ONLY thing on screen when a picture finishes?

I must admit that I am not all that keen on the front end titles being displayed over the action at the start of a picture either. It's distracting. One is trying to work out what's going on at the beginning of a picture and having to read things whilst the brain is already engaged is taxing. :D

Let's go back to the basics - studio logo, main title, list of players, producer and director - and then get on with it!

Perhaps we should organise a petition? :D
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 2:53 pm

The very earliest Lasky Feature Film Company films contained short credit sequences, with the main stars of the film grouped together with their heads through a backdrop, with each identified by name.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 3:21 pm

For talkies, 1932's "The Match King," which not only has a pre-title sequence before the studio logo and credits but also has flash forward sequences just before the ending that are a marvel of editing. As is the pre-title sequence. In my opinion, "The Match King" is a demonstration of the incredible production speed and quality of pre-Code Warner Bros. under production chief Darryl Zanuck. The likes of which are never to be seen again. The lightning has left the bottle.

IMDb: "One of the earliest films to have a pre-credits sequence - seven years earlier than Of Mice and Men (1939), which is often cited as the first such."
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 3:59 pm

you would think someone would put the title first just to be daring! it really does seem pointless most of the time. shouldn't there be a dramatic reason to do it? i am baffled by the practice. just like i am baffled by why they make it completely impossible to read a copyright date on the back of a dvd case.
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Bruce Long

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 4:52 pm

The 1980 book Movie Facts and Feats: A Guinness Record Book says the 1939 Destry Rides Again was the first (but of course that book has a bunch of errors). It also says that [up to 1980] The Return of a Man Called Horse had the longest pre-title sequence; of course some current films never have any titles at all until the very end.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 9:08 pm

I think the pre-credit sequence really first took off in films after the success of the James Bond films in the 60s. Originally, those set up some aspect of Bond's mission, like the murders at Strangeways in "Dr. No", but then evolved into action set pieces that had only a slight connection to the main film. The Bond "template" became what was emulated in action films the past few decades.

They do seem to work in action pictures because you're setting up the plot and characters in the first act. The pre-credit sequence is supposed to "grab" the audience right away before you get to all the boring stuff.

In "old Hollywood", these sequences were probably rarer because of the way films were shown, opening and closing the curtain in front of the screen. A logo isn't an essential part of the film and can be easily projected on the curtains as the open without the audience missing anything.

Another classic I can think of with a pre-credits sequence is "The Desert Fox" with James Mason. That's a 20th Century Fox picture and I think that one starts with the Fox fanfare and searchlights logo, then the action sequence, and the opening credits.

It's been quite awhile since I've watched "The Girl Can't Help It" - that one starts with Tom Ewell on a 4x3 screen, pushing back the screen to reveal the Cinemascope picture. Does that one have the Fox logo at the beginning?
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 9:58 pm

I find these particularly irritating, since part of my job as a cataloger is to look at the title frames and transcribe parts of them, or check them against existing catalog records. With credits starting at some random place and dribbling out over 10 minutes or so, it's a huge waste of my time. I've even tried to get the cataloging rules changed, but in its infinite wisdom the Keepers of the Rules have declared that title frames are the same as a book title page, and since it is decreed that a title page must be transcribed, so must title frames, except for some stuff which they can't quite define (so all the catalogers transcribe them differently, pretty much eliminating their utility as an accurate transcription).

If i recall, A Passage to India had opening music and credits over like a red curtain or something? Haven't seen it since first run, but i remember it seeming strikingly old fashioned at the time--which very much pleased me.

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 10:24 pm

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jan 22, 2014 11:34 pm

I think that with the James Bond pictures you get some clue that the main film has started because

(a) you get the studio logo - once The United Artists - now MGM
(b) you get the look at James Bond through the barrel of a gun which precedes every film.

Of course, if you happened to nod off when these two short sequences played, you would be excused for waking up and thinking you were watching an advertisement for Peter Styvesent cigarettes (at the time when such advertisements were allowed).
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 2:20 am

Wagon Master (1950) not only has a pre-credits sequence, but something I can't recall seeing anywhere else - a post-end title shot. "THE END" is superimposed over the penultimate shot of the wagon trail crossing a river. Then cut to a wider shot, then fade out.

Viennese Nights (1930) apparently has a pre-credits sequence.

Then there's this famous pre-credits scene, but this is a special case, as Van Sloan's intro is separate from the main action:

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 9:57 am

Donald Binks wrote:<>Once, when you saw the MGM lion, the lady holding a torch, a man hitting a gong, searchlights or stars on top of a mountain - you knew that the main picture was starting. Also, the feature film was on the second part of the programme, after interval.


That may have been true in Australia, but in New York City during the 'fifties and sixties' double-features were normal in most local theaters. (I would guess that was the case in most other cities as well). The program was shown continuously throughout the day without any intermission other than "coming attractions" between the main and second feature. It was not uncommon for patrons to walk in during the second feature, and if it was interesting enough to hang around after the main feature had completed to see what they had missed.

My suspicion is that the tendency of beginning the credits after an opening sequence is something that ported over from television, where it was necessary to run a short teaser to grab attention and induce viewers not to flip channels.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 11:45 am

First thing that popped into my mind:



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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 6:08 pm

I don't have a copy so I can't confirm, but I'm fairly certain it takes some time for John Ford's Upstream (1927) to get to its title sequence - from memory, not until the term is actually mentioned in the film and its meaning becomes clear.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 9:20 pm

The Upstream title sequence is here on the TCM website, and it has the titles before the action starts.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jan 23, 2014 11:41 pm

I must have been thinking of something else. I wonder if anyone has seen some more of the Lasky title sequences that missdupont mentioned? I recall the ones for The Circus Man (1914) being particularly interesting, a little bit like the title sequence of a modern sitcom, with the name superimposed over snatches of footage of the character.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue Jun 24, 2014 6:40 pm

Donald Binks wrote:Whilst we are on the subject of our pet hates with today's films - how about bringing back "The End" as the ONLY thing on screen when a picture finishes?

I must admit that I am not all that keen on the front end titles being displayed over the action at the start of a picture either. It's distracting. One is trying to work out what's going on at the beginning of a picture and having to read things whilst the brain is already engaged is taxing. :D

Let's go back to the basics - studio logo, main title, list of players, producer and director - and then get on with it!

Perhaps we should organise a petition? :D
But don't you want to know who contracted the stylist who took care of the gaffer's best boy's assistant?


What is the oldest encore / post end credit scene? Usually comedies have these things (the Pirates of the Carribean movies all had them). As did A life less ordinary and James and the giant peach. Even some TV series have them (Father Ted).
But not always. I think Blade 3 had a pretty useless scene of Snipes in a car and X-Men: Last Stand had a post credit scene that was so much part of the story that you wonder why they hid it there.
Was there any such thing in the '60s or '70s?
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue Jun 24, 2014 7:02 pm

Perhaps we should organise a petition? :D
But don't you want to know who contracted the stylist who took care of the gaffer's best boy's assistant?
[/quote]



NO!

I have been told that the reason all these credits are there is for the purpose of someone's resume. Surely a website devoted to the picture would suffice - or an expanded IMDB entry? Why make the paying public suffer? It is just so unnecessary! It becomes even more pointless on television when the credits whizz by so quickly you can hardly see what you are looking at or they are squeezed into half the frame whilst some promo fills the other half. Redickadidless!.

Still, common sense does not exist in today's world does it? :(
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jun 25, 2014 11:29 am

Donald Binks wrote:Why make the paying public suffer?
The public invariably votes with its feet and leaves long before the last credit has rolled passed.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed Jun 25, 2014 4:45 pm

Rollo Treadway wrote:
Viennese Nights (1930) apparently has a pre-credits sequence.


Slightly- there are a few moments of action before the credits are superimposed on the action. The same thing is done with Wheeler & Woolsey's THECUCKOOS and HOOK, LINE & SINKER, and there are others like them. I think the best example is DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY where the camera moves over the leading actors at a festival while superimposed titles credit them. In a class of its own is CRIME WITHOUT PASSION, which has a lengthy montage before the title.

Then there is SAFE IN HELL - the quickest opening credits I've seen for the era.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostThu Jun 26, 2014 6:40 pm

The OP louie I think is referring to footage introducing a movie before the title sequences officially begin. I don't know when the first. Some glaring later examples are ON THE BEACH(1959) and THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN(1969). I saw "On The Beach" at a screening one time and the prologue part is so long that some idiot got up and got angry at the projectionist whom he thought had put the reels in backwards. Silents did have prologue type footage but these most of the time came after the main credits . An example is DON JUAN(1926)
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostMon May 18, 2015 1:49 pm

Not sure if this counts, but there are a few brief shots of cotton pickers before the titles of King Vidor's SO RED THE ROSE (1935) come up. Some of them have been taken from his HALLELUJAH (1929), but of course they could have been lifted from another movie.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue May 19, 2015 8:56 am

Edward van Sloan's intro to FRANKENSTEIN was created to match
the now missing curtain call speech at the end of DRACULA.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue May 19, 2015 5:51 pm

The worst opening title sequence is for TOO LATE THE HERO (1970). After some titles, the movie begins and at some point more titles are presented. Then there is a lengthy sequence and after which the rest of the credits are displayed... and Henry Fonda vanishes completely from the film.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue May 19, 2015 7:54 pm

Getting off topic, my favorite lead in to a studio logo is Raiders of the Lost Ark which has been copied numerous times since.

And our film, PORTRAIT OF JASON from 1967 has zero titles -- only a distributor logo with the copyright on the very last frames. It's meant to look like it's not an edited film.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostTue May 19, 2015 8:36 pm

I tend to think that the practice of using a pre-credit sequence in films migrated from television. TV shows in the late 'fifties, especially those produced by the film studios (Warners comes to mind), often had a pre-credit sequence to grab the audience and forestall a channel change. Check out many of the reruns that Encore Westerns airs such as The Cheyenne Show and there is a pre-credit teaser at the beginning. Even a half-hour program like Have Gun Will Travel would have a brief teaser spoken by Richard Boone. Perhaps film makers put brief credits some minutes into the film because they feel their audience are comic book readers with short attention spans?
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed May 20, 2015 9:56 am

milefilms wrote:Getting off topic, my favorite lead in to a studio logo is Raiders of the Lost Ark which has been copied numerous times since.

And our film, PORTRAIT OF JASON from 1967 has zero titles -- only a distributor logo with the copyright on the very last frames. It's meant to look like it's not an edited film.


Continuing the thread drift: My favorite use of the studio logo is provided by that fine movie Cat Ballou, getting the spirit of the show going with a bang (or two). I remember being pleasantly startled on first viewing when it was originally released.
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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed May 20, 2015 10:28 am

As a video cataloger, this practice drives me crazy! For library cataloging, we are required by our cataloging standards (and believe me, i've tried to have this changed ...) to view the entirety of the opening credits, transcribe the title exactly as it appears, and transcribe some but not all of the opening credits, particularly whatever the first credit is. So when the credits begin several minutes into the film and get strung out over 10 minutes or so it takes forever to get to the next frame i have to pause at and type it down and run it some more and stop at the next applicable frame. You can't really fast forward because you might miss something. So the longer the credits run on, the longer it takes us to do our work. Some movies also dribble out the end credits. Plus the fact that some of our credits might be in Estonian, Uzbek, Swahili, etc. so we have to figure out who is the director, etc. (luckily Chinese and Arabic go to another department). African credits have the charming habit of presenting or spelling people's names one way in the opening credits and differently in the end credits.

I've noticed that it seems to be a convention that fiction films have credits at the beginning and detailed credits at the end (at least in the post-classical Hollywood period), while documentaries tend to have credits at the end, though most at least have a title at the beginning. Some direct-to-video documentaries either have the title at the beginning of the end credits or forget to put it on the video proper at all, maybe only having it on the disc label or menu.

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Re: What were the Earliest movies to have pre title beginnin

PostWed May 20, 2015 11:09 am



So Greta, I'm wondering how you cataloged these credits...
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