50 brilliant movie opening credits sequences

From a range of eras and genres, here's Jenny and Alex's light-hearted pick of 50 great opening title sequences from the movies...

We don’t go to the cinema much, because we hate people. We also don’t go because there’s always the risk of accidentally going to see the wrong film. It’s not helped by the fact that there’s no way of telling until it’s too late, because there are no bloody opening credits on lots of modern films. And by the time you do realise, you’ve eaten all your popcorn and you can’t be bothered to move.

The movies on this list won’t give you that problem. These opening credits are perfect scene setters for the movies that follow, so you won’t have to worry about awkward popcorn wasting moments. It’s not a top 50, rather a selection of 50 interesting credits sequences, some chosen by Jenny and some by Alex. So here we go…

1984 (1984)

I’m going to assume everyone reading this knows the basic plot of 1984. Polite society demands that you do.

We begin the opening credits as the daily two minutes’ hate is finishing, leading into the broadcast of the national anthem – Oceania, ‘Tis For Thee. The national anthem is an uplifting tune, full of optimism, yet you feel all hope for humanity drain out of you as you hear it. The credits roll over an image of Big Brother that fills the screen, cutting back to the near hysterical frenzy that his picture evokes in the brainwashed crowd, leading to an unsettling feeling that remains throughout the film. (JM)

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Did you know: Roger Deakins was responsible for the beautifully lit, bleached-out cinematography. Director Michael Radford had originally approached Sean Connery for the role of O’Brien, but the part ultimately went to Richard Burton.

The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)

There’s something to be said about a character that can be identified solely by the silhouette of his hair. Especially when he’s running around through a montage of everything you could think of from the 1940s. I’m glad they didn’t make him all modern and gritty by giving him an ex-wife and an alcohol problem. (AC)

Did you know: this was Steven Spielberg’s first 3D movie, and composer John Williams’ first animated film.

Airheads (1994)

No one under the age of 20 will have any idea what’s going on in these credits. Reels of tape! Boom boxes! Compact discs! Stop motion animation! Mixing desks! Real instruments! If there’s one thing I like it’s excluding young people from society, although ironically this time it’s being done through the medium of rock ‘n’ roll. I feel old now, I need a Solpadine. (AC)

Did you know: Airheads was the last film to use the old 20th Century Fox logo from the 80s. A new CGI logo made its debut in Fox’s next film, The Scout.

Alien (1979)

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The pieces of the title slowly come together with an indescribable menace. I’m not entirely sure how five letters can be scary, but with that animation over one of Jerry Goldsmith’s finest scores, they damn well are. No wonder Prometheus tried the same trick. (AC)

Did you know: This title sequence was designed by Richard Greenberg, who’d previously created the opening titles for Superman (1978).

Amelie (2001)

This sweet, quirky title sequence shows Audrey Tautou’s introverted heroine as a child. A girl with overprotective parents, and consequently no friends, Amelie is introduced to us via a montage of the different ways her childhood self fills her time. It’s through this montage that we catch a glimpse of her imagination at work, giving us an idea of what the grown-up Amelie will be like as a character. (JM)

Did you know: Amelie was originally written specifically for actress Emily Watson. She was replaced by Audrey Tautou when a mixture of conflicting schedules and a poor grasp of French ruled Watson out.

Back To The Future (1985)

Few credits scenes set up so much with so little as this. A long pan around Doc Brown’s garage-cum-lab tells you everything you need to know about the upcoming two hours. Doc Brown is a mad scientist preoccupied by time, gadgets, pining for a lost relevance. Also he’s stolen a load of plutonium which has made him a few enemies. Not bad for an almost wordless minute. (AC)

Did you know: The opening sequence contains references to The Time Machine (1960) and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923) – the latter referenced again when Doc Brown hangs off the clock tower in 1955.

Barbarella (1968)

Hey, this is nice. Swinging 60s soundtrack, kitsch sci-fi decor. Oh look, it’s zero-g, guess she’s in space. That’s a nice wire effect. Okay, so she’s slipping into something more comfortable, that’s cool, I guess it’s going to be a bit light hearted and… oh my. Ahem.

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I need another Solpadine. (AC)

Did you know: In the (probably NSFW) sequence above, Jane Fonda isn’t suspended in mid-air, but actually lying on a sheet of glass. You can see the reflection in one or two shots.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)

Say what you like about The Twilight Saga (and, er, many have), but you can’t knock the movies’ opening credits when it comes to setting the mood. This is particularly true for the final film in the series, as it brings together elements from all the previous films to make one conclusive whole. A medley of all the previous Twilight scores serve as a musical recap, akin to saying ‘Previously on The Twilight Saga…’ Visually, the credits show various parts of picturesque landscapes turning to ice, alluding to Bella’s transformation into a vampire. And also to the fact that it’s pretty cold in Washington. Probably. (JM)

Did you know: This was the only Twilight movie to feature a full opening credits sequence.

Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

As Celine Dion’s All By Myself plays, Bridget sits alone on her sofa, a drunken, chain smoking lady tramp in pyjamas. After checking her answerphone and confirming that, yet again, she has no messages, Bridget downs half a pint of red wine in one go, and begins to tearfully lip synch to Ms Dion. This culminates in a full on Grammy worthy performance, using a rolled up magazine as a microphone.

We’ve all been in Bridget’s position at some point. And if you’ve never been in that position, know that I’m glaring at you right now. (JM)

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Did you know: Originally released by Eric Carmen in 1975, All By Myself has been covered numerous times by artists including Tom Jones, Eartha Kitt, Frank Sinatra and the irrepressible John Barrowman. Eddie Murphy also covered it in Shrek 2.

Caligula (1979)

Gore Vidal’s controversial depiction of the Roman Emperor’s descent into madness begins with a simple yet effective visual – Caligula immortalised in a Roman coin. Slowly, the likeness begins to cry tears of blood, accompanied by Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet. Ominous, passionate, and a bit insane. (JM)

Did you know: Caligula was banned in Russia until 1993, and is still banned in Belarus.

Clerks (1994)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUq46apWsM4

Your life sucks. You hate your job, and your boss has just phoned to guilt trip you into working on your day off. Do you:

A) Whine like a bitchB) Try to argue with your boss but ultimately failC) Go to work in a huff and open the shop, all the while cursing your sham of a life

If you answered D) All of the above, congratulations! You are Dante, star of one of the best loved cult films of a generation. We are proud to watch you performing your morning drudgery and then having to stink of shoe polish for the rest of the day.

The beauty of these credits lies in how ordinary they are. The collection of Dante’s mundane morning chores, such as attempting to make coffee with no clean cups, putting on his boots, unlocking the shop and putting out the morning papers, perfectly show the start of what is going to be a very average day in his life. You might think there’s a twist and that the day will contain explosions and peril, but no. Mostly it’s just Dante being slightly annoyed in the shop. These credits are a double bluff because they show the beginning of an average day which just goes on to be an average day; they don’t feel the need to build up suspense. (JM)

Did you know: Kevin Smith shot Clerks for less than $30,000 at the store he used to work at.

Days Of Thunder (1990)

The opening synth arpeggios. The chorus on the bass. The electric pianos. The sheer testosterone pouring out of every pixel. Even if it was made in 1990, I dare you to find a more 80s opening than this. (AC)

Did you know: The production of Days Of Thunder was so chaotic that pages of the script were often being made on the spot during filming. Tom Cruise suffered a minor car accident because he was trying to read his lines from cue cards on the dashboard while driving around the track.

Disney’s Robin Hood (1973)

We fought over which Disney credits to include in this list. Alex argued in favour of this, while I lobbied for The Lion King. However, his argument was so eloquent and persuasive that I had to relent :

“But look (hic) – small animals! That’s so British! And (hic) another thing….”

I never did get to find out what the other thing was, since Alex had drunk quite a lot of whiskey by this point. I think he might have started mumbling about Pot Noodles.

Drunken rambling aside, these credits are very British, because Britishness means not getting too carried away with things. As such, we have a simple, cheerful whistling tune playing over the characters being introduced one by one. The characters aren’t punching things (men) or standing there in their bras (women), they’re just cooking knitting, or going for a nice walk. Perfect. (JM)

Did you know: To save money, animators referenced scenes from earlier Disney films: Snow White, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

These credits make me want to do naughty things. They make me want to smear dog poo on the furniture and write ‘Mother sucks’ on the carpet. A series of childish crayon scribbles depict iconic things from the film, such as vodka and pants pie (which explodes all over Elizabeth’s bullying mother). The movie’s antagonist, smarmy love rat Charles, is drawn with devil horns and missing teeth. The credits show other childishly anarchic things like assaulting someone with a pair of stinking socks, and attempting to play a piano with a hammer.

With their deceptively simple, childlike animation style, these credits look like even I, hopeless artist that I am, could have made them, and that is part of their charm. (JM)

Did you know: Robin Williams was offered the role of Fred, while Tim Burton was given the chance to direct. Both turned the film down.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Much like the movie itself, the credits here satirise the newsreels of the day with their stock footage of bombers calmly going about their business. In fact, if it weren’t for the music then you’d easily think this was just a set of stock footage. But the serene music is creepy by its inappropriateness, along with the idiosyncratic credits themselves.

Watching these credits is like being stuck in a lift during a nuclear war, reading lovely hand written notes on a paper aeroplane, written by a child with no sense of scale whatsoever. It’s all rather soothing. (AC)

Did you know: The opening titles were designed by Pablo Ferro. The hand-written style was originally intended as a thumbnail sketch by Ferro, but Kubrick liked it so much that he insisted it be used in the finished picture. Ferro’s other film titles include Bullitt, Beetlejuice, The Thomas Crowne Affair and To Live And Die In LA.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

You would be forgiven for not thinking Eternal Sunshine has opening credits at all, coming as they do 17 minutes into the film. However, by using the audience expectation that the credits always come first, we can identify this as being chronologically the first scene. It is also subversive, as despite being chronologically the first, it also takes place after the bulk of the story. Don’t worry, this does make sense when you see the full film. (AC)

Did you know: Nic Cage was in the running for the lead role before Jim Carrey stepped in.

Feed (2005)

Cherish by The Association plays happily on the car stereo, while our hero rolls along to the drive thru in his car, looking very much like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Perhaps he’s daydreaming about the woman he loves? The background song would certainly suggest that. Wait, how many burgers is he buying? 20? Maybe he’s very hungry. And what’s happened to the lovely music? Oh, there it is again, and there goes our hero, taking lunch to his beloved. The house looks to be in disrepair; perhaps his girlfriend is ill. Aww, that’s nice, he’s taking lunch to his ill, bedridden girlfriend, I…oh. (JM)

Did you know: Directed by Brett Leonard, whose previous films included the cyber thrillers Virtuosity and The Lawnmower Man.

Gattaca (1997)

Falling, out of focus objects might not sound the most interesting sequence, but Gattaca’s opening slowly builds, adding mystery before revealing the source: these are skin flakes and hairs. Whoever is doing this really wants to scrub something away, and just what’s really contained in all that human detritus will become the overriding theme of the film. It’s remarkably effective. (AC)

Did you know: Gattaca’s opening titles were designed by Michael Riley, who also created the titles for Kung Fu Panda.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

David Fincher films tend to have excellent opening credits sequences (see also: Panic Room). In the case of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, they’re gritty, futuristic, and visually spectacular. If pushed to describe them in one sentence, I’d say ‘A Bjork video crossed with the Castrol GTX advert from the 80s’. (JM)

Did you know: Director David Fincher intended the opening sequence to be the “personal nightmare” of character Lisbeth Salander.

Godzilla (2014)

Now this is most unusual, a modern blockbuster not only with a credit sequence, but a credit sequence with a unique design that actually moves the narrative forward. There are nuclear weapons, and something very secret has happened, and if you’re very quick you might just catch a glimpse. Tantalisation and interactivity are just two of the things any teenage boy hopes for in the back row of a cinema, but I bet none of them thought it would be delivered quite this way. (AC)

Did you know: According to director Gareth Edwards, the title sequence for Godzilla was envisioned as a prologue. When it was deemed too much for the start of the film, it was reinvisioned as the title sequence, with the idea of the redacted text inspired by the opening of Oliver Stone’s film, JFK.

Good Burger (1997)

The prospect of watching Good Burger should fill any sane human being with abject terror. However, might I suggest at least watching the opening credits? The title occurs over a rather bizarre animation of the world’s most indecisive burger which is about the most 90s thing you’ll ever see. Not interesting? Okay, well what is interesting is that the credits themselves take place over a scene where Kenan (or is it Kel? Meh, no one cares) showers with his clothes on singing utter gibberish, followed by him dragging some poor girl through the road, banging her head violently on the concrete as she goes. Unwise, unintelligible and painful are the best descriptors for this film you could get. Thanks credits! (AC)

Did you know: Good Burger’s premise originated from a brief sketch of the same name from the Nickelodeon comedy series, All That.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)

Few scores so perfectly sum up an entire genre, but I dare you to try imagining a western without whistling this theme. This synergises perfectly with the credits themselves, that look like they could have been painted on the side of a stagecoach, and then covered with the gunshot-liberated blood of your enemies. Failing that, you could always just mime along with the gun noises, although I tried doing that in Tesco once and people give you funny looks if you try to do that and you’re over the age of five. (AC)

Did you know: The film’s titles were created by the Italian artist and designer, Iginio Lardani, who created the opening sequences for all three Dollars films. He made most of them from his house in Rome.

The Graduate (1967)

Dustin Hoffman’s bleak, staring, motionless ride on an airport travelator is the perfect accompaniment to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence. I am bored with the world. Move along, nothing left to see here. (JM)

Did you know: Mike Nichols became the first movie director to be paid a flat salary of $1m for The Graduate.

Grease (1978)

Grease’s opening reminds me of an animated version of Viz, only without all the dirty jokes. It takes time to introduce every single character with a little insightful vignette, all to Frankie Valli’s Grease. Despite the surprisingly dated 70s animation, this holds up by the way it so perfectly sets the scene – it’s the 50s and we love it, we just want to take the piss ever so slightly. (AC)

Did you know: The opening credits to Grease were created by animator John Wilson, whose other work included The Lady And The Tramp.

Halloween (1978)

Imagine watching this opening in a movie theatre. The titles begin, telling you through the medium of panicky music that you really should get the hell out of there. And in between each credit there is that endless blackness, punctuated only by that godawful pumpkin. Look, he’s laughing at you. By the time the first scene begins, a part of you has become convinced that the movie is actually coming to kill you in real life. Maybe you should have just gone to Wimpy instead. (JM)

Did you know: John Carpenter’s unforgettable title music is in 5/4 time, an unusual signature his father taught him. The music’s unfamiliar rhythm is used specifically, Carpenter said, because its cyclical natures unnerves the viewer: “You don’t know where it begins or ends…”

Sorry – it’s one of those cursed moments where the article is so long, we need to run it over two pages. Don’t hate us. We don’t do this very often.

Anyway, on with the list…

Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Perhaps the reason Bid TV went bust was because despite all the bald cockneys trying to flog you crap, you never felt so intimidated that you had to buy anything off them. Contrast that with Jason Statham, who scared the entire population of Great Britain into filling every spare cupboard with Kit Kats. Here his charismatic market stall trader uses that same charisma/intimidation to sweet talk a group of shoppers into buying his crap between the title cards. Of course, he later legs it at the first sound of a siren. It might not sound that interesting but let me put it this way: if Statham were on teleshopping doing this schtick, and the product information were just black title cards, my flat would be full of magic sponges and Chinese watches. (AC)

Did you know: Like his character in the movie, Jason Statham was himself a street vendor before he became a famous actor and backside-kicking action star.

Look Who’s Talking Too (1990)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geAjS9JyASU

I only rarely encounter human beings. I mean, look at them. They used to be sperm and eggs. Not just any, but the they were once the fastest, strongest, biggest bully of all sperm, and your poor mother’s unwilling egg. And now that one cell has become trillions, wrapped in a t-shirt, and all it wants to do is make more of itself, drive badly and probably steal my television.

All these thoughts and more come flooding in when you watch the opening credits to the rubbish sequel to the fairly rubbish Look Who’s Talking. To sum it up, a sperm gets off with an egg, giving birth to yet another unwanted sequel. It’s like a metaphor for Hollywood told through the medium of filth. (AC)

Did you know: Look Who’s Talking Too’s visual effects, including the sperm-egg sequence above, were supervised by Peter Anderson, whose other (more celebrated) movies include Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Hunt For Red October and Tango & Cash.

Lord Of War (2005)

These credits take you on a journey through a bullet factory, a la How It’s Made, from the point of view of a bullet. The bullet is treated as if it was just another household object; it could be a comb or a toothpick. The factory workers are so used to their job, they no longer seem to register the fact that the things they make are used to kill people. Such is life in the arms trade. Stunningly effective. (JM)

Did you know: The effects supervisor on Lord Of War‘s opening sequence was Yann Blondel, whose other credits include Fight Club and The Diving Bell And The Butterfly.

Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979)

Go on. Watch these credits without laughing. I dare you. Watch the classically insane Python animation, which features such gems as a baby being launched through the air, and the flying head of Julius Caesar knocking down buildings. Listen to the Bond style theme song, which tells us important facts like Brian ‘has arms, and legs, and a head’, and that he ‘goes out and gets pissed’. If you can sit through these credits without laughing at least once, then expect DFS vouchers for Christmas. (JM)

Did you know: The opening credits were, of course, animated by Terry Gilliam. The Pythons’ prevous film, The Holy Grail, had been directed by Terry Jones and Gilliam. After some heated discussion, Jones directed The Life Of Brian by himself, while Gilliam attended to the animated sequences and matte shots.

The Naked Gun (1988)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wND357avYJk

Nee naw nee naw nee naw! It’s every car chase that has ever happened, including all the terrible ones you’ve laughed at. In particular, this opening sequence features the kind of idiotic, unrealistic zig zag driving you often see, as if the driver is navigating his way through an obstacle course full of cones. This show of maverick driving skill culminates in the cop car we’ve been riding with arriving at the most important place in the universe – the donut shop. (JM)

Did you know: Composer Ira Newborn told us of the theme tune that, “My thinking was to get it as close to the 1950s’ M-Squad theme as I could without plagiarising it and getting sued, just as I was instructed to do by the producers”. Our full interview with Newborn (and he doesn’t pull many punches!) is here.

On The Buses (1971)

It’s not the done thing to say, but I like this film, and I like these credits. First of all, we have a fantastically catchy song, containing just the right amount of innuendo to be funny and silly without going over the top. Secondly, all the cast are introduced properly – the actor, the character, and what relation they are to the other characters, leaving you in no doubt about the proceedings. If only more films did this, you wouldn’t be left wondering ‘who the hell is that guy?’ halfway through. Thirdly, the credits are a montage of main characters Stan and Jack doing what they do best – dicking about. (JM)

Did you know: Two big screen sequels followed On The Buses. No reboot we know of is planned. Mainly because buses don’t have conductors anymore…

The Pink Panther (1963)

The 60s was probably the golden era of the opening credit. Pulling away from the stuffy, stoic titles of previous decades, films found time to play around with the format a little. Animation was a common choice, especially among comedies, but this deserves special mention as these credits spun off their own cartoon series. How many films can claim that? (AC)

Did you know: Animation genius Isodore ‘Friz’ Freleng animated the Pink Panther title sequence. Bugs Bunny? Porky Pig? Sylvester the Cat? You have Friz to thank for those. The Pink Panther later, quite rightly, got his own TV series. The mighty Statham appeared opposite Steve Martin in The Pink Panther remake.

Raging Bull (1980)

I wasn’t originally going to include this. I saw it, thought it was pretty good but that was it, and went away assuming I’d probably never think about it again. Not so. The film’s title music, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, is one of my favourite pieces of music, and I listen to it quite often. However, yesterday I realised that I can no longer listen to it without De Niro’s lone boxer dancing round in my head, looking fired up and beat at the same time. These credits, I’ve learned, stay with you. (JM)

Did you know: There’s a terrific examination of the Raging Bull titles to be found here.

Re-Animator (1985)

Since I watched these credits, my mind is no longer my own. I can be doing something perfectly harmless, like making a cup of tea or browsing an Ikea catalogue, when suddenly I’m besieged with memories of creepy, Victorian style anatomical drawings of brains and spines, which flash up in unnatural hues of lime green and purple. Then there is that music, full of notes that have no business following each other, sounding for all the world like someone having a nervous breakdown while playing a bassoon. In the same vein as Halloween, this music has the fast pace and the sense of urgency that implies you really should stop the film and run away while you still can. Ugh. These credits won’t leave my brain alone. (JM)

Did you know: The wonderful music for this opening sequence was composed by Richard Band, clearly channelling the spirit of Bernard Herrmann and his Psycho theme. The titles themselves were designed by Robert Dawson, who also did the titles for Repo Man, Mars Attacks and Edward Scissorhands.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The only word I can use to describe these credits is ‘cool’. The main characters, strangers working together on a diamond heist, stroll down the street, suited and sunglassed up, while George Baker’s Little Green Bag plays over the top. Simple but memorable. Okay, hands up who’s done the following – walking around while listening to Little Green Bag on your headphones, beginning to strut around like you really are a cool ass suit wearing gangster on a diamond heist, only to remember you’re actually in the frozen meat section of Lidl. No? Just me then. (JM)

Did you know: the song’s original name was supposed to be Little Greenback – a slang term for a US dollar – but the record was pressed with the wrong title.

The Running Man (1987)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJPPQ4wJ2So

The Running Man might be pushing the definition of a ‘brilliant opening credits sequence’ a little, as aside from the title, the company idents and Arnie’s name, there’s little to speak of. It’s just that what there is quite charming, and looks like some kind of lost advert for underrated breakfast cereal, Kellogg’s Start. Yes, they still make Start. Yes, it still has the typeface from The Running Man. (AC)

Did you know: Paula Abdul choreographed the song-and-dance number at the start of the film. Also, no fewer than three cast members went on to appear in Predator (also 1987): Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso and Jesse Ventura.

Seven (1995)

Seven is about some guy who kills people using the seven deadly sins, like grumbling and syphilis. Okay, I admit I can’t write much because these credits scare the living piss out of me. That music is just horrible, the images, while not exactly gory, have the right amount of grime and suggestion to unsettle, and the sheer atmosphere is enough to warrant the 18 rating. Thanks for making relive that. The packet says I’m not allowed another Solpadine. (AC)

Did you know: The stunning title sequence for Seven was designed by Kyle Cooper, and is intended as a guided tour of John Doe’s stricken psyche. There’s an exhaustive dissection of the whole thing at Art Of The Title, and it’s a fascinating read.

Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

Perhaps a little heavy handed, but showing the repetitive tasks performed by mindless, soulless menial workers manages to make as much incisive commentary in just the opening credits as George A Romero managed in whole movies. Yes, I’m looking at you, Land Of The Dead. (AC)

Did you know: This is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite films.

Shirley Valentine (1989)

These ones tend to get overlooked by people, which is a shame. The opening to this 80s classic is simple yet effective – a series of drawings showing a typical day for a suburban housewife. Endless menial tasks interspersed with bouts of staring at photos of her younger self, which make you feel enormously sorry for heroine Shirley Bradshaw; you want her to leave her crap husband and her crap life before the film even begins. (JM)

Did you know: Director Lewis Gilbert’s earlier film, Alfie, also has the lead character breaking the fourth wall and addressing the viewer.

Short Circuit (1986)

These opening titles show our robotic hero, Number ‘Johnny’ 5, being born; the viewer catches glimpses of the human side of Johnny 5 while he is still being assembled. This is another opening sequence that reminds me of How It’s Made. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. I do love How It’s Made. I have 22 episodes recorded on my Sky+ box. And?

Anyway. As for the music, I imagine that back in 1980s America, this music followed all factory workers around as they went about their daily lives. All together now –

“Beep beep bip boop bip beep bip bip boop beep beep…” (JM)

Did you know: Number Five was designed by Syd Mead.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Look world, I might not be as swish as Sean Connery, but goddamnit I’m James Bond! I, sir, am a British gentleman. I can tie a tie, and I can kill you while drinking a cup of tea with my pinkie out. I will not have Johnny Foreigner showing me up in front of Her Majesty’s country. Activate parachute, I’m going to descend into the hands of a big silhouette lady and then bounce around for a bit. I’m also going to shoot that cartwheeling woman up the bum. (AC)

Did you know: Maurice Binder was behind these titles, one of 14 James Bond adventures he contributed to.

Stargate (1994)

There’s just something about this that is rather compelling. The odd angles, the shinyness, the typical 90s adventure score. Then, when it pulls back to reveal an ancient Egyptian mask, it’s all clear. There’s a gate to some stars, and there’s some Egypt there – adventure awaits. And hey, it worked, because they lifted it wholesale for the superior TV series. (AC)

Did you know? The pilot episode of Stargate SG-1 used a title sequence that tied into the one used for the movie.

Superbad (2007)

Jonah Hill is one of those people who exudes funny with just the way he moves, which is great, because this dancing 70s-style silhouette relies entirely on that. A lot of films would attempt something like this but completely miss the point and go over the top. Superbad stays restrained, showing that while it’s making fun of the style, it also loves it to bits. (AC)

Did you know: Comedies went through a spell of title sequences that laid foundations for the story. Three Men And A Baby, for a start.

Superman Returns (2006)

Superman Returns is not a film that particularly stayed with me. In fact, my overriding memory is of the fantastic opening credits sequence. You can imagine that this is the sequence the 1978 film would have had, had CG been invented. For a film so slavishly devoted to the past, this was the one nostalgia trip it got spectacularly right. (AC)

Did you know? No computer graphics were used in the original Superman title sequence. It’s the one we prefer, but that doesn’t make the opening of Superman Returns any less of a lovely surprise.

Taxi Driver (1976)

If you look up ‘seedy’ in the dictionary, it plays the theme from Taxi Driver. De Niro makes Travis Bickle look unsavoury just by driving slowly through the back streets, and Martin Scorsese lets us know exactly what Bickle thinks of New York City with the incessant smoke that must be hiding something. Hell, you almost don’t need to watch the movie, you just know it ain’t going to end well. (AC)

Did you know: The theme to Taxi Driver was the last piece of work from the legendary composer Bernard Herrmann. He died on Christmas eve 1975, just days after the music’s completion.

Upside Down (2012)

There are a lot of fancy animations going on; the kind of thing they used to advertise HD Ready televisions with. The art style recalls Victorian scientific illustrations of the motion of the planets (only with way more pixels), and also a weird bit with a Caesarean section. Okay, so it’s all remarkably pretty what with the shiny Victorian illustrations, but what really grabbed me was the massive info dump that explains the premise, the world and the title – twin planets whose gravitational fields overlap, causing up to be down, rising to be falling, and possibly dogs to be cats. It’s like some sort of science lesson, and I bloody love science lessons. I appreciate I might be in the minority in this. (AC)

Did you know: The production designer on Upside Down was Alex McDowell, whose other credits include Fight Club, Watchmen (see below), Minority Report and Man Of Steel. Here’s our interview with him.

Watchmen (2009)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVUDdQS2UxA

Here’s a film school problem for you. You’re making a big budget comic book film with an important back story the majority of your audience won’t know. You make films in a distinctive style that some people don’t take to. And you need something wordless to play the opening credits over. This is Zack Snyder’s answer to that problem. I’d give him an A out of 10. (AC)

Did you know: Watchmen required around 1100 effects shots, needing ten different VFX studios to work simultaneously on their creation.

The Wedding Singer (1998)

This movie begins, unsurprisingly, with a wedding party. And this party has it all – an old lady grabbing at men’s arses as they pass by, a fat woman surreptitiously trying to eat all the cake, women in horrible puff sleeves, and people doing hokey-cokeys with varying degrees of success. And for the record, I’ve been all of the people mentioned above at some point. (JM)

Did you know: There were several uncredited rewriters on the script – Carrie Fisher, Judd Apatow, and Adam Sandler.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Another opening sequence that is accompanied by a medley of all the movie’s songs, taking you through a condensed version of the movie before it even begins. The titles themselves are a montage of scenes from inside the factory itself (yes, like bloody How It’s Made), showing all kinds of knock off Rolos and Tunnock’s tea cakes being made. Nom. (JM)

Did you know: Willy Wonka’s music was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. They’d previously written a number of hits for various musicians together, including the hit Feeling Good for Nina Simone. The duo also partnered with the great John Barry to write the theme tune for the Bond film, Goldfinger.

Withnail & I (1987)

It is impossible to watch Paul McGann skulking round his flat to the accompaniment of Procul Harum without immediately feeling like you’ve been up all night taking drugs with him. I just tried watching it at 7.15am, and now I need a Solpadine, and I only drank tea last night. Only we appear to be out of the bloody things… (JM)

Did you know: The cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale in the above sequence was performed by King Curtis, who sadly died shortly after he recorded this piece of music.

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