Five favourite things: opening titles

Opening titles to any film are vital. Whilst some are happy to just throw a bit of white text on a black screen, or not even bother with them at all, and plunge straight in, I like a film that takes a minute or two to set the mood.

For this edition of Five Favourite Things, I’ve chosen opening titles that also combine an actual scene of some kind, no matter how small, with a cool soundtrack. For this reason, stuff like a James Bond opening title would be exempt.

So here’s five of the buggers.

Yojimbo (1961)

We only ever see Toshiro Mifune‘s back in the opening to Yojimbo, in which he plays a ronin wandering the land, looking to fuck shit up, just to pass the time. At the fifty-second mark, the score ramps up a notch, almost at the point Toshiro starts walking away from camera, as if the orchestra is trying to match each momentous step towards his date with destiny, a crossroads, and a stick. Plot spoiler: he fucks shit up. BLU-RAY | DVD DVD

Get Carter (1971)

The train thunders from London to Newcastle, sweeping through station after station, tunnel after tunnel. The sublime score by Roy Budd feels like it serves a number of purposes: it’s the rhythm of the train, or the ticking time bomb that is Michael Caine as he heads back to his home town to avenge his brother’s death, or, as the train and the music slows, maybe it’s the last few desperate beats of a dying heart. Because in Get Carter, very few escape alive.

(SMALL WARNING: Should you ever decide to watch this movie for the first time, avoid the trailer on youtube, as it reveals every single twist of the plot from beginning to end. The video below is not the trailer though, so don’t worry.) BLU-RAY | DVD BLU-RAY | DVD

Drive (2011)

I don’t think the nineteen-eighties were particularly cool. They were positively cheesy. But they didn’t care. And they had funky synth music. So in fact, they were cool. In the opening titles of Drive, an eighties style score throbs over a neon-soaked city, and Ryan Gosling drives around with a little matchstick in his mouth, like Sylvester Stallone in Cobra. At no point does he cut a pizza with a pair of scissors. BLU-RAY | DVD BLU-RAY | DVD

The Italian Job (1969)

Forget the lame remake, starring Mark Wahlberg. This is where it’s really at. The original Italian Job opens in style, to the dulcet tones of Matt Monro, singing On Days Like These. All the while, a cool looking gangster type bloke, with a ciggy dangling from his mouth, speeds through the Italian Alps in a Lamborghini Miura. He then puts some cool sunglasses on, as he realised things still weren’t quite cool enough.

Barbarella (1968)

A young Jane Fonda strips off her space suit in zero gravity. Now, nudity aside (there is a bit of nipple, so careful if you’re watching at work), I like how the letters of the titles come tumbling out of Fonda‘s hair as she shakes it loose, or out of an artfully removed sleeve. Did I mention Jane Fonda gets nude in this? I did, didn’t I?

So there you go, five favourite opening titles! Do you have any particular faves?


  1. MojosWork says:

    Not really sure how Bio-Dome didn’t make this list, but I’m all about that Drive intro. Takes me back to October 2011, which is weird for me to feel nostalgic for a time after 1988.

    I’d also throw Slapshot into the ring, what with the teams lined up for the national anthem in an half-empty, rundown arena occupied by half-cocked rundown people.

    And of course, the greatest intro of all time… FLASH. GORDON.
    “Klytus, I’m borrrrrrred. What plaything can you offer me today?”
    “An obscure body in the SK system, your majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet…Earth.”
    “How peaceful it looks…”
    Et cetera.

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Shamefully, I’ve never seen Slap Shot, but will get around to it. Thankfully, I’ve never seen Bio-Dome, and will go to my grave having never gotten around to it.

      As for Flash Gordon, agree that it has quite possibly the most awesome opening titles of all time. But for this list, I don’t think it quite fits, as I wanted to do titles that are kind of part of the film. I know Flash has the bit at the beginning with Ming, and a few other bits of earth destruction after that, but then it’s mostly a long series of comicbook cutouts with Queen singing over the top.

      I’ll probably do an opening titles part 2, and stick it in though! :)

  2. Top stuff here mate. Got so much time for that Drive intro,it’s just so cool.

  3. ckckred says:

    Can’t go wrong with Drive, stunning intro.

  4. ruth says:

    Great topic here! There are lots of great opening sequences I love, just on the top of my head, I love Catch Me If You Can, Casino Royale (2006), Skyfall, Watchmen… oh and for End Credits Sequence, my fave is Captain America. So beautifully retro! :D

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Some good choices there, ruth. They’ll probably go into another favourite five (thanks for picking them, haha ;-) ), they were contenders, but I wanted to showcase opening credits that played out over a scene of the movie, although Watchmen would qualify as there’s a lot of story in those opening five minutes. :-)

      When it comes to end credits, I like quite like the ones for Iron-Man 3. Probably the best bit of the movie, if I’m honest. haha.

  5. Nick Powell says:

    God I love how hot Jane Fonda used to be. Not that I’d kick her out of bed for eating crackers these days either….

    I’d also include Se7en. So great.

  6. Paul S says:

    Great choices and I’ve got to share the love for Get Carter. It always interests me that he reads “Farewell My Lovely” on the train up north. Jack’s certainly no Philip Marlowe or Yojimbo!
    Am I right in thinking that Carter and the hit man “J” share a carriage in this opening sequence?

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