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.

Amazon.com: BLU-RAY | DVD     Amazon.co.uk: 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.)

Amazon.com: BLU-RAY | DVD     Amazon.co.uk: 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.

Amazon.com: BLU-RAY | DVD     Amazon.co.uk: 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?

14 Comments

  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.

      http://vimeo.com/67606405

  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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