Monday, July 21, 2014

Title, Please

Movie-geek hat is on again today, folks.

I love a movie that will grab me from the very titles. If a filmmaker has taken the time and expended the artistry to come up with a memorable title sequence, I'm all in.

Here are some of my favorites:

One Hundred and One Dalmatians. I think this was the opening of my eyes to what a title sequence could be. The marriage of imagery and content (colorists' names are brought on with a wash of color, etc.) was first brought home to me here, and I've been paying attention ever since.

Pink Panther series' titles were also clever and funny.

One of my dad's favorite films of all time was the mega-comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The credits are terrific. Thank you, Saul Bass.


Beetlejuice has the advantage of a great Danny Elfman score playing underneath. The spider gag at the conclusion surprised and delighted me when I first saw it.

Speaking of great themes to accompany a movie's opening, I've always loved the Mancini score to Charade. Again, take a bow, Mr. Saul Bass.

 A clip does not seem to exist on YouTube, but The Adventures of Tintin have a sequence something like that for One Hundred and One Dalmatians. I like the John Williams score, too.

Here's a recent favorite, The Adventures of Tintin.

And last, for pure laughs, here's The Naked Gun 33 1/3, The Final Insult. Artful silliness.

And as far as end credits go, The Incredibles takes the cake.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Decade of Destiny

I'm almost through the six episodes of CNN's The Sixties, finding it an incredible trip through a watershed decade that I barely remember.

Having been born in late 1962 (very late, December 27), my recollections are understandably fuzzy. I was in the crib when JFK was assassinated and only heard the stories of that day from my mother, who reportedly wept at the ironing board as she watched the wall-to-wall coverage.

Vietnam was played out for me more in 1970s color than 1960s B&W, with Walter Cronkite telling my parents just how bad it really was.

And as far as civil unrest, I remember seeing coverage of what I've come to learn was the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. As a five year old, the sight of fire hoses and teeth-baring dogs was frighteningly beyond my understanding.

The CNN retrospective, however, has filled in a lot of gaps. The details of Dallas were known to me, especially after I visited Dealey Plaza on a business trip, and found it an amazingly small crucible for such a sea change in America. (Side note: The Texas School Book Depository Museum, however, is highly recommended.) But somehow, seeing the reports of that weekend strung together in an unbroken thread of disbelief made the impact more palpable, especially when insult met injury in the killing of Oswald.

I'd also obviously studied the civil rights movement and again benefited from the first-hand experience, having visited Memphis, again on a business trip. The preserved room of the Lorraine Motel and the attached National Civil Rights Museum told me a lot about the struggle. But the CNN coverage underlined the violence and hatred and reminded me that the quest for freedom almost always involves the payment of a huge price.

The remainder of The Sixties involved the British Invasion (which, passed me by, too, as I remember more of the druggy Beatles than the moptop Beatles) and television, which did catch, for obvious reasons, in my consciousness. Lost in Space, Batman, I Dream of Jeannie, My Three Sons, and others of their ilk are common threads in my childhood, either first-run or in syndication.

As the upheaval of the 1960s was fully dawning on me in my teen years, I remember asking my mother: "With all the horrible things going on, the assassination of President Kennedy, of Martin Luther King Jr., of Bobby Kennedy; with the seemingly non-sensical war in Vietnam; with the race riots and burning cities... how did you hold it together? How did you not go running into the streets screaming?"

I'll never forget her response:

"Many of us did."