7 of the best opening credits in movie history
‘Casino Royale’ (2006)
I’m limiting myself to one James Bond favorite. “Casino Royale” introduced us to a new 007, so it contains lots of Daniel Craig, as well as the signature gun-barrel bit, a sly hint at what’s going on with Eva Green’s character and playful animation that nods to the lethal card game at the movie’s climax — all to the tune of my controversial choice for best Bond theme, the late Chris Cornell’s ferocious “You
Know My Name.”
‘The Pink Panther’ (1963)
This series joins the Bond films as one where the audience knows they need to be there for the inventive credits. All of ’em are dandy, but the first is the best because it introduces Henry Mancini’s slinky theme and has so much fun with
As a variation on Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” plays, we’re shown the villain’s fingers as he reads a book about crime, thumbs through creepy photographs, cuts up a dollar bill and (I think) slices off the tips of his own fingers. There’s no blood, but Kyle Cooper’s jittery editing, ominous images and percussive music suit director David Fincher’s vision.
‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989)
Rosie Perez doesn’t have an especially big part, but it’s hard to imagine a splashier debut than the one Spike Lee gives her. The credits are nothing but her dancing to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and her fierce, angry movement sets the tone for the bold movie, the combativeness of which is foreshadowed by her busting a move in a boxer’s outfit.
‘The Naked Gun’ (1988)
No surprise that a movie this fast and funny makes sure even the credits don’t waste a second. A parody of 1970s-style police shows, the sequence is shot from right behind the flashing light atop a cop car. The car zooms down a city street but then veers onto a sidewalk, through a car wash, onto a roller coaster and toward terrified bystanders. Everything you need to know about the movie is set up: It’s deadpan, sharply observed, hilarious and relentless.
Most of the words in this quirky comedy are in French, even in the credits, but it doesn’t matter because the various jobs are so cleverly visualized as a camera roams around objects in a dingy basement. The cinematographer’s name is written on a camera and the screenwriters’ on a page of a script.
The Marvel logo is bound to send audiences in one direction, so this parody of superhero movies immediately takes them in another direction by spoofing the idea of credits. Instead of “A Tim Miller Film,” we get “Some Douchebag’s Film.” It’s not “Starring Ryan Reynolds” but “Starring God’s Perfect Idiot,” accompanied by Reynolds’ “Sexiest Man Alive” magazine cover. It continues skewering tropes, through “British Villain” and “Moody Teen,” accompanied by a camera snaking through a violent scene and Juice Newton’s soaring “Angel of the Morning.”