Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1. Son of Main Titles

Like I said last time, I watched a lot of movies just for their title sequences. I managed to think of ten more.

Clifford - In the early 90s, Richard Gibbs was on a tear, writing several delightful (and, to date, sadly unreleased) comedy scores for such Trivial Pursuit answers as Amos and Andrew, Ladybugs, Once Upon a Crime, Fatal Instinct (okay, this movie is genuinely awesome) and this film, with Martin Short as a 10-year-old boy (no, seriously) and Charles Grodin as the hapless uncle he torments. Gibbs's rousing opening music and the storybook drawings seem to hint at a much nicer, lighter movie than the one we end up getting.

Dragnet - In 1987, the whole 'movies based on TV shows' thing was but a mere spark as opposed to the brush fire it would become over the course of the next decade. In a sort-of prefiguring of the more modern 'have a laugh at the original source material' subgenre of TV show adaptations (but with an undercurrent of reverence), this starred Dan Aykroyd (doing a creditable Jack Webb impression) and Tom Hanks, with the original Bill Gannon, Harry Morgan, as the chief of police. The opening of this film features an amusingly funked-up rendition of the classic theme song as the camera shows us every possible angle of a policeman's badge.

Ernest Scared Stupid - For reasons I won't even pretend to understand (I'm not hating, merely observing), the character of Ernest P. Worrell appeared in a string of films throughout the 90s. This one was apparently a horror-comedy, with Ernest facing off against child-stealing trolls. The opening credits are suitably goofy (Ernest's mugging intercut with stock footage from old horror films), but the music by Bruce Arntson and Kirby Shelstad is quite catchy, almost lending a note of seriousness to the sequence.

The Hunt for Red October - The opening track for the first of several Jack Ryan thrillers may be primarily responsible for my love of choir in film scores. The late, great Basil Poledouris's 'Hymn to Red October' is a stirring, lovely piece of music and anything I try to say will pale next to it.

Ladyhawke - In medieval times, a knight is never seen without his hawk. Meanwhile, a lady is accompanied by a wolf. Can a pickpocket unlock the secret of these odd alliances? The music here, by Andrew Powell (no relation to John), is a fascinating collision of modern and classical. Purists may be irked, but it gives a unique sound to the unusual fantasy romance.

Man Trouble - A rather inauspicious reunion of the director, star and writer of Five Easy Pieces, this romantic comedy centered around the head of a dog security company (Jack Nicholson) and the singer (Ellen Barkin) he's charged to protect. Between this and Her Alibi, it is somewhat shameful that it took so long for me to gain interest in Georges Delerue. The first half of the main title cue features wavering woodwinds, lending a comic note to the animated credits. The music turns sinister, then heroic and then, a pretty love theme asserts itself. Almost sums up Delerue's career, and all for a forgotten comedy. (Not on YouTube.)

Once Bitten - A lot of actors have that one movie they'd just as soon forget; the skeleton in the closet they made before they became the toast of Tinseltown. For Jim Carrey, it is this film, a supposed comedy about a vampiress (Lauren Hutton) who needs the blood of virgins to sustain her existence. Sprinkle in some gay panic jokes and stir until bored. However, John DuPrez's score is a delight, no more so than in the opening credits, a neat little tango, as Hutton's manservant (Cleavon Little...yes, Sheriff Bart) tidies up her place in anticipation for her sunset awakening. (This clip was on YouTube, but some dickbag had it taken down.)

Son of the Pink Panther - Even with the multitude of gags and set-pieces, the openings of the Pink Panther movies are amongst the highlights of their respective films. With the series continuing past Peter Sellers' death, one would imagine that the title sequences had to work twice as hard. Call me crazy, but a Pink Panther movie with Roberto Benigni as Clouseau's long-lost son sounded like a slam dunk. Critics and audiences didn't share my opinion. The film was inauspicious for a number of reasons: as a finale to the Pink Panther series, as a swan song to the Blake Edwards/Henry Mancini collaboration and as an end to Mancini's career (also released in 1993: the long-delayed romantic comedy Married to It and the inexplicable Tom and Jerry: the Movie). Still, the opening of Son, with the classic theme performed by Bobby McFerrin, is incredibly charming.

Turner and Hooch - Man, Tom Hanks made a lot of movies in the 80s, didn't he? Charles Gross (who also scored the Hanks-starrer Punchline the year before this) provided a rollicking, jazzy opening cue, making for a neat contrast to Det. Turner's orderly life, soon to be upended by the messy, if lovable, Hooch. (Sadly, not available on YouTube. The end credits seem to be everywhere, but this post is about the main titles music.)

The Witches - The last feature overseen by Jim Henson before his death, this was a dark (based on a Roald Dahl story, so, no duh) tale of a young boy and his grandmother fighting a cadre of witches. You'll probably get some confused looks when you mention the name Stanley Myers to people, but mention this movie and you'll get some recognition. Myers' main title music is sweeping, sprightly and overall, a great amount of fun, as well as a perfect match for the fast-motion photography of the opening, no doubt representative of the POV of a witch on her broom.

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