Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Directorial Credits

Of all the insignificant things I've ever become interested in, the most insignificant thing was something I started noticing when I was a kid: the different places the director's name appears in the credits of a movie.

What I mean is that different eras of movies seemed to put the director's name in different places. Before the mid-'30s, the director's credit usually appeared early in the credits sequence, usually the first thing after the title and acting credits. By the end of that decade, all studios had switched over to the "modern" practice of making the director's name the last one to appear. (Or, if the credits ran at the end of the film, the first.) Then in the '80s and early '90s, they started having this odd thing where the director's name would be delayed until after the credits sequence was essentially over -- that is, they'd wait until the music had stopped and the next scene had begun, and only then would they flash the director's name. I got the impression that they wanted the director's name to co-incide with the beginning of a scene that actually mattered, rather than the pointless scenes that usually accompanied the opening credits in that era.

Of course, if a film wants to call attention to the director's credit, they can always do it like the famous moment in The Wild Bunch, where William Holden's line "If they move, kill 'em!" is instantly followed by "Directed by Sam Peckinpah." It's the best credit ever and one of the few instances where a credit gets a laugh from the audience (whether it was intended this way or not, the juxtaposition of that credit with that line comes off as a little in-joke about Peckinpah's worldview).

Link to clip from The Wild Bunch removed for the heinous crime of not working

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