A history of closing film credits

We have all seen the closing credits at the end of a movie and, unless they include some comedic outtakes, many of us ignore them and leave the theater. Did you know that these very same closing credits that we have been ignoring for decades also appear on television programming and video games as well as motion pictures?

imgThese closing, or end, credits are important as they list the cast and crew that was involved in the production. In the UK, the credits scroll right-to-left, whereas in the US, the credits can be seen scrolling bottom-to-top. Either way they appear as a list of names and positons usually in type so small that you can’t read it anyway.

Where and how did credits get their start? Originally, credits were printed on a roll of paper and wound past the camera lense and it wasn’t until the 1950’s that closing credits were more elaborate and began listing more than just the starring cast. This would be the end of the ever popular opening credits reel that used to be added to almost every motion picture before this date. Even as the closing credit grew in popularity, the use of closing credits in a motion picture wasn’t very widespread, even to the point of being sporadic.

It wasn’t until the early 1970’s when American film firmly established a standard where every movie was to use closing credits. This gave many filmmakers a chance to show off their comedic talents and add some entertainment to the usually dull and boring closing credit reel. Some filmmakers would even opt for closing credit sequences that were up to 8 minutes in length. Try sitting through those!

The more creative filmmakers would use the closing credits as a sort of recap of the motion picture itself as was the case with Around the World in 80 Days (1956) which had one of the longest and most elaborate closing credit sequences of any film ever produced up until then.

tv_spooks_logo_0Closing credits were not a direct requirement for filmmakers back then or even today as is evident with the British television series Spooks. This show does not feature any credits at all, as a result of a decision made by the producers to add to the anonymity of the show’s content.

The next time you sit down to your favorite TV show or go out to see a movie, sit just a minute or so longer and read the closing credits. These are the people that made the motion picture you just watched and gave you the hour or two of quality entertainment.


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