I couldn’t remember when or where I saw this question asked, it seems like it was GQ. Anyways I was watching TCM today and caught “The Mad Miss Manton” from 1938 which had the credits at the end. Was there one earlier in the thread that I can’t find ?
The Boris Karloff Frankenstein (1931) had cast credits at the end. And I doubt it was the first. You’d probably have to go back into silent films for that.
Same subject, different question: when did credits at the end become the industry standard?
That’s hard to answer, because of what you might mean by “industry standard.” But it was certainly common practice by the time the talkies came in to list the cast members at the end of a film (sometimes under the title “A Good Cast Deserves Repeating”).
The opening credits would list the cast, too (sometimes, they even would have shots of the actors), as well as what is more commonly in the closing credits nowadays – technicians, set designers, etc. Credits rarely ran more than a minute or two.
Nowadays, the end credits go on forever and the opening credits (if they even have them) just list actors, and the major technical credits.
Going further back, some silent movies did have end credits (actors only), but I can’t say what percentage this was.
And many more would include the actor’s name in the intertitle announcing the character’s name/first appearance.
(I’ll just be over here preening that I was able to provide some silent movie information before Eve got to it)
I get your point, RealityChuck. I guess the number of films I’ve seen “of a certain age” is small enough that it seems they all have a few cards in the front with cast and crew credits and when the movie ends, just “The End.” Then by the 1970s, when my knowledge of movies starts coming into its own, you have the modern tradition of long, detailed end credits really starting to come into being. Thanks!
My copies of The Lost World (1925) have credits at the end. I don’t know, offhand, which other ones do.
The credits for Frankenstein at the end start with “A Good Cast is Worth Repeating”, since the cast had already been given in the opening credits. Also, IIRC, the credit for “The Monster” was given as “?” in the opening credits, but as “Boris Karloff” in the closing credits.
All these early examples were only cast credits at the end. To tell the truth, most films had only cast credits, if any, at the end through the early to mid-1970s. (2001, with no opening credits, was an aberration in 1968) Sometime around 1975 they started putting those l-o-n-g technical credits at the end that required special end music. Compare the credits in the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever (1971), with its cast and couple of location credits with **The Spy Who Loved Me ** (1977), with its forever-long credits.
What I love are the in-jokes they started hiding in those lengthy credits. Robocop , for instance, has at the end of that long legal screed (this movie is copyrighted in the U.S. by …) the statement “…any unauthorized reproduction will result in prosecution by law enforcement droids.” Unfortunately, it’s so tiny on video or DVD copies that you can’t make this out on your home screen.
You could probably graph a decent relationship between the rise of trade unions in Hollywood with the increasing length of fim credits. I know that many credits are now mandated by labor contract and I would guess that prior to the existence of these contracts studios had little interest in spending money and screen time on excessive credits.