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I love TCM and watch it alot!  I have 4 random questions about movies I've seen:

1.  Why are all the credits shown at the beginning of the movie instead of at the end like they are now?

2.  I've noticed that most musicals play little pieces of all the songs sung in movie when they run the credits at the beginning.  I dont recall studios doing that now with modern musicals.  When did this change?

3.  All the characters in the beginning of Wizard of Oz (during the Kansas scene) are also characters when the film turns to color except the Uncle and Aunt.  Am I missing something and are the Aunt and Uncle playing characters and Im not recognizing them?

4.  I know Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind were done at the same time.  Im wondered which made more money.

 

thanks everyone.  I love hearing from movie buffs who know their stuff.  

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Hi, Tammy -

1.A quick check around the interwebs tells me that closing credits came into use around the 1970s, when the unions gained more negotiating power and were able to demand that their workers be credited. Up to then, most movies would credit the actors, directors, producers and a few others at the top of the chain. Early silent films would sometimes credit the actors on the title cards when their characters were introduced into the story (*hero character* played by *actor's name*). Early "soundies" might introduce their casts through short clips at the outset of the picture (serials would often do this, to recap for the audience who was who). Some films would credit the cast at the beginning, then close with a single card presenting the whole cast again. But the present format seems to have come, as I say, in the 70's.

Interesting note: The film version of Ray Bradbury's novel Farenheit 451*, which deals with the eradication of the written word, starts with the credits on voiceover, giving the audience nothing to read.

*(Which I had wrongly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. Appypollyloggies!)

2. The Overture has fallen out of practice in musical theatre as a whole. It was a way getting the last stragglers of the audience into their seats, and to showcase the tunes that would they'd be hearing in the show. That was important, because those songs would be marketed to the general public on radio and in sheet music. Also out of practice is the Entr'acte, which would come during the Intermission, and the Exit Music. Honestly, I can think of any number of films that could benefit from an intermission, but no one seems to want to do them any more.

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For #3, the aunt & uncle not having roles in color section would likely be a judgement call by director or whoever decided to do the double character roles in first place. Couldn’t really use the aunt that way; otherwise, her ‘Auntie Em!’ Comment later on when locked up in witch’s castle wouldn’t have impact it does. 

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Also on #3, the actors selected to do dual parts were already accomplished entertainers, song & dance men, who could handle the roles. The aunt & uncle were only character actors. Doubtful either had any skills that the others possessed. 

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5 hours ago, TammyO said:

3.  All the characters in the beginning of Wizard of Oz (during the Kansas scene) are also characters when the film turns to color except the Uncle and Aunt.  Am I missing something and are the Aunt and Uncle playing characters and Im not recognizing them?

 

If you take time to think about the characters who had double roles, you can see the reasoning behind why those characters were transformed into other people in Oz. Each of the farmhands had a short scene involving the things the Oz characters were lacking. The traveling Professor Marvel transforms into the Wizard, and evil Elvira Gulch doesn't have to do too much to be the Wicked Witch of the West. There really isn't an analogous Oz character for her aunt or uncle to play.

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4 hours ago, Lanin said:

 

2. The Overture has fallen out of practice in musical theatre as a whole. 

Overtures have always been one of the best parts of any musical for me, especially if I'm seeing a live theater production. It gets me primed and pumped to see the show. We recently saw a little theater production of Oklahoma! (and trust me, it's a tiny theater). There was no overture. The music was canned, which might be why, or maybe they don't do overtures anymore.

One of my favorite overtures is Camelot's and when I saw a touring production a few years ago, it was missing from that as well. All day I was hearing the overture in my head with such anticipation, and I was so disappointed that they didn't do it.

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9 hours ago, BlueMoods said:

Overtures have always been one of the best parts of any musical for me, especially if I'm seeing a live theater production. It gets me primed and pumped to see the show. We recently saw a little theater production of Oklahoma! (and trust me, it's a tiny theater). There was no overture. The music was canned, which might be why, or maybe they don't do overtures anymore.

One of my favorite overtures is Camelot's and when I saw a touring production a few years ago, it was missing from that as well. All day I was hearing the overture in my head with such anticipation, and I was so disappointed that they didn't do it.

One of my favorites is Bernstein's Overture to "Candide". I had to play it in high school.  Lovely to hear, but a bear to try and play.

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23 hours ago, Lanin said:

Hi, Tammy -

1.A quick check around the interwebs tells me that closing credits came into use around the 1970s, when the unions gained more negotiating power and were able to demand that their workers be credited. Up to then, most movies would credit the actors, directors, producers and a few others at the top of the chain. Early silent films would sometimes credit the actors on the title cards when their characters were introduced into the story (*hero character* played by *actor's name*). Early "soundies" might introduce their casts through short clips at the outset of the picture (serials would often do this, to recap for the audience who was who). Some films would credit the cast at the beginning, then close with a single card presenting the whole cast again. But the present format seems to have come, as I say, in the 70's.

Interesting note: The film version of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Farenheit 451, which deals with the eradication of the written word, starts with the credits on voiceover, giving the audience nothing to read.

2. The Overture has fallen out of practice in musical theatre as a whole. It was a way getting the last stragglers of the audience into their seats, and to showcase the tunes that would they'd be hearing in the show. That was important, because those songs would be marketed to the general public on radio and in sheet music. Also out of practice is the Entr'acte, which would come during the Intermission, and the Exit Music. Honestly, I can think of any number of films that could benefit from an intermission, but no one seems to want to do them any more.

I seem to remember hearing that the first Star Wars film was a major player in the switch from opening credits to end credits...or at least there was more noise about it occurring in that film. George Lucas didn't want the effect of the opening scroll diminished by credits beforehand. Could just be a rumor or a Hollywood wives tale.

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1 hour ago, Sarah Last said:

4. Gone with the Wind made more money than The Wizard of Oz.

I believe that The Wizard of Oz did not do well in its initial box office and that it wasn't until later that it began to make a profit.

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  • 4 weeks later...

1) I would speculate that the use of starting credits was something of a holdover from stage productions, where programs allowed the audience to acquaint themselves with the cast before the program began. While beginning credits were more common in the Golden Age, end credits were occasionally used. And Universal used both frequently in the 1930's. The cast listing at the beginning was followed by a repeat listing at the end, under the heading "A Good Cast is Worth Repeating."  With "Frankenstein" (1931), the beginning credit listed a question mark for the role of the Monster, while the end credit listed Boris Karloff.  In the mid to late sixties (when I was a kid), I remember most movies I went to had end credits that were quite long. There were two ways to avoid the crowd exiting: one was to jump up and bolt for the door as soon as "The End" appeared; the other was to sit all the way through the credits, at which time the theater was almost empty. A lot of these movies did not start out with a title and then go into the story. The action would start and build for several minutes before a title and minimal credits were listed.

2. Not sure why overtures are no longer used - perhaps the music is not good enough to bear repeat listening.

3. I know "Gone with the Wind" was more successful than "The Wizard of Oz."

4. Another reason not to have Aunt Em and Uncle Henry play additional characters in Oz was that they were the personification of what Dorothy had lost and was trying to find - home, and home meant family (it is an MGM film).  The other characters were important to her, but she didn't long to return to them. She wanted to return to her family. After all, there's no place like home! 

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1. I think it’s mainly practical. When only the main contributors were credited, the opening credits were a reasonable length of time to introduce them film. Now, when nearly everyone including the caterers get credit it can take up to 10 minutes or more to run all the credits. no one wants to sit through that before the movie. And, indeed, most people don’t sit through it at the end.

2. Overtures, Entr’actes and Exit music are present for films that were released as roadshow attractions in the first release. That means reserved seat tickets were sold in advance to individual performances like a a play or a concert. When those movies were re-released “at popular prices”, they would have been presented in continuous showings without the extra music and the intermission, as was the usual practice.

3. When adjusted for inflation, or the actual number of tickets sold, GWTW is still the biggest selling movie of all time including the present day. Before it debuted on TV in 1976, it was re-released every 7 years or so and was a huge hit every time. So, it outsold not only The Wizard of Oz, but every other movie too.

FWIW you may not have noticed yet, but not only those two movies but a astonishing number of Hollywood’s most memorable films were made or released in 1939. A lot has been written about that being perhaps the studio era’s greatest year.

4. That’s an interesting question. If in her delirium, Dorothy populates her dream with the people she has been with just before getting knocked out, why are Auntie Em and Uncle Henry not among them too?

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