Bass, Herrmann, Hitchcock, and Me

I loves me some superior movie main title sequences. I've written before of my devotion to the design artistry of Saul Bass ("It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," "Walk on the Wild Side," "Around the World in Eighty Days"). He changed how movies handled the obligatory credits during the 1950s and '60s by making his celluloid minutes not only handsome lists of names, but also an integral part of the thematic tones of the whole production. His influence continues to shape the films we see in theatres today.

At the creative and popularity heights of Alfred Hitchcock, Bass came on board to front three of the suspense director's most revered motion pictures: "Vertigo" (1958), "North by Northwest" (1959), and "Psycho" (1960). Those men had the good fortune to be musically orchestrated by film composer Bernard Herrmann ("Citizen Kane," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Man Who Knew Too Much"), yielding the three masterful sequences below.

Watch, listen, and enjoy -- then, read a true anecdote which happened to me earlier this day.

Saul Bass Title Sequences for Alfred Hitchcock via Vimeo.

While playing this main titles video on my computer, I heard a fly buzzing in the bathroom. It was befuddled by the window glass. The "North by Northwest" theme neared conclusion when I stepped onto the commode seat to help the panicked insect escape. I raised the pane and removed the screen, as the "Psycho" score pulsated through the room. Providing guidance, I maneuvered the trapped creature through the new opening and out into the external fresh air.

At that moment, something crossed my mind. I recalled a bit of film dialogue from "Psycho" matron Mrs. Bates:

They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

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