This is the relatively simple movie titles sequence to Blake Edwards’ stellar film, Experiment in Terror (1962). Yet, the opening remains one of the eminently moodiest in the period of the 60s. What really made the seemingly straightforward segment a standout was Philip Lathrop’s extraordinary framing, camera work, and marvelous black and white cinematography. Accompanied by Henry Mancini’s atmospheric and rhythmic movie theme that became a hallmark of the composer.
Certainly, the sequence made fantastic use of San Francisco as the backdrop, even if most of it was shadowed in the distinct blackness of Lathrop’s night photography of the time. Still, the high contrast images of traffic as lights dancing in the nightfall, beside the luminosity in the landscape of the city by the bay, established its film noir bona fides through pure dark imagery. Lee Remick’s eyes and face, lit and setup wonderfully by the DP, did the rest.
Tie all that in with Mancini’s unique and moody theme piece and the chief elements fell into a distinct place. It made those white titles, to all intents and purposes, hanging in the dark background, that much more evocative. Utilizing the unusual instrument of the autoharp to augment the plucked strings keeping a patient, pulsing beat (like the villain soon to appear out of the gloom), the main theme was more than compelling in a sequence that’s amazingly just under three minutes long.