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Video: title sequence

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Directed by: 
Stanley Kramer
Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis
Title design: 
Saul Bass
Interviewer: “Coming up next: the titles for West side story and It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. Each is considerably longer than most of your titles. Just how long should a title be?”

Saul Bass: “You know, Abe Lincoln when asked how long a man’s leg should be said:“Long enough to reach the ground.” Well, these titles needed longer legs than most. This is not uncommon for adaptations of stage plays, musicals. They just have to carry a double set of credits. In addition to accommodating a lot of information each title still had to deal with it’s relationship to the film.

West side story had an additional problem. The film ends with the violent deaths of major characters. It was powerful stuff. We thought the audience might appreciate the titles coming at the end so they would have some time to pull themselves together before the lights came up. It was sort of a decompression chamber. The grafitti device seemed appropiate because it grew right out of the visual environment of the film itself and could incidently also accomodate a lot of credit material.

Mad, mad, mad, mad world had a muchness in a different way. The idea was: Take a globe of the world and see just how many visual jokes you can squeeze out of it. Both the film and the title were based on similar notions: make a joke, push it beyond the reasonable point.” — Saul Bass, “Bass on titles”
Saul Bass: It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) title sequence Title sequence