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Title sequence

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Directed by: 
Norman Jewison
Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, Paul Burke
Title design: 
Pablo Ferro
Ferro’s next title for The Thomas Crown Affair, also directed by Jewison in 1968, introduced multi-screen effects for the first time in any feature motion picture and defined a cinematic style of the late 1960s. Jewison had seen a Beachnut Gum commercial in which Ferro used the multi-screen technique and wanted it done for his own title sequence. Yet towards the end of editing the movie Jewison realized that the title and the film itself was much too long. He was desperately searching for a way to edit out much as twenty minutes when Hal Ashby, the film editor on Thomas Crown, suggested that Ferro take a stab at editing a key sequence using the same multiple screen technique in order to speed up the narrative flow. “Hal said ‘Don’t cut it out, cut it up,’” Ferro explains about the novel way in which he used contiguous frames to compress the action, which became the stylistic character of the film. Ferro cut a key scene known as the polo sequence into twenty or thirty simultaneous frames reducing the time from six minutes to around 40 seconds. But in addition to compression, certain important character traits were brought out by the way in which he designed and paced the multiples. By focusing in on clothes, for instance, Ferro underscored the wealth and sophistication of the people in the specific scene. “Jewison and Ashby went Wow!,’ recalls Ferro who then was then told to cut the scenes, including two robbery sequences, the polo sequence, and the main title, to the exact time that was necessary. The Thomas Crown Affair won an Academy Award and served as a model for other films of that era (remember Woodstock?). It also convinced Steve McQueen, who starred in and produced the film, to hire Ferro to do titles for his next movie, Bullitt, which launched an uninterrupted thirty-year string of title and trailer commissions. – Steve Heller: “Quick Cuts, Coarse Letters, Multiple Screens”
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) movie title Title sequence