David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng created the opening sequences of the original 1963 Pink Panther film, with Freleng directing. This is so deliciously 60’s, and the thing that makes me happiest about these opening titles is that the cartoon pink panther has nothing to do with any characters in the movie. The name Pink Panther actually represents a flawed diamond, and the investigation of it’s theft is the central plot in the film. Peter Sellers is incredibly funny and clueless as Inspector Clouseau, so the cute cartoon conveys the mood of the film perfectly. I watched this film way too many times as a kid… maybe I got roped in with the cartoon panther and waited through the whole movie thinking he would come out again.
The opening title sequence with the cartoon panther was such a success with the United Artists executives that they decided to adapt the title sequence into a series of theatrical animated shorts, the first of which, The Pink Phink won the 1964 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. It’s encouraging to think that a cartoon character completely unrelated to the film became possibly more famous than the film itself. That’s good motivation to think outside the box!
More opening titles: I’m loving the old 007 opening titles, particularly Dr. No. This site has an impressive collection of movie title stills from the 1920’s to present. I think my favorite title style is from the 60’s… for now.
Other (more recent) opening titles that I love are done by Shadowplay Studio. They did the opening titles for Juno completely by hand with hundreds of paper cut-outs and illustration. Then they brought everything together in AfterEffects at the very end… really time-consuming process but beautiful and inspiring result.