It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual.


Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)’s frightening absurdity was established in the very first frame of the main title sequence designed by Pablo Ferro. (…)

Surprinted on these frames the film’s title and credits are full-screen graffiti-like scrawls comprised of thick and thin hand-drawn letters, unlike any movie title that had preceded it. (…)

It launched the long career of Pablo Ferro as title designer, trailer director, and feature filmmaker. Yet before he started designing film titles the Cuban born Ferro (b 1935), who had emigrated to New York City when he was twelve years old - and quickly became a huge film fan and aficionado of UPA cartoons - had earned a reputation for directing and editing scores of television commercials. After graduating from Manhattan’s High School of Industrial Art, Ferro began working at Atlas Comics in 1951 as an inker and artist in the EC-horror tradition. (…)

As a consummate experimenter, Ferro introduced the kinetic quick-cut method of editing whereby static images (including engravings, photographs, and pen and ink drawings) were infused with speed, motion, and sound. In the late 1950s most live-action commercials were shot with one or two stationary cameras, conversely Ferro took full advantage of stop-motion technology, as well shooting his own jerky footage with a handheld Bolex. Unlike most TV commercial directors, Ferro maintained a strong appreciation and understanding for typography such that in the late 1950s he pioneered the use of moving type on the TV screen. (…)

Ferro’s title for The Thomas Crown Affair, directed by Norman 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. (…)

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. (…)

One of his most engaging recent title sequences, edited with his son Allen Ferro, for the 1995 murder farce To Die For, directed by Gus Van Sant, gave him an opportunity to test how far he could develop the film’s leading character in the few minutes prior to the start of the action.

{ Typotheque | Continue reading | IMDb }

screenshots { Dr. Strangelove }