The credits are as much a part of the film as your dying words are of your life. (“Die, my dear?” Groucho Marx is rumored to have said. “Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do.”)
To me, credits are the icing on the cake. Leaving early might get us to our cars on time, but think of all the things we could miss.
Credits are a story all by themselves. There were only a few in early films, but today they can last through a couple of closing songs.
I like to see who are the grip, the key grip, the best boy (whatever those are). Crew members often have similar names, meaning that siblings, or parents and children, are working together. How nice for the family.
I wonder about all those folks who work on movies. The next special effects-laden blockbuster you go to, pay attention to the cast and crew. They can number into the hundreds.
Even though a movie makes millions of dollars, how can it pay all those people who painted the set or worked on computer-generated images or handled the insurance? Do those people get paid handsome salaries, or just a little bit to tide them over until another movie job next month?
Everybody gets mentioned. The caterer. Truck drivers. Stunt people. Animal wranglers. Oh, and it always says, “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie.” I bet there are sometimes, what with all the horses rolling over and cattle stampeding. Still, I’ve never seen: “Only a few dogs and one slow cheetah were hurt in this movie.”
I love it when an animal has a movie name that is not really its own. The credits might say: Skipper, played by Spot. Does the story really need a Skipper? Just let Spot play himself and save a lot of canine confusion.
You can’t always trust the credits, especially in comedies. The spoof Airplane!, for instance, lists among the characters and actors: “Author of a Tale of Two Cities: Charles Dickens.” The Naked Gun offered this: “In case of tornado: southwest corner of basement.”
I remember Miranda, the 1948 story of a staid British doctor who finds a mermaid. After the final credits, the film does what French films often do: It displays “Fin” across the screen. In a mermaid movie, “fin” means more than just “the end.”
Just the other night, I saw a horror movie about teens who made prank calls and got into trouble; instead of closing with “The end,” it was “The end of the line.” I liked that.
Sometimes the credits aren’t the last word. If you stay in your seat, you might be rewarded with a final scene or an extra joke. Perhaps the most famous of these stingers is in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when the title character walks out and tells the audience: “You’re still here? ... It’s over! Go home! Go.”
So, the next time you’re at the movies, stay.