For those of us that grew up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, many of us have fond memories of the television we watched as children. But it wasn’t just because of all the great TV shows that aired. There were also the fabulous TV intros and bumpers that the Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC) used to produce for their special presentations and movie nights.
This might sound strange to young viewers who are used to the more understated motion graphics of today. However, you have to understand that many years ago movie intros were very different. Unlike today, TV intros and bumpers of the past were often very lavish affairs, filled with lush orchestration, state of the art motion graphics, dazzling special effects, and cutting edge computer animation. Some of these TV intros were so well produced, that to this day people who haven’t seen them in decades still remember them like they were yesterday.
Because times have changed, these intros and bumpers have long disappeared from network television. But thanks to cool places like YouTube and Retro Junk.com, many of them are now available, not only for the benefit of an older generation that grew up watching them, but for a newer generation of kids who’ve learned to appreciate the lost art of motion graphics. Below is a list of twenty one of the best ones on YouTube from the 1969- 1987 era. If you’re old enough to have grown up during this time, see how many you can remember!
ABC- MOVIE OF THE WEEK
The Movie of the Week was a popular weekly series on ABC from 1969- 1975 that featured an original, made for TV movie with TV’s biggest stars. The series became so popular that some of the movies– like Kolchak and Kung Fu– became classic TV shows in their own right. Here is the 1969 intro, which used the slit scan technique that was made popular in the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
ABC 4:30 MOVIE
This intro featured a rotating, silhouetted cameraman outlined in neon, notable because many people who saw this as children thought the moving figure was a frog.
ABC LATE NIGHT
“The stars come out at night” is the theme of this funky, classically 70s-sounding TV intro. Here you can see it promoting some classic shows from the 1970s, such as Police Woman, Police Story, and ABC Movie of the Week.
ABC SUNDAY MIGHT MOVIE, 1977
Bright yellow stars turn into marquee-style title that zoom out and eventually became a neon-lit movie theater sign. Incidentally, the “trail zoom” text effect would be a standard one used in motion graphics throughout the 1970s.
CBS- THE LATE SHOW
Probably one of the most charming TV intros ever made. In this one, several Hollywood-themed scenes and characters dance across an animated LED sign to the beat of a syncopated piano accompaniment.
THE CBS SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIES, 1979
In this intro, horns and a thumping beat play in the background as disco lights zoom in towards the center to form glitzy titles. This is all followed by a montage of a movie crew using a clapboard, swiveling a light, and slicing a film strip.
CBS SPECIAL PRESENTATION
This is the classic “hula music” intro that CBS used to air right before a special program aired. Many people who were kids during the 70s and 80s have especially fond memories of it, because it usually meant that a holiday-themed kids cartoon or show was going to play.
THE CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIES, 1976
In this clip, a series of movie reels spin towards the camera, followed by rotating 3D chrome lettering spelling “CBS.”
CBS LATE MOVIE BUMPER
A short but sweet bumper with a subtle, yet majestic-sounding theme.
NBC SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES
This disco-themed intro uses the infamous “N” logo that was thankfully scrapped in the 80s. It also uses the “colorful trails” effect, which was practically obligatory in every TV intro.
ABC SUNDAY MIGHT MOVIE, 1982
With the rising crescendo of violins and its frenetically-paced animation of stars zooming into the distance, this classic ABC intro made sure everyone knew that an action-packed, thrilling movie would be airing that night. And it worked!
NBC MONDAY NIGHT MOVIE, 1980
A pretty intro from the early 80s with fireworks exploding over the earth as movie lights sway back in the forth in the background. Meanwhile, titles zoom out through a series of sparkling lights in the shape of a movie sign.
NBC – THE SUNDAY BIG EVENT
One of the more unusual intros and quite possible the tackiest. Laser beams, disco music, and a galaxy backdrop combine to form what sounds like an homage to the sc-fi craze of the late 70s.
NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, 1981
Starting with a countdown and violins playing a disco-like theme, this intro has a film strip forming the NBC peacock over a neon-colored landscape.
NBC SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, 1982
This intro uses similar type animation as Monday Night at the Movies, but has a more orchestral theme, which would be a signature style of NBC intros throughout the 80s and 90s.
NBC SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, 1985
Lush orchestration and cutting edge computer graphics come together to form this beautiful intro from NBC.
CBS SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIES
This clip shows a series of intros and bumpers that used the blue “rays of light” theme of the early 80s, in which the titles scrolled across the screen while blue lights filtered through them from behind. It ends with a series of film strips forming the CBS logo and a lens flare effect.
CBS TUESDAY MOVIE
One of the more glitzier intros of the 1980s. As the titles scroll across the screen, 3D panels and lights scroll behind them at various distances and speeds. The camera then tilts away from the animation and tilts back to the completed titles.
CBS LATE MOVIE
A much simpler and elegant intro from CBS that used the same theme as the Saturday and Late Movie openings but had different animation.
ABC- THE SUNDAY NIGHT MOVIE
In the mid 80s, ABC switched from its iconic shooting stars intro to this new one, which had a glass and prism theme, plus different music.
NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, 1987
A gorgeous intro and a fitting end to this compilation. Shimmering, irridescent film strips soar to unseen heights and become encircled in rings, which form a backdrop for the updated NBC peacock logo and the titles. In the background, a beautiful cinematic score plays.