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Can anyone point me to the exact (or close) movie or time period that began listing lengthy closing credits? I've seen plenty of B&W movies (and probably a few color ones) where all the credits were in the beginning and only a handful were at the end.

For extra credit, if anyone knows why that switch was made, I'd be interested to hear that too.

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    For extra credit to the asker it would be an even greater question if the extra credit wasn't an extra but a full part of the question in the first place. ;-) – Napoleon Wilson Sep 25 '14 at 14:12
  • It was something to do with the unions demanding all those who worked on the film were acknowledged in the credits, making for a long tedious opening so they were moved to the end of the movie – queeg Sep 25 '14 at 15:13
  • You can only make a first impression once, and most people decide subconciously if they like a movie in the first few seconds. They should drop everything from the start, including producing company. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn who earns money wih he movie I am going to watch. – his Sep 25 '14 at 15:52
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Well, a quick Wikipedia check produced this nugget, which answers part of the question:

The use of closing credits in film to list complete production crew and cast was not firmly established in American film until the 1970s. Before this decade, most movies were released with no closing credits at all. Films generally had opening credits only, which consisted of just major cast and crew, although sometimes the names of the cast and the characters they played would be shown at the end, as in The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Oliver! and the 1964 Fail Safe. Two of the first major films to contain extensive closing credits – but almost no opening credits – were the blockbusters Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and West Side Story (1961). West Side Story showed only the title at the beginning of the film, and Around the World in 80 Days, like many films today, had no opening credits at all.

And this came from a separate Wikipedia page, which answers the "Extra Credit" portion of the question:

The ascendancy of television movies after 1964 and the increasingly short "shelf-life" of films in theaters has largely contributed to the credits convention which came with television programs from the beginning, of holding the vast majority of cast and crew information for display at the end of the show.

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    Can't help feeling there's more to it, I can remember watching a documentary, (probably early/mid 90's, BBC? CH4?) about the history of cinema (along those lines) that covered in detail my earlier comment. But the mists of time....... – queeg Sep 25 '14 at 21:22
  • Interesting. So there should be some exact year when those lengthy end credits appeared. I'll have to do some more digging. – Johnny Bones Sep 26 '14 at 13:49
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From what I have seen in other movies.stackexchange.com questions, the transition from the "studio system" (actors, etc., directly under contract to the studios) to a more independent system (late 50s/early 60s) probably contributed to this a lot. See Why do movies still have credits?

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    Do you have any examples that could support your answer? – sanpaco Apr 19 '16 at 21:38

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