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I have always heard that Robert Wise's "The Desert Fox" (1950) was the first
film to use a "pre-credit" sequence.
 
Also, the credits to "It's in the Bag" (1945) starring Jack Benny and Fred
Allen, had Fred Allen making wisecracks about the personnel on the credits as
they were running. e.g. "Associate Producer - he's the only one in town
who'll associate with the producer!"
 
In an early talkie (sorry - forgot the title), the new medium was exploited
by having a narrator read the credits, not unlike Orson Welles did at the
conclusion of "The Magnificent Ambersons"
 
William Dieterle's "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (All That Money Can Buy)
[1941] had all the technical credits at the end of the film, often with no
detailed credits except for "in front of the camera" or "in back of the
camera".
 
Gene Stavis, School of Visual Arts - NYC