Wayne Fitzgerald, title designer for movies and TV

Wayne Fitzgerald’s title card (along with others, including Bruce Lee) for The Wrecking Crew, the final Matt Helm movie with Dean Martin.

When it comes to titles, names such as Saul Bass, Maurice Binder and Robert Brownjohn get a lot of attention. However, there’s another prolific designer who had an extensive impact on movies and U.S. television: Wayne Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald, 88, went to work at Pacific Title in 1951, according to his bio at the Art of the Title website.

Pacific Title did title work for Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and 20th Century Fox. But no one at Pacific received on-screen credit. As a result, Fitzgerald’s name doesn’t appear on such films as The Music Man and My Fair Lady, according to the website.

Fitzgerald went independent in 1967. His work appeared in such films as The Green Berets; The Wrecking Crew, the final Matt Helm film with Dean Martin; Chinatown; and McQ,

The designer also got a lot of television work. He was hired often by Universal’s “television factory.” As a result, the Universal shows he worked on had titles with a bit of visual flair.

Start of the main title of The NBC Mystery Movie

For example, he designed the main title to The NBC Mystery Movie (later The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie), where a man with a flashlight walks with stills of the different components (Columbo, McClous, McMillan & Wife and others) being shown while accompanied by a Henry Mancini theme.

As the title ended, announcer Hank Simms (also the go-to announcer for shows made by QM Productions) would then tell viewers which Mystery Movie segment was being shown tonight.

That title is rarely seen today. The Mystery Movie’s different entries are syndicated separately as TV movies. As a result, they usually don’t include Fitzgerald’s main title.

The designer’s other Universal credits included  It Takes a Thief, The Bold Ones, Switch and Night Gallery.

In all, Fitzgerald’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 400 credits, extending into the early 21st century.

A final look at Matt Helm titles: The Wrecking Crew

We wrap up our look at the titles of Matt Helm movies with a brief discussion of the series finale, The Wrecking Crew.

To be honest, it’s a mixed bag. The visuals are much stronger than the series previous entry, The Ambushers. They’re at least based on something in the movie, a bank of monitors used by the villain to watch his plans unfold. Wayne Fitzgerald designed the titles and used a combination of animation and clips from the movie. There’s a few subtle touches. Actor Nigel Green’s monitor is colored, well, green.

Accompanying the visuals is a weird song, The House of Seven Joys, which is also referenced in the movie. Producer Irving Allen, Cubby Broccoli’s ex-partner, hired Mack David to do the lyrics, a task David also did for the first Helm movie, The Silencers. Composer Frank DeVol does the music, but only for the song. Hugo Montenegro, returned as the film’s composer but got frozen out of the title song. In any event, The House of Seven Joys is far from politically correct (“Ah so, very, very nice!”).

We can only wonder what Helm creator Donald Hamilton thought (besides making sure all the checks cleared). You can take a look by clicking RIGHT HERE. Embedding was disabled.

EXTRA BONUS: A few years later, Hamilton got some more checks when a short-lived Matt Helm TV series aired on ABC. Instead of Dean Martin, we got Tony Franciosa. Instead of a spy, Helm was a private detective. This was 1975 and in the post-Watergate world, spies seemed unseemingly. Here’s the titles to one episode, The music is by Morton Stevens, who also composed the theme to Hawaii Five-O.