"Around The World In Eighty Days" (1956)
Bass' epic, the title sequence for Oscar-winner "Around The World In Eighty Days" was the longest and most expensive ever produced up to that point, costing a hefty $65,000. In fact, it's rather better than the film itself, an animated trawl through highlights of the film, which introduces the all-star cast and tops out at six minutes. Bass would return to a similar style for "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" for Stanley Kramer in 1963, although it's not quite as inventive.
Martin Scorsese called the opening scene of "Vertigo," the first of three collaborations between Bass and Alfred Hitchcock, "a mini-film within a film," and he's not wrong. Focusing on a woman's face, before the screen flashes red and we delve into a kaleidoscope in her eyes, it makes no sense at first, but by the end, you realize Bass told you the same story in 150 seconds that Hitchcock did across the whole film. The film boasts one of his most iconic posters, too.
"Anatomy Of A Murder" (1959)
A film perhaps remembered more for Bass' images than for the movie itself (unfairly, as it's one of Preminger's best). Bass and jazz went hand in hand together, and he rarely found a better partner than Duke Ellington's top-notch score for this sequence, which takes the title literally, examining a series of cut-out body parts.
"Ocean's Eleven" (1960)
The title and setting of the Rat Pack heist picture was a gift for Bass, and he rose to the occasion with a series of mutating, neon-like numbers and shapes that perfectly encapsulates the Vegas glamor. Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake is superior in almost every respect, but when it comes to the title sequence, it can't hold a candle to its predecssor.
"West Side Story" (1961)
Something of a break in style from his usual animation (although his poster for the film is classic Bass), the credits for Robert Wise's classic musical see Bass working in live-action, panning a camera across a series of walls, picking out the names of cast and crew from graffiti. It's a measure of the level of street grit that stops the film from becoming a trifle. The credits are also, atypically for the era, found at the end of the film, rather than at the beginning.
Bass worked with director John Frankenheimer twice in the same year, also designed the compelling, documentary-style titles for the Steve McQueen vehicle "Grand Prix." But it's much less effective than his work on "Seconds," the director's excellent science-fiction thriller. The credits, a deeply unneverving funhouse-mirror collection of refracted, warped and split close-ups of a face is the perfect introduction to Frankenheimer's examination of identity.
"That's Entertainment, Part II" (1976)
Probably the least-essential film Bass was ever involved with, this was the sequel to the compilation of classic clips hosted by legendary stars that MGM released to celebrate their 50th anniversary. But the most original, and best, part of the film are Bass' titles, a playful collection of shots that seemingly sees him use every idea he'd never got to play with elsewhere.
"The Age Of Innocence" (1993)
Bass fell somewhat out of fashion in the 1970s and 1980s, and hadn't worked on a film in nearly eight years until James L. Brooks asked him to contribute to "Broadcast News." Work followed on "Big" and "The War of the Roses," but his key collaboration in the late stage of his career (now working with wife Elaine) was with Martin Scorsese, for whom he titled five films, starting with "Goodfellas." But "The Age of Innocence" is one of the best -- a simple, classy, effective blend of cursive script and steadily opening flowers that perfectly encapsulates the film's themes.
Only two years later would come Bass' last work -- he would die less than six months after his release. But his titles for "Casino" still find him in strong form. Nodding back to the Vegas setting of "Ocean's Eleven," it begins with Robert De Niro's Sam seemingly blown up in a car bomb and catapulted through a hellish selection of Vegas neon, accompanied by blaring opera. Once more, it sets you up for the film perfectly, showing that we're about to embark into the very depths of the strip.