Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

July 2015

My magazine’s first office was on Bank Street in what I thought of as the Vermont National Bank building. In time, Vermont National got bought by the Chittenden. I never understood why the Chittenden decided to keep its name as the name of the combined banks when it could have been called Vermont National. No matter that the Chittenden was acquired by the People’s United Bank of Connecticut so now there’s no reason other than the county or the name of Vermont’s first Governor, Thomas, to say “Chittenden.”

The reason I mention all this has to do with the actor who played Vinnie in the television show Welcome Back, Kotter and later became a serious actor in all kinds of movies. He played an angel once. To me, the best movie he ever played in was Pulp Fiction. No angel in that one, for sure: He was a hit man partnered with Samuel L. Jackson.

Thing is, John Travolta wasn’t the star, just one of the stars. But the best thing about that movie, in my humble opinion, was how it started. Two people who had no reason to be in the movie started the movie and, if you watch to the end, reappear.

And that reminded me of a fellow who also had an office in my old building. He told me he had a friend — I don’t know, maybe a friend of a friend or something — who wrote the beginning scenes that ran before the titles of films. That’s how this guy made a living: writing not a movie but a scene based on the movie to be run just before the credits. Maybe like James Bond movies with great songs and silhouettes of naked ladies swimming.

But the specific intro ascribed to this guy was for the movie Saturday Night Fever. That film starts with a fairly young John Travolta walking down a sidewalk carrying a can of paint. Not walking — bopping. The guy really nailed it. Hard to believe that’s the only thing this guy did on the movie was write the scene of a kid bopping down Flatbush Avenue (or some other Brooklyn byway).

Finally, the extra point.

Actually, three extra points — field goal?

1. There should be awards for best intros for movies.

2. There should be no repeated intros for television series.

3. There should be an app for fast-forwarding subsequent intros when binge-watching a season or more of Orange Is the New Black, Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, Law & Order, or House of Cards.

I should get a royalty on the app.