Often credits accomplish nothing more then letting the viewer know who was involved in the project. Sometimes at best we get something cool to watch, such as the way the names were fitted into the landscape in David Fincher's 2002 Panic Room. In The Innocents, directed in 1961 by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, the credits do even more than that; they set the entire mood for the movie.
Sound, plus a clear visual image, is something that a book simply cannot provide the reader. James does build some tension before the main events of the story with his introduction by Douglas with his friends, building up the horror of what is to follow. I do not think that the movie really could use this scene and it not have come off a bit over the top.
It was pivotal; however, to do something to make the viewer be thinking in a suspicious frame of mind. Many of the early events in the story are totally innocuous unless the viewer is predisposed to interpret them as sinister.
The credits effectively introduce us to the movie with the predisposition to think there is something rotten in the country home. At first nothing is strange except for the mysterious sounds of an almost panicked crying. Slowly, as the crying and almost begging to God continues, the camera pans down. It reveals hands folded in the symbol of prayer, revealing to us what the woman is doing. Then slowly we see more of her till we spy a face in terror. We have no choice but to wonder,"Why is she so scared?" Then we hear her plea mentioning the children.
The sound, the slow eerie pan, and the look of terror on the woman's face tell us something horrible is happening. It prepares us before the movie starts for what is to come. We are now as viewers looking suspiciously at what follows. We will interpret any suspicious occurrence as something sinister. It is among the best use of credits I have ever seen.