The opening credits are used in media presentations to establish setting, among other elements. The goal, especially on television, is to establish a context or setting for the drama so that viewers or listeners can begin immediately to place the dramatic action in proper context. On television this is essential as the program only has 22 or 44 minutes to entertain and cannot take time to establish setting by normal action and views. The movie has more time and often exploits this time to the fullest.
In the opening credits for Peyton Place we notice the very strong music bringing out the visual elements of New England. We see farming, ocean coasts, seasonal changes, and such. The small town nature of Peyton Place is made clear.
Character Alison Mackenzie begins the next section providing a transition from the purely visual scenes to those scenes being couple with human emotions of importance to the dram of the book and movie.