10 Classic Movie Scenes

Thursday, January 20 by Nicki Porter

If someone asks you to name an iconic movie moment, chances are you'll name at least one of these ten classic movie scenes. Sometimes everything in a film aligns: the actors, directors, camera angles, lighting,and costumes for one of those classic moments that transform a movie into something more than pure entertainment.

  1. Shower Scene, "Psycho." In addition to Janet Leigh's scream and the infamous shot of blood running down the drain, Hitchcock terrified moviegoers by pinpointing exactly where we feel most vulnerable: the shower. The scene was one of the most shocking in film history: in addition to the intimacy of Leigh's shower scene and implied nudity, he killed off a major actress halfway through the movie. What audience members initially thought was the story of a young female thief became a story of a tortured psychopath.  
  2. Gene Kelly sings (and Dances) in the rain, "Singin' in the Rain." It's been called the best movie musical of all time. It's impossible to not have a smile on your face as Kelly taps his way through city streets in the pouring rain with a huge grin on his face. It's utterly charming.  
  3. The horse gead, "The Godfather." A man wakes up next to the bloody head of his prized horse. It's a simple revenge premise, but masterfully executed.  
  4. "Are You Talkin' to Me?," in "Taxi Driver." No one flirts with the line of insanity better than Robert De Niro. In his famous gun-drawing scene in front of the mirror, De Niro convincingly portrays an unhinged man without going over the top.  
  5. "I Coulda Been a Contender," "On the Waterfront." "I coulda' had class. I coulda' been a contender. I coulda' been somebody, instead of a bum, which is wha I am, let's face it." One of the greatest actors of all time, Marlon Brando got his start in theatre performing works by legends like George Bernard Shaw and Tennessee Williams. As a washed-up boxer in "On the Waterfront," Brando proved he could turn any dialogue into gold.  
  6. Introduction to a Drill Sergeant, "Full Metal Jacket." R. Lee Ermey's introductory tirade is one of the greatest improvised scenes in movie history. Film director Stanley Kubrick just turned on the camera and let Ermey rant and rave to his heart's content.  
  7. Here's Johnny, "The Shining." Jack Nicholson terrified moviegoers with his portrayal of writer-gone-mad Jack Torrance. The scene that still reigns supreme in everyone's mind is Jack bursting through the bathroom door with an axe. The now-famous line of "Heeeeeere's Johnny!" was actually improvised by Jack Nicholson during filming.  
  8. Close-up, "Sunset Boulevard." "Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," says the brilliant Gloria Swanson to newsreel cameras. Swanson's performance as former film legend Norma Desmond is one of the most brilliant performances in film history and this last scene still chills moviegoers sixty years later.  
  9. "Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn," in "Gone with the Wind." Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh arguably have the best fiery chemistry of any on-screen duo. The film's classic ending of Rhett Butler leaving a tearful Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most oft-quoted movie lines of all time.  
  10. Rick and Ilsa's Farewell, "Casablanca." You knew it was coming. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman's tearful farewell in a Casablanca airport is one of the most famous classic movie scenes in film history. Both lovers' sacrifice, combined with poetry like "We'll always have Paris" and "If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life" make this scene a legend in its own right.

Additional Resources:

IMDB: "Casablanca" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/

IMDB: "Gone with the Wind"  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/

IMDB: "Sunset Blvd." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043014/

IMDB: "The Shining." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/

IMDB: Full Metal Jacket http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/

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