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Most iconic movie scenes?

Karate-Kid_3301_4ea5df3334f8633bdc0017c3_1320372019Hello, oh great and powerful Internet. I need your help again.

Last year I asked people to help me come up with a list of movie posters for an exercise I wanted to do in my Spring class. I did the exercise and it worked really well. So thank you.

But I was thinking of something I wanted to do in my Spring class next year. Now what I need is for people to help me come up with a list of iconic movie scenes. I don’t care if they movie is good or bad or popular or not. What I’m really looking for is short clips that tell a whole story in like one to five minutes. It doesn’t even have to be the story of the whole movie. In particular I’m thinking like fight scenes or romantic scenes… something where there’s two characters and with no backstory whatsoever, you can look at the scene and get a sense of what’s going on: “This is the good guy, that’s the bad guy, and they’re fighting over that.” “This boy and this girl don’t particular like each other, but you can tell they’re going to fall in love.”  Whatever. The key is that they should be relatively short and give no real context to the rest of the film nor require any. They need to stand alone.

The final minute of the original Karate Kid is a perfect example:

And this one from Mask of Zorro is another good one:

They don’t NEED to be fight or love scenes, and they don’t need to be super famous (it might be more fun if they aren’t), but they do need to be standalone and tell a story. Knowing nothing else, you should be able to watch those couple minutes and not be lost at all. Does that makes sense?

So… hit me up with some links, yo!

123 comments for “Most iconic movie scenes?

  1. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

  2. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    The Captain Quint Jaws monologue.

  3. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    The “You can’t handle the truth” speech from A FEW GOOD MEN is great. The unfortunate truth of what he says mixed with the RAH RAH arrogance with which he says it are pretty fantastic.

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      That’s actually a perfect one. So perfect that we are actually reading it later in the semester and watching the film, so I can’t use it for this because SPOILERS! 🙂

  4. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    There’s a bit in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where RDJ’s character walks into a room where a man is molesting a sleeping woman, challenges him to a fight, and gets his ass kicked. and then sexual predator walks off with the woman. it’s EPIC.

  5. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    This youtube clip cuts off about 10 seconds too early, but what about the bureaucracy montage from Brazil? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xNnRBksvOU

  6. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    The Battleship Potempkin-esque stair scene in UNTOUCHABLES.

  7. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    The car pile-up in the Blues Brothers

  8. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    The final firefight scene or the courtroom scene from Boondock Saints.

  9. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    “I love you.” “I know.”

  10. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Lloyd holding up the boom box in “Say Anything”

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      that’s another one like the star wars one Tony mentioned…. Is that scene meaningful without seeing the rest of the movie around it.

      I mean, it is to anyone who grew up in the 80s, because we have context and the whole movie is encapsulated in that scene. But if you haven’t seen it does it make sense?

  11. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Harrison ford and rutger hauer on the roof in blade runner.

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      I actually thought of this one… but then I dismissed it as “not self contained…” but now I’m thinking about it again, and maybe it is…

      it definitely has a good guy and a bad guy, clearly at odds… there’s definitely a story to it.

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      What about the Voight-Kampf test from the beginning of Blade Runner? Self-contained scene and you don’t need the other context.

  12. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    What about some good ol Back to the Future?:)

  13. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    The mickey mouse sing-along at the end of Full Metal Jacket

  14. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I would say the very first scene of Jaws.
    “What’s your name?”… “Chrisy!” … “Where are we going?” … “Swimming?”
    However I don’t really understand your requirement of “give no real context to the rest of the film nor require any.” It does give context to the rest of the movie, but it doesn’t require any. It can stand alone.

  15. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Dialogue in this scene gives a lot of the who / what / where and is also iconic in the more classic sense.

  16. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Graduation scene from Stripes. Kids these days don’t know enough about 80s comedies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjr2W0wQvs0

  17. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:41 pm

  18. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:42 pm

  19. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Post Diner scene in Chasing Amy where Holden declares his love for Alyssa. http://youtu.be/Pg9XO9EqPXk

    Love Actually the poster board scene. http://youtu.be/B7u6bMBlCXw

  20. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    The opening conversation in the diner in Resevoir Dogs.

  21. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    It is longer than you wanted, but if you start at the 2:19 point or the 3:05 point, I think it still tells roughly the same story.

  22. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    The opening steadicam shot from Boogie Nights? It establishes all the characters, and it terminates with the shot of Mark Wahlberg’s character as the outsider. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiXtFyZqvQQ

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      The training sequence early from Bride With White Hair, starting with Zhuo playing with a cricket, and then demonstrating his swordplay skills would be a good one.

  23. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Not sure this doesn’t require some context, but I think it can work without it.
    https://youtu.be/6NEKzLiXfuc

  24. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    And there’s my favorite movie scene of all time, featuring one of my favorite poems. The entire point of the movie Dead Poets Society, described in one scene.
    https://youtu.be/omveFR-2hmg

  25. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Han going down into carbon freeze, Leia says, “I love you,” and he only replies “I know”.

  26. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    When Burt Gummer and wife literally unload on the monster in their bunker in Tremors. With his famous one liner at the end.

  27. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    When Roger Thornhill exains the aptness of his initials in NNW.

  28. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Josey Wales facing down the bounty hunter who comes back into the bar. “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living”, ” I had to come back”, “I know”. The circumstances pitted them against each other in a devastated post-war existence.

  29. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Any number of exchanges between Doc Holiday and any other character in Tombstone.

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      Fuck now I’m sitting here laughing to myself over doc Holliday lines from that. I’m your huckleberry.

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      The one I’m thinking of is the scene where Wyatt tells Doc it’s not his fight and they weren’t his brothers and Doc says “that’s a hell of a thing for you to say to me”

      That or maybe “Wyatt Earp is my friend.” “I got lots of friends.” “I don’t”

      Or even the OK Corral.

      Really that whole movie is damn near perfect.

  30. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Everything you need to know about Mr. Blonde, that requires no knowledge of what’s happening elsewhere in the movie.
    https://youtu.be/PGqB6JIUzBo

  31. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Haven’t looked at all of the comments so sorry if this was already mentioned, but the guitar/kiss scene from Stranger Than Fiction…

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a3Zdz61iSLo

  32. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Spock’s death in Wrath of Khan?

  33. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s dinner chat in Pulp Fiction.

  34. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    The speech at the end of The Great Dictator.

  35. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    There are a few scenes at the end of Dr. Strangelove that may be worthy as well.

  36. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Of course, The Matrix’s “Bullet Time”.

  37. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    the fight scene near the end of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone), the fight scene on the beach in Captain Blood (Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone)

  38. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Random scenes from The Shining. Like where Jack is staring out the window at the maze looking soo maniacal.

  39. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

  40. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

  41. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Or the Death Star trench run in the original Star Wars 🙂

  42. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Or the Death Star trench run in the original Star Wars 🙂

  43. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    http://youtu.be/u9S41Kplsbs

    Link for my reference later.

  44. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    and the original Odessa Steps scene from Battleship Potemkin, just because: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps-v-kZzfec

  45. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:57 pm
  46. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    i assume you meant this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z68yZAIhNU

  47. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:00 pm
  48. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    This one rather than the first, though that one is ok too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsuH1msEkvM

  49. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    What about some good ol Back to the Future?:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psxktpxkc6o

  50. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I would say the very first scene of Jaws.
    “What’s your name?”… “Chrisy!” … “Where are we going?” … “Swimming!”
    However I don’t really understand your requirement of “give no real context to the rest of the film nor require any.” It does give context to the rest of the movie, but it doesn’t require any. It can stand alone.

  51. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    What’s the class? what about music videos?

    • avatar
      November 30, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      It’s just comp 102. We call it “imaginative and creative literature” but my specific version focuses on books and film.

      And actually I use music videos when I’m teaching poetry.

    • avatar
      December 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      I always love the use of music in general to teach poetry.

    • avatar
      December 1, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      The very first poem I always read is “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” (Public Enemy)

  52. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    When Harry met Sally fake orgasm in a diner scene

  53. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Lobby scene, The Matrix. Runner up: Opening scene when the cops try to pick up Trinity and she hangs in the air before kicking one in the head + the chase after.

  54. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Also this fight scene under a train: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAY2LYoYCAU

  55. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:46 pm
  56. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/k4R5wZs8cxI

  57. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:52 pm
  58. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 4:52 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/QltlctqfY4E

  59. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:53 pm
  60. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/XvuM3DjvYf0

  61. avatar
    November 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm
  62. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/R6OKLgLZHFk

  63. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 12:03 am
  64. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/qw03mtr6uOg

  65. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 12:06 am
  66. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/Z1BG0IYnCS0

  67. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 12:09 am
  68. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:09 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/N1KvgtEnABY

  69. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 12:17 am

    https://youtu.be/SoE7B0Jf_eQ

    Ugh. This is the only upload of this clip I could find with a one-man Beavis & Butthead…

  70. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/SoE7B0Jf_eQ

    Ugh. This is the only upload of this clip I could find with a one-man Beavis & Butthead…

  71. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 12:26 am
  72. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Mark Seeley commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    https://youtu.be/KOhBlCuKSBQ

  73. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Was reading this this morning and thought of your ask here. It’s about the opening of Wayne’s World (the Bohemian Rhapsody bit). http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-oral-history-of-the-wayne-s-world-bohemian-rhapsody-scene-20151130?page=6

  74. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 4:59 am

    You’ve assigned us a very difficult task.

  75. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 6:29 am

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aEhwIqmmEJY

    The dueling banjos scene from Deliverance. Though it’s a classic, I doubt too many students today will be that familiar with it. On the down side, fashion has changed enough that it may be hard to spot some urban/rural signals, but it’s still really rich.

    There has to be name for this sort of scene in the early part of a film, no?

  76. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Joe versus the Volcano (one of my favorite movies) is basically a whole movie made of these scenes. Especially the quitting scene, the LA overlook scene, maybe the luggage scene…

  77. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

    How about the opening of LA Story? This clip doesn’t go quite long enough, but is pretty close. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhEg79jSBz0

  78. avatar
    Michael Ringenberg
    December 1, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s final showdown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0BrdMi-oyc

  79. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Michael Ringenberg commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’s final showdown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0BrdMi-oyc

  80. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    If you can find the full scene all the better, but this is one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUZv6bn7Hwg

  81. avatar
    December 1, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Starting at 1:37 – spoiler from Usual Suspects http://youtu.be/XYXXhn9fMYs

  82. avatar
    December 2, 2015 at 4:01 am

    John Cusack holding a boom box over his head in Say Anything

    Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange with his eyes forced open.

    Luke staring at the setting of the two Suns

    Jimmy Stewart running from a plane in a field.

    Bogie at the plane at the end of Casablanca

    The priest entering the house in the exorcist

    The twin girls in The Shining

    The Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes

    The presentation of the Lion King at the beginning of the film

    The battle in the trees, Crouching Tiger

    Totoro at the Bus Stop in the Rain

    Metropolis the transformation

    Singing in the Rain, Good Morning, 3 people flip the couch. Or the Singing in the Rain segment

    Ghostbusters, the Stay Puft Marshmallow man

  83. avatar
    December 2, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Andrei Freeman commented on ChrisMaverick dotcom:

    John Cusack holding a boom box over his head in Say Anything

    Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange with his eyes forced open.

    Luke staring at the setting of the two Suns

    Jimmy Stewart running from a plane in a field.

    Bogie at the plane at the end of Casablanca

    The priest entering the house in the exorcist

    The twin girls in The Shining

    The Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes

    The presentation of the Lion King at the beginning of the film

    The battle in the trees, Crouching Tiger

    Totoro at the Bus Stop in the Rain

    Metropolis the transformation

    Singing in the Rain, Good Morning, 3 people flip the couch. Or the Singing in the Rain segment

    Ghostbusters, the Stay Puft Marshmallow man

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