The Most Iconic Moments in Film

There are certain scenes that transcend the films they appeared in and become recognisable to even those that have not even seen the movie.

I'll start the list off with a handful of films but I need your help to complete it. Check the list view for a brief description of the famous scene (although it should be pretty obvious).


Read notes


  • I think all of those fit very well (28 Days Later scene might already be included but I'll check).

  • What about The Seven Samurai, Breaking the Waves, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller, Doctor Zhivago, Rosmary's Baby, Weekend, Slacker, Solaris, Sisters, Robocop, Point Blank, Halloween, Something Wild, The Cook The Wife The Thief & Her Lover, The Lady Killers, Meet Me In St. Louis, Rosetta, Jules and Jim, Being John Malkovich, Serpico, The Karate Kid, Eyes Wide Shut, Faces, The Guns of the Navarone, San Francisco, Tarzan the Ape Man, Bright Eyes, Zombie, Class of 1984, Godzilla, Rome Open City, Scanners, The Trial, The Naked Gun, The Parent Trap, Haxan, Jean of Arc, I Am Curious Yellow, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, Funny Games, 'M', Friday, Cabiria, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Judgement at Nuremburg, The Invisible Man, The Puffy Chair, Interiors, The Bellboy, The Apartment, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Red Shoes, Gentlemen Perfer Blondes, Kiss Me Deadly, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, JFK, Cleopatra, Blood Simple, The Tin Drum, Elephant, MASH, 8 1/2, Django, The Fury, Broken Flowers, Cat People, Adam's Rib, The Killers, Hoop Dreams, The Blair Witch Project...

  • That is quite a list. If you want to list the particular iconic moments of each of those films then I will happily add them (assuming I agree that they are iconic).

  • Has anyone mentioned the first appearance of the mystery man in Lost Highway? It's pretty iconic in my opinion.

  • Sure!
    The Seven Samurai - When Takashi Shimiru cuts his hair, or when he runs into the kidnapper's hideout,
    Breaking the Waves - Jan steals body & bells from heaven
    N.L's Vacation - Chevy Chase car to car flirt
    Ferris Buller's - Direct address in shower about faking illness/"save ferris"
    Doctor Zhivago - the bloody revolution, the romantic "ice palace"
    Rosemary's Baby - revelatory ending
    Weekend - the longest tracking shot / traffic jam
    Slacker - Madonna's pubic hair
    Solaris (Tarkovsky) - lengthy 'highway' scene, The moment of The pullback from the island
    Sisters (dePalma) - the hitchockian murder scene / ending revelation
    Robocop - at the time, the most violent death scene (businessman unnecessarily pummeled by bullets, followed by villain death) *This could also work for the violence in his Starship Troopers, particularly the end
    Point Blank - 'glad you're not dead' ex-lover scene
    Halloween - initial murder sequence, the ending sequence
    Something Wild - freewheeling car ride, infamous sex scene
    The Cook, The Wife, The Thief & Her Lover - revelation behind the meal served
    The Lady Killers (MacKendrick) - the final death sequence
    Meet Me In St. Louis - The Trolley ride, turning the lights out, the Halloween evening
    Rosetta - the initial fight at work, or fight between Rosetta and her mother
    Jules and Jim - the lover run across the bridge, the dying mother
    Being John Malkovich - the initial in-the-head sequence, "Malkovich, Malkovich" sequence
    Serpico - bribary explaination to park of cops
    The Karate Kid - wax on, sweep the leg, the montage
    Eyes Wide Shot - marriage argument, 'cultish' sequence, initial (unmodified) orgy sequence
    Faces - the drunken sequence of play, the marriage fight
    The Guns of the Navarone - Navarone break-in / wall climb
    San Francisco - the time's most expensive special effects of damaging earthquake sequence (Could be said of Mark Robson's Earthquake as well)
    Tarzan the Ape Man - Tarzan & Jane moment, ending with Cheeta as a baby
    Bright Eyes - "good ship lollipop" sequence
    Zombie - underwater shark-wrestling zombie
    Class of 1984 - ending death
    Godzilla - ending disaster sequence
    Rome Open City - Pina's death, ending torture sequence, ending execution and children sequence,
    Scanners - exploding head
    The Trial - court scene
    The Naked Gun - Cake with the Queen, ending baseball montage
    The Parent Trap - Haley Mills and Haley Mills sing
    Haxan - creatures desecrate religious imagery

  • @ron: As great as his introduction is I don't think it is iconic.

    @Sunrise: Wow! Thanks for taking the time to compile such a list. Unfortunately I won't be adding all of these simply because, as great as the scenes are, I am not convinced they are all genuinely iconic. For a scene to make the list it must transcend the medium and be known by people who haven't even seen the film in question. There are quite a few suggestions here where I don't think that is the case.

    I will add the ones that I do think fit so if you think I've unfairly missed one out then by all means argue for its inclusion.

  • How's about when "the Bride" first sees the monster in "Bride of Frankenstein"?

  • It's a close one. I don't think it matches the truly iconic moments from the first film but I'll add it anyway.

  • Wow! Of all the things not to include, I can't believe Robocop or Rome, Open City are excluded!

  • I'm not sure exactly your criteria, but in terms of more recent stuff, iconic maybe a little subjective but a few things that are certainly recognizable and have become pop culture;

    - Drive's headstomp/scorpion jacket
    - Inception's ending
    -"the D is silent"/Django's finale outfit
    - The Avenger's rotate pan (maybe?)
    -"Call it, friendo"/cattle gun killing
    -the whisper from Lost in Translation

    Just off the top of my head, sorry if it's not what you're looking for

Please to comment.