Sometimes, all it takes is one perfect scene for a great movie to become an iconic movie. These are the types of scenes that keep viewers returning to cinemas, to see those moments of perfection.
When we look back through the history of cinema, there will always be certain scenes and moments that live on forever. No matter where cinema goes from here, no matter how relevant the films remain, legendary scenes will stay legendary.
Here are some of the greatest and most famous movie scenes that you absolutely have to see if you haven't yet, along with the context that makes each one so memorable.
7. The Look (Road to Perdition)
Road to Perdition remains one of the few times Tom Hanks ever played a cinema character who could be considered villainous. It was also the last time Paul Newman would ever appear on screen.
What's most incredible about Newman in Road to Perdition—other than his general performance—is that when it came time to shoot his final scene, the one in which Hanks's character guns him down, the look he gave in his close-up actually caused several crew members to cry.
Newman's blue eyes in that moment had such an effect on the people making the film that they were brought to tears by the emotion of the moment for his character. Now that's acting.
6. Tears in the Rain (Blade Runner)
The shoot for Blade Runner was far from enjoyable for the cast and crew. Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford constantly argued about the film, and the long production days annoyed everybody.
So, when it came time to film one of the last scenes, Rutger Hauer (who played Roy Batty) didn't want to lay out the vast speech that was written for him. Instead, he edited it down and improvised the rest.
The result? His famed "tears in the rain" moment, which gave the entire crew a reason to cry when he finished—partly for happiness at wrapping up the film, partly for the beauty of the moment.
5. Knife Fight (Rebel Without a Cause)
When James Dean was preparing for his role in Rebel Without a Cause, he wanted to feel the same anger that Jim Stark felt through the film—and that led him to film the knife fight scene with real knives.
He made the request to the film's director, Nicholas Ray, who reluctantly allowed it. With all the swings that brought Dean close to being cut by the blades, Ray was (understandly) on edge.
At one point, Dean actually was nicked on the ear, forcing Ray to call cut—a move that caused Dean to fly into a rage and yell at the director: "Don't you ever call cut when I'm experiencing something real!"
4. Everybody Is Going to Die (Don't Look Up)
When Leonardo DiCaprio was filming Don't Look Up, he was faced with a director (Adam McKay) who wholly encourages improvisation from his actors—so he took advantage of that.
In one scene, DiCaprio's Dr. Mindy is on a puppet show that's obviously meant to represent The Muppets. Against the backdrop of that, DiCaprio did whatever he felt was right for the character—to the glee of McKay.
Originally, Dr. Mindy was meant to warn viewers of an asteroid on course to hit Earth. Instead, DiCaprio went off script: "Every single man, woman, and child on this planet is going to die!"
The scene stands out as one of the funniest in the film, and DiCaprio's take was kept in because of how much McKay enjoyed seeing the actor push the limits of his own character in the sequence.
3. The Sink (Walk the Line)
In playing Johnny Cash for Walk the Line, Joaquin Phoenix had to take a deep dive into the mind of the country star. After all, Johnny Cash's life was a complex one filled with visceral hardships and drug abuse.
In one scene, a seething Johnny Cash storms into a bathroom. The acclaimed Joaquin Phoenix took the scene at face value, tossed the script out the window, and went into a blinding rage—so much so that he literally pulled a working sink off the wall.
The scene is famous and many viewers thought it was part of the film. As it turns out, no, it was all Joaquin Phoenix's doing.
2. Here's Looking at You Kid (Casablanca)
Casablanca is a timeless classic. Not only does it have one of the most perfect endings to any film, but it also gave us dozens of quotable lines that still live on in pop culture.
It's a shame that we've lost access to so many of the secrets behind Casablanca's production. However, we do still have a few, and one of those behind-the-scenes facts involves the real meaning behind the final moments of the film.
As it turns out, Ingrid Bergman would often play cards on set as Humphrey Bogart watched on, and Bogart often said a particular phrase to Bergman as she played with members of the crew.
When Bogart utters his famous line—"Here's looking at you, kid"—it's completely improvised. The man's most famous line, one of the most famous lines in all of cinema, was totally made up!
1. Life Talk (Lost in Translation)
During production of Lost in Translation, working days were excruciatingly long. Shoots often went well into the night because that was the only time director Sofia Coppola was allowed to film her movie in the Japanese hotel.
When it came to this particular scene, Bill Murray was tired and didn't want to spew out his written lines. Instead, he improvised from what he knew was in the script and what he wanted to add.
The sequence is delicate and intimate, made all the better by Bill Murray's restrained performance and Scarlett Johansson's quietness as she lies beside him, listening to what he has to say.
To this day, the bed scene in Lost in Translation is one of the softest and most personal scenes ever captured on film.