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Monday, June 20, 2005

The big movie object list

Posted by: Jambo / 10:43 AM

Holy crap, reducing the list of greatest movie objects to 25 (forget about 10 or 15) was harder than I thought it would be. I have a new found respect for the American Film Institute. There were a bunch of really good suggestions that I had to leave out but I eventually narrowed it down to the following; (and roughly in this order)

1. The ruby slippers

2. Charles Foster Kane's sled. These first two are such obvious choices that I will guarantee that when AFI does a similar list they will be their top two as well.

3. The bone tossed in the air at the start of 2001. I don't know if you get more iconic than this.

4. The barrels in Jaws. The barrels themselves may not be iconic but it was such brilliant movie making that they had to be near the top.

5. A horse's head. A number of entries made the list because they are so famous that you don't even need to name the movie they are in.

6. The amp that goes to 11 in This Is Spinal Tap. "But this goes to 11" has fully entered our vernacular.

7. Dirk Diggler's, er, well, you know. No one who saw that last scene failed to raise an eyebrow. Or something.

8. The remains of the Statute of Liberty (Planet of the Apes). I recently saw Madagascar with a bunch of people in their 20s and sadly none of them caught the reference to this.

9. The briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

10. Zuzu's petals in It's a Wonderful Life.

11. The Wood Chipper in Fargo. Can anyone even hear "wood chipper" and not think of Fargo?

12. The T-bird in American Graffiti. This is another one for which you might not need to name the movie. Say "blond in a white t-bird" and most everyone (everyone over 30 at least) gets the same mental picture.

13. Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum

14. Jason's hockey mask

15. Wilson the volleyball

16. Queen of diamonds in The Manchurian Candidate (original only, not the remake)

17. Jack Nicholson's nose bandage

18. the yellow submarine

19. Fire in Quest for Fire. This was just too perfect a suggestion to not make the cut.

20. Statue of Jesus in the opening of La Dolce Vita. This is partly personal prejudice on my part and it might not have made the cut but for the great homage at the start of LA Story where Steve Martin has a helicopter carrying a giant Oscar Meyer hot dog over LA instead of the Jesus statue. Perfect!

21. Coke bottle from The Gods Must be Crazy

22. Odd Job's hat in Goldfinger. Much better than a shoe. Who throws a shoe? Honestly?

23. Ralphie's Dad's leg lamp. Just mentioning "leg lamp" will make many of us grin.

24. A bowler from Clockwork Orange. I left out a number of similar costume type entries but could just have easily made #24 the Chaplin, Fosse, or Indiana Jones hat.

25. The One Ring

Left out were vehicles and locations, even tho Terra, the bridge on the River Kwai and the African Queen, as well as a few others, were all decent suggestions.

I think Hammer is going to construct a poll for the site so everyone who is interested can vote on their favorite. We had a really good response to the original post with a couple dozen people making suggestions including several who emailed me rather than posting comments. Thanks to everyone who participated.

(Just had a late entry that I really liked—the red dress in Shindler’s List, the only piece of color in the whole film and one of the saddest moments when you see it go by on the cart. I have a friend who is colorblind and for years never knew about the scene until I explained it to him a few years ago.)

Update: Crap! I have just found out that the reason Hammer suggested I reduce the list to 15 was because that was the limit on options in the online polling software. Curse this evil technology that so constrains us! 3WN is vast, we contain multitudes! But alas 15 will have to do (at least that is 3 more than the limit on schnitzengruben.) So go ahead and vote on one of the top 15, or if you like you can cast a write-in vote in the comments section.


Let the second-guessing begin!

You left out the letters of transit from Casablanca? Argh! I'd have included that, Rick's tuxedo, and Sam's piano ahead of some that made the cut.

But maybe it's just me. I just about have a breakdown every time I watch it when Paul Henreid drowns out "Die Wacht am Rhein" with "La Marseillaise."

Well, your game, your rules. Good list, mostly.

By Blogger Joseph Thvedt, at 3:49 PM  

For what it is worth, some friends and I had a discussion a few years ago about the best single scenes and that was one of the 3 or 4 I came up with. I can still get choked up as I watch the tears rolling down the woman's cheeks as she sings. When you try to put it in the context of when the film was made, as WWII was still undecided, it is even more moving to picture the reaction people must have had to it. Quint's USS Indianapolis speech was one of my others by the way.

I really liked the letters of transit suggestion but ultimately decided to not include them in the list only becasue they are not so much a physical presence in the film. Almost everything I picked was something that gives an instant visual image. And it is usually something that goes both ways - you think of the movie and you picture that object, or you see that object and instantly think of the film.

By Blogger Jambo, at 5:01 PM  

I'll put up the poll tomorrow.

By Blogger Hammer, at 7:38 PM  

Almost everything I picked was something that gives an instant visual image.

That's as reasonable a criterion as any, I guess, even though it tends to exclude my favorite movie. Most of Casablanca's many pleasures are verbal.

By Blogger Joseph Thvedt, at 9:42 PM  

From the day-late-and-a-dollar-short dept: I thought of more objects on my run today; all related to Julie Andrews in one way or another.

Mary Poppins's umbrella.

Bert's one-man-band getup from the same movie -- not really an object, but a whole collection of them. One of my earliest film memories.

The diamond (was it a diamond? I forget...) from The Pink Panther

Sally Miles's, umm, features in S.O.B. For a kid that grew up on Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, this was a revelation. Not really inanimate, but if you can include Dirk Diggler, these qualify, too.

By Blogger Joseph Thvedt, at 2:43 PM  

I will let pass your Julie Andrews fixation, at least for the time being. But speaking of Blake Edwards films I jsut thought of the glow in the dark condoms in what ever the film was right after SOB. I don't remember anything else from the film, but the fight in the dark between the two guys wearing them was inspired comedy. OK, in a very base kind of way, but still damn funny.

By Blogger Jambo, at 11:52 AM  

John Ritter was in that: Skin Deep.

By Blogger Hammer, at 1:10 PM  

If you have the briefcase from Pulp Fiction, why no car/trunk from Repo Man?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 AM  

The Repo Man trunk was one of my original suggestions actually. I left it out of the top 25 mainly becaaue I figured very few people had actually seen it. I have always kind of figured the briefcase in Pulp fiction might have been inspired by Repo Man. The link to the original post doesn't work for some reason but if any one wants to see my original list and all the comments they can go to

By Blogger Jambo, at 11:36 AM  

Frankly, the snow globe is more iconic to me than the sled inside it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 PM  

And what about the fortune teller machine from Big? or Pee Wee's bike? Or the red rider bb gun? but my fave is the sad little tree in Charlie Brown... if cartoons count.

By Blogger hazel, at 10:55 PM  

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:09 PM  

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