Top 10 Movie Entrances

by Eric Melin on December 15, 2009

in Top 10s

Today’s Top 10 comes from contributor George Schmidt. He also wrote the list of Top 10 Sexiest Cinematic Giantesses for Scene-Stealers around this time last year. If you’d like to contribute a Top 10 list of your own, email me at Here’s George:

I’m always intrigued about how certain film characters are introduced onscreen; not necessarily via plot or dialogue–but visually speaking–how the director/screenwriter/actor chose their specific ideas in showcasing a unique interesting manner. Some are iconic, some not, but undeniably they are usually memorable. Oh, and to quell the hair-splitters, they are not all literal entrances (i.e. a character walks into view). Here now are my Top 10 Movie Entrances.

ray liotta something wild 198610. Ray Liotta as Ray Sinclar in “Something Wild” (1986)

Jonathan Demme’s crazy-quilt of a screwball comedy valentine for the 80s has all the right moves. Mystery girl Audrey Hankel (a winning Melanie Griffith, on the way to A-list stardom) ‘kidnapps’ uptight yuppie Charles Driggs (amiable Jeff Daniels at his most amiable) to accompany her to a high school reunion in the sticks. “Something Wild” takes the viewer on a raucously fun and mischievous ride until the big event where she runs into her ex, Ray Sinclair (Liotta in a remarkable feature film debut after knocking around on daytime soap operas (!)), a greaser fromHell, who literally slides into the picture as an unknowing Audrey and Charlie dance sweetly. His very presence reeks of sinister with his bad skin, stone-cold chuckle, dead eyes, and knowing leers. He provokes his kewpie doll paramour into sheer panic mode (she knows something we all don’t and that is truly the definition of suspense) and sets the film into ass-over-tea-kettle percolating, dangerous violence-to-come as Ray begins to make a night to remember into a nightmare impossible to forget.

Click here to see Liotta’s entrance (cued to:51:00, nearly an hour into the film).

bluto belushi animal house 19789. John Belushi as John “Bluto” Blutarsky in “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978)

John Landis’ bull-in-a-china-shop technique to filmmaking truly pays off in this classic about fraternity life circa 1962 (before JFK assassination/Vietnam/civil rights and pretty much all of the last 20th Century history associated with it; but I digress). It features the raunchiest frat house on the block–Delta House–and its most unruliest animal, one “Bluto” Blutarsky (Belushi’s big screen debut). He welcomes two innocent pledges (wimp-and blimp-combo Tom Hulce and Stephen Furst, a.k.a. Pinto & Flounder) by loudly urinating on their slacks. Witness Belushi’s solidification as a God in the annals of cinematic comedy (the personification of the “id” via one wily arched eyebrow). Watch here; start at 5:22.

8. Ewan McGregor as Renton in “Trainspotting” (1996)

Danny Boyle’s grim and gritty adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s cult novel–a latter day “A Clockwork Orange” if you will–showcases the nihilistic vibes of the disassociated youth of Scotland. They shirk everything in life except to choose life (as the film’s slogan intones) and embrace themselves in a non-stop heroin stupor or pickle themselves in booze. Anti-hero Renton (McGregor, stick thin with a ghastly pallor of a premature burial in the wings) straddles the razor’s edge of numbness and sobriety and is first seen at the film’s opening, fleeing from some criminal behavior and literally into the camera’s gob (i.e. the audience’s lap) set to the breakneck beat of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life.”

heath ledger joker dark knight bank heist7. Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” (2008)

The penultimate performance of a consummate professional, Heath Ledger’s remarkably iconoclastic re-imagining of the ultimate comic book villain, The Joker, is a thing of reviled beauty. The reveal of this madcap malevolent force of nature is craftily staged by director wunderkind Christopher Nolan in the opening set-piece, a bank robbery in Gotham led by a bunch of clowns–well, clown-masked thugs. The deft élan of Ledger’s ultimate unveiling is on par of Lon Chaney’s Erik in “The Phantom of the Opera.” You cannot look away from the chilling terror suddenly unleashed.

Gotham National Bank Manager: Oh, criminals in this town used to believe in things. Honor. Respect. Look at you! What do you believe in, huh? What do you believe in?

[Bozo leans down and sticks a grenade in the manager's mouth]

Bozo: I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…
[takes off his mask]
The Joker: …stranger.

Watch the scene here.

6. Anthony Hopkins at Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

While setting up for the introduction of arguably the cinema’s greatest villain, director Jonathan Demme conferred with Hopkins about having green FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) make her way into the uniquely designed cell of her soon-to-be collaborator/antagonist/father figure. After seeing the incredible set piece concocted by Kristi Zea (a wavering labyrinth to the minotaur if you will), Hopkins suggested it would be somewhat startling to simply have him standing in the center of his cell, placid and still (like a predatory lion waiting to strike its unwary prey), staring straight into the lens/Starling’s sightline (and inevitably, the audience’s as well) as the camera locks in on him. And boy, does it ever.

indiana jones raiders of the lost ark idol5. Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

Intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones (Han Solo from “Star Wars” could easily have been shoe-horned in here too, as Harrison Ford’s pluck and everyman heroics are on full display in both characters) is always just on the edge of a new discovery of a hidden gem/treasure. At the very beginning of Steven Spielberg/George Lucas’ first installment of the aligned filthy luchre franchise, Jones is attempting to outstep his nemesis Belloq in the jungles of Peru for just that. He is introduced literally out of the shadows and into the light

I couldn’t find the scene on the Web. If you can find it, please post it! Thanks!

4. Christopher Reeve as Superman in “Superman” (1978)

The ultimate iconic comic-book superhero, Superman, makes a truly memorable entrance in Richard Donner’s fantastic adaptation with this quintessential heroic moment that defines the entire canon of the legendary Man of Steel. As he will countless number of times after this, he finds trouble and does something about it. Superman saves Daily Planet colleague and soon-to-be paramour Lois Lane (the inimitable Margot Kidder), who is dangling above Metropolis from a helicopter gone crazy. I still get goose-pimples when Reeve opens his shirt to reveal the “S” of his costume as it fills the screen and the swell of John Williams’ triumphant score. Dare not to clap along with the crowd.

3. Sean Connery as James Bond in “Dr. No” (1962)

Three simple words …

spoken with

the definition of cool/suave.

“Bond … James Bond”

‘Nuff said.

The famous moment

comes towards the end of this clip.

quint jaws nails chalkboard2. Robert Shaw as Quint in “Jaws” (1975)

For my money, this is the greatest introduction of a character on the big screen. Steven Spielberg expertly guides the film for its first third, building the terror/dread of the man-eating great-white shark that has plagued the waters of Amity Beach. The profitable Fourth of July weekend is approaching and the beach is about to be shut down by the powers that be if they cannot find someone to stop the deadly menace once and for all. At the town meeting, the city finally gets an answer in the salty, unkempt, yet wiser-than-anyone-else local fisherman Quint (played in impeccable “screw you” form by the late, great Robert Shaw). HIs character is literally nails on a chalkboard.

Couldn’t find this scene either … anyone?

1. Orson Welles as Harry Lime in “The Third Man” (1949)

This is arguably the grandest entrance of a film character ever. In this film-noir gold standard post-WWII classic, Joseph Cotten’s Holly Martins is visiting Vienna looking for his old friend Harry Lime but finds out Lime has been killed (or so it appears). Soon he stumbles upon a serpentine labyrinth of intrigue, deception and the ultimate lie revealed while walking through the darkened alleys. Light from a window suddenly sill shines upon … you guessed it … Lime himself (yes, new definition for ‘lime light’). Welles entrance is also famous for his bemused man-in-the-moon grin, upon receiving his chum.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ross McG December 15, 2009 at 7:33 am

woah. hard to argue with any of those. some star wars head a few comments down will inevitably cry ‘Darth Vader!’ but you can tell him to stuff his lightsaber where the sun dont shine. great list.
no female characters though…
some that would make my list off the top of my head:
- a hungover Henry Gondorff being woken up in The Sting
- wicked witch in The Wizard Of Oz
- Jesus bowling into The Big Lebowski


2 Dana December 15, 2009 at 10:16 am

Great list. First character that came to mind when I saw the title of the list was Lester Burnham in AMERICAN BEAUTY. Nothing introduces a character better than seeing him for the first time while masturbating!


3 Will December 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Great List?

But what about Alex in “Clockwork Orange”? or Inspector Clouseau in “A Shot In The Dark”?


4 Alan Rapp December 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Solid list. I would probably have put Darth Vader’s entrance in Star Wars, and maybe Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka, on there somewhere. My only other quibble would be no female character intros included (such as Grace Kelly in Rear Window or even Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science)? Or are we saving that for another list?

And I give you huge props for putting Harry Lime at #1. Terrific reveal.


5 Talulahula December 15, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Great list, but missing Rita Hayworth’s “Sure, I’m decent,” from Gilda and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”) That movie also has William Holden introduced as the floater in the pool. The alien in Alien and King Kong both make pretty spectacular entrances too.


6 Stig December 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

notable snubs

Jessica Rabbit
Sherman Klump
Buddy Love


7 Bridget December 15, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Jessica Rabbit and Willy Wonka definitely. And my own favourite character entrance ever is Captain Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Carribean.


8 Eric Melin December 15, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Holy crap, Talulahula. Nice. I was struggling to come up with a character introduction that blew me away that wasn’t mentioned already, and that’s the one: Rita Hayworth in “Gilda,” sitting in front of a mirror dressing, snaps her head back and with it, her long luxurious hair.
Bonus points for being in “The Shawshank Redemption” as well!


9 Xavier December 16, 2009 at 12:59 am

One more I can think of is Tyler Durden and his several entrances in Fight Club. He appears as blips in Edward Norton’s imagination when he suffers from insomnia, he makes an appearance in the hotel video and both the introduction montage with him in the restaurant etc, and the scene on the plane


10 Gary December 21, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Looks like the Indiana Jones clips have been removed from YouTube for violation of terms of use, but you can see the clip at in the Raiders of the Lost Ark section. Not only do they have the entrance of Indy in the jungle, they also have his entrance in Marion’s bar where you first see his shadow on the wall. Another very cool entrance.


11 George Schmidt December 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for all the feedback – surprisingly favorable – LOL
yeah I know I feel dumb for not having any notable female entrances -
for the record I was going to have Ursula Andress from DR. NO but I had to, HAD to have Bond and figured 2 of the same film/character would be pointless;go figure
also had Willy Wonka as #13!
Vader is good too – not in my list off top of my head only because he was w/Troopers and not really ‘solo’ (sorry for the pun!)
Durden & Jack Sparrow- wow – NICE!!!


12 wayne swab December 25, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Great list George. making a list like this, you inevitably will leave people off because there are way too many. And that geek who immediatly went to Darth Vader, have you ever kissed a girl?

The only snub that I want to point out is James Belushi in “Who’s Harry Crumb” Fucking classic


13 George Schmidt January 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

For Wayne Swab – one quibble – isn’t that John Candy in WHC?


14 Sean January 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I dont know if it counts, but what about the Shark in Jaws. He had a great entrance to.


15 George Schmidt January 26, 2010 at 8:54 am

RE: #14 – Sean
Sure why not – although arguably the opening sequence (Chrissie’s attack is also a good intro – even though we don’t see “Bruce”) would be beneficial but to see ‘him’ would be “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” – Brody’s up&close encounter


16 wayne s January 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm

To George Schmidt:
Yes Candy starred in Who’s Harry Crumb. But there is a scene where Candy gets onto a bus, and sits next to James Belushi; who is eating grapes and doesn’t say a word. I put it on here as a joke, but the more I think about it, it’s pretty damn funny.


17 George Schmidt January 28, 2010 at 7:21 am

to Wayne:
Nice; didn’t remember but now that you mention it yes I do
good one!


18 Aliceisn'tmyname March 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm


Jack Sparrow.
Willy Wonka.



19 George Schmidt March 16, 2010 at 11:35 am

RE: Alicesin’t myname:

Dude – very cool!


20 jalexbrown March 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm

The geek in me really wants to mention the Ninja Turtles from the original 1990 movie. There’s so much suspense building up to their first real appearance, and I find it amazing that – having seen the movie hundreds of times – the suspense building up to their on-screen debut still works for me every time I watch it. Of course I know that I’m in the small minority who could possibly consider putting Ninja Turtles on this list.


21 George Schmidt March 17, 2010 at 5:28 am

Never got into the TURTLES but never consider yourself a minority when it comes to the love of cinema!


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