6 Iconic Scenes Ripped Off From Lesser-Known Movies
Some movie scenes are more famous than the movies they come from -- did you know, for example, that there's a whole film of Dustin Hoffman crossing streets with a dude dressed like a cowboy? However, it turns out that the most iconic scenes in some classic films (or even in the entire careers of the guys who directed them) are totally lifted from other movies you probably haven't seen. Like ...
Pulp Fiction -- Sam Jackson's "Bible Quote" Is from a Sonny Chiba Film
Tarantino movie plots are usually like his soundtracks: an eclectic selection of scenes from older movies (usually from the '70s) and put in a different order. However, if there's one thing that's 100 percent original about his films, that's his dialogue -- that combination of profanity, Seinfeldesque observations and intricately worded threats of violence sort of makes all the cinematic thievery OK, because no one but Tarantino could write that shit. As Tarantino's biggest fan once put it, "There's a poetic quality to my dialogue."
"'Shit' rhymes with 'tits.' See? I'm a poemer."
And easily one of the most famous lines of dialogue in a Tarantino movie ever is the scene at the beginning of Pulp Fiction where Sam Jackson delivers a menacing recitation of a made-up Bible passage (a combination of the real Ezekiel 25:17 and Psalm 23) right before killing a guy who in all likelihood would have died anyway a few seconds later out of sheer terror.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Yes, I am going to recite all this."
Who Did It First:
As Tarantino himself admits in the very same interview where he says his dialogue is like poetry, the whole monologue is lifted almost word-for-word from the intro for a 1976 Sonny Chiba movie, The Bodyguard. Check it out:
Holy shit, it's the exact same speech Sam Jackson said, except they replaced "the Lord" with Sonny Chiba's name in the movie (fair enough). Although it's conveyed through a Star Wars-like text crawl instead of a Jacksonian shout, the menacing inflection of the guy reading the text is pretty much the same.
Whoever wrote that tagline poets the balls out of Tarantino.
This intro is only present in the English version of the film, which is the one Tarantino saw. Presumably he also saw the '80s TV series Shadow Warriors, where Sonny Chiba's character has a habit of lecturing his enemies about good and evil before killing them, just like Sam Jackson's hit man character in Pulp Fiction.
So the question is: Why didn't Tarantino just cast Sonny Chiba? He actually did ... in Kill Bill, as sword-maker Hattori Hanzo.
Who had grown up and decided sushi was much cooler than killing people.
Star Wars: A New Hope -- The Final Scene Is from a Nazi Propaganda Film
As far as gleefully triumphant movie endings go, you're not going to do a lot better than the last scene from the first Star Wars. Not only do they get a medal, but Luke and Han also get a steamy look from a hot girl who totally isn't the long-lost sister of one of them.
What good is the Force if it doesn't warn you about these things?
In fact, this is the only Star Wars film that gets a perfectly happy ending (Leia's whole world was blown up at one point, but she seems pretty OK with it by now). It's such an epic and emotional moment that a lot of people use the same song in their weddings. They might not be so eager to do that if they knew the next part, though ...
Who Did It First:
Hitler. Hitler did this one first.
A terrifying glimpse into the future of the Rebel Alliance.
Those are stills from the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, which, like The Birth of a Nation, is considered to be an important milestone of cinema, despite being pretty racist (it includes some of Hitler's speeches). But hey, at least D.W. Griffith didn't kill 6 million people. Now, we're not saying that Darth Vader is supposed to be Hitler or something like that -- we're pretty sure that's Luke.
Han is a thinner, less morphine-addled Goering, Threepio is Goebbels and R2 is (obviously) Himmler.
Look at the pillars, the position of the soldiers, the podium at the end -- the Star Wars scene is at least inspired by (if not directly lifted from) a film personally commissioned and executive produced by Adolf Hitler. We need to sit down for a moment.
This might also explain why they gave everyone a medal except the brown character.
E.T. -- The Flying Scene Is from an Old Italian Film
The flying scene at the end of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is probably the most iconic Spielberg has ever directed -- hell, he even put it on the logo of his company.
Personally, we would've gone with Quint being swallowed by Jaws.
In the scene, Elliott and his friends hop onto their bicycles to help E.T. escape from government agents armed with guns/walkie-talkies, but soon they find themselves cornered. E.T. then uses his alien magic to raise the kids into the sky, bikes and all, and we see them flying off into the sunset as the classic John Williams theme plays.
Afterward, the group lands in the woods, where they say goodbye to E.T. forever, provided the terrifying planned sequel doesn't happen.
OK, let's all take a moment to collect ourselves before moving on.
Who Did It First:
A 1951 Italian movie by Vittorio De Sica, Miracle in Milan, ends with a pretty similar moment: The characters find themselves cornered by the authorities, and then one of them uses magic to lift everyone off and escape (in this case, with broomsticks). Compare:
The only difference is that E.T. has fewer people holding their boners.
No, we didn't just pick out some random other movie where people happened to be flying -- Miracle in Milan is one of Spielberg's favorite films. The movie is about a guy who is given a magic dove by a ghost and uses it to grant the wishes of his friends at the shantytown he lives in. The dove is taken away by angels, and then oil is found in the shantytown, causing the protagonist and his friends to be kicked out by greedy capitalists. But other than all of that, it's exactly like E.T.
Another difference is that in Miracle the flying characters never touch down to offer heartfelt goodbyes to their magic friend -- they just keep flying off into the sky, like E.T. himself, except without the protection of an alien spaceship.
These people all froze to death, is our point.
But when it comes to the specific moment of flying off into the sky, the only major difference is bicycles -- and coincidentally, De Sica's previous and best known film was all about bicycles.
Apocalypse Now -- The Ride of the Valkyries Entrance Is from The Birth of a Nation (1915)
If you asked us to pick the most iconic scene from Apocalypse Now, we'd ... have a hell of a time, because there's like 900 of them. Seriously, that's a long-ass movie. Still, probably the first iconic scene is the Ride of the Valkyries bit near the beginning, where Charlie Sheen's dad and the lawyer from The Godfather charge into a Vietnamese village while blasting German opera from their helicopters.
If you're not sure what song we're talking about, just picture U.S. helicopters bombing the shit out of a village and it will automatically start playing in your head (even if you've never seen the movie). You know the one: da-da-ra-DA-da, da-da-ra-DA-da ...
Before being used in Apocalypse Now, Ride of the Valkyries wasn't yet known as a dramatic military number ... because it hadn't yet been used in Apocalypse Now. For most people, the tune was most commonly associated with killing wabbits.
And confused eroticism.
Unless, of course, you were a German opera buff. Or a racist ...
Who Did It First:
D.W. Griffith's 1915 film The Birth of a Nation used the same song in a similar scene, with one small difference: Instead of the U.S. Army flying into a village, it was the Ku Klux Klan galloping to the rescue.
You know, the old "The KKK swoops in and saves everyone in the third act" cliche.
The Birth of a Nation takes place during a version of the Civil War where North and South end up joining forces against the real enemy: black people. At the end of the movie, the heroic Ku Klux Klan rides into South Carolina, which has been taken over by ... a bunch of white dudes in blackface, apparently.
All the bad guys are blackface actors, so in a way, this is the most anti-racist movie ever.
Despite Birth's blatant glorification of the KKK and depiction of black Americans as wild animals, this movie still ... nope, we're not finishing that sentence. On one hand, it pioneered concepts like actually moving the cameras and using rapid cuts, and you're probably still seeing its influence in movies today. On the other hand, everything else about it.
Still, considering that Apocalypse Now isn't exactly pro-Vietnam War, it's likely that Francis Ford Coppola intentionally wanted to draw a subtle parallel between the Klan painting themselves as heroes in the Reconstruction-era South and the U.S. forces doing the same thing during 'Nam.
The surfing scene is clearly a reference to ... carpetbagging?
The Untouchables -- The Stairway Scene Is from Battleship Potemkin (1925)
It's one of the tensest moments in cop movie history: Kevin Costner and his team of badass Untouchables are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Al Capone's bookie at a train station when Costner kindly helps a woman take her baby carriage up the stairs. As soon as the bad guys show up, though, Costner instantly forgets about the baby and pushes the carriage down the stairs as he begins shooting people all around it and the mother.
Serve and protect, but only when there's nothing to shoot.
After what seems like an eternity, Costner realizes some asshole pushed a freaking baby down the stairs, stands there doing nothing for a while and finally rushes down to save it ... while still shooting everyone around him, of course.
"I know I'm a gangster, Kevin Costner, but can we take a time-out and get that baby out of -- ARRGH!"
Who Did It First:
The scene is nearly identical to a sequence from the silent Russian film Battleship Potemkin, the longest 70 minutes of communist propaganda every first year film school student will ever be forced to watch.
This might be the origin of the idea that communists hate babies.
In both movies, the carriage is surrounded by bullets: Battleship Potemkin shows the ruthless tsarist army brutally massacring innocent people in pre-Soviet Revolution Russia. So the main difference, in terms of this scene, is that in Battleship Potemkin the baby actually gets stabbed to death by a soldier.
It's all Kevin Costner's fault in that movie, too.
Apparently, this "Odessa Steps" sequence gets "homaged" a lot, including in Terry Gilliam's Brazil:
The Naked Gun 33 1/3:
The most fantastic part here is that O.J. Simpson saves the babies.
And even Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith:
Yes, George Lucas appears for the second time on this list for borrowing imagery from an old-timey film. Also, Lucas totally based the pod race in The Phantom Menace on a chariot race from an old movie where actual horses were killed.
The Shining -- Jack Hacking Down the Door Is from a Silent Horror Film
No single moment in The Shining captures the themes of this movie more perfectly than the scene where Jack Nicholson hacks down the door to murder his family (except, perhaps, the one with the guy in the rabbit costume getting a blow job). Jack's axe represents all the repressed rage we've seen him build up through the movie, and Shelley Duvall being trapped in a room with an axe-wielding maniac shouting at her is a perfect metaphor for working with Stanley Kubrick.
Actually, we're not even sure it's a metaphor.
In fact, this is such an iconic scene that it is now nearly impossible to see a man's face peeking from a hole in the door he just hacked open without hearing the words "Heeeere's Johnny" every time.
Who Did It First:
The Shining lifts almost every ingredient of this scene from a 1921 Swedish film called The Phantom Carriage. Even the setup is the same: Both protagonists are alcoholic fathers under the influence of supernatural forces whose wives lock themselves away to protect their respective children. However, there's more than one way to open a door.
That door is goddamn staying open.
In The Phantom Carriage, the couple actually has two little girls ... one of whom coincidentally appears to be sporting the exact same hairstyle as the kid in The Shining.
Finally, we know the back story of those creepy twins.
And before you say anything: Nope, this exact same scene isn't in the Stephen King novel. In the book, Jack's weapon of choice is a croquet mallet, because apparently he couldn't find a tennis racket. To our knowledge, Kubrick never admitted knowing about this film, but considering that he was trying to figure out how a man would act when driven crazy by isolation and snow, we wouldn't be surprised if he decided to look to Sweden for inspiration.
You can read more about movies (probably -- he talks about a lot of stuff) on J.F. Sargent's tumblr and Twitter.
For more famous things you didn't know were stolen, check out 6 Famous Characters You Didn't Know Were Shameless Rip-Offs and The 5 Most Famous Musicians Who Are Thieving Bastards.
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