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The 25 Most Memorable Opening Scenes In Film

Written by on September 3, 2010 

10. Narc (watch)

Before Greengrass and Bourne’s hand-held fury, there was this. Joe Carnahan and Jason Patric, and one of the most visceral, violent and blue foot chases you’ll ever see. The rest of the film is tame compared to this (much like Lord of War in that way).

9. The Godfather Part 2 (watch)

The origin of a killer through the eyes of Francis Ford Coppola. Lush cinematography, wide lenses and universal storytelling in the vein of O. Henry guide young Vito to America, where a busied immigration clerk mistakes Vito’s home town, Corleone, for his last name.

8. Star Wars (watch)

When something’s mocked more than a thousand times, it’s memorable. And classic. And whatever other kind of complimentary adjective you can think of.

7. Touch of Evil (watch)

This mostly-forgotten crime gem (directed by one Orson Welles) stars Charlton Heston as a Mexican cop and offers a long, one-shot car bomb sequence across the Mexico/U.S. border that will have you scratching your head as to how exactly Welles and his crew pulled it off.

6. Night of the Living Dead (watch)

The introduction of modern horror deserves a spot (a high spot) on this list. And how about setting the beginning of Night of the Living Dead in a cemetery. Genius.

5. Mission: Impossible III

Some of Tom Cruise’s best acting comes in these first five minutes, in which Ethan Hunt, chained to a chair, attempts to convince an eerily calm Philip Seymour Hoffman not to kill his fiancee. Whoa.

4. Trainspotting

Choose life.

3. Once Upon A Time In The West (watch)

Essentially opening with the ending of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is just as good of an idea as it sounds like. As for introducing villains, The Dark Knight can’t hold a candle to Sergio Leone’s introduction of the vicious Henry Fonda in this one.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (watch)

Um, there’s a giant boulder, a fedora, Alfred Molina saying “Adios, señor” and Indy declaring to Jacques that he hates snakes. Goddamn you Spielberg, can you do an opening better? See below.

1. Jaws (watch)

Who was that girl in the beginning of this thing? And why isn’t she famous? Few have faux-been tugged into the sea better than she. By few I mean nobody.

Did your favorites make the list? What are your most memorable openings?

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