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by Jason Frank Koenigsberg

We have all seen movies and know that some of the images we see on screen get embedded into our consciousness. Some images and moments from movies go beyond that and get branded in our public consciousness and become synonymous with not only their movie, actor, or director, but with motion pictures themselves. These are the images that transcend the art form and have been duplicated and assimilated into being iconic images people of all ages are familiar with. A few simple rules I established for this list were to allow only one image per movie. Otherwise this could be filled with moments from The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane. I also tried to limit multiple images from a movie franchise. I did my very best to restrict the selections to a single shot or frame, although there are a few moments on here that require an edit. I allowed those simply because the edit is almost more famous than any single image alone. By no means is this a list of my favorite movies. In fact some of these images come from movies that I downright loathe, but they are nonetheless important and influential moments in cinema. A few that just missed the cut that I still felt were worthy of mentioning are the reveal of the robot in Metropolis (1927), the crane kick from The Karate Kid (1984), the blue sky with the white picket fence and red roses from Blue Velvet (1986), The Klan riding in at the end of The Birth of a Nation (1915), and “Gooble Gobble, one of us” from Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932). So now without any further ado, here are the Top 100 most iconic images from motion picture history. 

 

100. The Deer Hunter (1978) Russian Roulette
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“Didi Mau!”
99. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Driving away

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98. The Bodyguard (1992) Carrying Rachel Marron off the stage

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97. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) Bluto in a toga

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96. The French Connection (1971) Popeye Doyle waves goodbye

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95. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) The bridge blows up
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Alec Guinness falls on the lever which leads to this moment.
94. Ben-Hur (1959) The chariot race

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93. Wayne’s World (1992) Head banging to Bohemian Rhapsody

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92. Frankenstein (1931) First full shot of the Frankenstein monster
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91. Dracula (1931) Meeting the Count

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90. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Freddy’s hand in the bathtub
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Lots of scenes to choose, even without seeing Freddy’s face this moment captures the terror.
89. The Lion King (1994) Holding up baby Simba

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88. Gladiator (2000) Are you not entertained?

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87. Ghostbusters (1984) Aim the guns from their proton packs at Gozer 

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86. Rear Window (1954) Jimmy Stewart with the long lens camera

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85. The Third Man (1949) Harry Lime makes his first appearance
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The so called ‘Third Man’ everyone was talking about.
84. Fight Club (1999) Tyler Durden takes off his shirt

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83. Fargo (1996) Sheriff Marge Gunderson raises her gun

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82. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Lightsaber fight between Luke and Vader

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81. Crocodile Dundee (1986) This is a Knife

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80. Fantasia (1940) Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice
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Mickey Mouse’s biggest moment in an animated classic.
79. Spider-Man (2002) Upside down kiss with Mary Jane

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78. The Godfather Part II (1974) Michael gives Fredo the kiss of death

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77. Dirty Harry (1971) “Do ya feel lucky punk?”

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76. Pulp Fiction (1994) Vincent and Jules point their guns

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75. Taxi Driver (1976) “You talkin’ to me?”
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De Niro’s most quoted moment.
74. Scream (1996) Drew Barrymore screams on the phone

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73. When Harry Met Sally (1989) Fake orgasm in the deli

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72. Braveheart (1995) William Wallace raises his sword

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71. The Dark Knight (2008) Batman and Joker in the interrogation room

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70. Alien (1979) Xenomorph opens its mouth
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The first glimpse at one of cinemas scariest monsters.
69. Forrest Gump (1994) Forrest Gump on the bench

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68. Platoon (1986) Sgt. Elias crucifixion pose

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67. A Clockwork Orange (1971) Opening shot

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66. The Breakfast Club (1985) First pump in the air

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65. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) Axel Foley gives the OK with a big smile
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Eddie Murphy’s persona captured in a single frame.
64. Top Gun (1986) Maverick gives a thumbs up

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63. Schindler’s List (1993) Girl in the red coat wanders around

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62. Basic Instinct (1992) Interrogation scene

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61. Thelma and Louise (1991) Car drives off the cliff

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60. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) End reunion scene where George holds his daughter
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“Every time a bell rings, and angel gets its wings”
59. The Ten Commandments (1956) Moses parts the Red Sea

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58. Casablanca (1942) Rick and Ilsa farewell at the airport

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57. Chariots of Fire (1981) Running on the beach

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56. Superman (1978) Superman flying over Earth

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55.From Here to Eternity (1953) Passionate kiss on the beach

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54. It Happened One Night (1934) Hitchhiking competition

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53. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) Phantoms mask is removed for the first time
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Now that is a face you will never forget.
52. Nosferatu (1922) Vampire shadow ascends the stairs

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51. The Seventh Seal (1957) Chess match with Death

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50. Saturday Night Fever (1977) Tony Manero disco dancing
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This moment captures the disco era.
49. Reservoir Dogs (1992) Criminals walking in opening credits

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48. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Leatherface waves the chainsaw over his head

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47. Halloween (1978) Michael Myers appears in the dark

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46. Die Hard (1988) Come out to the coast, we’ll have a few laughs

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45. Shane (1953) Shane rides away with his head down
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Shane! Come back Shane!
44. Independence Day (1996) Alien ship blows up the White House

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43. Home Alone (1990) Aaaaaaahhhh!

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42. The Matrix (1999) Neo dodges bullets

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41. Jurassic Park (1993) T-Rex at the end

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40. Big (1988) Dancing on the big piano keyboard
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Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia etched into immortality
39. All The President’s Men (1976) Overhead shot at the Library of Congress

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38. Say Anything (1989) Lloyd Dobler boombox over his head

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37. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Red bikini fantasy

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36. Rocky (1976) Training montage ends atop the steps

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35. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) Blondie chomps on his cigar
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Eastwood’s most memorable onscreen image.
34. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Hannibal Lecter in the muzzle

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33. Blade Runner (1982) Opening shot of Los Angeles 2019

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32. The Graduate (1967) Mrs. Robinson you’re trying to seduce me

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31. Back to the Future (1985) DeLorean goes back in time, tires leave flames on the road
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Great Scott!
30. Manhattan (1979) Date under the Brooklyn Bridge

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29. The Shining (1980) Here’s Johnny

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28. Apocalypse Now (1979) Willard emerges from the water

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27. Dr. No (1962) First gun barrel sequence

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26. North by Northwest (1959) Cropdusting plane attacks

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25. Jaws (1975) Moment right before “I think you’re gonna need a bigger boat”
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This moment will never get old.
24. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Stella!

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23. Star Wars (1977) Darth Vader’s first appearance

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22. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Riding the bomb

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21. Sunset Boulevard (1950) “Mr. Demille I’m Ready for my close up”

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20. Planet of the Apes (1968) Statue of Liberty reveal
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One of the most iconic endings with one of the greatest final shots of all time.
19. The Seven Year Itch (1955) Marilyn Monroe stands over the vent

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18. Citizen Kane (1941) “Rosebud” and the shattered snow globe

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17. Duck Soup (1933) Groucho in the mirror

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16. Modern Times (1936) Little Tramp in the gears of the machine

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15. Titanic (1997) Jack and Rose on the edge of the ship
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Still the most memorable moment from both of their careers.
14. The Wizard of Oz (1939) Off to see the Wizard… approaching Emerald City

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13. King Kong (1933) Kong on top of the Empire State Building

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12. Gone with the Wind (1939) Aftermath of the battle

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11. The Gold Rush (1925) Roll dance

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10. Psycho (1960) The Shower Scene
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A moment that requires an edit made one of the scariest scenes of all time.
9. The Sound of Music (1965) The Hills are Alive…
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… With the Sound of Music…
8. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Blowing out the match cut to the desert
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One of the most famous edits from any movie.
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Cut from the bone to the spacecraft
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The most famous edit in film history that spans 4 million years.
6. Patton (1970) Speaking to the troops in front of the American flag
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One of the greatest opening shots of all time.
5. The Exorcist (1973) Father Merrin arrives
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The one hope, the only hope… The Exorcist
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Big ball rolling towards Indiana Jones
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The most indelible moment from any action movie.
3. The Godfather (1972) Bonasera whispers in Don Corleone’s ear
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The most memorable image from this movie and Brando’s entire career.
2. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Singing in the Rain
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What a glorious feeling…
1. E.T.-The Extraterrestrial (1982) bicycle over the moon silhouette
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The most recognizable still image from any motion picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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