Greatest Movie
Entrances of All-Time


The Greatest Movie Entrances of All-Time
Movie Title/Year and Film Character with Scene Description

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

J. J. Hunsecker

In this drama tautly directed by Alex MacKendrick, beetle-browed, thick-spectacled, pallor-faced, power-mongering columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), a Walter Winchell-styled writer, was first viewed at the famed "21" restaurant in New York City. He was about to have dinner with politician-Senator Harvey Walker (William Forrest), the Senator's call-girl Miss Linda James (Autumn Russell), and her alleged agent-manager Manny Davis (Jay Adler).

Hunsecker sat at a table revealing a steely, menacing and hulking presence with a skull-like, masked look to his crew-cut face (due to his deepened eye sockets caused by shadows from his magnified lenses). In front of him were a telephone, sheets of paper, and pen - for note-taking and collecting items for his column.

He was interrupted by the arrival of sycophantic press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), who approached behind him. Hunsecker had hired Falco to besmirch the reputation of jazz guitarist Steve Dallas (Martin Milner), who was romancing Hunsecker's pretty sister Susan (Susan Harrison). Crew-cutted Hunsecker half-turned, noticed his lackey Falco, and then backhandedly insulted the currying press agent with a comment to the Senator seated with him:

Harvey, I often wish I were deaf and wore a hearing aid. With a simple flick of the switch, I could shut out the greedy murmur of little men.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Christine Vole

In the opening of director Billy Wilder's twisting and turning mystery-drama (an intelligent adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1952 stage play, a courtroom thriller based on one of her short stories), redoubtable barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton in a Best Actor nominated role) was returning home from the hospital after a two month stay for treatment of a heart attack. The irrepressible aging lawyer was accompanied by his fussy, overprotective and doting nurse Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester, Laughton's real-life wife) in the back seat of a chauffeured car.

In the plot set in 1952's Britain, the cynical Sir Wilfred would soon become involved in a criminal case - something not recommended by his doctors who wanted him to only take "bland civil suits." He was to behave by resting, ending his smoking of cigars and drinking of brandy, and regularly take his medication. The defendant in a pending case was unemployed American war veteran Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power), a seemingly-guileless and struggling inventor, who was charged with murdering wealthy middle-aged widow Emily French (Norma Varden) - there was only circumstantial evidence implicating him in the crime.

Christine Vole (Marlene Dietrich), Leonard's enigmatic wife whom he had married after World War II, an East German former cabaret-beer-hall performer in Hamburg, made a dramatic entrance into Sir Wilfred's front door just after the lawyer had learned the facts of the case and Leonard was arrested and charged. She had overheard Sir Wilfred predicting her emotional reaction:

About Mrs Vole. Handle her gently, especially when you break the news of the arrest. Bear in mind she's a foreigner, so be prepared for hysterics, even a fainting spell. Better have smelling salts ready, box of tissues and a nip of brandy.

She countered his words when she introduced herself: "I do not think that will be necessary. I never faint because I'm not sure I will fall gracefully, and I never use smelling salts because they puff up the eyes." She assured him that she would be "disciplined" - and he was amazed by her "fortitude." She was insistent that Sir Wilfred "personally defend" Leonard as "the champion of the hopeless cause," even though his health was questionable. She would ultimately provide Leonard with his sole alibi - that she was home with him when Mrs. French was murdered.

Touch of Evil (1958)

Hank Quinlan

In actor/director Orson Welles' classic crime noir, corrupt Texas border-cop Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) was a fanatical, redneck, unshaven, obscene monstrous character with no redeeming value. The thriller opened with the car bombing of Rudi Linnekar, an American building contractor.

The District Attorney Adair (Ray Collins) made the first few remarks about Captain Quinlan, the local cop who had not yet arrived for the investigation at the deadly crime scene: "Old Hank must be the only one in the county who didn't hear the explosion." Adair also called Quinlan "our local police celebrity."

Quinlan was obese and whale-like at almost 300 lbs -- first viewed below eye level as he struggled to pull himself out of the back seat of a car that had pulled up. He was there to conduct the investigation of the car bombing in his jurisdiction.

Appearing with a vast paunch and slovenly dressed in a massive gray raincoat and wide-brimmed hat, he was chomping on a cigar as he began to speak.

Vertigo (1958)

Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton

The revelation scene of Madeleine (Kim Novak) in Ernie's restaurant in San Francisco was integral to the twisting plot -- Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) was joined at a table with the lovely, elegant, and beautiful blonde Madeleine wearing a dark, nakedly-backless evening dress with green trim. While the camera moved toward their table, Madeleine's back was kept toward the camera.

As she left the restaurant, Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), half in profile, had his nervous, "ghostly" first encounter with the woman.

His first view of the beautiful female was incredibly transcendental. She was half-seen in a close-up profile as she deliberately paused behind him, to display herself to him, and awaited Elster, with the radiant light reflecting off her hair.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Sugar Kane Kowalczyk

Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopaters, an all-girl jazz band, was traveling to Miami, Florida by train. Dressed in drag and joining the band were two hapless musicians Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon) and Joe/Josephine (Tony Curtis), to escape execution by mobsters after witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

As they walked down the train platform, they noticed the band's ukelele-playing, voluptuous singer, hip-swinging 24 year-old blonde Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) behind them. As she passed them in her high heels, they scrutinized her figure.

Sugar's introductory appearance objectified her sexuality as the camera focused on her legs and swiveling rear - also filmed from behind when she passed. She jumped aside and picked up her pace when the train squirted her rear end with hot steam.

Jerry marveled at Sugar's wiggly walk in a memorable line:

Look at that! Look how she moves. That's just like Jell-O on springs. She must have some sort of built-in motors. I tell ya, it's a whole different sex!

Greatest Movie Entrances of All-Time
(chronological, by film title)
Introduction | 1920s-1935 | 1936-1939 | 1940-1945 | 1946-1949 | 1950-1955 | 1956-1959 | 1960-1965 | 1966-1969
1970-1975 | 1976-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1989 | 1990-1995 | 1996-1999 | 2000-2005 | 2006-Present

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