10 famous movie meals
Dinner for Schmucks opened this week to decent reviews and big box office, and while it may not quite have the make of a classic, it did get us thinking about other movies meals--namely, the most famous film scenes in which food played a role. Here are 10 memorable food scenes from major films that have managed to enter the realm of pop culture. (If your favorite food scene is missing from the list, there's a good chance it's on next week's: The 10 sexiest film scenes for foodies.)
1. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY It may be the best-known food scene of the modern era, although Meg Ryan's orgasm over lunch with Billy Crystal doesn't have much to do with her sandwich. The scene does prove an important point, though: Yes, women fake it. And it reminds us of a second, equally important truism: Sometimes, food is better than sex.
2. THE GODFATHER A young Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) takes his first step toward Godfatherhood at Louis' Italian-American Restaurant in the Bronx, where he meets with the man behind his father's assassination attempt, Virgil Sollozzo. The scene begins with Sollozzo's muscle, corrupt police captain Mark McCluskey, inelegantly asking how the Italian food is at Louis'. "Good," Sollozzo replies. "Try the veal. It's the best in the city." He does, and then hardly bothers to stop chewing as Corleone and Sollozzo discuss the prospect of truce between New York's mobsters. Even after Corleone rubs off Sollozzo, McCluskey still has a forkful of the calf meat at face level, that one last bite of the best veal in New York City--the bite that Corleone didn't let him finish. After being shot, McCluskey drops the veal to plug a bullet hole in his throat, which leaves us wondering: five-second rule?
3. THE GOLD RUSH In less than three minutes, Charlie Chaplin crams a dozen inspired bits into his famous scene of a starving prospector forced to eat his shoe: ladling the broth onto the boot, sucking the hobnails like bones, and so many more.
4. COOL HAND LUKE "Nobody can eat 50 eggs," George Kennedy tells fellow prisoner Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. But the young and impossibly handsome Newman is a rebel, and he sets out to prove he can, in an epic battle of man vs. food.
5. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN Young Frankenstein came in No. 13 on the American Film Institute's list of greatest American comedies. But in a film of funny episodes, the scene in which the monster (Peter Boyle) shows up at the hut of a poor blind man (an almost unrecognizable Gene Hackman) may be, from beginning to end, the most sustained laugh in the movie.
6. ANNIE HALL Two neurotic people (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) try to cook lobster, but the lobsters seem to get the upper hand.
7. FIVE EASY PIECES Before Jack Nicholson ossified into the leering, sneering cliché on the sidelines of Lakers games, he played a restless character doing battle with a convention-bound waitress who wouldn't serve him toast. Never again would the struggle for individual freedom align so closely with the struggle to be rude and creepy to your waitress.
8. THE PUBLIC ENEMY When his dame gives him a hard time about his drinking and womanizing, James Cagney shoves a grapefruit in her kisser, in a scene that may be creepier today than it was in 1931, now that we have a name for it: domestic violence.
9. BLAZING SADDLES No sacred cowboy myth was safe from Mel Brooks's satirical swords in 1974's Blazing Saddles. That includes the obligatory chuck wagon scene from every Western ever made. And so we have a posse of grubby, stone-faced men sitting around a campfire, chowing down on beans. Inevitably, there's a burp. Then a fart. And then another fart. Then a fusillade, and finally a windstorm. What a gas.
10. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM Today's kids--those who grew up watching the cast of Survivor scarf wriggling larvae and such--aren't much phased by the idea of munching on maggots or crunching on crickets. But back in 1984, when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom made its debut, the grossest meals most children had ever encountered were mom's Brussels sprouts and split pea soup. The sight of our hero Indy having to face a disgusting meal of snakes, beetles, and eyeballs was a horror worse than grounding. And by the time the adventurers got to the monkey brain course, most of us were ready to follow the lead of Jones's love interest, Willie, who passed out cold. (The video clip is in French, but in this case it hardly matters.)
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