What are the best opening movie scenes ever?

As I was writing our Sylvester Stallone role call gallery, I stumbled onto the opening scene of Cliffhanger (below). Fifteen years after the film’s release, it still had me on the edge of my seat. Is it one of the best opening movie scenes ever? Which other films would you put on the list? The line for Scream starts behind me.

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  • Nathan

    Trainspotting has a great opening scene.
    Hairspray is another with Good Morning Baltimore.

  • Gregg

    “Raiders of the Lost Ark” owns this category.
    Also, the sequence in “Rushmore” showing all the clubs/activities Max is in.
    “Reservoir Dogs” with the roundtable discussion at the diner.

  • joefaraggo

    2004’s Dawn of the Dead. Those first 15 minutes are intense!

  • Chuck

    “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But uh, until that day – accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

  • Phil

    The opening of SCREAM was great, and they kept the same feel for both sequels. As far as gruesome goes, does anyone remember the opening of GHOST SHIP?

  • Eric Friedmann

    My absolute favorite opening film scene is from APOCOLYPSE NOW! Picture it – Fade in: the quiet stillness of the Cambodian jungle trees as the music of The Door’s “The End” starts to creep in. Within seconds, the whole scene goes to Hell in a fireball of napalm as Jim Morrison’s voice gets louder and the flying helicopters invade the scene. Slowly, it desolves to an overhead shot of Martin Sheen lying on his bed, alone in his room, and smoking…”Saigon. Sh*t. I’m still only in Saigon.”

  • funkymono

    I didn’t know anything about “Scream” when I bought a ticket to see it at the theater back in ’96, but after that first scene I knew I was in for a fun and frightening time. And Nathan brings up a good one with 2007’s “Hairspray.” “Good Morning Baltimore” is fantastic, and the way it segues into “Nicest Kids in Town” is brilliant.

  • Mike

    Adventures in Babysitting

  • Jen

    “Easy Rider”- I have no desire to ride a motorcycle, wasn’t born until 18 years after it was made, and didn’t even like the rest of it aside from the scenes with Jack Nicholson, but that opening sequence of two guys barreling down the highway to “Born to Be Wild” is just cool.

  • DalGal

    Hey Phil, I loved the opening scene in Ghost Ship! Very cool and the movie is a guilty pleasure. Loved it!
    Also have to agree that the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark will have to rate very high on my list along with the diner scene in Reservior Dogs.
    But I also think that Saving Private Ryan may have them all beat. I was worn out after the first 30 minutes!

  • stephen

    “Jaws.” ‘Nuff said.

  • funkymono

    DalGal: Right on with “Saving Private Ryan.” Phenomenal.

  • Stephanie T.

    The Breakfast Club- The teens show up with their parents, and if you know your John Hughes films, Anthony Michael Hall is dropped off by his real life mother.
    Risky Business- Shows up naked to his SAT exam but it’s just a dream
    Pretty Woman-Richard Gere gets into an arguement over the phone with his soon to be ex-girlfriend.

  • Shawn

    Dazed & Confused, Sweet Emotion no contest. Psychs me up every time I see it.

  • Auriana

    I’d say either Raiders or Last Crusade.

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