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The Top Seven Classic Movie Moments You Didn't Know Were Improv

by mjrussel   January 11, 2010 at 4:30PM  |  Views: 44,546

Scriptwriting isn't easy. Some people spend months trying to perfect a specific scene, trying to write that perfect line that sticks in the mind of those who hear it. Then these guys come along and do it off the top of their heads.


Source: Orion Pictures

By Marc Russel


7. The Silence of the Lambs

The Moment:

How it played out:

Anthony Hopkins' performance as the insane doctor Hannibal Lecter is by far his most notorious. He got an Oscar for the part in spite of only having 24 minutes of screen time -- just because he's that creepy. The above clip shows probably his most famous line from the film. While this line was in fact in the script, his hissing after was not, and surprised everyone on set particularly Jodie Foster. That disturbed look on her face there? That wasn't acting - she was genuinely creeped out.


6. Taxi Driver

The Moment:

How it played out:

Every great movie has one line or moment that will forever be associated with that film. In Taxi Driver, that line is "You talkin' to me?" It actually became referenced in pop culture so often it was declared by the American Film Institute to be the tenth greatest movie quote of all time. It wasn't even in the script. De Niro was just supposed to spend a moment looking menacingly at his reflection in the mirror. Instead he spent a full minute threatening it out loud.


5. The Shining

The Moment:

How it played out:

Like the above Taxi Driver quote, this line will always be linked to its movie in the cultural unconscious. Like the above quote, it's on the AFI's best quotes list. And like the above quote, it was totally improvised. All Jack Nicholson was supposed to do was break the door down, but he figured that wasn't quite pants-crappingly insane enough, so he screamed the then-famous intro to The Tonight Show. It didn't even make sense in context, since his character's name was Jack Torrance. But holy hell was it effective.


4. Casablanca

The Moment:

How it Played Out:

There are two lines that will always be remembered from Casablanca. Neither are in the script. The first is the line "Play it again, Sam." This is a misquotation, but that didn't stop it from being used to reference the movie in everything from Broadway musicals to James Bond's Moonraker. The second, "Here's lookin' at you, kid" was actually an inside joke between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from something he said when he was teaching her how to play poker.


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