The 15 Most Paused-On Movie Scenes in Film History
Movie scenes can be startling or memorable for a variety of reasons; big reveals, sudden deaths, genitalia…”Wait, what? Pause and rewind that!” Sometimes things appear on screen that audiences can’t take their eyes off of, like an Easter egg, cameo, or editing blunder, resulting in them hitting the pause button to investigate. More often than not, these “blink and you’ll miss it” moments have something to do with sex…or Disney animation. Other times they’re just good old-fashioned foreshadowing. That said, here are some of the most paused-on movie scenes in film history.
Cover Photo: TriStar Pictures
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The Collector's Collection, 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
If the label “comic book nerd” could be appropriately applied to anyone, it would be illustrious writer/director James Gunn. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to pause-worthy Easter eggs, Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy arguably takes the cake. When the titular heroes visit the Collector’s museum, in his collection, you can see everything from Cosmo the Spacedog, Howard the Duck, and a Dark Elf to slugs from Slither, a Frost Giant, and the Aether (aka the Reality Stone).
Whiteboard, 'The Cabin in the Woods'
The Cabin in the Woods both dissects horror movie tropes and adheres to them. This is all thanks to an organization of scientists who serve up human sacrifices to a deity via backwoods torment. One of the film’s most intriguing scenes comes when the main scientists are seen plotting what situation/monsters they will inflict upon the young adults next. Behind the scientists is a whiteboard with the names of various ghouls, goblins, witches, sexy witches, etc.—everything you could ever want from a solid scary movie.
Jessica Rabbit's Commando Crash, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'
Perverts have swooned over Jessica Rabbit more than any other animated character in the history of cinema. As urban legend would have it: Mrs. Rabbit doesn’t wear any underwear. Fanatics point to one particular scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as proof. Later in the film, Jessica gets in a crash with Benny the cab. As she’s thrown from the vehicle, it would appear that her undercarriage is visible and uncovered. Many aforementioned creeps have paused this scene to no avail; it’s unlikely the animators animated what they hoped to see (sexy Disney legends aside).
The Excited Priest, 'The Little Mermaid'
If you haven’t heard by now, the good people over at Walt Disney are twisted, putting all sorts of sexual innuendos into their family-friendly movies (or at least that’s what people like to speculate). That said, the most paused scene in The Little Mermaid occurs near the end of the film when a disguised Ursula is about to marry Eric. As they approach the altar, there is a priest that appears a little too excited to see them. The animators have said that this wasn’t their intention and have since rectified the “bulge.” Regardless, it’s another tally on their litany of accusations.
Tyler Durden, 'Fight Club'
Fight Club has a lot going on; the film contains plenty of pause-worthy moments. The most-paused moments are the ones that include Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden. If you haven’t seen Fight Club, prepare to be spoiled: Edward Norton’s unnamed protagonist and Tyler Durden are the same person. Before Norton’s character ever “meets” Pitt’s on that plane, the latter can be seen flashing in frame six times. A clever bit of foreshadowing on the part of David Fincher.
Three's a Crowd, 'Total Recall'
Total Recall follows Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid who just can’t seem to stop dreaming about Mars. Via a bunch of sci-fi thriller-esque events, he ends up there, and in one of the film’s most iconic/quirky moments, a woman (prostitute) exposes three of her breasts to him. Yes, three. That’s more than enough reason to freeze the frame.
Dust in the Wind, 'The Lion King'
In the scene from The Lion King where Pumbaa, Timon, and Simba lie on a rock and gaze at the stairs, Simba sends dust into the air, appearing to spell out “SEX.” Given Disney’s apparent proclivity for subliminal messages, parents were outraged by this. Eventually, the movie’s animator stepped forward and said that while the dust indeed spelled out something, that something was “SFX”—a nod to the film’s special effects department. So, all is forgiven.
Suicidal Munchkin, 'The Wizard of Oz'
The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful story about a girl who learns there’s no place like home. Its fantasy world is filled with fantastical creatures (like talking scarecrows, tin men, and lions), catchy songs, and suicidal munchkins...An early scene in the film sees Dorothy and her friends skip down the Yellow Brick Road towards Emerald City. In the distance, a shadowy figure appears to be hanging from a tree, leading fans to speculate that a cast member tried to commit suicide on set. The truth: it’s just a very big bird. Urban legend debunked.
The Big Reveal, 'Boogie Nights'
Boogie Nights follows Mark Wahlberg’s Eddie Adam aka Dirk Diggler’s rise from teenage busboy to adult movie superstar largely thanks to his impressive manhood. At the end of the film, the protagonist stands in front of a mirror, reaches into his pants, and pulls out his most valuable asset. Wahlberg famously wore a prosthetic or the shot, but it hasn’t stopped audiences from pausing this scene.
Stormtrooper Hits His Head, 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope'
Stormtroopers are renowned for their ability to shoot and miss. Also, in their very first outing, Star Wars: A New Hope, they’re pretty bad at seeing what’s right in front of them. When Luke Skywalker and Han Solo attempt to save Leia aboard the Death Star, their ship is boarded by a group of Stormtroopers. If you look closely/pause you can see one of the troopers bang their head on a doorway. The goof has become so famous that George Lucas has since added a sound effect to make it more noticeable in newer versions of the film.
Full Frontal, 'The Graduate'
The Graduate follows Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock as he is seduced by a woman twice his age, Mrs. Robinson played by Anne Bancroft. One of the most-paused scenes in cinematic history comes when Mrs. Robinson locks Ben in a room and then strips naked. We are only granted a brief look at her body because the camera is much more concerned with the look on Ben’s face.
The Fly, 'Teen Wolf'
At the end of Teen Wolf’s climactic basketball game, there appears to be a guy in the crowd with his pecker out (which could just be a piece of cloth). Minutes before the credits roll, when we’re supposed to be celebrating Michael J. Fox’s buzzer-beater, someone in the background distracts us by hastily zipping up their fly.
Ghost Boy, 'Three Men and a Baby'
Ah yes, the ghost in Three Men and a Baby. For decades, fans have speculated that the above scene features a little ghost boy who committed suicide in the house where the film was shot; however, the '80s comedy was actually shot on a sound stage and the “ghost” is a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson that someone accidentally left on set.
Phoebe Cates, 'Fast Times At Ridgemont High'
If you grew up in the '80s (you probably didn’t) then you had a crush on Phoebe Cates. In Fast Time at Ridgemont High, Cates plays Linda Barrett who, at one point, goes for a dip in a pool with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Stacy Hamilton). Looking on from afar, Judge Reinhold’s Brad Hamilton imagines Barrett emerging from the swimming pool, wearing a red bikini, and then removing her top. The scene has undoubtedly been paused over and over again by generations of VHS proprietors.
Sharon Stone's Leg Cross, 'Basic Instinct'
The most-paused scene in the history of Hollywood has to go to Sharon Stone’s leg cross in Basic Instinct. Her portrayal of murderous Catherine Tramell made her the sex symbol of the '90s. The scene in which Tramell subtlety exposes her affinity for going commando while being interrogated by police officers has had guys switching out the batteries in their remotes for decades.
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