Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Best Introduction shot of a character


Recommended Posts



It's not even the dog days of summer yet and we have revived some threads that were better off being quiet.


So, in an attempt to bring us back around to movies, here's the topic:

Favorite introduction of a character in a film.


Here's the 'explanation:


Some films have wonderful introduction shots of a character and that introduction shot stays with us as if burned into our memory.


Here are some of mine:


John Wayne in Stagecoach

Clark Gable in GWTW

Bogie in Casablanca


(These and my other faves tend to involve dollying in on the character as a way of introduction).


What are some of yours?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Deanna Durbin's introduction in THREE SMART GIRLS with special billing as "Universal's New Discovery" and accompanying instrumental fanfare as a prelude to a wonderful close-up of her radiantly singing, "My Heart Is Singing." One of the few times I can recalll when a big fuss was made to introduce a new star where the introduction lived up to the hype.


I also liked Cary Grant's introduction in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY when he goes to strike a haughty Kate Hepburn for tossing out his pipes and golf clubs, realizes he can't hit her and instead pushes her in the face.


Audrey Hepburn, perched in a tree, staring forlornly at the glamorous party of her chauffeur father's employers in SABRINA. Even in her pre-glamorized state, she somehow made everyone else seem somewhat ordinary by comparison.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Garbo in Anna Karenina at the train station is the one!"


Really? I always thought the best Garbo introduction was in The Mysterious Lady. We're in an opulent theatre. The camera is in a private box looking at the plush, heavy velvet curtains when suddenly they're drawn open by Conrad Nagel. We see, by the expression on his face, that there's something or someone very unusual; something extraordinary before him in the box. Because the subject of his gaze is out of the frame, the audience is intrigued by the mystery. What does he see? The camera pulls back to reveal a hand... the left side of the frame caresses the form, trailing up the lovely forearm to fully reveal the beautiful creature -- Garbo. A nicely framed tableau with Garbo filling the lower left corner of the screen, while a stunned and voyeuristic Nagel stands behind her in the recesses of the box to inhabit the shadows of the upper right corner of the frame.


The tragedy of the train station in Anna Karenina is certainly a dramatic foreshadowing scene, but makes the introduction of Garbo almost secondary. It's primary focus is her future; the visage of Garbo is overshadowed by the misfortune behind her. No?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best seem to have been mentioned, but I'll toss these in:


Gary Cooper entering Connell's office in "Meet John Doe"

Paul Newman, snoring, face to the wall, in The Sting"

Marylin's "Jello on springs" take in "Some Like it Hot."


Re Wayne in Stagecoach. Garry Wills in his bio on Wayne pointed out the obvious and asked why Ford didn't retake that shot, since the camera jiggles and goes out of focus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi GM & Jack,


I have never seen "The Mysterious Lady", Jack, but that scene sounds great....


I too was going to pick Garbo's entrance through the smoke at Moscow. It serves to introduce Anna and Garbo also.

By the time she made "Anna Karenina", Garbo was a major star and needed a dramatic and different entrance and this was it. Every time I see this shot, I say out loud, "Now there was a star and a star entrance!" Great.....


Since you picked this scene, GM, I will pick Lana Turner's scene in "The Postman Always Rings Twice". Dropping her lipstick the camera follow it and then pans up, up, up Lana's legs and torso and then the closeup of her face. Great......




Message was edited by:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Lynn,


Great topic for a thred. Thanks.


I just thought of another Lana entrance -

"The Three Muskateers".


She is Milady De Winter and her carriage pulls up and from the darkened interior of her carriage Milady leans forward and there she is in glorious technicolour, her face framed by a big tilted hat and feather and looking very Lana!!!!!!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, Jack, it is true. And, those of us who have seen the movie more than once become instantly sad at that opening train station scene. She is only headed for tragedy.


Ok, I'll give it to you. That was a fabulous opening for Garbo. She had on a beautiful gown and we were, as was Nagel, almost voyeurs! She was so wrapped up in the opera that she doesn't even know he, or we, are there. Or, does she?

She's a cool cookie in that one.



Sorry, Larry I stole that Garbo shot before you got on, but that one of Lana is one of the most famous in film history! So, let's call it a draw! Jack really has a good one, but it is silent! Should we draw the line between, or leave it open?


Oh, that's another good one of Lana. Poisonally, I love Lana! But, apparently there are many on this forum who don't!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well GM,


If they don't love Lana, that's their problem. She was a great movie star and did have some good acting moments too.....


MGM wasn't stupid -- they billed her as "Luscious Lana" and she was. As you know, I loved her......



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great idea for a thread, lzcutter. It's interesting to me that memorable introductory shots may be in films that aren't necessarily great cinema, but simply good, entertaining movies.


The mention of the iconic first glimpse of John Wayne in Stagecoach reminded me that a similar shot filmed several years later features a somewhat more battered looking Wayne loping along carrying his saddle in Hondo. Probably intended as a sort of homage to the earlier movie. In a similar vein, the introduction of John Garfield in Four Daughters(1938), was the basis of the later Young at Heart with Sinatra in the Garfield role. The original film helped make a star of Garfield.


Here's a few more that seem memorable to me:


William Holden in the pool in Sunset Boulevard(1951)

Gary Cooper in the quarry in The Fountainhead(1948)

Alida Valli in gaol in The Paradine Case(1947)

Lynn Redgrave swinging her handbag in Georgy Girl

Robert Walker, or rather his shoes, in Strangers on a Train(1951)

Moira Shearer looking luminous in The Red Shoes(1948)

Julie Christie wrapped in a muffler on the Moscow streetcar in Dr. Zhivago(1965)

Jane Seymour in Somewhere in Time(1980)

John Travolta strutting along in Saturday Night Fever(1978)

Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man(1952)


If I may be permitted to stretch the definition of a character, the following "landscapes" are, in a sense, characters in the movie:

The long opening montage of the NYC skyline in Manhattan(1978)

The opening sequence showing the garbage being picked up in Venice in Trouble in Paradise(1932). By gondola, of course.

The Train in Murder on the Orient Express(1974)


And for non-visual character introduction there are:

Letter from an Unknown Woman(1948) in which we first meet the "unknown woman"(Joan Fontaine)in a missive sent to Louis Jourdan that begins "By the time you read this letter, I may be dead."


A Letter to Three Wives(1949) in which the spouses in question receive a letter just as they are about to board a boat for a daytrip from the town femme fatale, Addie Ross. She informs them that she is running away with one of their husbands. The narrative voice for Addie Ross, (who's never seen) belonged to Celeste Holm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Mae Murray's entrance into films -

In 1961, Paramount honoured many of its silent stars with film clips from their movies.

Mae Murray made her debut in "To Have and To Hold" in 1916.


The camera trolleys over to a sailing ship in a harbour and there are many people coming down a gangplank. Little Mae walks down and stops in the middle, she looks up at the sun and then takes off a Dutch cap and her hair all falls down her shoulders and back.

Then, the camera dolleys up and she turns to look into the camera with the sun backlighting her. She looks like an angel. Her face fills the whole screen as she spots Wallace Reid on the shore and she closes her eyes. As she opens her eyes, a tear falls down her left cheek.

Wallace comes up the gangplank and holds out his hand to her and she puts her hand in his.


Mae told George Hamilton and me that seeing her backlit like that started a trend with all the ladies. Even Lillian Gish demanded backlighting.....


Anyone who tells me that Mae Murray couldn't act, and I tell them about this scene all done with no dialogue.




Message was edited by:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes! Beautifully told! But, as usual no one has brought up the most beautiful star of them all! Must I always be the one to include her?


The first time we all saw her in Algiers we almost fainted!


Then, in Lady of the Tropics when she arrives at the restaurant with Joseph Schildkraut, holy schmoly!


In COME LIVE WITH ME, she appears in the doorway, with an immense close-up with a filtered lens! Just gorgeous!


She was the most fabulous Ziegfeld girl! And, that song, "You Stepped Out of a Dream!" always reminds me of that fabulous costume crowned with that beautiful face and hair surrounded by STARS descending the staircase!!


Then, of course, the entrance with the most famous line, "I am Tondelayo!"


Wow! They sure knew how to showcase her!


(Oh, and Lana looked gorgeous in Ziegfeld Girl, too)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's see if I can add anything new...


Grace Kelly in "Rear Window",

a bathing Clifton Webb in "Laura",

Rita Hayworth in "Gilda",

Anthony Quinn's self-reflection in the cigarette machine mirror

in "Requiem For A Heavyweight"


special recognition to Elizabeth Taylor's pool room "wow" (tho not an true introductory shot) in "A Place In The Sun".


Kyle In Hollywood

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Morning,


The best opening to a movie and best introduction to a star:


Bette Davis in "The Letter".......

This is my favourite Bette Davis movie and the one I think she gave the best performance in.


It has everything a good motion picture should have -- light and dark, silence and loudness and a little humour too!


The camera opens with the moon going behind a cloud and then pans through the Malay forest and a bird squawking. Up to the front door of the house and a gun shot. A man staggers out and drops to the porch. The birds are flying and natives, awakened, run to the foreground.

Bette Davis comes out and fires 5 or 6 more bullets into the corpse just as the moon reappears and spotlights her guilty face.

She tells a servant, "Go, find Mr. Crosby. Tell him there's been an accident!"......


Love her and love this opening......



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marlene Dietrich in Foreign Affair, which TCM just showed.


A dark nightclub, smoky air, music, and then Marlene eases into the gentle light, singing a song of decadence and remorse that perfectly conveys the atmosphere of postwar Berlin. The Billy Wilder special from the night before helped set this up. And Marlene's contrast to the more down-to-earth Jean Arthur added to the effectiveness of the scene.


Funny thing, the subject question occurred to me after I watched this scene. What a nice surprise to see it posted here! Also jumping to mind were Bogie in Casablanca, with the cigarette, and Marlon Brando in Godfather, reacting to the opening America speech.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...