Throughout cinematic history, doors have played an essential part in framing legendary shots, telling stories through metaphors and symbolism, and they’ve even been used for comedic effect. No matter how they are being used, doorways have played a significant part in movie history. Take a look at some of the most iconic doorway scenes in movies.
If there’s anything everyone remembers in this terrifying 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror classic, it is what is referred to as the “Here’s Johnny” scene. It has been called the scariest scene in cinema history. In this iconic scene, a deranged, axe-wielding Jack Nicholson breaks through the bathroom door to get to his terrified wife. According to film legend, the famous line, “here’s Johnny” was improvised by Nicholson.
Doors are used symbolically in film for great effect. In the Francis Ford Coppola directed 1972 crime epic The Godfather, doors are used to separate men from women. In the film’s unforgettable final scene, Michael, played by Al Pacino, is shown through a doorway accepting his position as the Corleone family’s new boss. As his wife, played by Diane Keaton, looks through the doorway, one of Michael’s associates closes the door, literally and metaphorically shutting her out of Michael’s new mafioso life.
In one memorable scene from this 1986 David Lynch film, Kyle MacLachlan snoops around in the apartment of Isabella Rossellini. When she arrives home with Dennis Hopper, he dives into the closet, watching a horrific scene unfold through a closet door.
The Big Lebowski
One trope that many moviegoers will recognize is the old “using a chair to lock door” trick. Many movie characters have locked themselves in rooms by lodging chairs into doors, preventing intruders from properly opening. In the Cohen Brothers’ class, The Big Lebowski, the main character attempts to keep out potential intruders by lodging a chair against his apartment door. Since he fails to understand how this process works, the chair simply falls forward when the intruders open the door.