The Top 10 Iconic Movie Inanimate Objects

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When we think of movie characters they are larger than life in human form. However, there is a tendency to connect a particular film or film’s mortal personality with something that registers beyond the piece of entertainment or the walking and talking characterizations. The realization is that some movie-related inanimate objects equal or surpass the human element in cinema while adding elements of mystery, curiosity, symbolism and imagination.

In The Top 10 Iconic Movie Objects let us take a look at some of the non-breathing items that made an impact in their perspective films and see what meaning these images brought to the table. Perhaps you have in mind your own treasured inanimate objects that come to mind that transcends your viewing pleasure during the screening of your favorite flicks?

The Top 10 Iconic Movie Inanimate Objects are as follows (NOTE: the selections are not presented in any order of chosen preference):

1.) The air-bound bone from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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Producer-director-writer Stanley Kubrick’s masterful science fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey has a profound impact in its philosophical evolution involving the advancement of mankind and its progression into the advanced technological age of complexity. Visually arresting and imaginative in scope and imagery Odyssey was ambitious in its message of  timing and the fundamental human development of an ever changing world.

With all the opulent special effects, captivating set designs and overall meditation of futuristic escapism that movie audiences in the late 1960’s were exposed to in Kubrick’s space spectacle nothing can compare to the lyrical testimony of the flying bone being tossed by an ape in slow motion representing humankind’s primitive beginnings as the air-bound bone morphs into the symbol of man’s technological maturity–the space shuttle signifying the incredible journeys of man’s willingness to explore the outer reaches of his seemingly limited existence.

 

2.) The tanker truck from Duel (1971)

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The Steven Spielberg-directed psychological thriller featuring a truckload of turmoil gives a whole new meaning to road rage. And at the center of the chilly chase suspense piece was a mysterious, massive tanker truck being driven by an unseen operator looking to make roadkill out of traveling LA-based electronics salesman David Mann (Dennis Weaver).

Duel with its demonic “terror on wheels” made the phrase “keep on trucking” such a dangerous and intense sentiment. Trucks by nature feel intrusive and intimidating as they dominate the commuting experience on the roadways. Spielberg’s vicious vehicle just upped the ante in the badass sweepstakes of tension-filled truckers everywhere.

3.) The mask from Halloween (1978)

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The face worth fearing was hidden behind the famous mask of one menacing Michael Myers, the butchering antagonist from the horror flick Halloween that dared movie audiences the yell “trick or treat” at the escaping mental patient. Of course the Michael Myers mask became legendary beyond the fictional big screen as real Halloween costumes echoed the style and cinematic clout of the celebrated movie’s macabre misfit.

The mask allowed Michael Myers, the former ticking time-bomb tyke that stabbed his sister and killed her on Halloween, to continue his thirst for blood-thirsty mayhem on this ghoulish holiday. The mask was the shield but also the identify of a young mad man that felt the empowerment to reek havoc on a world that will pay the price for Myers brand of mental deficiency.

Sure, horror movies seem like a staple for maniacs in masks to make their monstrous mark. John Carpenter’s creepy creation in Michael Myers–and his inanimate object of gloom regarding his trademark mask–will always be the forefront of shock cinema that decorated the landscape of the late 70’s.

4.) Rosebud, the sled from Citizen Kane (1941)

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Media magnate Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) last utterance of the word “Rosebud” took movies audiences back then in the golden age of cinema on a mysterious hayride as the film explored the soul of a filthy rich but miserable man that seemed to have everything but the one object that brought him instant gratification what all the riches in the world could not give him currently which was the price of childhood memories where youth innocence of mind and spirit ruled.

Thus, Rosebud (Kane’s childhood sled) was the simplistic object that connected a cold and distant dying man back to his carefree days where a reliable wooden companion never failed to let him down in the time of playfulness that drowned out loneliness and alienation.

Rosebud may very well be the most iconic of inanimate objects to be revered because it exemplified the tortured soul’s peace of mind (and eternal youthfulness) for one of classic film’s problematic protagonists in Charles Foster Kane.

5.) The TV screen from Poltergeist (1982)

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The supernatural horror film Poltergeist left a lasting impression of symmetry between the fixation of Carol Ann Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) and the eerie television screen that seems to have hypnotized the trance-induced tyke.  The ominous glow on the Freeling TV screen is just the icing on the cake against the ghostly forces that look to snatch Carol Ann and cause further havoc in the haunted household. Still, nothing is as scary and surreal as a television set being the mirror for dastardly activity at the expense of a put-upon family in suburban hell.

Poltergeist’s depiction of television as a wicked wasteland of eeriness certainly make it difficult to adjust the channels of our petrified state of mind.

6.) Reese’s candy from E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)

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It is a known fact that Reese’s candies were yummy from the get-go. But what happens when these already delicious candies tickles the fancy of one of cinema’s most adored and lovable aliens? The answer: a major rise in Reese’s candy sales and a giddy nation hooked on the sweet tooth of a bug-eyed, flat-top headed creature with an impish outlook on life.

Indeed, the Reese’s candies became the ideal treat and identification for a simplistic alien simply wanting to go home but not before stocking up on his coveted colored candy with the chewy goodness. Even now when watching E.T. that hankering for some Reese’s candy really begs to hit the appetizing spot.

7.) Men’s white T-shirts from It Happened One Night (1934)

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The Frank Capra-directed screwball romantic comedy It Happened One Night may have shown the off-kilter nature between Oscar winners Clark Gable (as out-of-work randy reporter Pete Warne) and Claudette Colbert (as spoiled heiress Ellen Andrews) but it demonstrated more than the lighthearted flirty high jinks on screen.

Actually, It Happened One Night caused a buzz that supposedly affected the men’s white T-shirt industry by causing sales to decline (the flip side to this belief is that sales gradually went up based on the clothing controversy).

The concept of men’s T-shirts as a fashion statement (or lack thereof) initiated the discussion when a buff-looking Gable revealed not sporting a T-shirt after disrobing for bedtime. This caused a stir as sales of T-shirts were erratic and not selling accordingly because Gable went bare chested which meant a knock against having a T-shirt to wear in the first place. After all if the rugged Clark Gable’s Pete can get away with being bare under his dress shirt then why should regular guys not want to follow this legendary ladies’ man lead and benefit from his revolutionary gesture of being T-shirtless?

8.) Dorothy’s red ruby shoes from The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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Now folks…what is more self-explanatory than the concept of Dorothy Gale’s (Judy Garland) red ruby shoes as she’s repeating the line “there’s no place like home” in the classic Victor Fleming-directed fantasy The Wizard of Oz? Next to Dorothy’s identification with little dog Toto, long pony-tails, her Oz-bound traveling companions and an acid trip through Munchkin Land audiences should not forget the fashion statement of Dorothy’s magical gaudy red ruby shoes that would put Liberace’s highly decorated footwear to shame. To put it in a hipper vernacular “You go girl!”

 

9.) Hannibal Lecter’s partial face mask from Silence from the Lambs (1981)

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Need we say more? Sure, Dr. Hannibal Lecter ( Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins) may have a handsome face that many women may tend to love but if they should get too close to Hannibal the cannibal these feminine admirers could very well make for some fine dining on their tasty facial features.

Hence, the trademark Lecter face mask that made for safety precautions in case the good doctor may see you as an automatic snack bar (just ask the two prisoner guards that got a little close to Lecter without the heavy-duty partially covered face mask to seal his deadly chompers.

Who has not parodied Lecter and his face protector? From Oscar host Billy Crystal at the Academy Awards to prime time cartoons the Lecter partial mask face is the extension (and reminder) of a human monster gone berserk on the inside.

10.) The Smith & Wesson 44 Magnum gun from Dirty Harry (1971)

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Food for thought: if you are ever going gunning for San Francisco detective “Dirty Harry” Callahan (Clint Eastwood) you better have a fast-firing cannon to outmatch Callahan’s weapon of choice in Dirty Harry.  Yes, we are talking about our favorite renegade cop’s  Smith & Wessson 44 Magnum gun that can, in Dirty Harry’s own words, blow your head clear your body. So if any inspired punks out there want to mess with Callahan and his glorified gun with the perturbed personality then go ahead…make his day!

Any holder of a 44 Magnum can just get as fired up but “Dirty Harry” Callahan just has the knack for allowing his treasured gun to shoot first then ask questions later.

–Frank Ochieng

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