Hallways are overlooked, walked straight through, and generally taken for granted. But they should get more credit, as they are the functional cornerstones in every house. Hell, how else do you get from one room to another?
Filmmakers give hallways the respect they deserve though. They love the parallel lines and forced focal points. They use the physical containment to force characters close, and they are a convenient area to place obstacles for their characters to overcome.
Countless movies have at least something that takes place in a hallway, and these, ladies and gentlemen, are the Top Ten Movie* Hallway Scenes.
– Quick word of warning: Some of the following videos contain some very violent content. –
10. Easy A (2010) – The Scarlet Letter Hallway
After false rumours have circulated the school about her promiscuity, Olive (Emma Stone) sits at home upset, letting off steam with some angry sewing (who doesn’t!). Luckily, her father is played by Stanley Tucci, so they have some inspirational banter, she cheers up, and before you have had a chance to consider how awesome the world would be if Tucci was everyone’s dad, they cut to the next day. Olive has fully embraced her false persona and she struts down the hallway at school like she’s in a sluttier version of a shampoo commercial. It’s the moment Easy A shifts gears and becomes the fun play on an 80’s high school movie that it is.
9. Pulp Fiction (1994) – The Fetish Hallway
Jules and Vincent arrive at the door of Big Brain Brett a couple of minutes early, so they have time to continue chatting. Long before we knew that Quentin Tarantino had a serious foot fetish, we innocently chuckled along with them discussing which parts of your boss’ wife’s anatomy are ok to massage. The answer is none, obviously, but they don’t have time to completely find common ground before they have to go inside for some preaching and some shooting.
8. Star Wars (1977) – The Space Hallway
Try to cast your mind back to a time when you were unaware of the existence of Darth Vader. You may have only been five years old, possibly four if you had older siblings, and until then your idea of an on-screen baddie was Elmer Fudd. But this wasn’t Wabbit Season, this was Star Wars. So when a figure with a shiny helmet and matching black cape appears through the smoke, wheezes over some dead rebels and booms out orders in a James Earl Jones baritone, the world as you knew it changed forever. And this dude had his own theme music!
7. Oldboy (2003) – The Hammer Hallway
Oldboy contains some very useful life lessons. Why else would you ever think to check the birth certificate of any potential romantic partners that you may meet after being kidnapped and held for fifteen years? But, as well as all of that, there is also an unforgettable ‘one-take’ hammer scene. Sure, if you watch it too closely you’ll see multiple massive air swings, and questions will be raised about why they are attacking Dae-Su with balsa wood batons, but you can’t take anything away from the staging, originality and ambition of the scene.
6. The Professional (1994) – The Slightly Creepy Hallway
Upon a re-watch, there are elements of The Professional that are a little bit ‘icky’, and those bits were apparently even more pronounced in the European version, but moving on…
This memorable scene takes place at High Noon, but we are not in the Old West, we are in a hallway. Garry Oldman’s character downs an un-named drug, which probably isn’t Panandol. Whether it’s the contents of the capsule or a pre-existing propensity for violence, he then embarks on a shooting rampage through a maze of hallways that results in Mathilda needing Leon to keep her safe.
5. Daredevil (2015) – That TV Hallway
In blatant *disregard for the title of this list, Daredevil, the Netflix series, must be included. While it may not be a movie, the quality of the hallway fight scene from Season One is so good that it demands inclusion. The choreography is extremely realistic and the fight goes on for so long that Daredevil and the nameless thugs have time to take moments to catch their breath. It’s an unbelievable feat of movie making (ok, TV making) that is almost impossible to watch only once.
4. Irreversible (2002) – The Skull-Crushing Hallway
There may also be an eligibility issue with this entrant, but after multiple viewings of this scene to determine if the action is in fact taking place in a hallway, it became abundantly obvious that no one should ever subject themselves to multiple viewings of this scene. Ever. Enjoy it below.
When Marcus and Pierre fight their way into the dingy red-lit corridors of the nightclub, the structure of the movie means we don’t know what they are doing there, and when Pierre crushes a man’s face with the base of a fire extinguisher, we don’t know why he did that either. None of that makes it any less memorable though, or less horrific.
3. Barton Fink (1991) – The Hallway to Hell
The cops stand in the hallway of the always-sweltering Earle Hotel, but when Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) sets fire to the place, things get a whole lot hotter. When he pulls out his gun, the cops realise that the bullets they are sweating aren’t going to be the only type of bullets they will be seeing that day. And when Charlie starts running towards them, they are as shocked as the audience: we didn’t known John Goodman could run.
Barton Fink is handcuffed to the bed so he can only watch on, forced to be the voyeur that Charlie accuses him of being. As the fire begins to take hold, the building begins to visually resemble the hell that the Coens had only previously alluded to.
2. Inception (2010) – The Spinning Hallway
Back before Leo was brutalised by a bear in The Revenant, he was treated with respect in Hollywood. No director in their right mind would have considered sending him into a mechanically rotating hallway. There was less concern for Joseph Gordon-Levitt though, so the skinny kid from Third Rock from the Sun got thrown around in this stand-out scene.
And the result was magnificent. JGL got to float, almost levitate, and for the most part it was really him, with a stuntman only subbing in late to prevent his delicate frame from being smeared against one of the rotating walls. A truly a memorable scene from a movie that was, on reflection, perhaps not all that memorable at all.
1. Taxi Driver (1976) – The Lonely Hallway
There’s a moment in Taxi Driver when Travis Bickle is on the phone, begging Betsy to see him again despite the sleazy awkwardness of their first date. As he pleads with her, we see him from behind, crouched into the phone. It’s hard to watch, but we stay there for a full uncomfortable minute before director of photography Michael Chapman decides to avert the camera’s eye from Travis and look down a long, empty and featureless hallway.
Despite being Chapman’s idea, Scorsese loved it so much that he calls it the most important scene in the movie, and who are we to argue with him?