The Most Unforgettable Movie Mistakes, from ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Dr. No’ to ‘Jackie Brown’ and ‘The Matrix’
Movies might seem like magic, but Hollywood’s favorite actors, directors, producers, stunt performers, props masters, costumers, script coordinators, and cinematographers are still only human. Since before that kid-extra prematurely covered his ears for Eva Marie Saint shooting Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” audiences have delighted in finding the little moments that make their favorite films imperfect.
Like freckles on a human face, mistakes can make movies infinitely more special to the audiences that love them. Consider the clumsy stormtrooper of “A New Hope,” whose hilariously audible collision with an Imperial spaceship doorframe turned the extra’s true identity into an ongoing mystery for the Star Wars ages. Or, for “The Lord of the Rings” fans among us, there’s the anachronistic automobile appearing in “Fellowship of the Ring” right alongside Sam and Frodo. As for the Wizarding World, how about that bike seat on Harry’s broomstick?
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The best movie mistakes become integral wrinkles of the fabric of the films in which they appear. Although pointing out filmmakers’ missteps can seem mean-spirited at first, fans frequently use these discussion-worthy errors to springboard rich conversations about the story universes in which they occurred. Whether it’s a Marvel-head explaining away the multiple Paul Rudds in the “Avengers: Endgame” finale (Ant-Man is in the van and in the background at the same time, but OK, Dr. Strange) or an animation fanatic defending Elsa’s every ethereal move in “Frozen,” an artist’s would-be worst moment can end up meaning something much more to the countless viewers who appreciate their work.
To round up a selection of our favorite movie errors, IndieWire has implemented a few rules: (1) Actor errors, including stumbles, falls, and prop destruction, qualify for consideration. (2) Anachronistic errors have been limited to only the most egregious, meaning minor fashion and product mistakes do not qualify. (3) Continuity errors — when the logic of one shot doesn’t align with the logic of another shot — count, but plot holes do not.
Without further ado, here are 57 of the most memorable movie mistakes in cinematic history, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Goodfellas,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Pretty Woman,” “The Last Samurai,” “Dr. No,” “Jackie Brown,” “The Matrix,” “The Hunger Games,” “Grease,” and more. Fair warning: Spoilers ahead.
[Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2022 and has been updated multiple times since.]
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