Question of the day: What’s the Most Iconic Movie Knife Scene?


I can think of many classic movie scenes that deserve mention in the discussion, but I can think of none as deserving of the title “most iconic” as the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). It’s the kind of scene that transcends the film itself. People who may never have seen the movie are still aware of it through film spoofs (High Anxiety) and other pop-culture exchanges . . .

I came across this video (below) by film editor Brian Carroll which combines archival interview footage from Hitchcock and Janet Leigh with film scenes and ties it to a modern soundtrack to great artistic effect. Worth your 4:30 if you are time-wasting. I think it makes a strong case for Psycho.  

“I have always been fascinated with Hitchcock’s shower scene in Psycho. I remember the first time I digitized it years ago and went through frame by frame to deconstruct how exactly it was put together…

Out of all of Hitchcock’s films, this scene is the most scrutinized due to it’s nature of a young woman being viciously stabbed to death while in a very vulnerable position. In the year 1960, this was truly a groundbreaking moment in film. Without showing any nudity or actual stabs of the knife, Hitchcock crafted one of the most terrifying scenes in film history.” – Brian Carroll

What is your choice for the “Most Iconic Knife Scene” in film history?


18 responses to ‘Question of the day: What’s the Most Iconic Movie Knife Scene?

  1. Psycho is no.1. And it’s not a knife scene as such, but Indy dealing with the swordsman in the Raiders of the Lost Arc deserves a mention.

  2. Psycho doesn’t do it for me though it might the iconic film for the general public. Personally, the Psycho scene has never seemed iconic just another horror movie murder. For me, the most iconic knife fights worthy of the iconic title are:

    “Gangs of New York” with Crazy Bill (based on a real NYC historical character).
    “The Long Riders” with David Carradine which had a great bowie fight scene in a western bar between two men fighting over a woman.
    “V for Vendetta”.
    The knife scene from “Saving Private Ryan” with the American Ranger getting gutted by the stronger German Soldier.
    “Hunted” with Tommy Lee Jones had a great if a bit too unrealistically long fight with both men cut-up who kept fighting.
    “Eastern Promises” with Viggo Mortensen attacked by two assassins in a Russian Bathhouse.

  3. While all good suggestions, I think the most iconic knife is the Rambo knife. Not only do knife guys recognize it, but it’s what non knife people think when they think knives

  4. What? Nobody named “The Iron Mistress”? Alan Ladd as James Bowie?

    Or the fight in “Butch Cassidy…”–well, not a fight, just “discussing the rules”.

  5. All these comments and no one mentions the knife trick scene from Aliens? How many drunk/high/stupid *^%#< went to the ER because someone tried that stunt? And its been parodied many times in comedies – most recently the movie Ted comes to mind.

  6. Psycho, Under Seige, Commando and Crocodile Dundee for sure. The greatest forgotten knife scene is from The Blackboard Jungle. A great scene from a great movie.

  7. The Scene where the German kills the American (Mellish, played by Adam Goldberg) in the movie Saving Private Ryan, while Corporal Upham (played by Jeremy Davies) sits on the stairs paralyzed. Not iconic, but pretty gruesome.

  8. Maybe this is worth an honorable mention. James Caan in Eldorado.
    He faces off with a guy who has a six shooter, and kills him with a knife
    he has tucked behind the collar of his coat. The WTF? expression on the
    faces of his trail-hardened, amigo’s in crime says it all. Shock and awe.

    On the gruesome side of things, the scene in Seven where the guy has
    that fantasy/nightmare knife strapped-on to him.

  9. Most iconic? They’ve both already been named. Psycho and Crocodile Dundee, hands down. If you asked a random sampling of people what movie comes to mind when they think of a scene with a knife, I bet upwards of 80% of them would name one of those two. There’d probably be a slight generational bias; the older people would probably name Psycho more and the younger Crocodile Dundee.

    A distant third would probably be the Aliens knife trick, but I think that one would be limited because there’s a lot of people that wouldn’t/won’t watch Aliens, but everyone has seen Crocodile Dundee.

  10. Kill Bill – Uma Thurman vs Vivica Fox they fight with knives
    Sexy and funny, they have to stop when her kids interrupt.

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