15 Movies with Awesome Tributes to Other Movies

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If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s itself. Filmmakers are constantly paying tribute to, poking fun at or straight-up ripping off the work of those who came before them, so it should be no surprise that once in a while some pretty stellar references to other movies crop up on the silver screen.

For this list, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite references to other movies in film. But first, a few ground rules: we’re not talking about simply verbal references here. Name-dropping a movie doesn’t count; there has to be some sort of visual or musical cue that attempts to recreate a scene. And parody films like Airplane!, the Austin Powers movies or the Scary Movie franchise don’t count for the purposes of this list—they’re a whole ‘nother monster. Check out our picks below, and be sure to tell us what we missed in the comments section.

15. Jurassic Park in Wayne’s World 2
If Jurassic Park taught us anything, it’s that nothing says “warning: massive dino approaching” quite like a shot of a vibrating glass of water, and the dudes at Wayne’s World 2 nail this detail in their own version. Go to the 1:13 mark in this video to check it out.

14. Dirty Dancing in Crazy, Stupid, Love
As seemingly everyone on the Internet agrees, there are many, many reasons to love Ryan Gosling. One of them is his portrayal of ladykiller Jacob in Crazy, Stupid, Love. At first Jacob seems like a sleaze—albeit a beautiful, beautiful sleaze—but eventually we learn he’s deeper than he seems and just looking for love like the rest of us. He’s got real feelings for Hannah (Emma Stone), and when he brings her back to his apartment and she demands to know “how these things usually work,” he reveals that he typically woos women by doing the iconic lift from Dirty Dancing.

13. Star Wars in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
After Ferris miraculously gets Cameron to leave his dad’s so-choice Ferrari with a parking garage valet, we see the valet and his buddy out joyriding in it. Hey, he promised to look after it (“See what a finski can do to a guy’s attitude?”), and here we see him soaring through the air in it in a shot that echos the Millennium Falcon jumping into hyperspace as the Star Wars theme plays.

12. Lethal Weapon in Maverick
Mel Gibson and his long-suffering Lethal Weapon partner Danny Glover are reunited briefly in this Western when Glover makes a cameo as a bank robber. He and Gibson lock eyes and clearly recognize each other before Glover departs muttering the line that he made famous as Detective Roger Murtaugh: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

11. An Affair to Remember in Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle is essentially one giant love letter to An Affair to Remember—the 1957 Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr classic—from writer/director Nora Ephron. Rita Wilson gives a memorable teary summary of the movie, and Annie (Meg Ryan) watches it before writing to Sam (Tom Hanks) inviting him to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building—the way Grant and Kerr attempt to in their movie—on Valentine’s Day. When they finally meet on the observation deck, the theme from An Affair to Remember swells, setting the mood for anyone with an appreciation for good rom-coms.
If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s itself. Filmmakers are constantly paying tribute to, poking fun at or straight-up ripping off the work of those who came before them, so it should be no surprise that once in a while some pretty stellar references to other movies crop up on the silver screen.

10. Reservoir Dogs in Swingers
Quentin Tarantino is notorious for packing his movies to the gills with homages and references to other films, but in Swingers he gets a taste of his own medicine as the characters discuss his oeuvre in a roundtable shot similar to the “Like a Virgin” debate that opens Reservoir Dogs. Somebody suggests all Tarantino does is copy Scorsese, and then Mike (Jon Favreau) responds “everybody copies” before we cut to the gang doing some slow-motion walking, an obvious nod to this scene from Tarantino’s debut flick.

9. North By Northwest in From Russia With Love
Usually it’s 007 who finds himself being spoofed or paid tribute to in film (50 years in the movies provides plenty of opportunities for that), but this time around the tables are turned, and a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece North By Northwest pops up in From Russia With Love. Swap out the crop-duster for a low-flying helicopter and the two are nearly identical.

8. The Graduate in Old School
Will Ferrell getting shot in the neck with a tranquilizer gun is funny enough by itself, but the scene goes from good to great when he takes a tumble into a swimming pool and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” plays—a clever nod to the pool scene from The Graduate. Old School may not exactly be high art, but Frank the Tank is in the middle of his own existential crisis, so the reference is surprisingly apt; he too is drifting.

7. The Seventh Seal in (500) Days of Summer
It’s not often we see love likened to death in a romantic comedy, but (500) Days of Summer is no typical rom-com. Here, we see a heartbroken Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) playing against Cupid in a game of chess (and losing, of course), an allusion to Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal, where a knight plays a game of chess against Death.

6. Jaws in Piranha 3D
Let’s make one thing clear: Piranha 3D has few redeeming qualities. However, chief among them is the opening scene, in which Richard Dreyfuss reprises his Jaws role as Matt Hooper, mumbling along to “Show Me The Way to Go Home,” the song he sings in the legendary shark blockbuster, as it blares from his radio before getting sucked into the ocean and chomped by a bunch of piranhas. It’s a winking acknowledgment that the Piranha franchise—and really, Lake Placid, Deep Blue Sea and any other movie that features monstrous aquatic creatures lurking in the deep—owes a tremendous debt to Jaws.

If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s itself. Filmmakers are constantly paying tribute to, poking fun at or straight-up ripping off the work of those who came before them, so it should be no surprise that once in a while some pretty stellar references to other movies crop up on the silver screen.

5. On the Waterfront in Raging Bull
Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is bookended by shots of an aging Jake LaMotta in 1964 (Robert De Niro) preparing to perform a standup comedy routine. In the film’s final scene, he recites Marlon Brando’s famous “I could have been a contender” speech from On the Waterfront to himself in the mirror. There’s nothing funny about it—or the sad similarities to Brando’s failed boxer Jake bears—but as he starts shadowboxing to psych himself up we see he brings the same intensity to everything he does. Watch the scenes from each movie cut together in this video.

4. Psycho in Pulp Fiction
We could do an entire list of the cinematic references in Pulp Fiction, but this moment’s one of our favorites. Butch (Bruce Willis) sits at a traffic light when he locks eyes with Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), the man he’s double-crossing, as he crosses the street. It’s pretty much shot-for-shot with the scene in Psycho where Marion Crane, making her escape after stealing a substantial amount of money from work, sees her boss as he crosses the street. Unlike Marion, however, Butch panics and runs Marsellus over. Watch a side-by-side comparison of the scenes below.

3. Battleship Potemkin in The Untouchables
The baby carriage traveling down the steps of Chicago’s Union Station is one of the most iconic scenes in The Untouchables, but it’s actually an homage to the 1925 Russian silent film Battleship Potemkin. During the latter’s famous “Odessa Steps” sequence, a group of civilians are massacred by Tsarist soldiers and a woman who had been pushing a baby carriage falls down dead, the carriage sliding down the steps with the infant still in it.

2. Night of the Hunter in Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee’s Night of the Hunter reference in Do The Right Thing is the perfect example of a filmmaker paying tribute to an influence while putting his own twist on the concept. In Night of the Hunter, Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) has the words LOVE and HATE tattooed across his fingers. In Do The Right Thing, Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) sports the same words, only his take the form of rings rather than tattoos. The explanation he gives for the rings is lifted from Powell’s Night of the Hunter monologue, but it’s not precisely word-for-word. Lee adapts the language to make it feel more contemporary, but the sentiment remains the same. Hate KO’d by love.

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in Rango
Part of what makes this reference so great is how seemingly out-of-place it is: There’s no way Hunter S. Thompson could have guessed his literary journey fueled by mescaline, raw ether, acid, booze, cocaine and assortment of uppers and downers would wind up in a children’s movie. But every great kids’ movie needs a few inside jokes for the parents, and that’s why we see Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) splattered against the windshield of a man who looks eerily like Thompson (or more accurately, the Thompson-surrogate Raoul Duke, who was also played by Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) driving while warding off imaginary bats. He says “It’s another one! I told you,” alluding to the scene where Duke drops acid and hallucinates a bunch of lizards having an orgy. You know, kid stuff.

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