10 Scenes that Wet Our Whistle

Let's raise a glass to 10 memorable movie moments

Drinking on the big screen can be messy, depressing and downright toxic, but it is also memorable, sometimes funny, sometimes haunting and sometimes key to the story.

Look no further than Nicolas Cage’s Oscar-winning turn in 1995’s “Leaving Las Vegas.” On-screen drinking can set a story’s tone, deliver big laughs or let characters bond in ways they couldn’t possibly predict. Let’s raise a glass to the latter: movie moments where alcohol plays a supporting role in a magical sequence we just can’t forget.

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‘The Shining’

We knew Jack Nicholson’s character in this Stephen King saga was losing his grip on reality. When he enters the hotel bar and has a long sitdown with the otherworldly bartender it reminds us he’s lost it entirely.


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How could one film pack so many classic moments, one-liners and visuals we’ll never forget? Still, watching Humphrey Bogart knocking back a few belts while assessing his love life with one withering line, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” is epic.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

How do we know Marion, played with panache by Karen Allen, is tough enough to romance Indiana Jones? We first see her out-drinking a larger, meaner looking man before we realize she was the love of our hero’s life. That’s how.


Scars. Chest-thumping anecdotes. A silly song sung with gusto. Yes, the best parts of “Jaws” involve that great white shark, nicknamed Bruce during the problematic production. The quiet scene where the three shark hunters get drunk together is a classic, too. “Show me the way to go home, bum-bumm ….” they sing, moments before their final encounter with the titular villain.

‘Good Will Hunting’

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon don’t drink much in this famous scene, but they make one blowhard wish he had picked a different bah-r (please say it with a Boston accent). The off-screen pals team up to flirt with a young Minnie Driver’s character. Instead, Damon talks circles around a jerk trying to intellectually outpace Affleck’s local boy.


This 1953 western features one of the greatest endings in screen history – try not tearing up when you hear young Brandon De Wilde cry, “Shane … come back!” Long before that, Alan Ladd’s antihero tries to get a drink at the saloon but is confronted by a local tough (Ben Johnson). They swap insults, and then an epic bar fight breaks out.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Jimmy Stewart starts to sober up about what life would be like if he never existed when he enters the neighborhood bar with his new “friend,” Clarence. Bedford Falls wouldn’t be the same without him.

‘Star Wars’

The film’s cantina scene fascinates purists who argue over who shot first — Han Solo or Greedo. Before that, we see just how powerful a weapon the light saber can be in the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi after young Luke sidles up to the bar for a drink.

‘The Sure Thing’

Every college student needs to know how to shotgun a beer, or so thinks John Cusack’s character in this underrated coming of age comedy. Daphne Zuniga’s preppy student learns just how to insert a pencil into a beer can for a quick, slurping shot of suds. The scene is silly and fun, but it highlights the growing bond between the characters.

‘Inglourious Basterds’

Director Quentin Tarantino delivered two sequences for the ages in this WWII thriller. One introduced the country to Christoph Waltz, who responded by winning the first of his two Oscars. The second features the tense standoff between our heroes and some Nazis in a below-ground pub. You could see the tension with or without 3D glasses.

One for the road …

‘The Hangover’

This comedy franchise reminds us there’s a price to pay for alcoholic excess. While most of us won’t wake up with a wild animal in our bathroom or missing teeth, it’s a sobering reminder that too much booze is never a good idea.

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