11 Most Compelling Diner Scenes in Cinema
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11 Most Compelling Diner Scenes in Cinema

By Agent Bedhead | Seriously Random Lists | September 26, 2012 | Comments ()


I adore movie scenes set in diners. Even though I rarely indulge in diner food these days (unless hitting IHOP after the family Christmas party counts), such scenes are often some of the most remarkable as far as fleshing out character history goes. My curiosity is piqued by this Looper still, which promises some revealing dialogue between Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A little bit of greasy spoon goes a long way, you know? Perhaps these aren't the most cinematically impressive restaurant scenes out there, but they're my personal favorites.

Heat: "Whatdya say I buy you a cup of coffee?" Here are to men discovering how alike they are despite their substantially differing occupations. Essentially, this scene is the heart of the entire movie.

Reservoir Dogs: In this scene, we learn more about the Mr. Pink character and why he doesn't tip waitresses, which sets up his behavior at the end of the movie. This is even a more telling Tarantino diner scene than that of Pulp Fiction and True Romance.

Go: This scene between Timothy Olyphant and Katie Holmes is fraught with an odd type of sexual tension. Apologies for the Japanese dubbing.

Swingers: The end of this movie is just perfect and brings the viewer full circle from when Mikey was a little boy worshiping Trent to holding all the cards himself.

Zodiac: This scene was one of the foundation scenes for the entire film, and what a payoff!

Groundhog Day: Bill Murray gives off the perfect scent of apathy as he is forced to eat the same food in the same dining establishment day after day. Throwing caution to the wind, indeed.

Goodfellas: Sometimes, it's just nice to know a diner is a safe place where one will never get knocked off, right?

Back to the Future: This is the moment when Marty sees his dad getting pushed around in high school and one that prompts him to change the future.

Haywire: This introductory scene packed a lot of punch. We learned Mallory was on the run from a sketchy organization and could fight like hell. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie didn't live up to this first scene's potential.

"Twin Peaks": Our one television entry illustrates why David Lynch's works (for the most part) are simply irresistible.

When Harry Met Sally: Spare me the "I'll have what she's having" remarks. It's just a damn good scene.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • seagoat8888

    This seems limited to films favored by a specific generation (which happens to be mine, so I enjoyed it especially).

    One qualm -- Haywire is awesome. The whole thing, not just this sequence.

  • DarthCorleone

    Ah, someone did mention it. That's what happens when you only ctrl-F "Hard Eight" and not "Sydney". I almost did, but when P.T. Anderson said on the DVD commentary that the title had grown on him, I sort of let the "Sydney" thing go.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, yeah. Pulp Fiction is the obvious one, and you're all harping on it. I think it deserves to be represented more than Reservoir Dogs as far as "compelling" goes.

    But here's the one no one has mentioned yet that ranks above all of these for me: Hard Eight. As far as "compelling" goes, I don't think I've ever seen a film's opening scene that hooked me so quickly.

  • Quatermain

    The diner scene from 'Reservoir Dogs' is good, but unfortunately it's also given every cheap-assed, non-social skills having douchebag in America what they think is a clever excuse for their bad behavior. I can remember bartending and overhearing various tools crib this scene almost verbatim to explain to their friends why they stiffed people.
    On a completely un-related note, it always seemed to take forever for those guys to get their drinks, or refills, or really anything. 'Tis a mystery....

  • I hate people like you.

  • Don't Forget

    The beginning of Natural Born Killers.

  • lindaaargh

    Major omission: "MULHOLLAND DRIVE." Diner scene to end all diner scenes!

  • DeNiro, when he still brought it. The ending of Heat was really dissatisfying because he made you care.

    Swingers - some really great moments, and that scene ended with extreme pathos.

    Oh, Twin Peaks. We were all so unprepared for your magic spell, and of course after a year so were you.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Can I be the New Yorker to say, re: Harry/Sally, that a deli does not a diner make?

    (also, that while that scene is fun, "compelling" is not the word I'd use to describe it)

  • Andrew

    Blues Brothers .... diner scene with Matt Guitar Murphy, Blue Lou and Aretha Franklin. Also, the restaurant scene ..... how much for the leetle girl??

    That is all.

  • Bodhi


  • DominaNefret

    Are we not counting Amelie as being at a diner?

  • Archie Leach

    Regards to not tipping.

    I use to eat at this restaurant very regularly. Great place; loved the food. One time I went in there and put in an order to go and paid for it and waited. Something had put me in a bad mood earlier so I was kinda sulking as I waited. The person handling the counter brought my food to me but it turned out the order was wrong and so I had to wait a few more minutes for them to correct it...... it didn't go over well for me that "they had fucked up my order".....I brusquely told the counterperson just give me back my money. The counterperson said very nicely that it would only take a couple minutes to make the order right and sorry for the wait...... I just exploded and yelled at the counter person "JUST GIVE ME MY FUCKING MONEY SO I CAN GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!"...... got my money and stomped out...... got in my car and drove away but within moments I had the terrible realization that I couldn't go back to that restaurant for at least several months...... I also realized that I was a real asshole for yelling at the counterpersons. I didn't go back to that restaurant for almost a year.

    If you find a good non-fast food chain restaurant where you may become a regular customer of, keep in mind the above story I just told and whether or not to tip.

  • Elizabeth

    Grosse. Pointe. Blank.

  • Quatermain

    "Me? Go G? On you? Naaaah.."

  • Idle Primate

    superman getting whupped in a diner in Superman II, realising how colossally stupid he has been

  • celery

    My favourite diner scene is the first meeting of mother and daughter in "Secrets and Lies".

  • Arran

    I'll be honest, I mostly moved to the US for the diners. We don't really have them in New Zealand. WHAT A COUNTRY.

  • Snath

    Really, no diners? Then where do hobbits go for elevensies?

  • Arran

    They eat live sheep. We've got plenty of those.

  • Manny

    Since you added Twin Peaks as a television entry in a cinema catagory, I will add this: SOPRANOS ENDING!!!

  • Love that scene in Zodiac. Jake Gyllenhall is so enthusiastic in reciting the evidence. Ruffalo is skeptical and reels Jake in when he gets too excited. I don't know how Fincher does it. But he is one of the few that can make that kind of thing entertaining.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Heat: 'Essentially this scene is the heart of every diner scene ever, before or after.'
    Fixed that for you.

  • Ashby

    "Ride me, Big Sheldon."

  • Henry_Hill


  • Arran

    The opening? That's a great one. Sets up the whole movie and the two main characters beautifully. Such an underseen film.

  • rabbi

    After Hours, NBK, Hitchhiker (original) * I always check my fries first now, and Dumb and Dumber

  • selucius


  • A.lisonR.T.

    How about the diner scene from Mulholland Drive? It's super creepy and haunts me to this day!

  • Mulder: Have you ever found a metal implant in your body?
    (takes a bite of pie)
    Mulder: Have you checked everywhere?

  • Some Guy

    Regarding Mann, everyone mentions Heat. Try watching the movie Thief, from 1981, where James Caan plays a master thief and ex con. There is a 10 min. scene with Caan and Tuesday Weld that Caan has described as the best scene he's ever done.

    It's a pretty badass movie with some amazing heist scenes and stellar acting.

    Also, Sam Jackson and Tim Roth and the "BadMotherFucker" wallet? Come on!

  • AM

    I'm pretty sure that's Russian, not Japanese.
    I know, I know, they sound so similar!

  • Yocean

    Yeah I was thinking that is NOT Japanese. I should know, growing up in Japan till I was 18 and all.

  • L.O.V.E.

    The Big Lebowski.

    Found it:


  • lowercase_ryan

    G Damn I love the internet.

  • Carlito

    Five Easy Pieces.

    "You want me to hold the chicken, huh?"
    "I want you to hold it between your knees."

  • John W

    Also the scene with Al Pacino in The Godfather

  • Forbiddendonut

    If you're refering to the scene where he gets the gun in the bathroom, I am not sure if I'd qualify that as a "diner scene." It was more like an "Italian restaurant scene."

  • PerpetualIntern

    That was my first instinct too....perhaps an Italian diner?

  • KV

    The dinner scene between Angel Eyes and the disable ex-confederate soldier at the beginning of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" was intense, especially the way the former played a cat-and-mouse game with the latter. Without uttering a single word, Angel Eyes established his menacing presence. Also missing is the scene between Col. Hans Landa and the French farmer in "Inglourious Basterds"...which, I think, might have been inspired by the GBU scene above.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    No scenes from Pulp Fiction?

  • ,

    "It's the one that says 'Bad Motherfucker.' "

    A glaring omission.

    Speaking of ...

    Nothing from "Diner"?

    Jeezuz,. it's right there in the fucking TITLE.

  • jamie pants

    I was actually quoting the "If any of you fucking pricks move..." line in my head while scrolling through the list just waiting for it. It's an incomplete list without it.

  • I'm thinking the logic here is including Reservoir Dogs means excluding Pulp Fiction. Not any logic I agree with, though.

  • John W

    No scenes from Diner?

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