Last year, in celebration of National Roofing Week, RC compiled a list of scenes from 10 movies where the roof (or roofs) became the setting of unforgettable moments.
With the National Roofing Contractors Association and Canadian Roofing Contractors Association once again holding National Roofing Week to celebrate the roofing industry, we’re taking a look at 10 more movies that also recognize the importance of roofs in our lives.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
1. “Spider-Man” (2002)
Before Marvel became the unstoppable juggernaut of movie making that it is today, it had some successes prior to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One such case is “Spider-Man,” starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinging hero.
Since Spider-Man loves swinging around New York City, a movie about the hero understandably contains multiple rooftop scenes. In one such scene, the hero tests out his new powers with varying degrees of success on roofs. Later on, the villain captures Spidey and takes him to a rooftop to try to convince the hero to join him.
2. “Vertigo” (1958)
This classic noir thriller from Alfred Hitchcock received mixed reviews upon release, but is now one of his defining movies and is often included on lists of greatest films. It stars James Stewart as a former police detective who had to retire early due to his fear of heights and vertigo, and is hired as a private investigator to tail an acquaintance’s wife.
The incident that forced Stewart’s John Ferguson to retire happens at the onset of the film. As he and a fellow officer chase a suspect on rooftops, Ferguson fails to make a jump and hangs on to the roof by his fingertips. When the officer attempts to help him, Ferguson’s conditions cause him to seize up, and the officer falls to his death.
3. “On the Waterfront” (1954)
This black-and-white crime drama starring Marlon Brando won all the awards after its release, including Best Motion Picture from the Academy Awards and Best Motion Picture – Drama from the Golden Globe Awards. It’s the movie that gave us the infamous line as Brando’s Terry laments his failed boxing career: “I coulda’ had class. I coulda’ been a contender. I could’ve been somebody.”
The scene that sets off the events of the film happens when Terry is used to lure his fellow longshoreman, Joey, to the roof of his building and is pushed off to his death. Other scenes are set on rooftops as well thanks to Terry’s hobby of tending pigeons, including a tender moment between him and Joey’s sister, Edie.
4. “The Departed” (2006)
This Martin Scorsese-helmed film — a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong movie “Internal Affairs” — is a tense crime thriller centered around a mole for the mob operating in the Massachusetts State Police, played by Matt Damon, and an undercover cop who infiltrated the mole’s mob, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film won multiple Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.
The film also took home an Oscar for Best Film Ending, which is of no surprise to anyone who has seen it. We won’t spoil too much here (unless you watch the clip, of course), but the climax is set on the roof of a Boston building as Damon and DiCaprio’s characters confront one another.
5. “To Catch a Thief” (1955)
Another entry from Hitchcock, though instead of his usual horror film, the legendary director adapts the “To Catch a Thief” novel. In the film, retired jewel thief John “The Cat” Robie (played by Cary Grant) tries to prove his innocence after someone begins stealing from tourists of the French Riviera.
The film, which takes full advantage of the chemistry between Grant and co-star Grace Kelly, has multiple scenes taking place on tiled rooftops, including the climatic final chase where Robie unmasks the imposter “Cat” burglar sullying his good name.
6. “Blade Runner” (1982)
Acclaimed director Ridley Scott dove back into sci-fi after “Alien” to create “Blade Runner,” a loose adaptation of the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” starring Harrison Ford as the cop Rick Deckard. The movie is regarded as one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and won Best Cinematography from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
In the final scenes, Deckard is chased by a rogue replicant named Roy, ending up on a roof. Deckard nearly plummets to his death, but Roy saves him and delivers a stirring monologue about how his memories will fade.
7. “Mary Poppins” (1964)
With its catchy musical numbers and combination of live action and animation, “Mary Poppins” became the highest grossing film the year it was released and Disney’s highest-grossing film at that point. It also won multiple awards, including Best Special Visual Effects from the Academy Awards.
Thanks to Poppins’ friend Bert (played by Dick Van Dyke), a jack-of-all-trades who works as a chimney sweep, the movie features chimney sweeps dancing and singing on roofs as they perform “Step in Time.”
8. “Taken 2” (2012)
Following on the success of Liam Neeson’s “Taken” action flick and its famous “I will find you, and I will kill you” speech, the sequel turns the tables by having Neeson’s Bryan Mills kidnapped while he and his family are in Istanbul.
To help free her father, Mills’ daughter, Kim (the kidnap victim in the first movie) runs on rooftops and detonates grenades to help Bryan triangulate his location. This results in mobsters chasing down Kim along tiled rooftops in Istanbul, but Bryan is able to free himself and once again rescue his daughter.
9. “Fast Five” (2011)
Having started as mediocre street racing movies, the “Fast and Furious” series departed from its roots and transformed into a wildly popular franchise about heists involving insane car stunts. The first movie in the franchise to do this was “Fast Five,” which became the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2011.
With this thematic shift came a new set of action sequences, including a rooftop chase across favelas as Vin Diesel’s Dominic Rotetto is pursued by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and armed mobsters.
10. “Sudden Death” (1995)
The premise of “Sudden Death” is a bit silly, with the Pittsburgh Civic Arena’s fire marshal (played by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme) trying to rescue the U.S. vice president after being kidnapped during a Stanley Cup Finals game by terrorists. However, the action film is now regarded as one of Van Damme’s best movies.
The arena serves as the main setting for the film, including the climax, where Van Damme’s Darren McCord confronts the villain on the roof of the arena, and in the ensuing chaos, the villain’s getaway helicopter plunges through the roof.
Know of any other great rooftop movie scenes? Let us know in the comments below or email Chris Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your favorite scenes.
RC Editor Art Aisner and Assembly Editor in Chief John Sprovieri contributed to this article.