Skip to main content

Main Area


Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time

  • Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time
    1/ Lucasfilm

    Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time

    Hollywood movie-making takes time, money, cooperation, careful planning, and a painstaking knack for detail. But even the most meticulous preparations sometimes can’t spare a film from its share of goofs and mistakes, to the delight (or chagrin) of observant viewers. The majority of these goofs take the form of simple continuity errors. For example, a glass might be full in one shot and empty in the very next. Other mistakes appear by way of historical misfires, major plot holes, visible camera equipment, or crew members getting caught in a shot. And every now and then, the annals of cinema are graced with a goof of epic proportions. White cars in the background during a battle scene in “Braveheart?” Seriously, Mel Gibson?

    Since even the world’s greatest films are prone to the occasional flub, Stacker is embracing the imperfections and listing mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time. To determine the rankings, Stacker derived a score based on equally weighted IMDb ratings and Metacritic scores. Only English-language movies released in the United States were considered for the list, and each film needed at least 20,000 votes on IMDb to qualify. If the movie didn’t have a Metascore, it was not included. Here, check out mistakes in the 50 best movies of all time.  

    RELATED: 50 best movies turning 50 in 2018

  • #50. Dunkirk
    2/ Ealing Studios

    #50. Dunkirk

    Despite its best intentions, Christopher Nolan's World War II drama was reportedly riddled with more mistakes than any other film of 2017. Most of those errors had to do with things like uniform colors, depictions of military vehicles, and other historical details. Yet no amount of creative license can excuse the presence of modern-style public toilets, which can be spotted on the beach during an overhead shot toward the end.

  • #49. There Will Be Blood
    3/ Paramount Vantage

    #49. There Will Be Blood

    In the final act of this gripping saga, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) chugs his first drink and doesn't finish his second. In the next shot, however, both glasses are empty. Given Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis)'s proclivity for drinking other people's milkshakes, perhaps he was somehow responsible.

  • #48. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    4/ New Line Cinema

    #48. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    By the time this adventure film opens, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by evil orcs. Being prisoners, it's only natural that the young hobbits' hands are bound. But when a wild horse soon bears down on Pippin during a battle scene, his hands are suddenly no longer tied. Was it magic?


  • #47. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    5/ Paramount Pictures

    #47. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

    This classic drama from John Ford tackles themes of justice, law, and order. At the heart of the film is Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), a lawyer and eventual politician who incorrectly teaches his students that the Declaration of Independence is the supreme law of the land. Presumably he figured out that the famous document contains no actual laws before he became a senator.


  • #46. It's a Wonderful Life
    6/ Liberty Films

    #46. It's a Wonderful Life

    One of the most iconic scenes in this holiday favorite finds a bunch of partygoers jumping into a pool. A close look reveals the same character jumping in twice. While most likely a continuity error, it's possible that this particular reveler just really liked jumping into pools.

  • #45. Beauty and the Beast
    7/ Walt Disney Pictures

    #45. Beauty and the Beast

    Long before she crossed paths with magic dinnerware, Belle was apparently in possession of a magic front door. In one scene, the door to her home is located atop some stairs and facing a porch. But when she tosses Gaston out in a later scene, the door opens on the ground level and faces a small pool of mud. It also swings outward and inward.

  • #44. Toy Story 3
    8/ Walt Disney Pictures

    #44. Toy Story 3

    Much of "Toy Story 3" takes place at a hostile daycare center, where an evil bear named Lotso runs the show. On the toys' first night, there are no trucks patrolling the hallways, and the monkey doesn't sound the alarm when he sees that Buzz escaped. Later, it's revealed that both the trucks and the alarm are routine security measures that operate nightly. Sleeping on the job, perhaps?

  • #43. The Philadelphia Story
    9/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    #43. The Philadelphia Story

    Audio synchronicity wasn't exactly a perfected art form when "The Philadelphia Story" came out in 1940. In the film, Liz (Ruth Hussey) repeatedly utters the phrase "just that" during an exchange with Mike (James Stewart). As they head toward an office, she says the phrase one last time, but no sound emerges.

  • #42. The Grapes of Wrath
    10/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #42. The Grapes of Wrath

    In the book upon which this 1940 film was based, slow-witted Noah Joad runs away from home after becoming a burden to his family. In the film version, Noah (Frank Sully) spontaneously disappears with no explanation at all and is simply never heard from again. Apparently, the Joads don't like to talk about Noah—or think about him, or look for him.  

  • #41. A Streetcar Named Desire
    11/ Charles K. Feldman Group

    #41. A Streetcar Named Desire

    Marlon Brando is widely considered one of the greatest film actors of all time, but that doesn't mean he was always the most prepared. During a poker scene in this 1951 drama, Brando's Stanley Kowalski can be seen mimicking Stella's lines with his lips as if trying to recall the script from memory.

  • #40. Rosemary's Baby
    12/ William Castle Productions

    #40. Rosemary's Baby

    In this legendary horror flick, director Roman Polanski uses the clicking of a bedroom clock to mark the passage of time during Rosemary's dream. During a later scene, it's revealed that the very same clock is plugged into the wall. That means it's an electric clock—and electric clocks don't tick.

  • #39. Amadeus
    13/ AMLF

    #39. Amadeus

    This historical biopic comes loaded with mistakes of every conceivable variety, some of which were purposefully used for artistic purposes. To give the story more conflict and dimension, Mozart's rival Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) is depicted as a perennial bachelor who has zero luck with the opposite sex. In reality, Salieri was married with eight children.

  • #38. Inside Out
    14/ Pixar Animation Studios

    #38. Inside Out

    Despite its fictional portrayal of human emotions, this animated smash hit from Pixar clearly strived for psychological and biological accuracy. Had it wanted to present things as they really are, however, it would have shown the world in limited color when depicting it through newborn Riley's eyes. That's because babies don't develop the ability to see the color spectrum until they're about 5 months old.

  • #37. Ratatouille
    15/ Pixar Animation Studios

    #37. Ratatouille

    It's said that the team behind this acclaimed Pixar movie embarked on several research trips to get a better understanding of French cuisine. Yet the film refers to a majority of herbs—such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil—as spices. Apparently, that same team needed to do a bit more research.

  • #36. Goodfellas
    16/ Warner Bros.

    #36. Goodfellas

    Offering a bevy of iconic characters and sequences, Martin Scorsese's gangster epic is likewise filled to the brim with factual errors, exposed equipment, and other goofs. Perhaps the most glaring mistake comes during a scene where Jimmy (Robert De Niro) wraps a phone cord around Morrie's neck in the back of the wig shop. The phone is clearly off the hook, and yet it starts to ring.

  • #35. Saving Private Ryan
    17/ DreamWorks

    #35. Saving Private Ryan

    In this award-winning World War II film, soldiers try to save a medic after he gets shot in the stomach. Look near the medic's neck as the soldiers tear at his shirt and one can briefly spot the perimeter of a fake stomach. Consider it a thankful reminder that the brutally graphic scene is Hollywood magic and not real footage.

  • #34. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
    18/ Lucasfilm

    #34. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

    One of cinema's most iconic films appropriately contains a mishap for the ages. It occurs when three stormtroopers are walking down a hall, and one of them nails his head on a lowering door. Classic is one word that comes to mind.

  • #33. The Adventures of Robin Hood
    19/ Warner Bros.

    #33. The Adventures of Robin Hood

    This celebrated adventure flick takes place in the year 1191. Yet when one of Robin Hood's merry men dismounts a horse to help a friend, there's a car in the background. Unless that car's a DeLorean, someone has some explaining to do.

  • #32. The Maltese Falcon
    20/ Warner Bros.

    #32. The Maltese Falcon

    At the center of this hard-boiled mystery is a priceless statuette known as the Maltese Falcon. Made of a precious metal, the falcon would weigh at least 35 to 45 pounds in real life; however, at least two characters in the film pick up the falcon or put it down as if it weighs less than a small sack of flour.

  • #31. 12 Years a Slave
    21/ Regency Enterprises

    #31. 12 Years a Slave

    To depict the true horrors of slavery, director Steve McQueen took some liberties while adapting Solomon Northup's now-famous memoir. But creative license becomes historical goof when the main character is asked where he became an expert in ”terraforming.“ That particular word wouldn't be invented for another 100 years.

  • #30. Taxi Driver
    22/ Columbia Pictures Corporation

    #30. Taxi Driver

    Spoiler alert: toward the end of "Taxi Driver," Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) goes on a murderous rampage and gets shot in the neck. Make-up artist Dick Smith would later confirm in a documentary that when De Niro presses his hand against the wound, he reveals wrinkles in his bald skin cap.

  • #29. Double Indemnity
    23/ Paramount Pictures

    #29. Double Indemnity

    In this classic film noir, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) gets lured into a duplicitous scheme by Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Neff is supposed to be a bachelor, but MacMurray's real-life wedding ring can be spotted throughout the film. Is it another plot twist? No, it's a goof.

  • #28. Toy Story
    24/ Pixar Animation Studios

    #28. Toy Story

    A major plot point in Pixar's breakout hit is that Andy and his family are moving in a matter of days. But once Buzz becomes Andy's favorite toy, Andy's mom changes the bedroom wallpaper from a cowboy theme to a spaceman theme. Couldn't that have waited until they arrived at the new house?

  • #27. The Night of the Hunter
    25/ Paul Gregory Productions

    #27. The Night of the Hunter

    The entire premise of this noirish drama is more or less built on an impossible scenario. While in prison for a misdemeanor, Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) shares a cell with a death row inmate, who mutters in his sleep about a stolen fortune. In real life, a man charged with a misdemeanor wouldn't be in the same facility as a death row inmate, let alone the same cell.

  • #26. Gone with the Wind
    26/ Selznick International Pictures

    #26. Gone with the Wind

    It might be the highest-grossing film of all time (when adjusted for inflation), but that doesn't mean "Gone with the Wind" isn't packed with its own share of mistakes. For instance, the film takes place before the invention of the light bulb, and yet a number of lamps in the film have either a cord or bulb.

  • #25. Boyhood
    27/ IFC Productions

    #25. Boyhood

    Famously shot over the course of 12 years, Richard Linklater's film follows young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he moves repeatedly from one town to the next. Before moving to Houston, there's a bumper sticker on his mom's car that reads: "Atherton Elementary Honor Student On Board." Since Atherton Elementary is actually located in Houston, perhaps it was wishful thinking on the part of Mason's mom (Patricia Arquette).

  • #24. Apocalypse Now
    28/ Zoetrope Studios

    #24. Apocalypse Now

    Making this Vietnam War epic was an absolute nightmare for director Francis Ford Coppola, so it's no surprise that the film contains a reported 395 errors. During one of the movie's most iconic scenes, "Ride of the Valkyries" plays through aerial speakers as military helicopters approach a small village. A closer look reveals that the reel-to-reel tape never touches the playback head

  • #23. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    29/ Produzioni Europee Associate

    #23. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Like a plate of saucy pasta, this spaghetti western can get a little sloppy. At the end of the movie, Tuco (Eli Wallach) is being held by a rope on a gravestone cross. Meanwhile, a car drives by in the background, which isn't exactly supposed to happen on the heels of the Civil War.

  • #22. WALL-E
    30/ Pixar Animation Studios

    #22. WALL-E

    Like most futuristic films, this one from Pixar offers up plenty of scientific snafus. For example, the stars blink in the background as WALL-E travels through space. However, the blinking of stars is due to atmospheric variables on Earth, and the phenomenon doesn't occur in space.

  • #21. Touch of Evil
    31/ Universal International Pictures

    #21. Touch of Evil

    This noirish thriller from Orson Welles opens with one of the most emblematic long shots in cinematic history. At the beginning of the famously extended sequence, a crew member is briefly visible in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Of course, most eyes are on the bomb being placed in the trunk of a car.

  • #20. Some Like It Hot
    32/ The Mirisch Corporation

    #20. Some Like It Hot

    This comedy classic set in 1929 delivers an array of choice musical numbers, including Marilyn Monroe's rendition of "I'm Thru With Love." Unfortunately, that particular song didn't come out until the 1930s. It's a minor goof, but a goof nonetheless.

  • #19. The Wizard of Oz
    33/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    #19. The Wizard of Oz

    When Dorothy and the Scarecrow meet the Tin Man for the first time, they apply oil to his rusty joints so that he can move. There's just one problem: tin doesn't rust. While legions of fans will argue that the Tin Man probably contained metal parts, or that ”rust“ is being used colloquially in this particular instance, the scene nevertheless endures as a famous flub.

  • #18. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    34/ Columbia Pictures Corporation

    #18. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    Even renowned perfectionist Stanley Kubrick was prone to the occasional mistake, including grammatical errors. During the opening credits sequence in this dark comedy, the text reads, "Base on the book Red Alert by Peter George." The words "fictitious" and "occurrence" are also misspelled during the same credits sequence.

  • #17. The Godfather: Part II
    35/ Paramount Pictures

    #17. The Godfather: Part II

    Director Francis Ford Coppola made an intentional cameo in "Apocalypse Now," but his appearance in "The Godfather: Part II" was purely accidental. As young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) drives down the street, Coppola's reflection briefly appears in a car window. Hi, Francis!

  • #16. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    36/ New Line Cinema

    #16. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    If there's one thing Peter Jackson's ”Lord of the Rings“ trilogy shouldn't screw up, it's the placement of the precious ring itself. Yet in this first installment, Frodo slips the ring on his middle finger to become invisible and then has the ring on his index finger just a few moments later.

  • #15. All About Eve
    37/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #15. All About Eve

    This timeless drama deals with the ins and outs of show business, so it's almost meta when Addison (George Sanders) slaps Eve and her head turns the wrong way. Actress Anne Baxter's minor blunder is otherwise known as a "stage" slap.

  • #14. Modern Times
    38/ Charles Chaplin Productions

    #14. Modern Times

    King of slapstick comedy Charlie Chaplin resorted to a variety of cinematic tricks while executing this brilliant satire. When his character famously emerges from the giant machine, for instance, the footage is played backward. If not for the men behind Chaplin hammering in reverse, the audience would be none the wiser.

  • #13. North by Northwest
    39/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    #13. North by Northwest

    The movie that arguably spawned the modern action genre also touts one of cinema's most well-known goofs. It goes down during a climactic scene inside the Mt. Rushmore cafeteria, where Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) pulls out a gun and prepares to shoot Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant). Before the gunshot rings out, a young boy in the background is already covering his ears.

  • #12. Sweet Smell of Success
    40/ Norma Productions

    #12. Sweet Smell of Success

    This acclaimed drama depicts the fraught relationship between a columnist and press agent, so one might expect it to portray newspapers with a relative degree of authenticity. On the contrary, the film repeats certain paragraphs over and over when Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) peruses J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster)'s Broadway column.

  • #11. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    41/ Warner Bros.

    #11. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    True to its name, this John Huston adventure takes place in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. But if that's the case, then why is there an Australian kookaburra making noises in the background? No wonder Humphrey Bogart's character grew so paranoid!

  • #10. Singin' in the Rain
    42/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    #10. Singin' in the Rain

    The most famous scene in this acclaimed musical appropriately features Gene Kelly singing and tap-dancing in the rain. Keen observers might notice that the sound of tapping doesn't always match up to the movements of his feet. In fact, listen closely enough and one might hear the sound of tapping even after Kelly's stopped dancing altogether.

  • #9. Psycho
    43/ Shamley Productions

    #9. Psycho

    Hitchcock's famous shower scene endures as a work of art unto itself, albeit one with a minor mistake. As Janet Leigh's character lies dead on the floor, her eyes are contracted when they're supposed to be dilated. After learning of the error, Hitchcock reportedly consulted with a handful of ophthalmologists, who recommended that he use belladonna eye drops when depicting murder victims.

  • #8. Schindler's List
    44/ Universal Pictures

    #8. Schindler's List

    Steven Spielberg was striving for authenticity when crafting this award-winning drama, but he should've brushed up on his German before filming certain scenes. As an SS soldier drags a boy to an assembly area, he mispronounces the verb "schiessen," which means "to shoot." Instead, he says the verb that means "to defecate." Oops.

  • #7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    45/ New Line Cinema

    #7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    The third installment of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy features a truly epic battle scene that required a slew of camera angles and tons of coordination. Because of all the complex camerawork, a number of the film's crew members can be spotted lurking within the orc army. Look for the people who aren't dressed to the nines in battle gear, and who don't resemble evil creatures.

  • #6. Pulp Fiction
    46/ Miramax

    #6. Pulp Fiction

    In one of this film's best scenes, a young man emerges from the bathroom and lets the bullets fly toward Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson). Before that bathroom door even opens, however, at least two bullet holes are already in the wall.

  • #5. Citizen Kane
    47/ RKO Radio Pictures

    #5. Citizen Kane

    The most famous word ever spoken on film might very well be "rosebud," uttered by Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) before he takes his final breath. As reporters scramble to figure out the meaning behind the word, some viewers might wonder how those reporters heard it in the first place, as Kane appeared to be alone when he died. The most ardent fans argue there was a butler in the room, but to this day it remains unclear.

  • #4. Rear Window
    48/ Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions

    #4. Rear Window

    Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense, but not necessarily a master of common sense. In this taut thriller, James Stewart's character is a professional photojournalist who is armed with a high-powered camera and a boatload of suspicions about his neighbor (Raymond Burr). And yet he never takes a single photo of the neighbor's potential misdeeds.

  • #3. Casablanca
    49/ Warner Bros.

    #3. Casablanca

    Inside Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart)'s Moroccan night club, a now-famous piano player named Sam (Dooley Wilson) sets the atmosphere. Only Wilson didn't actually know how to play the piano. It's no wonder, then, that his hand movements don't match the music whatsoever.

  • #2. 12 Angry Men
    50/ Orion-Nova Productions

    #2. 12 Angry Men

    There are 12 angry jurors in this heralded drama, and all but one think the defendant is guilty as charged. The lone holdout is Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), who leaves the room to buy a knife and then introduces new evidence into the proceedings. In real life, these maneuvers would be grounds for a mistrial.

  • #1. The Godfather
    51/ Paramount Pictures

    #1. The Godfather

    The most egregious error in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 masterpiece comes when Sonny (James Caan) attacks Carlo (Gianni Russo) outside some apartment buildings. In the midst of the beating, Sonny throws a whiff that can be spotted from a mile away, though it's portrayed as a direct hit. It might very well be the most famous "movie" punch in cinematic history.

2018 All rights reserved.