Inception is getting good reviews as a dream-based thriller, but there are plenty of examples of perfectly good movies or shows being ruined, or at least temporarily harmed, by dream sequences.
1. The Sopranos with that damn Kevin Finnerty
Tony gets shot and then the wheels come off. We get to watch James Gandolfini as a salesman (OR IS HE?!?!?!) at a hotel bitching about his briefcase, and the whole thing ends with another example of a character being suavely introduced to heaven only to discover "I don't want to die yet."
2. The Best Years of Our Lives' nightmare
The Best Years of Our Lives
is a terrific movie, really terrific, and part of what makes it so is its low-key, non-scenery-chewing depiction of WW2 vets adjusting to life back home.
That approach momentarily goes out the window when Dana Andrews' character, a former bombardier, has a nightmare harking back to his missions. The scene is mostly done so the excellent Teresa Wright can fall in love with him, but it's a little over the top compared with the rest of the understated movie.
The scene isn't online, or we can't find it, but above is the immediate aftermath.
3. Dallas says "Ah, fuck it"
Don't get us wrong --Dallas
is not great art by any stretch, even in the "so bad it's good" category. (And yeah, it's not a "movie"' neither wasSopranos
, we know.)
But they did do one great thing when Patrick Duffy left the show for greater things, then returned when greater things didn't happen. You can almost see the desperation of the writers, who had his character, Bobby Ewing, dead from a car crash.
So they just threw in the towel. We're sure "it was all a dream" was the first suggestion for how to bring Bobby back, and it was laughingly dismissed by the other writers. Until everything else failed, when it suddenly sounded like genius.
4. Apollo 13's nightmare
Near the beginning of Apollo 13, the astronauts are in the capsule when things begin to go terribly wrong. Disaster!! Huge suspense!!
Except that's the thing -- it's the near the beginning of the movie. And you know Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are not going to get all crazily experimental with this film -- the audience is going to be walked through things strictly chronologically, by God.
So you calmly wait for the nightmare to be over, for the moviemakers to finish with their chore of throwing in a little action to relieve a talky first quarter of the film.....and, bingo! Someone wakes up.
5. The Wizard of Oz
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A searing Depression-era documentary on the back-breaking work and heart-dulling loneliness of rural life,The Wizard of Oz
is a timeless historical artifact.
Except for that middle part, with the flying monkeys and Munchkins and all that stuff.