All-You-Can-Eat Cinema

Swallow greatness with these famous food scenes

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The following movies display the act of eating in ways that are grotesque, beautiful and hilarious. There are so many to mention, such as Cool Hand Luke's famous scene centering on hard-boiled eggs,, Fatso's diet struggle with the Chubby Checkers and the labor of love behind Babette's Feast. Planet staffers share their favorite film food scenes. Symbolic or gratuitous, one thing all these flick takes have in common is that — like a great meal — they're unforgettable.

Tom Jones (1963) Sure, everybody understands all about the deeply symbiotic relationship between food and sex, but few movies have illustrated it so neatly as Tom Jones. That famous scene where Albert Finney and a comely 18th century wench get down and dirty in a veritable orgy of eating (and leering) still pretty much says it all.

Big Night (1996) As a movie, Big Night's overrated, but you can't deny the appeal of the movie's authentic and often elaborate Italian delicacies. The best bit's at the end, though, after the nonstop parade of suckling pigs and to-die-for risotto, when the movie winds down by silently focusing on our hero preparing himself nothing more or less than a simple, perfect egg.

The Spider's Stratagem (1970) Bernardo Bertolucci's 1970 masterpiece is as mysterious and cerebral as they come, but its finest moment might just be an atypically comic sequence involving chowing down. During the course of an investigation, the main character visits a series of families and, out of politeness, is unable to refuse the enormous meal he's offered in each home — which happens in each case to be a huge platter of tripe.

Tampopo (1985) Perhaps the ultimate food movie, this charming Japanese comedy is filled with eccentric but extremely appetizing vignettes that all revolve around the preparation and consumption of edibles. The most brilliant moment is a long, loving discourse by a culinary Zen master who instructs us in the correct path of contemplating, consuming and becoming one with your noodles.

Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980) Florida native Les Blank's movies usually use food as a way of providing insight into a certain culture, but here he simply cuts right to the chase. This entire movie is nothing more than an ode to the "stinking rose," and if you're not starving after watching it, there's probably something seriously wrong with you.

Tequila Sunrise (1988) This classic romantic thriller has everything — love triangle, deception, body doubles for Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer doing it in a hot tub. Food doesn't really star in this film, but makes a couple cameos, leading to some great character development. The best is when cop Kurt Russell invites himself to join old friend and retired dope smuggler Gibson at the swank restaurant run by knockout Pfeiffer. Russell checks out the way Gibson looks up from his dish at Pfeiffer and deduces that no matter how good the food is, Gibson's there for the girl.

Woman on Top (2000) Penelope Cruz in all her sensuality cooks up a storm in this movie. Well, someone off screen cooks up a storm, and she does an amazing job of handling culinary wares. The plot of this romantic comedy is serviceable, but Ms. Cruz purring about chili peppers is pretty much its own drama, climax and denouement.

Close Encounters of a Third Kind (1977) Spielberg's sci-fi follow-up to Jaws epitomizes suspense. The prospect of little men from outer space doesn't really drive this film to its climax, though. It's Spielberg's ability to scare us by making the mundane eerie. Power lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is among the residents of Muncie, Ind., to spot a flying saucer. But he's easily the most recklessly obsessed with them. And he gives us one of the most memorable scenes in an overall stunning movie: when he builds a mound out of mashed potatoes and states intensely, "This means something."

Caddyshack (1980) During the once-a-summer, 15-minute caddy swim, one of the kids drops a Baby Ruth into the pool. Someone spots it and shrieks "Doodeeeeeeee!!!!!," which sparks a mad scramble out of the water. After emptying and disinfecting the pool at Judge Smales' behest, Carl, in hazmat suit, finds the Baby Ruth, sniffs it and takes a bite. Mrs. Smales summarily faints.

9 1/2 Weeks (1986) Although it's one of the most sterile movies about sexual obsession ever made, the scene where Mickey Rourke coaxes Kim Basinger to the fridge and commences to experiment with all manner of edibles does raise the temperature a bit, if just for a little while.

Gangs of New York (2002) It seems like Daniel Day Lewis is always cutting up big, bloody slabs of meat when he isn't slashing his minions and enemies like so many sides of beef. The repeated image of meat not so subtly reinforces the violence and the implication that life is cheap, especially the lives of immigrants. In case you didn't get it, Daniel Day Lewis even uses a gutted pig to show Leonardo Di Caprio how to kill a man by stabbing him in the kidneys or slitting his throat.

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