11 Great Moments with The Statue of Liberty (Where it Doesn’t Get Destroyed)
One of the most iconic images in world is that of the Statue of Liberty. It stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, welcoming all to the country that prides itself on equality and freedom. It’s also seen its fair share of use in movies, making appearances in every genre from comedy to drama. Most of those movies see the statue meet its end at the hands of monsters, aliens, planets of apes and many more. Here are the top 11 great moments in movies with The Statue of Liberty (where it doesn’t get destroyed).
The Tramp Arrives in New York
FILM: The Immigrant ACTOR: Charlie Chaplin
Might as well start with one of the earliest images of the great statue ever put on screen. In this 22 minute short film from 1917, Chaplin plays his now iconic Tramp character coming to the United States. On the boat, he meets a beautiful young woman (Edna Purviance) whom he meets again in the city and soon falls in love. A classic by any standard, Lady Liberty makes a brief appearance as the ship passes by toward Ellis Island. The Statue was only thirty-one years old at the time.
Rose Arrives in New York
FILM: Titanic (1997) ACTRESS: Kate Winslet
Who doesn’t know the story of the doomed passenger steamship Titanic? It’s the most famous non-natural disaster at sea of all time. Maybe out of sea, too. The luxury (for some) liner, on its maiden voyage runs afoul of a giant iceberg and takes to the ocean floor more than 1500 people. In the historical-fiction film of the same name as the ship, two young lovers who met on the journey face the worst of situations when their romance is interrupted by the deathly cold North Atlantic. Spoilers, only Rose (Winslet) makes it out alive (because she totally refused to share that plank). On the rescue ship, she finally makes it to New York and passes by the famous statue. Hmmm. Seems awfully close to it though. How funny would it have been if the rescue boat sank after the Statue sliced opened the bow? Ha. No. Not funny at all.
Mame Inspires Her Nephew
FILM: Mame (1974) ACTRESS: Lucille Ball
The notoriously awful (and sometimes controversial) musical Mame, based on the hit Broadway show, itself from the 1958 film Auntie Mame, stars Lucille Ball as the flamboyant and life-loving aunt acting as guardian of her young nephew after his father passes away. It’s a painful experience to watch (trust us), with lifeless songs and a tragically miscast Ball (who vowed never to make another movie – and didn’t). Early on, in a story that covers many years, she extolls to the boy the wonders of exploration and adventure, in one instance, singing a song called ‘Open a New Window’ where it cuts to (real or fantasy?) moments of she and the child experiencing the New York hotspots, like: strip clubs, fire stations, parachuting(?) and of course, that time-honored tradition of sitting on Lady Liberty’s crown. A truly great visual effect (stunning matte painting by Ross Hoffman) in a dreadful movie.
FILM: Abbott and Costello Go To Mars (1953) ACTORS: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello
The classic comedy duo get accidentally launched into space where they land on Mars, though it’s actually just New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Those crazy costumes fool them. While the boys are convinced they are on the red planet, two thieves dressed in space suits just like our heroes rob a bank and frame them (so that’s where Stir Crazy got that from), then force them to take off in the rocket with all four inside. This time, they end up on the very real planet of Venus and discover it’s populated entirely with beautiful scantily-clad women. It’s a dream come true. When they can’t be trusted they’re kicked off and as the ship heads back to Earth, it flies through New York and narrowly hits Lady Liberty. Good thing she saw them coming and ducked!
Nest of the Narrator
FILM: The Walk (2015) ACTOR: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Back in 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit strapped a line between the World Trade Center towers and spent 45 minutes (illegally) walking between the buildings as awestruck bystanders far below watched. In 2015, director Robert Zemeckis made a 3D CGI-heavy biopic starring Gordon-Levitt about that story even though a perfectly good documentary called Man on Wire had already more than accomplished that feat. Still, while the story and casting choice aren’t so compelling, the visuals are stunning. The film opens with Petit atop the torch of the Statue of Liberty, ready to tell us his exciting tale. Fast-forward to the ending bit though. You won’t miss much.
A Mermaid Comes Ashore
FILM: Splash (1984) ACTRESS: Daryl Hannah
When Madison the mermaid decides she wants to fall in love with a real human man, she makes one of the most “revealing” entrances in movie history. While tourists stand in line at the base of the statue, the sinewy blonde mermaid (played by Hannah) leaves the water and has her giant fin turn into long shapely legs, which she puts to good use. Thing is, mermaids don’t wear clothes so she strolls on over in nothing but her birthday suit, much to everyone’s joy. But how did she get dry so fast? What’s that plaque read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be naked . . .”
Flying Lady Liberty
FILM: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) ACTOR: Christopher Reeve
Just how bad did the sequels for the original 1978 classic superhero movie Superman get? Superman IV: The Quest for Peace bad, that’s how. In this poorly made, cheaply produced, gawd-awful-special effects-riddled film, Superman does battle (sorta) with Lex Luthor’s (Gene Hackman) Solar-powered anti-Superman, Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). It’s as bad as it sounds. The golden bad guy fights the Man of Steel in New York, er, Metropolis and evil-doer that he his, Nuclear Man lifts the Statue of Liberty off its mount and attempts to destroy it by dropping it on the city. Not on Superman’s watch. He catches it just before is goes splat and puts it back where it belongs. Now let’s forgets this movie forever.
Through The Right Door
FILM: The Adjustment Bureau (2010) ACTORS: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
Ever get the feeling you have no control over your destiny? Well, according to his sci-fi film, a secret time-altering group of officials working for “The Chairman” make sure things follow the predetermined plan. That plan states that one David Norris (Damon) cannot fall in love with one Elise Sellas (Blunt), as it will disrupt his journey to becoming President of the United States and make a very important decision. But, you know how
lust love goes. Damon can’t get that girl out of his mind and spends the whole film chasing her down, proving that no plan is perfect. Using special ‘doors’ that open to other times and places, he tells Elise of their situation and escapes capture by running down a street and through a door that takes them right to the Statue of Liberty. Freedom, baby! Wait, that’s Austin Powers.
Fear of Heights
FILM: Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) ACTOR: Fred Ward
A tough New York City cop and ex-Marine is pulled into a secret government assassin corps. His death is faked, he’s given a new name, and gets training from (a totally
not racist) “Korean” man named Chiun (actually white actor Joel Grey). Meanwhile, before his training is complete, he’s called into action to intercept a weapons deal but that doesn’t stop Chiun from helping Remo get over his “childish” fear of heights. What better to remedy that phobia than to head straight for the torch of the Statue of Liberty? Oh, and how about some bad guys who catch on Remo is up there? They send up evil construction workers (the statue is cocooned in scaffolding for renovations) to show the nice Mr. Williams the way down. The short way. It’s Remo fighting time! A very cool sequence involving the real statue and a spectacular life-sized model. Too bad the film comes off like a late-night cable movie of the week.
Fievel Starts His Journey
FILM: An American Tail (1986) ACTOR: Christopher Plummer
This animated children’s story is about a European field mouse who comes to American only to lose his family. They think he drowned. Now he has to find them, but it won’t be easy. In New York City, he meets Henri (Christopher Plummer) a French pigeon with an optimistic outlook. He takes in the mouse, gives him a hot bath and sings a song about never giving up, worried that a boy so young as already lost hope. Inside the Statue of Liberty, Henri carries the boy place to place, singing enthusiastically to never say never, finally turning the mouse around until little Fievel is singing along. Of course, we’d be optimistic too if we had three girl pigeons living with us like Henri does.
Higher and Higher
FILM: Ghostbusters 2 (1988) ACTORS: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson
In the much-anticipated follow-up to the highly-acclaimed original, the Ghostbusters return, this time fighting a sixteenth-century tyrant named Vigo the Carpathian, rejuvenated by the negative energy pooling in the underbelly of New York City. Now it’s up to the Ghostbusters to stop the villainous specter from taking human form and reigning terror over the people. What better way to stop that then taking control of the city’s most iconic symbol of pride and joy, the Statue of Liberty. Learning that the foul pink psychomagnatheric slime brewing under the streets can be positively charged by emotions, they slather the inside of Lady Liberty and crank up a remix of the classic R&B song, Higher and Higher. Up in the crown, they take her for a stroll to do battle and inspire the people of New York. Sure. Seems plausible. Awesome Statue of Liberty moment though.