Movie cliffhangers can be the best or the worst thing about a film – they can leave us on tenterhooks, thinking deeply about what we’ve just seen, or they can be maddeningly vague, a cheap cop-out that feels like a lazy writer deciding they don’t want to give us the answers we so desperately crave. With even their most clever, entertaining use, cliffhangers can be infuriating, leaving us wanting to know more even if we really recognise the genius of what we’ve just seen; conversely, it can leave us knowing that more is coming in the form of a cheap sequel, and infuriate us because of that fact.
Here are the 10 most infuriating movie cliffhangers…
10. The Italian Job
We’ll start with what a literal cliffhanger in what is easily the most famous movie cliffhanger of all time; the finale of the film sees the intrepid rogues make off with the money and pose as a gang of English football fans in a van. In Switzerland, it seems as if all is well, when the van skids on an icy road and ends up precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff, with the gold sliding towards the back of the bus. Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) crawls towards the gold and utters to his friends, “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea”, with the film leaving us to ponder the fates of both the men and the gold.
It’s unquestionably a brilliant climax to the film that’s perfectly in tonal step with what’s come before, but damnit if I didn’t also shout an expletive the first time I saw it. I was desperate to know what would happen and that, I suppose, is the genius of the film in the first place. This hilariously iconic exclamation point is a whole lot more satisfying – if also a little annoying – than them getting away with the gold would ever have been.
This article was first posted on April 16, 2013