19. Cupboard Under The Stairs - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYAD4L6OZU4&feature=youtube_gdata_player There are numerous stairs in the Harry Potter series, most notably the ever-moving staircases that lead the pupils of Hogwarts to their dorm rooms. But before the grandeur and spectacle of Dumbledores magical academy, Harry is introduced to us under a very different set of circumstances, and under a very familiar flight of stairs. I am, of course, referring to the now infamous cupboard under the stairs of 4 Privet Drive. One way to make your lead immediately vulnerable is to show them at the mercy of others, in an uncomfortable and unacceptable condition. Harrys sleeping quarters are small, dank, and situated under the main stairs of the Dursley household. Aunt Petunia ferociously knocks on the cacky little door, super bastard Dudley comes running and jumping all the way down the steps above Harrys head, and Uncle Vernon hisses at him through the air duct. If ever a violin were to be played on someones behalf, then that little orphan wizard would be deserving of it right now. Had Harry been sleeping in the garage, a tiny bedroom, or even a rotten tent in the garden, it would not have had quite the same effect. Barring a shoebox under the sink, there are very few places left in your average English household that are less appealing to sleep in than the under stairs storage room. As an aside: on a recent visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden, I saw said cupboard set up close. And I must say, it is more inviting in person than director Chris Columbus portrays in the film, and has more room in it than you might think. But that being said, seeing Harry Potter for the first time, might not have gripped our heartstrings quite as strongly if it wasn't for that sodding little cupboard under those looming, domineering stairs.
18. Chance Meeting - The Artist (2011)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdZ6qugumXw The Bradbury Building is a very famous period structure. It has featured in the likes of Blade Runner, 500 Days Of Summer and, of course, The Artist. Michael Hazanavicius love letter to the silent era of film uses the picturesque symmetry of this building to frame his two leads in a key sequence. George Valentin (uber handsome Jean Dujardin) is quite literally on his way down, and Peppy Miller (the gorgeous Berenice Bejo) is quite clearly on her way up. He wears grey, merging in with the numerous grey and black suited men surrounding; she and her toys wear white. The hustling and bustling extras seem to come in an infinite drove, like mice or sheep, mirroring works such as Charlie Chaplins Modern Times. Whilst the world goes on, these two awe struck sweethearts reminisce and chat paused mid flight along the stairs. She talks and laughs, he stares and adores, whilst everyone else goes on. The most beautiful use of this staircase comes in a wide angle of the entire structure; once during the conversation, with extras abound. The second use comes at the scene culmination, with George isolated and alone. There is no doubt as to what Hazanavicius is trying achieve with this sequence, and he could not have had a better location than those glorious steps at 340 South Broadway, Los Angeles.
17. Machete - Casino Royale (2006)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZLFfyzEUX8 Daniel Craigs entrance into the role of 007 was a very rough and ready experience. The majority of fight scenes within Casino Royale are the type of neo-Bourne violence that was becoming all too common in 2006. But where do stairs come in to this? I have two words for you - machete fight. The scene is very unpleasant and nasty looking, and the stuntmen must have taken home a good few bruises by the end of filming it. Bond basically falls and jumps the majority of the way down several flights of hard stairs, all the while narrowly dodging vicious swings from Stevens (Isaach De Bankole) machete wielding hand. This is the sort of action that some watchdog-types have blasted in recent years, deeming such things too realistic and brutal for younger audiences (Bond is after all, unofficially a family franchise). But blades and bumps aside, what compounds the ferocity of this scene is the fact that it takes place in a concrete stairwell. And is proof that Bond can literally kill anyone, any time, anywhere.