Sleuthing Reference
September 6, 2019 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Need inspiration for constructing a scene...

I'm looking for examples in film or tv (or even books) where the protagonist has to search for clues or an object in a room (usually messy? Having to sift through an amount of stuff). Thinking kind of like...Harry Potter searching in the room of requirement, or maybe a crime scene? Storage unit in Silence of the Lambs? Usually there's some fun or unique way in which they uncover it or clues leading to it.

I'm stuck writing a scene and I could use some inspiration!

Also if anyone knows the relevant TV Tropes page for that, please feel free to link (am I the only person who finds that site fairly unusable because of all the random category names they have? How am I supposed to know those names??)

Thanks in advance, hivemind!
posted by sprezzy to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sneakers: the scene where they go through Werner Brandes' trash?
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:57 PM on September 6, 2019

Tried to find a relevant TV Tropes page -
Evidence Scavenger Hunt is the closest that I found. I'm sure it is too broad but if you rummage around you might find something.
posted by metahawk at 5:54 PM on September 6, 2019

TV Tropes pages with possible leads in the examples:
Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome
Evidence Scavenger Hunt
Evidence Dungeon

se7en - Detectives search John Doe's apartment

Chapter Two (Evidence Search Techniques) in David Miranda's "Evidence Found: An Approach to Crime Scene Investigation" gives details you might find useful (the "bouncing light technique" for a dark, cluttered room, for example).
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:01 PM on September 6, 2019

Technically, The Wire's (in)famous Fuck Scene (NSFW for language and photographic nudity) involves the detectives examining a crime scene and piecing together clues to a homicide.
posted by mhum at 6:02 PM on September 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books have pages and pages of Archie narrating his (and Saul's and Fred's and Orrie's) searches of rooms. Typically he leaves the bookshelves until the end as he hates flipping through the pages. More than once, he comments that they should bring a kid along and pay him to flip through the books.

If you need an exact quote or reference or scene, post a message here or send me a MeMail. There are tons of Stout fans on MeFi, who can probably pull up scenes and quotes in the blink of an eye. I won't be that quick, but I will find you one or two if needed.
posted by sardonyx at 6:05 PM on September 6, 2019

Naturally I feel like I have seen a perfect example of the kind of scene you're looking for, and I think it might be from one of the Back to the Futures but I just can't place it. So I went through my movies to see if anything else jogged my memory. Not the particular scene I'm thinking of, but...

In First Wives Club the ladies have a classic frantic search scene in one of the ex's apartments.

Honey I Shrunk the Kids is like 60% searching a room. For tiny kids.

In Best In Show Parker Posey has an amazing scene searching for a dog toy in a hotel room.

In Cabin in the Woods there's an interesting scene in the cellar where the main characters search through various death objects.

In Runaway Jury a henchman tears John Cusack's apartment apart looking for a hard drive.

In A Few Good Men Demi Moore & Tom Hanks search (very gently) through the dead Marine's room.

There are a few bunker search scenes in 10 Cloverfield Lane as the main character tries to figure how how screwed she is.

In Matilda she and Miss Honey do a search of Trunchbull's house.

In ConAir Nic Cage searches through a prisoner belongings in cargo (put. the bunneh. back. in the box.)

In The Fugitive I think there are a few search scenes, but the one that comes to mind is Harrison Ford at the one armed man's house, he finds a stack of photos.

In 10 Things I hate about you Alex Mack searches through her sisters room for some reason and finds underwear. This is considered scandalous.

They toss Andy's cell in Shawshank Redemption.

In Heavy Weights the campers sneak into Ben Stiller's cabin looking for candy.

And I was also gonna mention that same scene from Manhunter. God that's such a good movie. You should watch it even for the not-searching parts.
posted by phunniemee at 6:25 PM on September 6, 2019

Forgive me, I invoked the wrong Tom. I meant the creepy one.
posted by phunniemee at 6:36 PM on September 6, 2019

Usually there's some fun or unique way in which they uncover it or clues leading to it.

It doesn't get any funnier than Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies. The Pink Panther Strikes Again and The Return of the Pink Panther are widely regarded as the best (and funniest) of the 10 or so movies in the series. Definitely check them out
posted by BadgerDoctor at 8:52 PM on September 6, 2019

Blade Runner's photo enhancement scene is a nice spin on this trope.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:30 AM on September 13, 2019

« Older Dimly-remembered scene with George Clooney, pink...   |   Making Super 8mm movies Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.