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March 13, 2008 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Spiral staircases in film. I need a list!

Hey mefite cinephiles, I need your help. I'm compiling a list of films where a spiral staircase is prominently featured. It may seem simple but it's actually proving to be much more difficult. And before you mention it, the staircase at the end of "Vertigo" was actually square shaped.

Bonus points if it is from old Hollywood.
posted by cazoo to Media & Arts (27 answers total)
Quite a few horrible things happen on the spiral staircase in the 1963 version of The Haunting.
posted by katillathehun at 3:52 PM on March 13, 2008

American Psycho had a scene with a spiral staircase, a chase, and a chainsaw.
posted by ignignokt at 3:52 PM on March 13, 2008

This question was asked before, I think.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:53 PM on March 13, 2008

Gattaca has a double helix-shaped spiral staircase that was prominent in the movie.

By the way, when I was a kid I called spiral staircases "DNA staircases."
posted by zsazsa at 3:55 PM on March 13, 2008

Funny Face
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Music Man
posted by elle.jeezy at 3:57 PM on March 13, 2008

And I'm gonna guess there's one in The Spiral Staircase.
posted by katillathehun at 4:03 PM on March 13, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade had one in the library in Venice.
posted by friedrice at 4:08 PM on March 13, 2008

In Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail, there's a scene when they're in a library looking for an X that marks a spot and Indy only finds it by climbing a spiral staircase.
posted by twirlypen at 4:09 PM on March 13, 2008

Damn. Beat me too it. And got the movie right. Full marks.
posted by twirlypen at 4:09 PM on March 13, 2008

I assume you mean one of those helical metal-framed stairs? Or just long curved staircases? In which case the final scene of Notorious would be a fantastic example.
posted by Brian James at 4:15 PM on March 13, 2008

Hmm, this link seems pretty on-point.
posted by Brian James at 4:20 PM on March 13, 2008

Gattaca actually had two spiral stair cases, one in the apartment (as pointed out by zsazsa above), and one in the geneticists office (which I never noticed until today).
posted by bumper314 at 4:25 PM on March 13, 2008

The Sixth Sense when he's at the birthday party.
posted by saffry at 4:25 PM on March 13, 2008

The Haunting (1963 version)
posted by loosemouth at 4:41 PM on March 13, 2008

Shallow Grave
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2008

Oh God, The Tenant; Polanski dragging himself up the stairs at the end to kill himself, over and over. That movie messed me up.

Eye of the Beholder (the staircase actually features prominently in the music poster.

Also, ANY movie with a lighthouse probably has a spiral staircase in it by necessity.
posted by Shepherd at 4:54 PM on March 13, 2008

There's a set of iron spiral stairs on the set of Desk Set (1957), with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn goes up and down a few times, as I remember.

What shape were the stairs in the final scene of Marathon Man?
posted by steef at 4:54 PM on March 13, 2008

Oh, and I have the unshakable feeling that there are some spectacular swashbuckling swordfights on spiral staircases from the great old days of Hollywood, but damned if I can remember anything specific. Does that jog anyone else's memory? Castles often had spiral staircases to give defenders the home field advantage.
posted by Shepherd at 5:04 PM on March 13, 2008

How prominently featured? There's a spiral staircase in the library in The Music Man, which gets danced on quite acrobatically in one musical number but isn't seen again.

I think there's a spiral staircase in Rock Hudson's apartment in Pillow Talk, but I may be imagining it.
posted by srah at 5:04 PM on March 13, 2008

posted by lain at 5:34 PM on March 13, 2008

In Bruges

Some important action takes place on the spiral staircase in the Bruges Bell Tower.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2008

There's a magical spiral staircase leading to Dumbledore's office in the Harry Potter movies and books.
posted by dixie flatline at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2008

There is no such film as Highlander 2, clearly. Because then Highlander would stop being good entertaining crap and descend into the realms of plain old crap. But I, like many people, have a delusion of having seen that nonexistent film.

At any rate, if there were a movie called Highlander 2, which there isn't, then it would feature history's worst spiral staircase shot. It would have been from overhead, with a woman ascending a spiral staircase so she is rotating around the frame and with the camera rotating so that the staircase is rotating and the woman is also rotating, at exactly the rate that causes maximum nausea. And this shot would go on and on and on. In the delusion I have of seeing this nonexistent film in the theater, people started shouting at the screen at this point.

Also it would feature planet Zeist, so that's funny too.

Good thing there's no such film.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 PM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not exactly prominently featured, but there's a beautiful shot of a spiral staircase in Woody Allen's apartment in Manhattan.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:31 PM on March 13, 2008

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus prominently features a spiral staircase.
posted by biscotti at 9:56 PM on March 13, 2008

Monty Python's Life of Brian. He's climbing a spiral staircase when he falls out of the top of the tower and into an alien space ship. i don't know if a staircase is different to stairs in a tower.
posted by galactain at 3:05 AM on March 14, 2008

Library scene in The Music Man.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:01 AM on March 14, 2008

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