Before the emergence of mukbang videos on YouTube, food scenes in films racked up audiences’ appetites. Whether it’s a full-blown breakfast filling up a kitchen table that the main character only takes on a strawberry from, or two completely different families coming together over a mouth-watering steak dinner to celebrate two young lovers getting engaged, food scenes know how to whet our appetites.
One common food shown in films is sandwiches, sometimes belonging to carefully placed product placement or fictional restaurant chains. Characters are seen preparing the sandwich themselves from start to finish, or hanging out with friends at a diner to tuck into some.
Watching characters eat food, that always looks straight out of an advert, is a satisfying watch. Here are ten sandwich scenes from films that may have you heading to your local cafe for a bite to eat.
10 incredible sandwich-making scenes in movies:
10. Five Easy Pieces (Bob Ralefson, 1970)
Cinema veteran Jack Nicholson stars in this 70s drama as oil wig worker Bobby. After learning his father is dying, Bobby goes back to his family home in Washington with his not-so-refined girlfriend.
During a stop-in at a diner, Bobby attempts to order his own take on the menu, despite not being allowed to have a side order of toast with his food and coffee. He eventually negotiates to get his way and orders a chicken salad sandwich on toasted bread, telling the waitress, “I assume you’ve got bread and a toaster of some kind”. He then asks for the chicken to be removed yet still asks to be charged for it.
9. Benny and Joon (Jeremiah S. Chechik, 1993)
This romantic comedy film tells the love story of two eccentric youngsters called Sam (Johnny Depp) and Juniper (Mary Stuart Masterson). It’s most recognised for its display of physical comedy inspired by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
Some unorthodox visuals are offered in a scene where Sam prepares a grilled cheese sandwich. As comes with the territory of his character, Sam makes the most of what he has around him and uses a hot iron to grill his cheese sandwich, as a shocked Aidan Quinn observes this madness in his method. Juniper later informs Quinn’s character that she was “consulted” before Sam “used steam”.
8. The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)
De Sica’s neorealist masterpiece is deemed one of the greatest films of all time. It focuses on a poor father searching in post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.
As unhappy as the majority of the film is, there comes a break in this tension through the happy scene of a father and son enjoying some cheese sandwiches together. This sweet and simple moment emphasises appreciating the small things in life.
7. Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow, 1991)
Point Break is an American crime action flick starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. An FBI agent goes undercover to investigate two bank robbers, which results in a complicated dynamic with the group’s leader.
One quick yet fun scene shows Reeves being asked by Gary Busey to get two meatball subs for lunch (even though it’s 10am). Busey shrugs off the oddly early time of day to want such a carb-packed order, and Reeves just has to shake his head as he sets out to get it.
6. Back to School (Rodney Dangerfield, 1986)
This comedy features a large cast, including two icons in, Robert Downey Jr. and Sally Kellerman. It focuses on a wealthy but uneducated father (Rodney Dangerfield) who goes to college to show solidarity with his discouraged son (Keith Gordon).
Dangerfield decides to have some fun with the elitist snobs at the college using some food. He slices a loaf of bread in half and stuffs it with finger foods being served. Despite being a simple prepping of food, Dangerfield manages to attract quite the crowd to see it being made.
5. Diner (Barry Levinson, 1982)
Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) invites his childhood friend Billy (Tim Daly) to serve as the best man at his upcoming wedding. Billy and Eddie meet their college friends at a local diner and recollect their past days.
Paul Reiner’s Modell and Eddie end up bickering about Eddie not eating his sandwich fast enough for Modell’s liking. Eddie taunts Modell about asking for the rest, since he clearly wants it so much. Modell responds by patronising him about how he doesn’t chew his food, almost like a strict father. Here, some of the group’s dynamic is established through some food.
4. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1986)
Rob Reiner’s classic stars beloved comedian Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as two people who share a cross-country drive around the country. The film is an attempt to examine and answer the questioning of men and women being able to remain just friends.
During a shared lunch, in which Sally tells Harry how happy she is to have not ended up with him, she lets loose when showing her love for the food. After being questioned on the issue of women “faking”, Sally builds up into a fit of moans and pants from how mind-blowing her sandwich is, mimicking a performed inauthentic orgasm and making her point. This prompts another customer to tell the waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having” in a truly iconic cinematic moment.
3. Cop Land (James Mangold, 1997)
Action hero Sylvester Stallone stars in this American crime Neo-noir about a small town sheriff. He finds himself in trouble with some corrupt police from New York, and as a result, he is forced to take action and make a dangerous choice between protecting his idols and upholding the law.
When Stallone attempts to help Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) in an investigation, Tilden is more interested in how “this place never gives you any napkins” as he pulls out his lunch. He eventually informs Stallone that his help is not needed in between bites of his sandwich, a contrast in tone from Stallone seriously voicing how he “wants to do the right thing”.
2. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
Uma Thurman continues her killer performance as The Bride in this Neo-Western masterpiece. She builds up a body count as she hunts down the assassins league responsible for trying to kill her, as well as their leader Bill (David Carradine).
After The Bride finally tracks down Bill and their daughter, who she thought was dead, he attempts to remain in control of the situation with a chilling coolness. While preparing a sandwich, Bill shows The Bride that he raised their daughter with love and compassion, but, also implies that she is a “natural born killer” just as they are.
1. The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)
Five teenagers from different high school cliques serve a Saturday detention overseen by their authoritarian vice-principal in this classic coming-of-age comedy-drama. Despite their surface-level differences, the group comes to learn that they have a lot more in common than first suspected and come to bond.
Even though they are branded as ‘The Breakfast Club’, the only meal we see the gang having is lunch. Each member’s lunch is designed to represent them and their image. The most notable is ‘oddball’ Allison’s bizarre lunch of a sugar and cereal sandwich, served with a coke to wash it down. She chews down on her eccentric meal as the rest of the group stare her down in a mixture of confusion and curiosity.