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Best Improvised Movie Scenes

In honor of the improvised "Like Crazy," see top movie improv scenes, from "Taxi Driver" to "Casablanca."

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The Ear/Torture Scene

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RESERVOIR DOGS (1991)

In addition to the large quantities of blood spilled, Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs, is noteworthy for Tarantino’s witty screenplay—in particular, the scene in the diner in which the gangsters debate the true meaning of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” The film’s most memorable scene, however, was unscripted. After a jewelry-store heist gone awry, Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is left back at the gang’s home base—a seedy warehouse—with a police officer, Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz), whom he took hostage during the robbery. Convinced that the crew has been double-crossed, he tortures the cop by doing a dance to Stealers Wheels' “Stuck in the Middle with You” and hacking Nash’s ear off. In the script, the scene merely read: “Mr. Blonde maniacally dances around the maniacal cop,” so Madsen improvised the entire sequence, which took three takes. In addition to the violence, Madsen was worried about the scene because he thought he was a lousy dancer, he said in one interview.

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