1. The term “Icebox scene” was coined by Alfred Hitchcock regarding Vertigo. There is a scene where James Stewart is stalking Kim Novak and watches her go in a hotel, then when he follows her in, she has disappeared with no trace and the porter claims she didn’t see anyone come in. When he insists on going up to the room he saw her in, there is no evidence of her ever being there. The scene has no explanation and is never referenced again in the film.
Hitchcock later stated in his typical humor that he made that scene to give people something to think about after they go home, get last night’s chicken out of the fridge, and realize there was a loose end untied. The term icebox scene has been used to identify scenes like that ever since. Scenes where there is a loose end left untied and left unexplained, but could not possibly be a continuity error. Apparently, there are some cards best kept close to the vest for the sake of storytelling.
I started this thread to give us a place to identify, theorize, and debate the reasons behind some icebox scenes in films.
My take: Anyone who’s seen Vertigo knows that halfway through, the main character undergoes a nervous breakdown regarding the death of a woman he was obsessed with. I think the “icebox scene” is a foreshadowing of Scotty’s mental instability (there are several that Hitch cleverly put in). It suggests that Scotty (James Stewart) didn’t have a firm grasp on reality, and that he was at risk for mental problems. It is also mysterious how he was literally left hanging in the opening scene, but made it out okay. Did he blackout?
2. Barry Lyndon has a very weasely protagonist, who acted as much of a prick as opportunity would provide. But there are two unexplained acts of good he does that seem to have no rhyme or reason: the rescue of Captain Potzdorf and the firing into the ground in the final duel.
Does anybody have any suggestions on these – or others? Maybe it’s immoral to take ambiguity out of things? What other movies with icebox scenes do you have theories on?