The number of movies featuring men and women in leg casts probably exceeds 200. Spanking the Monkey, Delta Force 2, Rear Window, SOB, The Devil Wears Prada, and Working Girl are just a few A List movies featuring men and women in casts.
In some cases, the casts are professionally done. In other cases, the casts are amateurish. In almost all cases, the casts are not applied to treat real injuries - and that is where I lose interest.
I have little interest in recreational casts or in movie or TV show fictional casts. As most of you know, I believe firmly that casts must be earned. A cast is a badge of honor. It is applied after the victim has suffered some measure of shock, horror, disbelief, and pain as a result of a broken bone. The cast is a reward for suffering much like entry into heaven is for Catholics who believe in Purgatory.
Now here is a little twist. Being a sadist, I am very much intrigued by movie and television scenes that can portray a broken leg taking place. Give me an actor who can display that measure of shock, horror, disbelief, and pain - along with realistic visual effects - and I am all in. I will be shoving popcorn in my mouth while replaying the scene a dozen times.
This blog is about my three favorite scenes showing the actor or actress breaking a leg.
The first of my three award winning broken leg movie scenes goes to Veronica Cartwright in the Witches of Eastwick. The set-up here is perfect. Cartwright plays an anal reporter who is hated by everyone in her small community of Eastwick including her husband. She is a consummate bitch and is especially despised by Jack Nicholson who plays the role of an almost satanic newcomer the town.
Cartwright takes a tumble down a set of stairs at a party and suffers a compound fracture of her leg. After falling, Cartwright looks at the bone protruding from her leg and, in an understated fashion, says to her husband. "Honey, I think I broke my leg." As she says the words, her face is a billboard of shock and horror.
The movie is delightfully rich with scene from Cartwright's casts. She is in a full leg cast in the hospital. Later, she is placed in a short leg walking cast and has a little run in with a bowl of cherries. Casts aside, what makes the movie for me is the 44 second scene where Veronica Cartwright breaks her leg.
My second choice for a broken leg scene in a movie is a low budget horror movie called The Descent. The movie, produced in 2006, is about a group of six women women who gather each year for an outdoor adventure. While caving this year, they are stalked by a hideous monster. In the final third of the movie, one of the women named Holly falls and breaks her leg.
The compound fracture sickens some of Holly's fellow cavers. Fortunately, one of Holly's fellow cavers, Sam, is a medical student. She gives Holly a leather bridle to bite on. The rest of the cavers hold poor Holly down while Sam twists, bends, and pulls Holly's leg into a roughly normal position. The sound of bones cracking can be heard over Holly's muffled screams.
What makes this scene work is actress Nora Jane-Noone who plays Holly. Her depiction of a broken leg victim is 100% believable - probably because the actress suffered a compound fracture of her left leg in a skiing accident two years before filming The Descent. When Sam is finally ready to set Holly's broken leg, Holly looks her friend in the eye and says "I hate you!" Classic Hollywood.
Here is the broken leg clip from the Descent:
By the way, The Descent was actually a very popular picture. It spawned two sequels and was a huge financial success.
And, of course, no list of broken leg in movie scenes would be complete without discussing the 1990 movie 'Misery'. The screen adaptation of Steven King's novel is focused almost entirely on Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a writer, who is kept captive after a car crash by Annie Wilkes played by Kathy Bates. Annie introduces Paul to a practice known as 'hobbling'. After placing a board between poor Paul's ankles, Annie breaks both of Paul's legs with a sledge hammer.
The movie was very difficult to cast originally. In Steven King's book, Annie uses an axe to chop off Paul's foot and then cauterizes the wound with a blow torch. The brutality of the scene drove off a host of actors offered the role of Paul including Warren Beatty, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Redford.
Producer Rob Reiner eventually re-wrote the scene replacing the axe scenario with the hobbling scenario. I am not sure that reduced the brutality of the scene. As a matter of fact, it may have increased it. Nevertheless, James Caan finally agreed to play the part of Paul and Kathy Bates won the Best Actress Academy Award for the sledge hammer wielding Annie.
Here is the full scene.
I realize this type of post may not appeal to a majority of my readers. But, for those members of the cast community who have a little sadistic streak in them, weigh in on your favorite broken leg movies scene. I look forward to the feedback.