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Iconic On-Screen Winks


When we watch a film, we remember the crazy stunts, the relentless cop getting their man, the distressed damsel finally winning the heart-throbs’ heart, the hero saving the day, the down-and-out coming good, the humor… so many iconic moments. Yet there are other moments that occur on the big and small screen that are equally deserving of our attention, but they don’t get it. Take a wink, for instance. A well-executed wink could endear a character to us just like that. Below is a selection of some of the most iconic winks in film.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Who can get forget that wink by the world’s most successful truant? Back in the 1980s, in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, Matthew Broderick entertained audiences as Ferris Bueller, the popular, high-school-hating teenager who faked illness and had his parents falling for it hook, line and sinker, and then had the most riotous day off with his friends — which includes tearing around the city in a Ferrari — as soon as they left the house. Not everyone was falling for it though — his sister, Jeannie (Jennifer Grey of ‘Dirty Dancing’ fame) was onto him and while he lay there moaning and groaning, he let her in on the ruse with a cheeky, very pronounced wink.

Jeannie wasn’t the only one who wanted to expose him. Edward Rooney, the principal — played by Jeffrey Jones — had also had it up to the proverbial ‘here’ of Ferris’s antics and took some time off from school business to catch him red-handed. He wanted to show the whole school that Ferris was a phony, a loser, and not the hero the other teenagers thought he was. He failed spectacularly! At the very end of the movie, following a run-in with the principal, Jeannie switches her allegiance back to her brother and returns the wink: two winks for the price of one!

Moulin Rouge

Nicole Kidman gifted audiences with one of the most brilliant winks in movie history when she starred as a cabaret performer in the hugely popular ‘Moulin Rouge!’ The Australian actress flirted with the camera and sent pulses racing in this successful musical and romantic drama when she sang ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. She delivered the song with the grace and class of Marilyn Monroe and had not just the extras on screen clamoring for her attention, but also the audiences off screen. It’s hardly any wonder her co-star’s character Christian — played by Ewan MacGregor – developed the infatuation that was part of the story.

Shaun of the Dead


It’s a familiar story. Loser loses girl; disaster strikes; loser saves the day; loser gets back the girl; smiles all around. In this case, the loser in question is Shaun (Simon Pegg) and the relevant crisis is a zombie apocalypse — and when he realizes what’s going on, it’s up to Shaun to save the day. He forms an escape plan to protect his family and friends. If everything goes to plan, they should all end taking refuge at their local pub, The Winchester, and sipping on a nice cold pint of beer. Cue the wink!
Seems like a good plan, but Shaun has to make several adjustments to it to suit different scenarios and takes his friends (and the audience) through the plan various times. The result is always the same though: they end up at The Winchester; Shaun raises a pint of bitter; winks at the camera; and sips his drink. Everybody’s happy.

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Roger Moore era of Bond films was one of winks and admiring glances as the debonair spy charmed ladies wherever he went. In ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, it’s Bond’s task to thwart the evil Karl Stromberg, who is planning to destroy New York with nuclear weapons (Hollywood villains’ method of choice, of course). Despite its age, it’s one of the most thrilling Bond films to date, one in which we see him ski off a cliff and deliver one in the eye to the baddies by opening a Union Jack-patterned parachute, and also see him drive a Lotus Esprit that transforms into a submarine. Q really excelled himself with that one!

It’s the latter incident where we see the iconic wink, which has etched itself into our memories because the suave spy is receiving it, not delivering it. After some expert driving to escape assailants in cars and on motorcycles, suddenly our hero has a helicopter on his tail — a helicopter with guns and it’s gunning for him. The pilot, played by Caroline Munro, opens fire several times on the car before pausing to give Bond a wink, to which he responds with an ‘I’m flattered’ kind of glance and stirs a hint of jealousy in his passenger. Classic!

Priya Prakash Varrier

In the West we may not be as familiar as we could be with actress Priya Varrier, but in India it’s a whole different story. The actress has become renowned for her winking, due to a promotional video she released for her debut movie ‘Oru Adaar Love’ (roughly translated as ‘A Fantastic Love’). The movie is a romantic comedy about the journey of some high school kids and in a clip from the song ‘Manikay Malaraya Poovi’ from the movie, the actress glances over at her co-star, who responds warmly.

It’s a wink that will steal the audience’s hearts not just because of what happens on screen, but also off-screen. The wink has transformed the good-looking actress into something close to an overnight success in India. The wink went viral — especially in Pakistan — and the BBC has reported her as being called ‘the National Crush of India’. It doesn’t get better than having a whole nation swooning over you. Not only that, the popularity of the wink clip persuaded the makers of the movie to change the script and make Priya more prominent in the movie.

Next time you’re at the cinema, enjoy the iconic characters, the action, glamour, one-liners and other touches that directors and screenplay writers weave into the movie to create a hit. Don’t forget, however, to pay attention to the subtler techniques and moments of the film, too, because little details like winks can really make you warm to the characters and allow the film to become more memorable to you.


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