The Italian Job (1969)
The countdown, the crash zoom, the explosion, the line. The Italian Job delivers the ultimate sequence, with Michael Caine’s payoff becoming the Brit antonym to Jaws’ ‘bigger boat’ quote.
White Heat (1949)
"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" The dramatic finale of this 1949 noir classic sees James Cagney's Cody Jarrett ending his confrontation with the police in spectacular fashion by emptying his gun into a gas storage tank – with predictably pyrotechnic results.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Indiana Jones survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a lead-lined fridge. Yes, Crystal Skull marks the moment the Indiana Jones franchise went off the rails and "nuking the fridge" became the new "jumping the shark" – but it's impressively staged. And the shot of Indy facing the mushroom cloud, a 1930s hero transplanted to the Nuclear Age, is one of the film's few truly iconic moments.
Touch of Evil (1958)
This explosion, from Orson Welles' 1958 classic, isn't particularly big. But it follows three tense minutes of build-up, famously shot in a single take, as we follow a bomb on its journey through the streets of a border town. The first cut of Touch of Evil – to the subsequent explosion – is genuinely jarring.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Joker blows up Gotham General Hospital. Yes, the fact that Chris Nolan actually blew up a building in one take is impressive, but it's Heath Ledger's acting that makes the scene – his nonplussed look as the big explosion he was expecting initially fails to materialise is priceless. Skip to 04:47 for the big bang.