50 Greatest Movie Illusions

The Brothers Bloom (2008)

"The trick to not feeling cheated is to learn how to cheat."

The Movie Illusion: A pack of cards is shuffled and split into four piles. The top card of each pile is revealed to be the four ace cards, which are then put back into the deck at random, shuffled again and somehow rise to the top of the pack.

Performed By: Rachel Weisz's fascinating heiress Penelope.

How Did They Do That? A month's worth of practice and around 11 takes apparently.

Airplane! (1980)

"Let me see your tongue."

The Movie Illusion: A female passenger develops an alarming symptom: producing a constant stream of eggs out of her mouth.

Performed By: Leslie Nielsen's Dr. Rumack. Don’t call him... oh you didn’t. As you were.

How Did They Do That? The eggs are quite obviously palmed by Nielsen each time while the passenger just keeps the same egg in her mouth, but how can you criticise a bit that ends with the lines "This woman has to be gotten to a hospital." "A hospital? What is it?" "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."

Mission: Impossible (1996)

"Try any sleight of hand with my money and I'll cut your throat."

The Movie Illusion: A computer disc vanishes into thin air during a cocky bravado showdown.

Performed By: IMF's point man Ethan Hunt

How Did They Do That? Taught by magician Alan Shaxon, Tom Cruise sleeves the disc expertly (if you look very carefully, you can even see the outline of the disc on his right arm shortly after it disappears).

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

"Dreamers often lie."

The Movie Illusion: A pendant of a heart with an arrow through it disappears into thin air.

Performed By: Mercutio, close friend of Romeo.

How Did They Do That? Sleight-of-hand amid a distracting Queen Mab speech.

The Grifters (1990)

"I'm strictly short con. It's nothing but small time stuff."

The Movie Illusion: Making easy money by paying with a $20 bill, which becomes a $10 bill at the last second.

Performed By: John Cusack's small-time con-man Roy Dillon.

How Did They Do That? An apparently effective sleight-of-hand con trick. Just don't try it in the same place twice.

Houdini (1953)

"It'll be the most dangerous thing I've ever done."

The Movie Illusion: A glamorous assistant is placed in a tied sack and locked in a trunk, only to somehow swap places with the stage magician during a brief time hidden from the audience.

Performed By: The great Harry Houdini himself. Or rather Tony Curtis playing him.

How Did They Do That? Well Houdini WAS an escape artist so locks and ties were hardly a problem. Add in a false side to the trunk, and you suddenly have all of the wonder and mystery sucked out of life.

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

"How about a magic trick?"

The Movie Illusion: Making a pencil um... disappear.

Performed By: The Joker, making an unforgettable entrance.

How Did They Do That? Using a simple sleight-of- head technique.

The Sting (1973)

"You just worry about your end, kid."

The Movie Illusion: Shuffling through a pack of cards, intermittently turning over the top one to reveal the ace of spades each time.

Performed By: Con-man Henry Gondorff, played by Paul Newman... supposedly.

How Did They Do That? Magician and expert card manipulator John Scarne doubled for Paul Newman's arms in this scene. So we're guessing the secret to this trick is years and years and years of practice.

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

The Movie Illusion: The wizard appears as a giant head created from fire and smoke.

Performed By: The not-so-wonderful-and-actually-quite-scary Wizard of Oz.

How Did They Do That? A projection and a series of levers, cunningly concealed by a flimsy curtain.

Prestige (2006)

“Are you watching closely?”

The Movie Illusion: The Real Transported Man, in which our stage magician steps into a machine and disappears, only to appear again at the back of the theatre.

Performed By: Angier. And every version of Angier after him.

How Did They Do That? Who knows how it works? It's real magic powered by Tesla's techno-wizardry and a redefined sense of self-preservation.