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Top 10 Architecture Thrillers

Adventure Movies About Skyscrapers & Famous Buildings


There's nothing like the big screen to capture big buildings. Here are our favorite flicks that take place in or around skyscrapers and famous buildings. Some of these movies are cinematic masterpieces and others are just for fun, but they all combine architecture with edge-of-your-seat adventure. Want more? For serious viewing, see our roundup of award-winning documentary movies about architecture and movies about architects.

1. Blade Runner

The Ennis-Brown House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Photo © Mary Ann Sullivan, www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/
Directed by Ridley Scott, the 1992 edition of Blade Runner has enhanced the original. In a futuristic Los Angeles, a retired cop (Harrison Ford) pursues a murderous android. Some scenes were filmed inside the Ennis-Brown house by Frank Lloyd Wright. 1982
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2. The Fountainhead

Adapted from Ayn Rand's bestselling potboiler, The Fountainhead combines architecture with drama, romance, and sex. Gary Cooper plays Howard Roark, an idealistic architect who refuses to create buildings that violate his aesthetic values. Patricia Neal is his passionate lover, Dominique. 1949
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3. Entrapment

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Cesar Pelli, Architect.
Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/Robert Churchill
An aging thief (Sean Connery) becomes enmeshed with a beautiful insurance agent (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The real stars of this film are the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1999
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4. The Towering Inferno

An architect (Paul Newman) and a fire chief ( Steve McQueen) race to rescue the occupants of a burning San Francisco skyscraper, which is touted as the "world's tallest building." 1974
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5. King Kong

Empire State Building in New York City. Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, Architects.
Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/Pierre Janssen
Who could forget the sight of the giant gorilla clinging to the top of the Empire State Building, his furry hand grasping the terrified Fay Wray? America's favorite skyscraper heightens the drama and brings a sense of scale to the monster movie classic. Forget the remakes; get the original, made in 1933.
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6. Die Hard

When a dozen international terrorists take over a Los Angeles highrise, a tough New York cop (Bruce Willis) saves the day. 1988.
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7. Metropolis

Directed by Fritz Lang, this silent film classic interprets Le Corbusier's plans for the future, imagining a mile-high city built by slaves. For this DVD version, producer Giorgio Moroder speeded up the pacing, restored the tints, and added a rock and disco soundtrack. 1926
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8. Jungle Fever

A rising black architect (Wesley Snipes) has an adulterous affair with a working class Italian American (Annabella Sciorra) in present day New York. Directed by Spike Lee. 1991
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9. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a must-have for anyone who is serious about studying the relationship between film and architecture. In this German Expressionist masterpiece, the evil Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) hypnotizes an innocent villager to commit murder. Director Robert Wiene set the eerie tale in a surreal world of twisted angles and contorted buildings. Silent, with music track, 1919
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10. Skyscraper

Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith is a helicopter pilot who becomes a hostage after flying a terrorist to the top of a skyscraper. Sex and skyscrapers -- what more could you want? 1996
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More Top Picks: Best Documentaries About Architecture

A movie doesn't have to have car races and shoot-outs to be thrilling. For real life architectural adventures, check out these award-winning documentary films. Movies About Architecture >
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