Remember that scene in Nashville, when Keith Carradine sings “I’m Easy,” and every woman in the club thinks he’s speaking directly to her?
Breaking the fourth wall—also known as direct address—can have the same effect on a filmgoing audience. The compilation video above makes it clear that actors love it too. Breaking from convention can telegraph an unimpeachable cool, à la John Cusack in High Fidelity, or afford a veteran scenery chewer like Samuel L. Jackson the opportunity to turn the hog loose. It’s most often deployed in the service of comedy, but a stone-cold killer can make the audience complicit with a wink.
Screenwriter and journalist Leigh Singer pulled footage from 54 films for this mash up, and freely admits that time constraints left some favorites on the cutting room floor. What would you add, if you happened to have Marshall McLuhan right here?
Ayun Halliday is that rare Generation X‑er who didn’t see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off until 2013. Follow her @AyunHalliday