It takes a great actor to make a brief movie appearance memorable. The best single-scene performances provide a lesson in how it's done. For such a thing to work, the actor has to have a clear read on the character they're playing while simultaneously understanding the function of their role in the overall film. Typically, showing up for just one scene means the moment is important, so the performer is under a lot of pressure to accomplish the mission of that particular sequence.
This list will look at some of the scene-stealing actors who only needed a few minutes to deliver something unforgettable. Some, like Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors and Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein, were already established stars when they had their show-stopping scene. Others, like Bronson Pinchot in Beverly Hills Cop, saw their careers get a major boost. Regardless of where they were professionally at the time, their work had a strong lasting impression.
In each of the following cases, we'll look at how the best one-scene performances made an indelible impact upon the movies in which they appeared. These are full-fledged scenes, not just cameos, and they are pure movie magic.