The b*tch slap is more than just a slap. It's one of the most famous slaps ever, an outright smack across the face - and when it's delivered, you know it's important. These slaps are such a potent display of visceral power that movies have been using them since the beginning of the medium. When used at just the right time - and particularly when delivered unto a worthy recipient - they are some of the most serious wallops around.
Here are the 10 most powerful slaps in movie history.
Daniel Plainview is a hard man, a disciplined man, and a calculating man - a man who takes every advantage he can and is never taken advantage of... until now. In order to make his millions - well, "more" of his millions - he finds himself manipulated into being baptized by the town's young religious leader, and for all intents and purposes his own mortal enemy, Eli Sunday.
Eli takes advantage by slapping the hell out of Plainview, a man who should probably never be slapped, much in the same way that you should probably never shoot a spitball at a Terminator. But darn it, Plainview needs that oil, and if he needs to be publicly humiliated to get it, then by God, he's going to make a bigger spectacle than anyone has ever seen, asserting his dominance even in defeat.
Not all b*tch slaps are issued by men. In fact, Cher strikes a great blow and an even greater b*tch slap for womankind as she slaps the holy heck out of Nicolas Cage in this clip from Moonstruck. Better yet, it was in response to a declaration of love from the star of Bangkok Dangerous. (We're pretty sure she got the Academy Award on sheer principle.)
What follows is the famous "Snap out of it" line, one of the most memorable romantic comedy quotes from the 1980s.
By the time we get to this point in Chinatown, Jack Nicholson has had to endure a lot of stuff, not the least of which is getting his nose dang near cut off by the director himself (on-screen, no less). So by the time Faye Dunaway starts lying to him yet again at 02:35, he's run out of patience.
And so the slapping begins, one after another, in a ping pong game of twist revelations that are as dramatically potent today as they were when the film was released.
When all else fails to revive Virgil's wife, he resorts to what any desperate man in his position would do... slapping the ever-loving heck out of her. And you know what... it works, although that probably has a lot to do with that fact that this is a James Cameron film; a director whose works tend to be as subtle as a slap across the face anyway.
This whole scene is memorable, but if you want to get right to the smacking ("God damn it, b*tch, you've never backed away from anything in your life!") go to 02:55.