5 Phenomenal Movie Storms

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

Think about this, how many movies in some way, shape, or form use some type of storm in their story? I bet there are a lot more than you think. So just for fun I thought it would be cool to look five great movie storms. I’m going for variety here so there may be some you expect to see that didn’t make it. Still, I’m quite excited about these five movie storms and I have no problem calling them phenomenal.

#5 – “Hard Rain”


In the cheesy but personal guilty pleasure “Hard Rain”, a small Indiana town is flooded during the midwest’s worst recorded rainstorm. Christian Slater is an armored truck driver tasked with getting the bank’s money out of the abandoned town. Little does he know that Morgan Freeman and his band of baddies have their eyes set on the loot. This starts a heated chase through flooded streets, flooded schools, flooded churches, you name it. The storms presence is there throughout the film and the filmmakers utilize it in some crafty and inventive ways. This isn’t the smartest of films but it is a lot of fun. It also features one of the most significant movie storms you’ll find. I just had to sneak it on this list.

#4 – “Take Shelter”

Take Shelter1

In Jeff Nichols’ 2011 film “Take Shelter” Michael Shannon plays a man named Curtis who frequently experiences troubling dreams involving a massive approaching storm. This storm is unlike any of the others listed because it represents some important symbolism. These horrible visions impress upon him the need to spend what little savings he has to build a storm shelter for the tempest that’s on the way. There’s real danger approaching and Curtis must protect his family. But is the storm coming from the clouds or from him? Again, this isn’t a typical storm like the rest but it’s essential to this tremendous film.

#3 – “Shutter Island”


In Martin Scorsese’s underappreciated gem “Shutter Island” there is a destructive storm that hits which changes the landscape of the island housing a hospital for the criminally insane. It also helps trigger several events which are key to this wonderful psychological thriller. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo play federal marshals investigating the disappearance of patient. While there the storm hits preventing them from returning to the mainland. During the chaos of the storm’s aftermath they are able to sneak in and investigate parts of the hospital they were previously not allowed to see. This provides some key pieces to this twisted puzzle.

#2 – “Portrait of Jennie”


In the 1948 fantasy drama “Portrait of Jennie” the great and underrated Joseph Cotten plays a struggling painter who is hungry for inspiration. He finds it in a mysterious young girl named Jennie and I’ll leave it at that. In one scene the artist heads out to sea to find her but encounters a violent storm that smashes his boat on a rocky shore. What really makes this storm special are the tremendous ahead-of-its-time special effects. There are sweeping shots of almost mythical cloud formations and stunningly realistic scenes showing the storm tossing the boat around. We also get clever uses of color tints and sound. The amazing visuals won the Academy award that year and the storm plays a good part in this fantastic movie.

#1 – “Key Largo”


Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston teamed up several times and one of their best collaborations was the 1948 classic “Key Largo”. Bogie arrives at a hotel in Key Largo, Florida and finds it occupied by a group of gangsters posing as fisherman. After a tropical storm hits he ends up trapped inside with the mob boss, his henchmen, and the owners. The storm is key to framing the narrative. It’s buildup, the moment it hits, and the aftermath all play big roles in the film. It’s ominous and menacing and it provides a perfect setting for this compelling story. I’m a huge Bogie fan and “Key Largo” is a favorite of mine.

So what do you think of my list? So many other great movie storms come to mind. “The Wizard of Oz”, “Cast Away” just to name a couple. I’d love to hear your thoughts or picks. Please share them in the comments section below.

41 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movie Storms

  1. The Hurricane with Jon Hall and Dorothy Lamour, The Perfect Storm with Clooney, Deterrence has a snowstorm that traps the President in a diner, Twister and The Day After Tomorrow is CGI craptacular.

  2. Key Largo is the only film I’ve seen from your list, like you I’m a big Bogart.
    For myself I’d choose Joe Versus the Volcano and the storm that shipwrecks Joe Banks and Patricia.

  3. I haven’t seen any from your list here Keith, somehow the first thing that came to my mind is The Perfect Storm but it probably doesn’t count as it’s in the middle of the ocean? 😀

  4. Great idea for a top 5 Keith and I love your choices. Key Largo is such a classic!

    Can we call the lightning strike in Back To The Future a “storm” – if so, it’s pretty important to the film – that sticks out for me.

    When I think of storms I can’t help but think of bad disaster movies – Twister (although I quite enjoy this one), Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla…

    …even when I’m not thinking of disaster movies I’m still thinking of bad movies – next one that springs to mind is John Cusack in Identity.

    • Thank you. I’ve just recently revisited Key Largo. It’s such a good movie. I’m a huge Bogart guy and he is in top form in that movie. Also great performances from Greenstreet, Robinson, and of course Bacall.

  5. Love your choice for #1. I haven’t seen Portrait of Jennie or Take Shelter. Thanks for the heads up on those. Of course, The Wizard of Oz was the first thing I thought of when I read the title. Some others I thought of…

    The Shining
    The Crow (not really a storm but an almost never ending steady rain)
    Snow Day
    X-Men 😉

    • Thanks man. I’m assuming that means you enjoyed that movie? I absolutely loved it and I never understood why it received such mixed reactions. It’s certainly not the usual Scorsese picture but if you look at his career he’s done a wide range of things aside from his more popular films. I’m a big fan of “Shutter Island”.

    • Oh it really was a good movie. Some people had problems with that movie but I really liked it. I didn’t consider it for this list though since the tsunami was a result of the earthquake. Still glad you mentioned it.

    • “Portrait” isn’t a big name film but I thought it was quite good. I steered away from any spoilers because the movie has some cool twists. It’s definitely worth checking out if you can ever find it.

  6. Wow, what a cool list Keith. Prob one of my favorite Phenomenal 5’s.

    WHERE’S THE DAY AFTER TMRW!! Haha, no. That shouldn’t be anywhere near the Top 20. There’s a little thing called ‘excess,’ and that film does it. Although there were cool parts.

    On a serious note, although I didn’t much care for the overall film, i think the major storm that Robert Redford experiences in All is Lost is quite pivotal, and was a character in itself. It really drove a wedge between him and his ability to last out as long as possible.

    • LOL “Day After” was considered but only out of feelings of obligation. After that it was quickly tossed aside! 😉

      I am a big fan of All is Lost. I really did consider it for this list but I ran into one problem. When I was first putting it together I noticed a ton of sea storms. Redford’s, Cast Away (kinda), Life of Pi, etc. I already had Portrait of Jeani which I really wanted to include. So what will probably happen is an entirely different list later down the road. Hint, hint.

  7. “The Hurricane” (1937) SHOULD be on the list! I like “Take Shelter”, too, but we have the premonitions/dreams then the final image. That doesn’t seem to be enough to qualify. “The Hurricane” has an awe-inspiring typhoon that takes up a huge part of this rather short film. Those effects became the peak of storm sequences, and clips were borrowed for many movies over the years. It must have been overwhelming on the silver screen! Nowadays, it would be a yawn because it would be a bunch of CGI. From IMDb Trivia: According to Life Magazine, special effects wizard James Basevi was given a budget of $400,000 to create his effects. He spent $150,000 to build a native village with a lagoon 200 yards long then spent $250,000 destroying it.

    Good choice for “Key Largo” and “Hard Rain”! I honestly was so stunned to see the inclusion of “Portrait of Jennie”! THAT is a brilliant pick! The lighthouse storm sequence is remarkable.

    • Interesting facts about “The Hurricane”. It’s a movie I haven’t seen for many years. Good pick.

      I really like the inclusion of Take Shelter. It’s an inner storm that manifests itself visually for the audience via the ominous clouds, oily rain, etc. I loved the visual representation and it brings a little twist to this list.

      Thank again for the great comments.

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