Forget the 'Fiscal Cliff,' Look at These Cliffs

Forget the 'Fiscal Cliff,' Look at These Cliffs

Warner Brothers Pictures

The deadline for avoiding the fiscal cliff is now just a month away. The American public is growing increasingly worried about whether or not their elected representatives will reach a compromise in time to avoid the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that are set to take place, almost certainly to the detriment of the U.S. economy.

The signs so far have not been encouraging. In fact, today House Speaker John Boehner that talks between himself and President Obama had not yielded any progress. "Right now, we're almost nowhere," he said.

While the politicians try to avoid another recession, we at CNBC.com thought we'd take our focus off of the fiscal cliff for a moment and look at some other cliffs instead. Namely, iconic cliffs from the world of popular culture. All box office information used is from BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Read ahead to see nine notable cliffs that have nothing whatsoever to do with the fiscal cliff.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 30 Nov. 2012

'Cliffhanger'

TriStar Pictures

In "Cliffhanger," Sylvester Stallone plays a mountain rescue ranger who loses his climbing mojo after a woman he was trying to save falls to her death. But when a group of goons forces him to guide them through the rugged terrain to recover a suitcase full of stolen cash, he must find the will to climb again.

Full of vertigo-inducing shots of bodies dangling precipitously off cliffs, the 1993 movie was one of the biggest hits of Stallone's career. It earned a worldwide box office gross of $255 million, or $408 million today.

'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'

20th Century Fox

In "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Paul Newman and Robert Redford portray the outlaw duo on the run from a posse trying to hunt them dead. In one of its most famous scenes, the pair jump from a dizzyingly high cliff into a river below to evade capture.

The 1969 film was released to wide critical praise and box office success. It has been the subject of numerous re-releases over the years, and according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, has earned a lifetime gross of over $102 million.

'Thelma & Louise'

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Directed by Ridley Scott, "Thelma & Louise" tells the story of two women who are best friends and become outlaw fugitives when one of them commits murder.

The pair are pursued by police, who finally corner them at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Rather than go to jail, the women hold hands and drive off the cliff into the canyon. A bummer ending to be sure, but the 1991 movie was a hit, earning $45 million at the domestic box office, or $76 million today.

'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'

Lucasfilm | Paramount Pictures

The "Indiana Jones" film franchise has used cliffs in suspenseful sequences many times. One of the most memorable is in 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," when Jones and a Nazi officer, SS-Standartenführer Vogel, are involved in a fistfight atop a tank approaching a cliff.

Long story short, Jones gets off in time and Vogel doesn't, and the evil Nazi rides to his death in spectacular fashion. "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was a huge hit, which earned $474 million at the worldwide box office, or $884 million in today's dollars.

'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'

Rankin/Bass Productions

No Christmas season would be complete without a viewing of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The animated television movie premiered in December 1964 on NBC, and like "Frosty the Snowman" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," it has been a staple of holiday TV viewing.

At one point, Rudolph and his family are menaced by the Abominable Snowman. The prospector Yukon Cornelius fights off the creature, but they both fall over a cliff, presumably to their deaths. However, both the prospector and the beast return from snowy peril at the end, and the Abominable Snowman goes to the North Pole to live with Santa Claus.

Cliff Clavin

Paramount Television

Every bar has its regulars, and among those regulars there's usually one who is a fountain of barstool trivia and wisdom. On the long-running and much-beloved television series "Cheers," the bar's know-it-all was postal worker Cliff Clavin, portrayed by John Ratzenberger.

"Cheers" ran for 11 seasons and finally went off the air in 1993. However, it lives on in reruns, and Cliff has taken on a life of his own, appearing on an episode of "The Simpsons" and in commercials for Pitney-Bowes postage scales.

'North by Northwest'

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

"North by Northwest" is one of a great many Alfred Hitchcock movies that are unquestioned classics. Two scenes are especially memorable — one in which the main character, played by Cary Grant, is chased by a crop-dusting plane, and in the other, he fights off a kidnapper while his love interest, played by Eva Marie Saint, dangles from Mount Rushmore.

The 1959 film was a box office success upon its release. It opened at New York's Radio City Music Hall and broke what was then the venue's box office record by earning over $404,000 in two weeks, or $3.2 million in today's dollars.

'Commando'

Twentieth Century Fox

Though not as high-profile as the Terminator, one of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's greatest movie roles was that of Delta Force operative John Matrix. He lives in a state of happy retirement with his daughter, but when mercenaries capture her, he dons his camouflage makeup, picks up his Flame Assault Shoulder Weapon and starts wasting creeps.

One creep is the wisecracking Sully, to whom Matrix says, "You're a funny guy Sully, I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last." However, it is not long before he dangles the Sully over a cliff, says "I lied" and drops him to his death. According to the blog Movie Body Counts, Sully is one of a staggering 81 people killed by Matrix. He is, however, the only one dropped off a cliff.

Wile E. Coyote

Warner Brothers Pictures

Fans of "Loony Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" cartoons have delighted for years in the antics of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. In every cartoon, the coyote gets horribly pulverized to comic effect as he tries to catch the bird, a simple formula that has kept it popular since 1948.

Aside from being getting maimed by ACME products, Wile E. Coyote is frequently harmed in the cartoons by falling thousands of feet. Typically, he will chase the Roadrunner off a cliff without realizing it, only to look down and plummet to the earth, where he disappears in a cloud of dust.