Hollywood Glass Cutter

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They ain't all round holes, doc.

When a character has to get through glass, they cut out a perfect, round hole while leaving the rest of the panel untouched. It's a stealthier, quiet alternative to smashing the glass. It creates a larger opening than drilling a hole would, at least large enough that the character can reach inside.

If the person breaking in is prepared, they will have a device specifically designed for this purpose. It's a suction cup with an attached lever, with a cutting element—such as a diamond or laser—on the end of the lever. The suction cup is applied to the glass, then the lever is moved around in a circular motion, cutting a circular area out of the glass.

If a character doesn't have such a device, they will improvise by using the sharp point of a diamond ring instead. Another common variation is the use of sharp claws, in which case the circle is cut freehand.

A Phantom Thief or spy might use this method during a heist. The character need not be a professional (or amateur) burglar, but their intent is stealth-based.

In real life, this is not possible. MythBusters tested and busted it during one of the "Crimes and MythDemeanors" episodes. To cut out a circle, a glass cutter puts an even scratch (or score) on the glass. In order to get a controlled break along the score, force needs to be applied on both sides of the glass. If a burglar could reach the other side, they wouldn't need to cut a hole.

See also Absurd Cutting Power. Compare Soft Glass.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Averted in the Gunsmith Cats manga, where a criminal is able to break into Bean Bandit's car by cutting a jagged, uneven scratch on the bulletproof window with a glass cutter and firing her gun repeatedly on it, until it cracks off the edges of the scratch.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the title character tries to escape from her dad's house by using magic to cut a hole in one of the house windows. But because the house is underwater, this leads to loads of water coming through the window and Ponyo gets caught in the flow of water instead.
  • A variation in The Great Mouse Detective. Basil and Dawson trail Fidget to a toy shop he broke into. Basil sees a hole drilled into the window—a small hole, the size of a single finger—and immediately realizes that's how Fidget got in. Dawson wonders how anyone could fit through such a tiny hole. Basil demonstrates by popping Dawson's finger into the hole, then using that finger to pull the window open on its hinge.
  • In Shrek 2, Puss in Boots cuts a circular hole with his claws to get the "Happily Ever After" potion from the Fairy Godmother's storage room. The hole, however, turns out to be too small for the bottle to fit through, and Puss ends up pulling the bottle so hard that the glass pane shatters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1959 film adaptation of The Bat, the title murderer uses a small blade to cut a hole from a glass-paned door, which he then unlocks and opens by reaching inside.
  • Funny moment in the Italian comedy Bingo Bongo when the titular character used his sharp nails to cut through the glass window of a restaurant in order to snatch food from a table inside. Watch the scene here.
  • Hudson Hawk. While breaking into the auction house, Eddie uses a suction cup device to cut out a hole in a glass door. It's large enough that he and Tommy Five-Tone can slip inside.
  • Mission: Impossible
    • In Mission: Impossible II, Ethan Hunt laser-cuts a hole through glass and jumps through into the lab.
    • In Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Ethan has to enter a room in the Burj Khalifa from the outside. His laser glass cutter malfunctions though before he can finish cutting the hole and he has to break the glass with his feet to get into the building.
  • Undercover Brother. Played for Laughs when Undercover Brother breaks in through a window. He slices a circle in the window and then taps on it. This causes the entire rest of the window to shatter, leaving the cut-out circle intact.

    Literature 
  • The Stainless Steel Rat does this when breaking into an Inland Revenue office complex to wipe his and Angelina's tax record clean. At one point he is poised on a very narrow windowsill manipulating a glass cutter and a suction disc, so as to be able to remove the glass circle cleanly without triggering any alarms.
  • In The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the hero cuts a circular hole in a window using a diamond ring borrowed from the heroine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 1960's Batman episode "The Purr-Fect Crime", Catwoman uses her glove/claws to carve a hole through a museum display case.
  • In one arc of Mission Top Secret, Neville Savage and his Accomplice of the Week uses a glass cutter to steal a vase from a museum. However, the hole is far too small so he ends up having to break the glass case anyway.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Chris Fisher's illustrated fanfic Of Mice and Mayhem has the Rescue Rangers use a sharpened stylus to cut an access hole in the window of a research laboratory in an effort to rescue Gadget and other small critters caged there. Defeated when one young mouse, eager to be helpful, opens the window lock, which triggers an intrusion alarm.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: "Beanstalk Bunny" sees Bugs and Daffy trapped inside a transparent tureen. Just when it looks as though Daffy's efforts to get through to Bugs have failed, upon which he resigns himself to the same pose to await his fate, Bugs produces a pocket glass-cutting device and leaves two character-shaped holes for Elmer the giant to view in his dinner preparations.
  • Batman: The Animated Series used this one a bit. Catwoman does this with her claws twice in her introductory episode; the first time, she cuts a small hole for her cat, Isis, to climb through. Batman does this with one of his batarangs. And in "Harley and Ivy", Harley Quinn starts to use a circle cutter on a glass case in a museum—but Poison Ivy accidentally triggers a different alarm in the same museum, so Harley just smashes the case.

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