Follow TV Tropes

Hollywood Glass Cutter

Go To

A thief/spy cuts a circular hole in a sheet of glass.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
thymeloop on Mar 8th 2016 at 2:37:08 PM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Mar 14th 2016 at 9:33:30 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

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 the character could take remove the window pane to do this, they wouldn't need to cut a hole.

See also Absurd Cutting Power. Compare Soft Glass.


Examples

Anime

  • In Ponyo, the titular 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.
Film-Animated
  • 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 plane shatters.
Film-LiveAction
  • In the 1959 film adaptation of The Bat, the titular 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.
  • In Mission: Impossible II, Ethan Hunt laser-cuts a hole through glass and jumps through into the lab.
  • 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.
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.
Video Games
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts. A laser-powered item called the Glass Cutter appears exclusively for the level "Federation Day," where it is used to break in through the building's windows.
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.

Feedback: 24 replies

Mar 9th 2016 at 1:31:14 AM

Film

  • 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.

Mar 9th 2016 at 1:36:30 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Add the word "Examples".
    • Added media section titles.
    • Namespaced work names.
    • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
    • Blue Linked work names.

Mar 9th 2016 at 6:48:04 AM

In the Looney Tunes short "Beanstalk Bunny", Bugs and Daffy escape a giant glass cover by cutting out their exact silhouettes.

Mar 9th 2016 at 7:52:22 AM

Do burglars in real life use this? If so, it runs a high risk of being chairs, I'm afraid.

Mar 9th 2016 at 10:51:27 AM

No chairs here, Koveras, because based on my stained glass experience it doesn't work. A glass cutter actually puts an even scratch (or score) on the glass. You need some way of putting stress on either side of the score to get a controlled break along the score. Pliers designed for this are available anywhere that sells stained glass supplies, but they work by applying force to both sides of the pane. If you can take the window pane out to mess with the pliers, you didn't need to cut a hole.

Myth Busters tested and busted this during one of the "Crimes and MythDemeanors" episodes. I own the exact model of circle cutter Jamie and Adam were using. To use it, you score a circle and then cut away the glass on the outside.

Mar 9th 2016 at 11:12:13 AM

Yes, in media the procedure is displayed as ludicrously easy, as if running a sharp edge across thick glass instantly cuts through it.

Mar 9th 2016 at 8:13:19 PM

  • 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 plane shatters.

Mar 10th 2016 at 12:08:04 AM

OK, then it seems to be a case of The Coconut Effect, therefore definitely tropable. Antigone 3's explanation should be included in the write-up, however.

Mar 10th 2016 at 12:53:57 AM

Does it have to be a thief?

Anime

  • In Ponyo, the titular 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.

Mar 10th 2016 at 1:41:03 AM

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 surface (usually a diamond) 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.

Mar 10th 2016 at 2:10:14 AM

Film - Live Action

  • 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.

Mar 10th 2016 at 3:30:14 AM

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 windoiwsill manipulating a glass curtter and a suction disc, so as to be able to remove the glass circle cleanly without triggering any alarms.

Mar 10th 2016 at 4:27:38 AM

Film:

  • 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.

Mar 10th 2016 at 4:54:35 PM

Tropes Tested by the Mythbusters! COOOOOOOLLLLLLL!!!

Mar 10th 2016 at 10:52:55 PM

Fanfic

  • 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.

Mar 12th 2016 at 7:35:12 AM

  • 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.

Mar 12th 2016 at 6:47:35 PM

Anyone have ideas for a trope name? I have a few: Glass Bypass, Breach of Glass, Glass Shortcut, or maybe Window Access.

Mar 12th 2016 at 11:44:31 PM

Nah, current title's good already. We don't want confusion with removing the glass, melting the glass or outright breaking the glass, right?

Mar 13th 2016 at 1:24:02 PM

Or failing any and all else, simply call it Glass Cutter.

Mar 13th 2016 at 6:15:14 PM

How about Hollywood Glass Cutter, since its about a way of cutting glass that's seen all the time in the movies but is impossible in real life.

Mar 14th 2016 at 2:08:29 AM

Hollywood Glass Cutting sounds better.

Mar 14th 2016 at 9:34:21 AM

Also used in fiction for assassinations. Off the top of my head, I think I've seen this in Film/Skyfall and Star Trek VI.

Top