web analytics


private wilhelmSo I finally got around to watching the DVD of LOTR: Return of the King last night, and Legolas plugs an arrow in some dude who falls shrieking off the back of the oliphant, and I thought, “damme if that wasn’t the Wilhelm Scream!” And I looked it up, and and damme if it wasn’t.

What’s the Wilhelm Scream, you ask? If you wanted to be helpful and set up this post you would, anyhow. Go on. Ask.

The scream (or series of screams) that came to be known as the Wilhelm Scream was originally recorded for the 1951 film “Distant Drums.” It is intended to represent a man being eaten by alligators. Most probable voice talent that screamed this screamy scream: Sheb Wooley, bit actor and musician. You know him best for “Purple People Eater.”

It subsequently appeared in a Number of Warner Brothers films — a thing that did not escape the attention of film student Ben Burtt. He picked it up and named it after the second character to scream it: Private Wilhelm, with an arrow, in “The Charge at Feather River.” Then Bratt got hired to do the sound for Star Wars, and The Scream went nookylar.

Here is Wikipedia‘s list of Wilhelm’s screen credits (you can hear the file there, as well):

(1951) The Charge at Feather River (1953) Them! (1954) A Star is Born (1954) Land of the Pharaohs (1955) The Sea Chase (1955) Helen of Troy (1956) Sergeant Rutledge (1960) PT-109 (1963) Harper (1966) The Green Berets (1968) The Wild Bunch (1969) Chisum (1970) Impasse (1970) The Scarlet Blade (1974) Hollywood Boulevard (1976) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) More American Graffiti (1979) The Big Brawl (1980) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) History of the world part 1 (1981) Swamp thing (1982) Poltergeist (1982) Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Explorers (1985) Howard the Duck (1986) Spaceballs (1987) Willow (1988) Always (1989) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Three Fugitives (1989) Gremlins 2 (1990) Beauty and the Beast (1991) Mom and Dad Save the World (1992) Aladdin (1992) Batman Returns (1992) Reservoir Dogs (1992) Matinee (1992) Evening Class (1993) A Goofy Movie (1995) Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) Runaway Brain (1995) Toy Story (1995) Dante’s Peak (1996) Hercules (1997) The Fifth Element (1997) The Second Civil War (1997) Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) Small Soldiers (1998) Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) Thirteen Days (2000) The Kid (2000) Just Visiting (2001) Osmosis Jones (2001) Planet of the Apes (2001) The Majestic (2001) Tomcats (2001) Wet Hot American Summer (2001) Life or Something Like It (2002) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) The Salton Sea (2002) Spider-man (2002) Scorched (2002 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) Cradle 2 the Grave (2003 The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) A Man Apart (2003) Agent Cody Banks (2003) Peter Pan (2003) Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Tears of the Sun (2003) Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) I Am David (2004) Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) Hellboy (2004) Paparazzi (2004) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) Taxi (2004) Team America: World Police (2004) Troy (2004) Æon Flux (2005) Fantastic Four (2005) Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) King Kong (2005) Kingdom of Heaven (2005) Madagascar (2005) Monster-In-Law (2005) Sin City (2005) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) The Pacifier (2005) The Ring Two (2005) Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 16 Blocks (2006) Accepted (2006) Cars (2006) Flushed Away (2006) Lifted (2006) Monster House (2006) Over the Hedge (2006) She’s the Man (2006) X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) 30 Days of Night (2007) D-War (2007) Juno (2007) Norbit (2007) The Invisible (2007) Shrek the Third (2007) Transformers (2007) The Mist (2007) The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Speed Racer (2008) The Golden Compass (2008)

So now you know something you didn’t know before, unless you already knew this, in which case you can just go straight to hell, smartass. I really don’t have to take this from you.


Comment from LemurKing
Time: May 13, 2008, 12:42 pm

Weas, how the HELL did you know that?

I am humbled, sure, but I’m still wondering where you picked that up. Now every movie I see will be distracted by listening for the Wilhelm scream.

Perhaps I should search for a Holy Waffle Iron to send to you. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 13, 2008, 12:48 pm

I don’t know. I’ve been trying to remember. It’s lost in the mists.

This is why I worry a lot about committing plagiarism. I spent, like, the first 35 years of my life reading.

Comment from LemurKing
Time: May 13, 2008, 12:53 pm

I understand… take away my books and I shrivel up like salt on a slug. Not pretty.

Comment from porknbean
Time: May 13, 2008, 1:00 pm

take away my books and I shrivel up like salt on a slug.

That certainly explains congress. None of that uppity book learnin’ there.

I remember someone, within the past several months, discussed the Wilhelm scream. Hmmmm……trying to remember where…..

Comment from apotheosis
Time: May 13, 2008, 1:04 pm

I don’t know. I’ve been trying to remember. It’s lost in the mists.

Was it from DI? That’s where I first read about it.


Comment from apotheosis
Time: May 13, 2008, 1:05 pm

onoes, spamtrapp’d. 🙁

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 13, 2008, 1:16 pm

I don’t see a trace of anything in the filter, apotheosis. And that doesn’t ring a bell, but as I frequently operate a browser while seriously impaired, I can’t rule anything out.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: May 13, 2008, 1:30 pm

sorry. i wasn’t trapped, just impatient.

Comment from bmac
Time: May 13, 2008, 2:11 pm

Speaking of famous screams, remember this one?


Comment from Tourette
Time: May 13, 2008, 2:26 pm

Wilhelm scream is vintage. For those of us who still have decades before the solicitations for AARP membership begin to accrue, we have Howard Dean to look up to as the screamist.

Comment from Gabriel
Time: May 13, 2008, 3:37 pm

I was a Star Wars geek as a child (and an adult) so the Wilhelm Scream has been echoing in my ears all my life. I especially like the occasional inventive variation.

For example, Ben Burtt, the guy who made it famous, attempted to emulate the Wilhelm Scream in his Return of the Jedi cameo as an Imperial officer who gets knocked off the catwalk in the shield generator station.

Another variation, a computerized version, was heard in Transformers when LeBeouf’s character kicks Frenzy’s head over a hill.

Comment from doubleplusundead
Time: May 13, 2008, 4:01 pm

I don’t really watch a lot of movies, but its great when you do hear the Wilhelm Scream.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: May 13, 2008, 4:05 pm

Your Grace, they’re talking about your Future Home and its amazing Swede-eating cows:

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: May 13, 2008, 4:30 pm

I *love* the Wilhelm Scream. It always evokes a “he’s been kicked in the nuts” perception to me, and I always flinch. Whenever I hear a scream in a flick, I do an instant mental play-n-compare and ask, “Is it Wilhelm?”

I counted over 40 movies on that list I have seen. I have to say I can’t remember all the occurrences, but I recall many.

Outstanding trivia post, Weasel! As always!

Comment from Cuffy Meigs
Time: May 13, 2008, 5:27 pm

Since we’re talking motion pictures, here’s the video compilation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdbYsoEasio

Comment from BGG
Time: May 13, 2008, 5:36 pm

I knew it so I’m on my way to hell now! Not like I wasn’t already, if you ask my friends. I’m not sure where I learned about the scream though. Maybe from the Damned Interesting blog…oh I see someone mentioned that already. BTW I just finished prepping for my master’s comps and I believe I feel a tiny scream coming on, myself.

Comment from PattyAnn
Time: May 13, 2008, 5:58 pm

If I don’t say “It’s old”, do I still have to go straight to hell?

Comment from LemurKing
Time: May 13, 2008, 8:28 pm

That “kicked in the nuts” perception is very important. I wish they could take the sound from this one extreme sports show I saw, where the guy was *hauling* and leaped to side-skid down the railing but instead did a straddle on it, and it stopped him dead cold.

The impact was classic, the trailing scream was life changing.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 14, 2008, 12:30 am

Cowboy Up, you don’t scream when it hurts. At this weekend’s rodeo one bronc rider, and a bull rider… that had to hurt.

Best motto I saw: Cowboy Up! Or are you just going to lay there and bleed?

The Way of The Horse.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 14, 2008, 6:11 am

Ha, PattyAnn! At least I can honestly say I didn’t steal it from there. YouTube is blocked from work (where, by the grace of employer, I do all my surfing). So huge swathes of the ‘net are blank to me.

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny