Breaking the fourth wall, the act of an actor in a drama or comedy turning from the scene they are in to acknowledge the audience in some way, is not a phenomenon related just to film and television. A metatextual device, breaking the fourth wall allows a character to comment on the scene to the audience without disturbing the dramatic tension within the scene itself or to invite the audience deeper into the moment to experience it more fully.
Critic Denis Diderot first defined the act in the 18th century, though arguments could be made that existed previously at least as far back as the works of Shakespeare.
Vimeo user Leigh Singer has compiled 54 instances of breaking the fourth wall in the following supercut. Some of them are well-known examples, some are not. I’m not sure that I would say that all of them reach the same level, but take a look and see what you think.
The list of 54 films featured, in order: The Player (1992), Blazing Saddles (1974), The Great Train Robbery (1902), Persona (1966), Alfie (1966), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Richard III (1995), Richard III (1955), Sunset Blvd. (1950), Fight Club (1999), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Le Mepris (1963), High Fidelity (2000), Spaceballs (1987), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Horse Feathers (1932), Annie Hall (1977), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Amelie (2001), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Death Proof (2007), Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), The Meaning of Life (1983), Road to Bali (1952), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Animal House (1978), The Omen (1976), The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Psycho (1960), Orlando (1992), Young Frankenstein (1974), Do the Right Thing (1989), Gangster No.1 (2000), A Bout de Souffle (1960), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Top Secret! (1984), Family Plot (1976), Superman – The Movie (1978), Bronson (2008), Airplane! (1980), Funny Games (1997), Funny Games (2007), The Great Dictator (1940), Lord of War (2005), JFK (1991), Goodfellas (1990), Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), The Nutty Professor (1996), Tom Jones (1963), Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975), The Holy Mountain (1973), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).