What often separates great films from mediocre ones is attention to minute detail. In the same way that a novel is made of the words used to create a world, a movie is made of images (primarily); as a novelist searches for just the right word, filmmakers search for everything from the lens to use on a medium shot to the special cigarette lighter the actor is holding.

Thrillist's round-up of the 100 Greatest Movie Props of All Time not only has great info on some iconic movie props, but also goes to show how much the right prop, serving the right story, can do for a movie. The fascinating backstories highlight the hard work and imagination that went into creating cinema's most memorable objects. A great movie prop is much like a great character; it can be as memorable as a face, or as important to a movie as a meaningful glance across a room.

Below, check out our picks for the Top 5 props, chosen out of order from Thrillist's Top 10

#10. The leg lamp, A Christmas Story (1983)

This perennial rerun every December is remembered for several iconic props and moments, from the infamous eye-putting-out air rifle to, of course, the leg-shaped lamp of which Ralphie's father is so enamored. 

According to production designer Reuben Freed, "Bob [Clark, the film's director] told me he wanted The Old Man to be in the window with the lamp, and that it needed to be big enough to be seen from across the street." For the lamp shade, Freed drew inspiration from a comic book, telling an interviewer that the most difficult part of the job was fabricating "something that would break on command, that we could have more than one of, that could be electrified and stand by itself." Of course, many movie props need to be replaceable, as our next entry demonstrates.

#7. The origami unicorn, Blade Runner (1982)

This iconic item was actually 12 different props, due to the delicacy of the objects, which had been fabricated by an origami artist. 

According to art director David Quick, though the concept was to have "the unicorns appear to have been constructed of throw-away chewing gum wrappers, they were made of a heavier gage metal foil due to their delicacy." Makes you wonder how many ended up being used in the film, and how many of the original unicorns are floating around. If you want, though, you can always make your own

#5. The Maltese Falcon, The Maltese Falcon (1941) 

This iconic prop, from one of the most iconic films, has a backstory worthy of the film that bears its name. In a piece in Vanity Fair, Bryan Burrough, who wrote a book on the prop called The Mystery of the Maltese Falcon, delved into the story of its unusual provenance and possible connection to the infamous Black Dahlia murders. 

The still-unsolved Los Angeles murder of actress Elizabeth Short, committed in 1947, was cold for decades until a man came forward to accuse his father, a prominent doctor—and friend of director John Huston. This doctor also palled around with a crowd including famous surrealists like Man Ray, as well an artist named Fred Sexton, who, according to the son's book, was also a friend of Huston's and claimed to have been the artist commissioned to make the iconic bird. What's more, the son claims that Sexton was also the murderous doctor's accomplice. (Check out the article; it's a fascinating read.)

#4. The hoverboard, Back to the Future Part II (1989)

VFX director John Bell was working at ILM when he was told that "'Bob Zemeckis wants to shoot Back to the Future II, we go to 2015, and there's something called a hoverboard.'" From those simple directives, Bell began to work on one of the most beloved props in movie history, especially to kids in the late '80s. 

Aware of skate culture and how skaters personalized their decks, Bell wondered what that might look like in 2015 and came up with some souped-up prototypes full of jet engines and wings. But—and this is another crucial rule for props—in movies, expedience often triumphs, and the final version was a very pared down idea, far closer to a 20th-century skateboard. According to Bell, "the final version of the hoverboard is so simplistic in its shape, with crazy graphics [but], the magic is the power inside of it. You don't understand it, but you enjoy using it."

#9. The bone club, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

This prop is a great example of object wedded to a moment, even if that moment is still the subject of debate almost 50 years after 2001's release. Arthur C. Clarke related how, while walking to the studio with Kubrick one day, "for some reason, Stanley had a broomstick in his hand. He threw it up into the air, in a playful way." Clarke says that was the moment when the idea of making "the broomstick in a bone" was born, and the rest is, well, pre-history. (I'm sorry.)

Kubrick fans will also be interested to know that this shot was the only one filmed "on location," according to Clarke, even if that location was just outside the studio. Clarke recount the moment when one of the most iconic shots in movie history was committed to film: "There was a platform built and, just beneath it, all the London buses were going by."

Source: Thrillist