Best Film
Deaths Scenes

1930-1933


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Film Title/Year and Description
Screenshots

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

In the unforgettable final moments of the film, just before the "all quiet on the western front" armistice and with all of his comrades gone, soldiers were bailing water out of a dilapidated trench. The faint sound of a harmonica could be heard.

German soldier Paul Baumer (Lew Ayres) was sitting alone, daydreaming inside the trench on a seemingly peaceful, bright day. He was exhausted by terror and boredom. Through the gunhole of his trench, he saw a beautiful lone fluttering butterfly that had landed just beyond his reach next to a discarded tin can outside the parapet. He began to carefully reach out over the protection of his bunker with his hand to grasp it, momentarily forgetting the danger that was ever-present.

As he stretched his hand out yearning for its beauty, a distant French sniper prepared to take careful aim through a scope on a rifle. As he leaned out closer to the butterfly and extended his hand, suddenly the sharp whining sound of a shot was heard. Paul's hand jerked back, twitched for a moment and then went limp in death. All was silent and quiet. The harmonica tune stopped.

Little Caesar (1930)

Once at the top of the underworld, the lonely dark figure of gangster Cesare Enrico 'Rico' Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) now wandered head down through the windswept city streets. Seeing a police car approaching, the slight figure of Rico went down to defeat and death in an unforgettable final scene.

Police surrounded him as he fired a shot at the car and then hid behind a billboard with a gigantic poster (advertising Joe Massara and Olga Strassoff starring in a new dance show at the Grand Theatre: Tipsy, Topsy, Turvy - A Laughing Singing Dancing Success). Sgt. Flaherty (Thomas E. Jackson) threatened his ex-arch nemesis: "You'd better give up, Rico. You haven't got a chance," but Rico snapped back: "You want me, you'll have to come and get me."

The roadside billboard was raked with machine-gun fire, peppering the lower part of the poster across Rico's figure with bullets. Slowly, Rico fell and collapsed to the ground, his derby hat rolling off his head in front of him where he pathetically lay sprawled on the ground. Rico looked up defiantly and disbelieving that he was about to die following the shoot-out. He painfully grabbed his sides and with a last gasp, moaned out his final words in a memorable death scene. He uttered his famous farewell epitaph with a weak voice, asking aloud:

Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?

The final shot dissolved into view. It contrasted the gritty scene of Rico's end behind the billboard with the front of the billboard, which extravagantly announced the escapist musical/dance show: "Tipsy Topsy Turvy."

The Champ (1931)

The film ended with the melodramatic, tear-jerking death of boxer Andy "Champ" Purcell (Wallace Beery) in the locker room, after taking a savage (ultimately fatal) beating in a match. Young son Dink (Jackie Cooper) cried at his side.

Dracula (1931)

The death (offscreen) of vampire Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) occurred when vampire-killer Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) drove a sharp, pointed wooden stake into his undead heart.

Frankenstein (1931)

Quite shocking at the time was the Monster's (Boris Karloff) murder of young Maria (Marilyn Harris) by tossing her into a lake, thinking mistakenly that she would float like flower petals.

In the film's most powerful, poignant, and horrifying scene, the Monster parted bushes and entered a clearing by the bank of the lake. He attempted to make friends with Maria who played there by herself. As she was gathering daisies at the edge of the water, she was not repelled by his hideous appearance or fearful of him and invited him to play and be her friend: "Who are you? I'm Maria. Will you play with me?" She took his hand and led him to the side of the lake. She asked: "Would you like one of my flowers?" and offered him one. A close-up of their two hands touching emphasized the enormity of his hands. With child-like innocence, he smelled the flower and a beatific smile lit his face. After they knelt next to the water, Maria handed him some flowers to join in her game of flinging them into the pond, and he compared his hand to hers: "You have those, and I'll have these. I can make a boat." One by one, they tossed flowers onto the surface of the lake, watching the petals float. "See how mine float?" The Monster delighted in the game with his new-found friend (his first) and was pleased when he threw a daisy and it floated.

When the Monster's few flower blossoms were gone, he puzzled for a moment at his empty hands, and then innocently and ignorantly picked up Maria. The little girl screamed: "No, you're hurting me. No!" He enthusiastically threw her in the water - expecting that she, too, would float like the flower petals. She floundered and splashed in the water and quickly sank and drowned. As he staggered away from the lake, the Monster seemed to express some confusion, despair and remorse - shaking and wringing his hands and possibly perceiving the horrible thing he had done.




Public Enemy (1931)

In a climactic scene, gangster Tom Powers' (James Cagney) bandaged dead body was special deliveried to his home. A phone call to the Powers home had reported that Tommy was coming home. His mother (Beryl Mercer) cheerfully went upstairs and hummed to herself as she prepared his room for his home-coming: "Oh, it's wonderful. I'll get his room ready. I knew my baby would come home." A scratchy Victrola phonograph record played an upbeat tune, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles on the soundtrack.

In the rival gang's gruesome plan after kidnapping him from the hospital, they gift-delivered Tommy's bullet-ridden, rope- and blanket-wrapped 'mummified' corpse/body, announced by a knock on the door. When brother Mike (Donald Cook) answered the front door, Tommy appeared alive, bound from head to foot except for his exposed, bandaged and bloody face. It was the film's final memorable bone-chilling image - he tetter-tottered on the doorstep, and then his mummy-body fell and crashed with a dull thud - face-first onto the floor. The needle on the revolving phonograph record became stuck, sounding like a heart-beat.

The needle reached the end of the record. The film's somber message appeared over the image:

The END of Tom Powers is the end of every hoodlum. 'The Public Enemy' is, not a man, nor is it a character -- it is a problem that sooner or later WE, the public, must solve.

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

The quintessential deathbed scene in this tearjerker was one of the most romantic and sad ever filmed.

British nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes) died in her hospital bed in a maternity ward in Switzerland after her baby died -- with loving World War I officer and ambulance driver Lt. Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) by her side kissing her and professing his love ("I'll never stop loving you").

She experienced a prolonged tearjerking death ("Oh darling, I'm going to die. Don't let me die! Take me in your arms! Hold me tight! Don't let me go...In life and in death, we'll never be parted...I believe it and I'm not afraid"). It coincided with bells ringing to declare the Armistice. After she died, he carried her in his arms to the window and affirmed: "Peace, peace" - as white doves flew into the air and the screen faded to black.


King Kong (1933)

# 3

There was a thrilling and traumatic death scene in this classic adventure film, when the giant ape King Kong was attacked by biplanes while atop the Empire State Building in NYC.

Kong clutched the girl Ann (Fay Wray) whose blonde beauty had touched his heart. He placed Ann on a ledge and then roared in defiance at the planes. A squadron of fighter biplanes swirled around him in an attack to shoot him down, as he swatted at them like irritating mosquitoes or bees, but he couldn't reach them. His battle against the biplanes was futile. Kong flinched as machine gun bullets ripped into his body. Kong sent one careless pilot to a fiery death.

After a vicious attack into his throat and body, he was weakened and knew that he was dying. He touched his wounded chest, and then examined the blood on his fingers from the wound. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. He gently picked Ann up one last time to gaze at her with tender affection and love. Then, he returned her to the ledge and stroked her gently with his fingertips. After another volley of bullets into his throat, his head drooped and his body swayed and staggered - he was barely able to hold on.

When he loosened his hold from the building, he silently plunged many stories to his death on the street below. Tragically, Kong was no longer an object of terror and fear, but of pity. Moments later, Ann was rescued by Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) on the Empire State Dome. He embraced his fiancee tightly in his arms: "Ann, Ann, hang on, dear."

In the final coda scene on the street's pavement below, next to Kong's lifeless body that was sprawled there with blood trickling from his mouth, film-maker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) pushed his way through the police cordon to examine the massive, crushed body of the fallen monster: "Let me through, officer, my name's Denham...Lieutenant, I'm Carl Denham." He corrected the police officer lieutenant who claimed he knew what killed Kong. Rather than the 'airplanes' - a symbol of civilization, Denham stated what finally 'killed the Beast.' He shook his head and replied with assertive relish, in a classic line - the final line of the film:

Oh, no. It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.



Little Women (1933)

In a sad scene, dying Beth March (Jean Parker) reassured her older sister Jo (Katharine Hepburn):

I'm not afraid anymore! I'm learning that I don't lose you, that you'll be more to me than ever, and NOTHING can part us, though it seems to. Oh, Jo! I think I'll be homesick for you - even in heaven.

Jo wrote an ode to her sister, titled "My Beth":

Oh my sister, passing from me / Out of human care and strife / Leave me, as a gift those virtues / Which have beautified your life / By that deep and solemn river / Where your willing feet now stand.

Beth's last words were: "I think I can sleep now. Oh look, Jo. My birds. They got back in time." At the moment of Beth's death - birds flew off from the window sill.



Greatest Movie Death Scenes
(chronological by film title)
Intro | 1915-1929 | 1930-1933 | 1934-1938 | 1939 | 1940-1942 | 1943-1945 | 1946-1947 | 1948-1949
1950-1952 | 1953-1955 | 1956-1957 | 1958-1959
1960-1961 | 1962-1963 | 1964-1966 | 1967-1968 | 1969-1970
1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977-1978 | 1979
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1994 | 1995 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1998 | 1999
2000-2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

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