Best Film
Deaths Scenes


Greatest Movie Death Scenes
Film Title/Year and Description

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

In director Rouben Mamoulian's adventure-swashbuckler, there was a thrilling, magnificent dueling scene (one of the best in cinematic history).

The struggle was between Zorro/Diego de Vega (Tyrone Power) and cruel villain Capt. Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone).

Pasquale was killed by a lethal parry. When he fell to the floor, he dislodged a framed painting that revealed a scratched 'Z' on the wall.

Rebecca (1940)

Crazed by the truth that was revealed about Rebecca, devoted housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) carried a lighted candle through the darkened hallways and set Manderley on fire, determined to burn the cavernous mansion. As the master of the house Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier)drove home from London and proceeded up the long driveway to Manderley, the sky was brightly lit by the flames of the mansion. He exclaimed: "That's not the Northern lights. That's Manderley!"

Outside after finding each other and embracing, while they watched the great house burn behind them, Mrs. de Winter told her husband:

It's Mrs. Danvers. She's gone mad. She said she'd rather destroy Manderley than see us happy here.

Mrs. Danvers was consumed in the blazing inferno as the flames burned her and the memories of her mistress. The faithful housekeeper was last seen through a West Wing window, remaining trapped inside Rebecca's bedroom with the memories of her beloved, as the burning roof caved in on top of her.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) succumbed after murmuring: "ROSEBUD" from giant lips (in close-up), while grasping a snow globe. It was the first spoken words in the film.

An old man had pronounced his last dying word as the snowstorm globe was released from his grip and rolled from his relaxed hand. The glass ball bounced down two carpeted steps and shattered into tiny pieces on the marble floor.

A door opened and a white-uniformed nurse appeared on screen, refracted and distorted through a curve of a sliver of shattered glass fragment from the broken globe. In a dark silhouette, she folded his arms over his chest, and then covered him with a sheet. The next view was again the lit window viewed from inside. A dissolve faded to darkness.

High Sierra (1941)

During a suspenseful manhunt high up in the Sierra Mountains, police pursued aging gangster Roy "Mad Dog" Earle (Humphrey Bogart) in a doomed last stand when his 'tarnished angel' friend Marie (Ida Lupino) refused to call out to him, as she told the authorities:

No, I won't....I won't, I tell you. He's gonna die anyway, he'd rather it was this way. Go on, kill him! All of you. Kill him, kill him, do you hear?

Earle was shot dead from behind when he called out to his mongrel dog Pard. After his body rolled down the steep rocky cliff, Pard licked his hand. Kneeling over Earle's dead body, a weeping Marie asked an uncaring officer (who sarcastically called the dead man "Big-shot Earle" - "Look at him lying there. He ain't much now, is he?"):

"Mister, what does it mean when a man crashes out?"

When told that it meant being freed ("It means he's free"), she sadly repeated the word "Free?", questioning Roy's unnecessary death. She picked up Pard as she was escorted away and said the word "Free" one more time. The film ended with a blurry fadeout on Marie's tear-stained face as it filled the frame before a pan up to the mountains.

The Little Foxes (1941)

Estranged husband Horace (Herbert Marshall) died as he climbed the stairs and suffered a heart attack behind wife Regina (Bette Davis), in a famous deep-focus shot.

Bambi (1942)

# 6

This was one of the most traumatic death scenes (off-screen) ever filmed.

Bambi's mother sensed a human presence -- and warned her young doe: "Bambi. Quick! The thicket!" There were gunshots as they both raced away. She encouraged: "Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don't look back. Keep running! Keep running!" Bambi ran and ducked behind a snowbank - and made it to the protective thicket, but there was a fateful gunshot.

Bambi turned and exclaimed while panting: "We made it! We made it, Mother! We...", but his Mother was nowhere in sight. Bambi emerged, asking and calling out: "Mother. Mother! Mother, where are you?!" He fruitlessly searched for her during a raging snowstorm, not knowing she had been killed by a human hunter.

After not finding her and hearing no response, the young fawn began to sob, and then gasped at the imposing sight of his stag father, the Great Prince of the Forest, who stated: "Your mother can't be with you anymore." A tear formed in Bambi's eye as he looked up, and was told: "Come. My son." He followed, but looked back one last time in the direction of where his mother had been.

Casablanca (1942)

In self-defense, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) shot Major Heinrich Strasser (Conrad Veidt) in the film's dramatic conclusion.

They were in the hangar of Casablanca's foggy airport where Rick had decisively changed plans. He ordered that Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) should depart with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), possessing letters of transit from Casablanca to Lisbon.

A determined Major Strasser had breathlessly rushed into the airport hangar and was informed that Victor Laszlo was on the departing airplane. Without heeding Rick's warning ("I was willing to shoot Captain Renault, and I'm willing to shoot you"), Strasser attempted to halt the plane on the runway - he ran to a phone to connect to the radio tower. Rick ordered him to put the phone down as Strasser grabbed the receiver. The Nazi leader pulled out a gun with his other hand and fired a shot at Rick - who was compelled in self-defense to shoot back. Strasser crumpled to the hangar floor - dead.

A carload of gendarmes pulled up. In the distant background, the plane was taxi-ing and turning on the runway. Five policemen ran up to the amoral Capitaine Renault (Claude Rains) who announced climactically:

Major Strasser has been shot.

In a tense, dramatically effective moment, there was a long pause. Renault first looked at Rick and then back at the gendarmes. [Would he side with Rick or protect the status quo?] Renault indicated that he would not arrest Rick, delivering a famous command to his men:

Round up the usual suspects.

This Gun for Hire (1942)

In the climactic finale, expressionless, baby-faced, cat-loving hired killer Philip Raven (Alan Ladd in his first major role) had acquired a written confession from the bad guys before their deaths.

Corrupt, double-crossing, peppermint candy-loving fat man Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) and wheelchair-bound Alvin Brewster (Tully Marshall) confessed to selling secrets about the chemical composition of poison gas to foreign agents (the Japanese).

Before expiring from gunshot wounds, Raven asked peek-a-boo blonde-haired femme fatale Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake): "Did I do alright for ya?"

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

In a sad death-bed scene, patriarch Jerry Cohan (Walter Huston), delirious with drugs, was with his son George (James Cagney) by his side. He mentioned son George's earlier playing of Peck's Bad Boy: "If you upstage your mother, I'll whale the tar out of ya." They also spoke about the final curtain call. George wept as he delivered the 'curtain call' on his father's life and collapsed into his father's arms.

His father asked about the number of curtain calls (the response was six) that night and what the speech was, after which George told him, with a breaking voice, the film's most famous line:

Jerry (feebly): How many curtain calls did you take tonight?
George: Six - six curtains.
Jerry: That's pretty good for a drama. Did you make a speech?
George: (with an unsteady, breaking voice) ...I said 'my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.'

(His father cupped his hand on George's head to comfort him and then expired.)

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
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