Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



C (continued)

Cliffhanger (1993)

In Renny Harlin's action-thriller:

  • the opening, palm-sweating scene of stranded climber Sarah (Michelle Joyner) falling to her death into an abyss when her harness broke while attached to a taut steel cable thousands of feet above an abyss - and there was a vain attempt at a daring rescue by Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone)
  • the breathtaking scenery and helicopter shots

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

In Stanley Kubrick's futuristic film adapted from Anthony Burgess' novel:

  • the opening close-up of slyly grinning hoodlum Alex (Malcolm McDowell) with one eye decorated with a false eyelash staring directly at the camera, followed by the pull-back view of him lounging with his 'droogie' friends in a milk bar with white furniture of nude women - accompanied by the voice-over beginning with: "There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs..."
  • the delinquent gang's stylized "ultra-violence" rampages including the fight scene in an old theatre with a rival gang synchronized with music from Rossini's The Thieving Magpie
  • the scene at novelist Mr. Alexander's (Patrick Magee) futuristic home when the droogs wear masks and deliver brutal kicks to the old man's body during the rape of his wife - rhythmically punctuated with the lyrics of Singin' In The Rain
  • the persistent use of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Alex's ecstasy: "Oh bliss, bliss and heaven..."
  • the sped-up, slapstick orgy scene accompanied by the William Tell Overture in Alex's bedroom with two teenage girls that he just met at a record store
  • the scene of Alex's brutalization of the 'Catlady' (Miriam Karlin) with an enormous penis sculpture/weapon
  • Alex's "aversion therapy" brainwashing against sex and violence with his eyes painfully held open
  • the scene with an almost-nude woman to demonstrate the effectiveness of his behavioral modification
  • the use of unique doublespeak slang-dialogue throughout
  • Alex's final closeup and line: "I was cured all right" accompanied by his fantasy of frolicking in slow-motion on piles of white snow while making love to (or raping?) a nude woman, while two rows of Victorian Londoners sedately applauded
  • Gene Kelly's original rendition of Singin' in the Rain heard during the end credits

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

In Steven Spielberg's memorable sci-fi film:

  • the discovery in a northern Mexico desert during a sandstorm of a collection of vintage fighter aircraft from World War II
  • the scene of the lights/power going out section by section in Indiana
  • the moment at a railroad crossing when electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) signals a second vehicle to pass his truck - and the UFO unexpectedly rises and bathes him in brilliant light
  • young Barry's (Cary Guffey) view of the swirling clouds, his exclamation "toys" when his playthings are brought to life, and the opening of his door to an orangish light-show - a house surrounded by aliens
  • the encounter of "the third kind" when everything goes haywire in the house and a mesmerized Barry is abducted by aliens
  • the recurring mental images of a huge mountain
  • the pattern of musical sound waves in five tones that signals communication
  • the scene of the dazzling hovering and the first sight of the arrival and landing at Devils Tower (Wyoming) of an immense, circular, revolving alien 'mother-ship' in the presence of newsmen and scientists
  • the finale in which the doors open, humans who have been missing emerge, and Roy is chosen or 'adopted' and taken into the 'mother-ship' craft, and one of the aliens says farewell with hand signals to UN scientist Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffaut)

Clueless (1995)

In writer/director Amy Heckerling's teen-oriented comedy - a modern update of Jane Austen's classic Emma:

  • Alicia Silverstone's portrayal of self-centered Beverly Hills Valley-Girl high-schooler Cher Horowitz
  • her distinctive lingo, including such expressions as: the PC-correct "hymenally challenged" (instead of virgin), "surfing the crimson wave", "Baldwin" (meaning a very handsome male), "Betty" (Cher's term for the perfect girl), and "Monet" - ("It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess")
  • the opening scene in which she picks out her outfit for school
  • the scene of her driving test with a DMV testing officer ("...Off hand, I'd say you failed") and the LA freeway driving scene
  • Cher's father Mel's (Dan Hedaya) warning to a date: "Anything happens to my daughter, I've got a .45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you"
  • her father's surprise at her improved report card
  • the scene of Cher's mugging when she is forced to lie down on the pavement
  • the debate scene in which Cher talks about Haitian (pronounced 'Hay-tee-ans') immigration

The Cocoanuts (1929)

In the Marx Brothers' first film:

  • the many insults and attempts by corrupt real estate salesman and hotel manager Hammer (Groucho Marx) at courting wealthy widow Mrs. Potter (Margaret Dumont): ("Are you sure your husband's dead?...Tonight, when the moon is sneaking around the clouds, I'll be sneaking around you")
  • the crazy scene between two adjoining hotel rooms
  • the famous "viaduct"/"Why a Duck?" routine between con man Chico (Chico Marx) and Hammer with a wet blueprint: (Hammer: "Now here is a little peninsula and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland." Chico: "Why a duck?")
  • the rigged land auction scene led by Hammer ("You can have any kind of a home you want to. You can even get stucco. Oh, how you can get stucco") during which Chico does most of the bidding
  • the "I Want My Shirt" scene after the brothers have played tic-tac-toe on Detective Hennessey's (Basil Ruysdael) undershirt

Cocoon (1985)

In Ron Howard's sci-fi fantasy:

  • the life-inspiring scene in which three seniors: Art Selwyn (Oscar-winning Don Ameche), Ben Luckett (Wilford Brimley), and Joe Finley (Hume Cronyn) are rejuvenated to life after swimming in the cocoon-filled swimming pool and exude vitality and spunk toward their wives and fellow retirement home residents
  • Art's amazing solo break-dancing scene at a disco dance club - ending with his salute to the appreciative younger audience
  • the sexy scene in the swiming pool in which gorgeous Kitty (Tahnee Welch, Raquel Welch's daughter) demonstrated how alien Antareans express their affection ("we show's very fulfilling") - without touching - to charter boat operator Jack Bonner (Steve Guttenberg)
  • the sad scene of the death of Bernie Lefkowitz's (Jack Gilford) wife Rosie (Herta Ware) after which he carried her limp body over to the non-functioning life-giving pool near the Florida retirement community to vainly revive her
  • the goodbye scene of Ben telling his grandson David (Barret Oliver) goodbye while standing knee-deep in water - and what he would miss on Earth (grandsons, fishing holes, hotdogs, baseball games, etc.) by going away forever to another planet, but also what he would gain ("When we get where we're going, we'll never be sick, we won't get any older, and we won't ever die")
  • the scene of the boat-load of seniors being transported upward into a departing Antarean spaceship for the unknown planet in the finale

The Color of Money (1986)

In Martin Scorsese's sequel to the original film The Hustler (1961):

  • the well-choreographed, Atlantic City pool contest-competition with trick shots between resurrected "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman in an Oscar-winning role - his first) and hot-shot Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise)
  • Felson's words of advice: "Sometimes if you lose, you win," and "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned"
  • the final anti-climactic scene of the older and cagier Felson shooting a powerful break shot while confidently retorting to Vincent: "Hey, I'm back!"

Colorado Territory (1949)

In Raoul Walsh's and Warner Bros' noirish western-adventure (W.R. Burnett's novel High Sierra recast as a western):

  • the train robbery sequence
  • the exciting conclusion in which wounded, sought-after outlaw Wes McQueen (Joel McCrea) made a last stand in rocky mountain outcroppings with mixed-race, El Paso dance-hall partner Colorado Carson (Virginia Mayo) standing next to him with guns ablazing toward the authorities
  • her heroic effort to defend them, but they were outnumbered and shot down - at the moment of their fateful deaths, they poignantly clasped their hands together

Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

In director Robert Altman's low-budget drama (an ensemble reunion film), a 1975 gathering of a James Dean fan club ("The Disciples of James Dean") occurred at the local Woolworth's 5 & Dime in a small Texas town, on the 20th anniversary of the screen legend's death. The play was written in 1976 by Ed Graczyk and became the basis for the 1982 Broadway stage play:

  • the innovative use of two-way mirrors for the flashback sequences
  • the six major characters, who revealed hidden secrets and lost innocence over 20 years, including:
    - Juanita (Sudie Bond), the Gospel music-loving manager of the store after the death of her husband
    - Sissy (Cher), a wisecracking cow-girl and bad-girl often bragging about the size of her boobs, but remaining a five-and-dime waitress for 20 years; she had undergone a double mastectomy which caused her town bully-husband to leave her
    - Mona (Sandy Dennis), a disturbed and unstable female who falsely boasted that she was an extra in the Dean movie Giant (1956) filmed closeby in Marfa, TX, and asserted that Dean fathered her now 20 year-old, simple-minded son (named Jimmy Dean after the star) ("I was chosen above all them thousands of others")
    - Joanne (Karen Black), well-dressed and Porsche-driving, also a trans-sexual who had a sex-change operation about 13 years earlier, and her revelation of a second major secret - she was the actual 'father' (as Joe, Mona's HS effeminate boyfriend who was raped by the town bully) of Mona's son Jimmy
    - Stella Mae (Kathy Bates), the chubby, well-to-do wife of a rich petroleum executive
    - Edna Louise (Marta Heflin), a shy, timid and withdrawn mother with many children (and again pregnant)
  • the re-enactment of the trio of MacGuire Sisters (Mona, Sissy, and Joe/Joanne) performing a singing-dancing number

Coming Home (1978)

In Hal Ashby's definitive, Oscar-winning anti-war Vietnam film:

  • the tender love affair between housewife Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) and embittered and partially paralyzed, wheelchair-bound war veteran Luke Martin (Jon Voight) while she was working as a volunteer at a veteran's hospital
  • her subsequent violent breakup with returning husband-vet Bob (Bruce Dern) (Sally: "It happened. I needed somebody. I was lonely..." Bob: "Bulls--t...if it's over with us, it's over...What I'm saying ISSSS! I do not belong in this house. And they're saying that I don't belong over there")
  • Luke's "there's a choice to be made here" speech to high school students

The Company of Wolves (1984)

In director Neil Jordan's stylish fantasy horror film that updated the folklore fable/fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood:

  • the troubled dreams of a pubescent, almost 13 years old Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) on the verge of sexual awakening, wearing her sister's lipstick (and symbolically Little Red Riding Hood), that express her fearful anxieties about men and approaching womanhood and sexuality
  • the scene of her "killing" off her older sister Alice (Georgia Slowe) in the woods by wolves during a revenge-dream
  • matronly Granny's (Angela Lansbury) cautionary fairy tales and advice ("Once upon a time...") about wolves while knitting a red protective cloak for Rosaleen: "Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple, and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle," and "Oh, they're nice as pie until they've had their way with you. But once the bloom is gone... oh, the beast comes out" - and her advice to not stray from the path
  • Rosaleen's meeting of a handsome and tempting Huntsman (Micha Bergese) on her way to Granny's house - who transforms into a wolf with its snout forcing its way out through his gaping mouth, and encourages her to rid herself of her shawl
  • the scene of a pregnant witchy forest woman (Dawn Archibald) cursing everyone at a 19th century wedding party and horrifically transforming the newlyweds and their families into long-snouted werewolves
  • one of Granny's tales in which a young woman's missing husband (Stephen Rea) appears many years later in her log cabin and rips open his face to expose his "hairy" insides in another werewolf transformation scene
  • the final scene of a lone wolf crashing into Rosaleen's real waking-life bedroom window as she screams

Compulsion (1959)

In director Richard Fleischer's courtroom drama loosely based on the famous 1924 murder trial of Leopold and Loeb:

  • a Clarence Darrow-like Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles) and his spellbinding three-day (10 minutes in the film, and considered the longest true monologue in film history) argument against capital punishment: "They say you can only get justice by shedding their last drop of blood. Isn't a lifetime behind prison bars enough for this mad act?...You hang these boys, it will mean that in this land of ours, a court of law could not help but bow down to public opinion"

Contact (1997)

In director Robert Zemeckis' space exploration film:

  • the stunning opening sequence - a long, zooming pull back shot from the planet Earth past other planets and the end of our solar system (accompanied by TV and radio transmissions on the soundtrack that stretch back in time) - culminating as a bright dot of reflected 'sun'-light in the eye of nine year-old Ellie Arroway (later Jodie Foster) who dreams of alien contact
  • also the scene when Ellie travels to Vega and is so moved by her experience that she breathes reverentially: "Some celestial event. No - no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should've sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful... I had no idea... I had no idea..."
  • the scene of Ellie's testimony about her experience ("I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever...a vision of the universe")

Contempt (1963, Fr) (aka Le Mepris)

In New Wave film-maker Jean-Luc Godard's unrated European import - a marriage drama:

  • the opening scene with an exploitative extended view of a fully nude Brigitte Bardot (as unsatisfied and bored wife Camille Javal) lying face down in bed with her screenwriter husband Paul (Michel Piccoli) - the scene, shot with a colored filter, was ordered by Italian producer Carlo Ponti, to capitalize on her immense popularity, although it desexualized the sex kitten with her questioning dialogue about her own objectified body parts: "Do you like my breasts ... my ankles ... my knees ... my thighs?"

The Conversation (1974)

In Francis Ford Coppola's thriller:

  • the technical brilliance of the opening sequence in which an alleged adulterous couple (Ann (Cindy Williams) and Mark (Frederic Forrest)) (heard saying "He's not hurting anyone" - "Neither are we") in a crowded Union Square in San Francisco are under surveillance by wire-tapping expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman)
  • the mesmerizing sequence in which Harry repeatedly replays and discloses the hidden dialogue on the audio tapes (Mark: "He'd kill us if he got the chance") - similar to a photographic scene in Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966) - and 'thinks' he knows what will transpire
  • Harry's guilt-plagued obsession to follow the couple to the Jack Tar Hotel on Sunday at 3 o'clock (Room 773) for a startling murderous revelation, when he rented the next-door room, and then illegally entered the room and discovered evidence of a bloody confrontation - the murder of the "Director" (Robert Duvall), Ann's husband, who had originally ordered Caul todo surveillance on Ann
  • the devastating ending as Harry sits amidst his destroyed apartment after receiving a phone call: "We'll be listening to you" - playing his melancholy-sounding saxophone with the camera encircling him

(alphabetical by film title)

Intro | Quiz | A1 | A2 | A3 | A4 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | B6 | B7 | C1 | C2 | C3 | C4 | C5 | D1 | D2 | D3 | D4 | E
F1 | F2 | F3 | F4 | G1 | G2 | G3 | G4 | H1 | H2 | H3 | I1 | I2 | I3 | J | K | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | M1 | M2 | M3
| M5 | M6 | N1 | N2 | N3 | O1 | O2 | P1 | P2 | P3 | P4 | P5Q | R1 | R2 | R3 | R4
S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S9 | T1 | T2 | T3 | T4 | T5 | U | V | W1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | YZ

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