Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments




Dames (1934)

In Ray Enright's extravagant musical romance:

  • the astonishing Busby Berkeley production numbers, including the clever "I Only Have Eyes For You," in which Barbara Hemingway (Ruby Keeler) and musical producer Jimmy Higgens (Dick Powell) fall asleep aboard a subway train as he dreams of repeated images of her face (chorus girls with large Keeler-face masks) and sees images of white-gowned chorus girls on a rotating white ferris wheel and multiple sets of stairs
  • the set ends with the chorus girls (with puzzle pieces strapped on their backs) coming together to form a huge jigsaw puzzle of Ruby's face
  • in the title number "Dames," close-ups of the faces of various 'dames' applying for work leads to the camera voyeuristically following the chorus girls through a single day (including their waking, stretching, bathing, powdering, applying makeup, etc.), ending with an overhead kaleidoscope star-formation - in one sequence, the trick reverse-action camera makes it appear that the tap-dancing chorines with black tights are flying straight up from the floor into the camera

Dances With Wolves (1990)

In director Kevin Costner's western Best Picture winner:

  • the opening Civil War battle scene in which injured Union Army Lieut. John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) makes a suicidal charge on horseback with his arms outstretched between opposing lines of Union and Confederate forces - and lives triumphantly
  • the buffalo hunting scene
  • the scene of Dunbar chasing and frolicking with Two Socks, the wolf, on the open prairie - the source of the film's title
  • the tearful farewell scene of his departure with white Sioux female Stands With A Fist (Mary McDonnell)

Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

In director Stephen Frears' sexy period costume drama of 18th century one-upmanship, game-playing, seduction and romantic intrigue - adapted from the 1782 novel by Choderlos de Laclos, and remade as Milos Forman's Valmont (1989) and as Roger Kumble's Cruel Intentions (1999):

  • the scene of aristocratic wealthy widow Marquise De Merteuil (Glenn Close) (calling herself a 'virtuoso of deceit') challenging devilish, rakish ex-lover Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich) to "Wa-a-a-a-r" and her bed for a night as the prize -- by seducing and 'deflowering' a teenaged bride-to-be virgin Cecile De Volanges (Uma Thurman) --
    - AND
  • by corrupting the religiously-virtuous, married Madame De Tourvel (Michelle Pfieffer) - which he cruelly accomplishes in order to win

The Dark Knight (2008)

In director Christopher Nolan's violence and action-packed superhero, comic-book film:

  • the opening sequence of the mob-owned bank robbery by clown-faced criminals - with the Joker (Heath Ledger) revealing himself with a painted clown face (with a grinning red scar) when he removed his mask after killing off all of his accomplices
  • the scene of Batman (Christian Bale) landing on the Scarecrow's (Dr. Jonathan Crane, Cillian Murphy) van and flattening it
  • the sight of a semi-trailer doing a somersault on a NY city street (and the Bat-pod doing its own wall flip) during a frenetic chase scene
  • the scene of the Joker's 'magic trick' of making a pencil disappear
  • every scene in which the Joker threatened victims with his knife and told them how he acquired his own facial scars from his abusive father -- and after intimidating Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) at Bruce Wayne's penthouse during a fundraiser, 'let her go' from the side of the skyscraper, forcing Batman to swoop down and rescue her
  • the scene of the Joker (dressed as a nurse) blowing up Gotham General Hospital by setting off various explosions - remotely
  • the Joker's two confrontation scenes with Batman:
    - in the police interrogation room when he said laughingly: "I don't want to kill you. What would I do without you?...You complete me"
    - and while hanging upside down, he also stated his feelings about the battle for Gotham's soul: "You truly are incorruptible, aren't you?...You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever..."
  • the final scene of Batman escaping as a hunted fugitive as Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) explained how district attorney Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face, with a disfigured face) (Aaron Eckhart) had been corrupted and vengeful (and lured to the dark side) by the Joker (although Batman would purposely take the blame and Dent would be lauded as a hero in the finale, as he explained: "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I can do those things because I'm not a hero, not like Dent...I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be")
  • Lt. Gordon's delivery of the final voice-over regarding Batman's fate: ("We have to chase him...Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight")

Dark Victory (1939)

In director Edmund Goulding's ultimate tearjerker:

  • the scene of socialite Judith Traherne's (Bette Davis) secret discovery in the doctor's office that her prognosis is negative
  • the final tearjerking sequences when dwindling eyesight informs her that death is near and she sends her husband Dr. Steele (George Brent) off to a medical conference - and truly accepts her coming death: "You know I used to be afraid. I died a thousand times. When death really comes, it will come as an old friend, gently and quietly"
  • the ending scene in which she plants hyacinth flowers in the garden with best friend Ann King (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and comforts her: "Don't, Ann. I'm happy, really I am. Now let me see, is there anything else? Oh yes, one more thing. When Michael runs Challenger in the National, oh, and he'll win - I'm sure he'll win - have a party and invite all our friends. Now let me see, silly old Alec, if he's back from Europe, Colonel Mantle and old Carrie and, oh yes, and don't forget dear old Dr. Parsons. Give them champagne and be gay. Be very very gay. I must go in now. Ann, please understand, no one must be here, no one - I must show him I can do it alone. Perhaps it will help him over some bad moments to remember it. Ann, be my best friend. Go now. Please"
  • Judith's greeting of her dogs in the house, before going up the stairs toward her bedroom for the last time after telling her maid to let her die in peace: "Is that you, Martha? I don't want to be disturbed" - reaching total blindness and death

Das Boot (1981, Ger.)

In Wolfgang Petersen's harrowing and nerve-wracking thriller:

  • the memorable sequence when the World War II German U-boat captained by conscience-stricken, stoic Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Jurgen Prochnow) torpedoes a British destroyer and the German sub crew watches helplessly as survivors scramble over the fiery wreckage, burn, scream for help, and drown
  • the tense and claustrophobic scene (conveyed throughout the film by Steadicam moving camera shots through the narrow passageways and by tightly-composed shots) when the sub is surrounded by depth charges and must dive deeply - and there are the first indications that the submerged aging structure will start leaking due to the powerful underwater pressure, signaled by excruciating groans and moans and rivets popping and blasting like gunshots

David Copperfield (1935)

In director George Cukor's literary film of Charles Dickens' novel:

  • W.C. Field's definitive characterization of the indebted Micawber
  • his denouncement of Uriah Heep (Roland Young)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

In George Romero's horror sequel to his Night of the Living Dead (1968):

  • the memorable scenes in which marauding, staggering, flesh-eating zombies in a deserted suburban Pittsburgh shopping mall relentlessly engage in attacks upon the living survivors:
    - pregnant TV anchorwoman Francine (Gaylen Ross)
    - her boyfriend, helicopter pilot/traffic reporter Stephen (David Emge),
    - two SWAT cops Roger and Peter (Scott Reiniger and Ken Foree)
  • the biting social satire that equated zombies with consumers (as perky, goofy mall music plays, zombies stumble around on escalators, etc.)
  • the climactic band of bikers invasion

A Day at the Races (1937)

In this Marx Brothers' madcap comedy:

  • the classic "Tootsie-Frootsie" ice cream scene in which vendor Tony (Chico Marx) sells racing tips to horse doctor Dr. Hugo Hackenbush (Groucho Marx)
  • the scene in which Hackenbush plays half-deaf "Colonel Hawkins" of the Florida Medical Board to infuriate Whitmore (Leonard Ceeley)
  • the two absurd medical examination scenes ("Just put the gown on, not the nurse")
    - first with Stuffy (Harpo Marx) and
    - then with Mrs. Upjohn (Margaret Dumont)
  • the famous one-liners: " Either he's dead or my watch has stopped!" - and "If I hold you any closer, I'll be in back of ya"
  • the film's highlight in which villainess Miss Nora "Flo" (Esther Muir) is wallpapered to the wall
  • the conclusion in which race horse Hi Hat burst into a sprinkler-soaked sanitarium and rescued the "Hackenbush team" of doctors during their exam of Mrs. Upjohn before they are apprehended
  • the steeplechase slapstick sequence

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

In Robert Wise's seminal science-fiction film:

  • the film's intriguing title sequence of an approach into the earth's atmosphere
  • the initial spaceship landing in Washington DC - causing a panic and troop deployment
  • the emergence of a humanoid, pacifist alien emissary named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and a giant robot (Gort) from the vessel
  • Gort's laser-beam, death-ray vision to melt weapons and a tank
  • the scene of Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) delivering the command of three words - "Klaatu barada nikto" - to the menacing Gort as he looms above her - to prevent the killer robot from destroying the planet after Klaatu has been shot by troops; afterwards, the robot carries Helen in his arms into the spaceship
  • the film's final scene, with soft-spoken extra-terrestrial Klaatu's pro-disarmament address to scientists and other top leaders: "...but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple. Join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you"

Days of Heaven (1978)

In director/writer Terrence Malick's beautiful love-triangle drama set in the WWI-era:

  • the breath-taking visual images and cinematography of Oscar-winning Nestor Almendros, including
    - the migrant workers' train ride to the fields
    - the sight of the train crossing a scaffold bridge
    - the wheat field sequence at dawn's light as the priest blesses the harvest before tractors and threshers move in from a hilltop and migrant workers gather the wheat

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

In Blake Edwards' devastating cautioning tragedy:

  • alcoholic, San Francisco advertising executive Joe Clay's (Oscar-nominated Jack Lemmon) enticement of non-drinking secretary Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick) with chocolate-flavored alcoholic Brandy Alexanders
  • the scene of a desperate Joe madly tearing apart his father-in-law's greenhouse to search for a hidden bottle
  • Joe's honest assessment of how alcoholism makes his marriage relationship a "threesome" - "Now look at me. I'm a bum. Look at me. Look at you. You're a bum. Look at you. And look at us. Look at us. C'mon, look at us. See? A couple of bums"
  • his experiences detoxifying in a hospital ward
  • his recitation of poetic words to mutually-boozing wife Kirsten: "They are not long the days of wine and roses...Out of a misty dream our paths emerge for a while, then close within a dream"
  • the film's ambiguous ending when his wife wanders off and a huge flashing neon "Bar" sign beckons him

Dead End (1937)

In William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's classic play:

  • the memorable sequences of wealthy, sinister gangster Baby Face Martin's (Humphrey Bogart) return to his old New York City (East River) neighborhood
  • his encounter with his mother (Marjorie Main) in a slum building, when she calls him a "no-good tramp" and a "dirty yellow dog" and repudiates him with a harsh slap across the face
  • his horrified reaction to his old girlfriend Francey (Claire Trevor) who has become a ravaged prostitute
  • the memorable debut of the Dead End Kids (including Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey)

Dead Man Walking (1995)

In Tim Robbins' anti-death penalty drama:

  • the flashback scene of the murders of a teen couple by death row inmate Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn)
  • the chilling death scene in which the convicted criminal is strapped into a cross-shaped apparatus in preparation for his lethal injection execution in the death chamber - while victims' families and comforting Louisiana nun Sister Helen Prejean (Oscar-winning Susan Sarandon) witness the capital punishment behind a glass window
  • Sister Helen's words: "I want the last face you see in this world to be the face of love, so you look at me when they do this thing. I'll be the face of love for you"

Dead Poets Society (1989)

In Peter Weir's dramatic film about educational inspiration:

  • eccentric, unorthodox 1959 Vermont prep school English teacher John Keating's (Robin Williams) lesson on the motto: "Carpe Diem" to his staid Welton Academy boarding school students ("Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary") as they stand in front of old pictures of the school's athletic teams (and the camera pans across the faces of the now-deceased lads)
  • the scene in which the dedicated but dismissed teacher is paid tribute by his former pupils (including tongue-tied betrayer Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke)) as they stand on their desks, defy authority and emotionally chant: "O Captain! My Captain!" (taken from Walt Whitman's poem about Abraham Lincoln), as Keating thanks the students from the doorway: "Thank you boys, thank you"

Death in Venice (1971, It.) (aka Morte a Venezia)

In director Luchino Visconti's stylistically lavish adaptation of Thomas Mann's novel - a tale of sexual obsession:

  • the beautifully shot, quiet and lonely death scene of aging, avant-garde German composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) slumped on a deck chair on a Venice beach (accompanied by the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony) dying of heart failure (other causes could be cholera, or suicide) with dark hair dye dripping down his sweaty, chalk-white face and cheeks, while lovingly watching an angelic-looking teenaged boy named Tadzio (Bjorn Andresen) on the beach who points out toward the horizon of the ocean - Gustav's expression mixed contentment, pain, and acceptance

(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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