Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



D (continued)

The Deep (1977)

In director Peter Yates' deep sea adventure:

  • the memorable, underwater scuba diving images of sunken treasure diver Gail (Jacqueline Bisset) in a revealing white, clingy see-through T-shirt

The Deer Hunter (1978)

In Michael Cimino's Best Picture-winning Vietnam-era film:

  • the opening scenes of the bonding friendship between the three major characters in the steel-town of Clairton, Pennsylvania:
    - Steven (John Savage),
    - Nick (Christopher Walken)
    - and deer-hunter Michael (Robert De Niro)
  • their pre-Vietnam deer hunting trip scene with Michael's philosophical discussion about his "one-shot" ideal when shooting deer, and his "This is this" speech toward an unprepared Stan (John Cazale)
  • the controversial and horrifying Russian Roulette sequence when the three captive prisoners of the Vietnam War are forced to provide deadly entertainment for their sadistic captors
  • an additional round of Russian roulette for money in a Saigon gambling den when Michael speaks to his nihilistic buddy Nick about "one shot" and plays again to rescue him
  • the image of a grief-stricken Michael cradling his dying friend's bloodied head after one last fateful game
  • and the final poignant scene at the breakfast wake when the young men sing "God Bless America" after Nick's death when his body is brought home - and they reverentially (freeze-framed) raise their beer mugs to Nick, as Michael toasts "Here's to Nick"

The Defiant Ones (1958)

In Stanley Kramer's social-conscience film:

  • the scene of escaped, shackled-together convicts Johnny Jackson (Tony Curtis) and Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier) talking together while fugitives, with Poitier bringing poignancy to his strident role: Jackson: "I'm just tellin' you the facts of life" Cullen: "I don't wanna hear it. I've been listenin' to that stuff all my life. From my wife: 'Be nice.' They throwed me in solitary confinement and she said: 'Be nice.' A man shortweight'd me when I turned in my crops. She'd say: 'Be nice, or you get in trouble.' She'd teach my kid that same damn thing"
  • the classic image of the clapsed white and black hands of the two desperately trying to help each other board a speeding train - Cullen reaches back to pull Jackson up, but can't save him and sacrifices his own freedom by jumping off
  • in the conclusion, Noah's singing of the blues song "Long Gone"

Delicatessen (1991, Fr.)

In Jean- Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's black comedy set in a post-apocalyptic 1950s France (of the future):

  • the montage set-piece, called the "Squeaky Bedsprings" scene, that takes place in an apartment building above a ground floor butcher's shop-delicatessen
    - above him as newly-hired handyman and circus clown Louison (Dominique Pinon) paints the ceiling with a roller, the cannibalistic butcher/landlord Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) is making love to his mistress Mme. Plusse (Karin Viard) on a squeaky bed
    - other tenants: the butcher's bespectacled near-sighted daughter Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac) is playing a cello with a metronome
    - a woman is beating a dusty rug
    - a man is pumping a bike tire
    - Louison is rolling on paint to the ceiling
    - an old woman is knitting
    - the toy-making Kube brothers are testing out a noise-making novelty toy that moos, etc.
  • they all keep synchronized in symphonic rhythm ("squeak squeak", "pound pound", "tick tock", "click click") to the squeaking springs in increasingly sped-up tempo until the butcher climaxes (when a cello string breaks, the bike tire explodes, the painter falls to the floor, etc.
  • also the numerous instances of suicidal psychotic Aurore Interligator (Sylvie Laguna) attempting to kill herself with Rube-Goldberg setups, including her climactic bizarre attempt to kill herself with an overdose of pills, a shotgun, a noose hanging, a Molotov cocktail, and gas inhalation -- all unsuccessful
  • and the outrageous scene at film's end in which Louison and Julie purposely flood a bathroom to escape her murderous father - resulting in a torrent of water filling the entire tenement building and cleansing the filth - leading to the butcher's death by a sharp Australian boomerang
  • the final image of Julie and Louison on the roof playing the cello and a musical saw with the sky turning blue

Deliverance (1972)

In John Boorman's tense action-adventure film:

  • the rousing "Dueling Banjos" sequence - a banjo challenge between Drew (Ronny Cox) and a demented boy
  • the thrilling whitewater canoe trip down the rapids with numerous point-of-view shots of the river and rapids
  • the grisly and shocking sexual molestation scene as a degenerate, redneck backwoods mountain man rapes a pig-squealing and anguished Bobby (Ned Beatty) in his underwear
  • the intense discussion scene about what to do with the body
  • Ed's (Jon Voight) scaling of a sheer bluff at night to kill the mountain man and then his descent
  • and the final nightmarish view of a hand rising from the river

The Descendants (2011)

In Alexander Payne's Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar-winning, heart-wrenching drama:

  • the character of an indifferent husband and beleaguered father, mildly-disheveled Honolulu lawyer Matt King (George Clooney), inept while dealing with the tragedy of his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) suffering a waterskiing accident off of Waikiki, and in a terminal coma (surviving only with life-support equipment)
  • Matt's opening disenchanted voice-over narration about Hawaii: "My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation - we're all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips and catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we're immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed-up, our cancers less fatal, our heartaches less painful? Hell, I haven't been on a surfboard in 15 years. For the last 23 days, I've been living in a paradise of IVs and urine bags and tracheal tubes. Paradise? Paradise can go f--k itself"
  • the scenes with his two daughters while serving as a hands-off "backup parent": sassy, resentful and reckless 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), and forlorn 10-year-old Scotty (Amara Miller) in open rebellion against his parental authority
  • Alexandra's devastating revelation to her clueless, workaholic father that her love-neglected mother was involved in domestic betrayal and planned to divorce him: "You really don't have a clue, do you?...Dad, Dad. Mom was cheating on you!"
  • Matt's comic, sweaty duck-legged dash (in inappropriate plastic flip-flops) to his nearby neighbors' house to hopefully learn the name of his wife's lover
  • Matt's two solo scenes at his wife's bedside, first expressing his anger: "The only thing I know for sure is you're a goddamn liar," and then in the second instance when he kissed her and sobbingly said "Goodbye, my love, my friend, my pain, my joy, Goodbye"
  • the long search, stalking and ultimate confrontation with the cheating real estate agent, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), who was married to cheated-upon, unaware wife Julie Speer (Judy Greer), and vacationing in a cottage on Kauai
  • Matt's final decision not to sell out an immense land trust he managed for his extended haole family, 25,000 acres of unspoiled land on the island of Kauai - the last untouched paradisical inheritance of Hawaiian royalty to be developed, to reap an enormous payoff - to spite his avaricious, affable and dissolute cousin Hugh (Beau Bridges), and possibly to deprive Speer of a rich commission
  • the ending scene (under the credits), in silence, as the reconciled family sat together on the sofa, under their mother's quilt, eating ice cream and watching March of the Penguins (2005) (narrated by Morgan Freeman)

The Desperate Hours (1955)

In William Wyler's crime thriller:

  • the two strong performances of cold-blooded escaped con Glenn Griffin (Humphrey Bogart) and his crafty hostage and family head Dan Hillard (Fredric March) with his family held in their suburban Indiana home

Destry Rides Again (1939)

In George Marshall's western comedy:

  • bawdy saloon singer "Frenchy" (Marlene Dietrich) belting out songs, such as You've Got That Look (That Leaves Me Weak) while wearing a feather boa and See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have
  • her placement of gold coins down her cleavage (prompting a censored line of dialogue voiced by Gyp Watson (Warren Hymer): "There's gold in them thar hills")
  • the two-minute, hair-pulling female wrestling brawl (the roughest in film history) between Frenchy and the wife of a man she has cheated, the fight's breakup when new sheriff Destry (James Stewart) pours water over them
  • in the final scene, Frenchy's death - a heroine's sacrifice for Destry

Detour (1946)

In Edgar Ulmer's great B-film noir:

  • the almost non-stop, voice-over narration in the nightmarish flashbacks of fatalistic, self-pitying, down-and-out Al Roberts (Tom Neal)
  • the foggy NY scene of Roberts walking with girlfriend/night-club singer Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake) and discussing their impossible future together
  • the pick up of vulturous and despicable hitchhiker Vera (Ann Savage) and her knowledge of his true identity ("You're a cheap crook and you killed him") - that Roberts accidentally 'killed' businessman Charles Haskell (Edmund MacDonald), stole his car and adopted his identity while hitchhiking in Arizona enroute to Hollywood
  • Roberts' fateful feelings about the blackmailing, castrating and exploitative Vera - such as: "That's life - whatever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you up"
  • the accidental strangulation of Vera by a telephone cord through a closed door - a second disastrous twist of fate signified by the in-and-out of focus shots from the POV of Roberts in a deranged mental state
  • his imagining of his arrest (to appease the Hays Code censors of the time) in a tawdry diner

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) (aka All That Money Can Buy)

In William Dieterle's classic fantasy tale:

  • the dramatic courtroom scene in which silver-tongued orator/lawyer Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) argues to save Jabez Stone's (James Craig) soul from the devil "Mr. Scratch" (Walter Huston) in front of a jury of damned souls
  • the last fade-out image of the defeated but never down Scratch on the fence looking at the camera/audience for his next 'victim' - breaking the fourth wall

The Devil in the Flesh (1946, Fr.) (aka Le Diable au Corps)

In Claude Autant-Lara's romance drama:

  • the passionate love scenes between a 17 year-old schoolboy Francois Jaubert (Gerard Philipe) and older married woman - WWI French military nurse Marthe Graingier (Micheline Presle)

Devil's Advocate (1997)

In director Taylor Hackford's occult horror drama:

  • the high-above New York rooftop negotiation sequence in which John Milton (Al Pacino) offers aspiring Florida attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) fame and fortune
  • Milton's perversely-seductive performance as the head of a multi-national law firm
  • the hallucinatory descent into hell for Kevin's troubled wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron) - especially the scene in the church when in the nude, she confesses that Milton "made me do it"
  • the dipping of Milton's finger into baptismal holy water to make it boil and his hysterical laugh in curtains of flames
  • and his climactic, fiery monologue in which he calls God an "absentee landlord" and reveals himself as the charismatic, evil Satan himself
  • the scene in which Milton tempts Lomax with nude, redheaded co-worker and half-sister Christabella Adrioli (Connie Nielsen) in his office ("It's time to step up and take what's yours")
  • the wall sculpture mural with naked people that comes to life - when Lomax speaks of his own free-will and shoots himself in the head as Milton screams: "NOO!" -- and the wall mural erupts in flames
  • the final curtain-closing line from a morphed press man: "Vanity - definitely my favorite sin" - accompanied by the Stones' "Paint It Black"

The Devils (1971, UK)

In Ken Russell's blasphemous, shocking, repulsive and flamboyant film about the repressive 17th century when sexuality was equated with Satanism (an adaptation of Aldous Huxley's "The Devils of Loudon"):

  • the demented, overwrought and offending excesses: sexual debauchery, a hunchbacked, sexually-tormented and possessed Mother Superior Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave)
  • naked nuns engaged in orgies and self-flagellating masturbation with a large-scale effigy of Jesus (the so-called "rape of Christ" sequence was censored)
  • torture, hideous exorcistic practices, and the killing of Huguenots
  • the execution of womanizing, vain, rebellious liberal-activist priest Father Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) by burning at the stake after he faced questioning and persecution for his 'diabolic possession' of the local repressed Ursuline nuns

Dial M for Murder (1954)

In Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller:

  • the scene of plotting yet charming husband, ex-tennis champion Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) calling his wealthy wife Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly in her first of three films for Hitchcock) on the phone by dialing M (although tension is intensified when his watch stops and his call - dialing M - is later than expected)
  • the murder set-up - and the 3-D effect of Margot while being strangled reaching back - into the audience from the screen - searching for a weapon (a pair of scissors) to defend herself and kill hired assassin Captain Swann/Lesgate (Anthony Dawson) by stabbing him in the back
  • the concluding scene in which the guilty Tony opens the door with the crucial key retrieved from the rug on the stairs - enters, turns and realizes he has been found out ("Once he opens that door, we shall know everything")

Die Hard (1988)

In director John McTiernan's action-thriller blockbuster:

  • the breathtaking, tense, nail-biting action sequences in a 40-story Los Angeles (Century City) high-rise corporate headquarters building on the 30th floor during a Christmas Eve party
  • the pitting of New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) against villainous internationalist terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman)
  • McClane's famous line: "Yippee-kai-yay, motherf--ker!"
  • the scene of his walking barefoot on glass
  • the final tense showdown in which Gruber plunges to his death
  • McClane's dangling escape from the rooftop via a firehose

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

In this sequel of the famed action picture by director Renny Harlin:

  • the reprise of John McClane's (Bruce Willis) famous line: "Yippie-kai-yay, motherf--ker!" when he ignites - with his cigarette lighter - the fuel trail of a 747 airplane filled with terrorists during take-off and the plane explodes in a ball of fire, providing light for other planes circling above to land in the film's conclusion

(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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