Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments




I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932)

In this Warner Brothers crime/prison drama (with a message) by director Mervyn LeRoy:

  • the dissolve/transition as the judge's gavel is brought down for sentencing - and is completed by a hammer pounding the chain on prisoner James Allen's (Paul Muni) leg
  • the scene of Allen's attempt to pawn off his war medal
  • the visually impressive and chilling fade-out ending when hunted, falsely-accused fugitive James Allen responds to his fiancee Helen (Helen Vinson) about how he lives - "I steal" - as he recedes into the shadowy darkness

I Spit on Your Grave (1978) (aka Day of the Woman)

In producer/director/writer Meir Zarchi's gruesomely-told and widely vilified story, a notorious rape/vigilante revenge splatter-horror ('nastie') film:

  • the character of NYC socialite/writer Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton, grand-niece of the famous comedian Buster Keaton) who rented a remote and woodsy summer riverside dwelling, and was spied upon
  • the graphic, lengthy and violent, painful-to-watch sequence of her repeated rape by four locals, including three aimless, misogynistic and sex-obsessed guys she had first met at a gas station (Eron Tabor as gas station manager Johnny, and his two unemployed friends Anthony Nichols as Stanley, and Gunter Kleeman as harmonica-playing Andy) and a fourth bespectacled, mentally-slow supermarket delivery man (Richard Pace as Matthew Lucas).
  • the planned revenge of the traumatized victim who paid a visit to a church to pray for forgiveness before her brutal counter-assault
  • the scenes of her angry (yet often seductive) revenge against each of the four attackers: a noose-hanging, a lethal bloodletting castration conducted nude in a bathtub with a conveniently-placed knife, an axing, and a disembowelment with an outboard boat motor

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

In this acclaimed occult horror film from RKO producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur:

  • the nighttime scene of Canadian nurse Betsy Connell's (Frances Dee) haunting walk through sugar cane fields to a local voodoo ceremony
  • the abrupt appearance in the darkness of huge zombie guard Carrefour (Darby Jones) - a memorable image

I Want to Live! (1958)

In director Robert Wise's grim and dramatic biopic:

  • hard-living, bad-luck woman Barbara Graham (Oscar-winning Susan Hayward) convicted of murder although she vows her innocence ("I despise the lawyers, all the ones who want me dead - I'm innocent")
  • the final, realistic San Quentin gas-chamber execution scene when the heroine is advised: "When you hear the pellets drop, count ten, take a deep breath - it's easier that way" and her response: "How do you know?"
  • the clenching of her fist and slumping over in death

If... (1968, UK)

In director Lindsay Anderson's violent and controversial coming-of-age drama about youth rebellion:

  • the character of rebellious, anti-authoritarian anarchist Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell in his debut film role), who had said: "one man can change the world with a bullet in the right place"
  • the violent, vengeful and bloody finale - an armed shoot-out and revolt by rebellious students from the rooftop of an oppressive, conformist English boarding school (a symbolic microcosm of a repressive Establishment-oriented society) during a Founder's Day ceremony
  • during the attack, Mick was joined by other boys and an unnamed coffee-house waitress/girlfriend (Christine Noonan) who coldly shot the Headmaster between the eyes
  • the film's concluding "THE END" was substituted with "IF..."

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

In director Daniel Mann's dramatic biopic:

  • the remarkable performance of Oscar-nominated Susan Hayward as showbiz singer/actress Lillian Roth
  • her descent into drunkenness ("I'm what you call an adorable drunk...I'm no good. That's the way it's gotta be. I'm just nothin'. A hopeless drunk...") and her remarkable comeback

Imitation of Life (1959)

In Douglas Sirk's great melodrama:

  • the scene in an alley in which Frankie (Troy Donahue), the date of light-skinned Sarah Jane Johnson (Susan Kohner), racistly asks: "Is it true?...Is your mother a nigger?" - and then accuses her of lying and slaps her to the ground
  • the scene in a Hollywood motel room in which estranged black-maid mother Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) (who was in the employ of actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner)) meets with her daughter Sarah Jane, who essentially disowns her: "I'm white! White!...and if by accident, if we should ever pass on the street, please don't recognize me"; then, Sarah Jane's mother makes one last request or wish: "I'd like to hold ya in my arms once more like you was still my baby... Oh, my baby, my beautiful, beautiful baby. I love you so much. Nothin' you ever do can stop that"
  • in the funeral scene finale with Mahalia Jackson singing "Trouble of the World," Sarah Jane unexpectedly returns for her mother's funeral, rushes to the casket, and sobs uncontrollably as she apologizes: ("Mama, Mama, I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it. Mama, do you hear me? I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, Mama. Mama, I did love you...I killed my mother, I killed her. I wanted to come home. Now she'll never know how much I wanted to come home")

I'm No Angel (1933)

In Mae West's second starring feature film comedy, by director Wesley Ruggles:

  • one-ring circus and sideshow carnival barker's (Russell Hopton) tempting a crowded audience and introducing carnival queen and dazzling international small-time, vamp circus star performer Tira (Mae West) ("Over there, Tira, the beautiful Tira, dancing, singing, marvel of the age, supreme flower of feminine pulchritude, the girl who discovered you don't have to have feet to be a dancer")
  • Tira's sauntering entrance on the catwalk and her purring to spectators: "A penny for your thoughts. Got the idea, boys. You follow me?"
  • with further risque one-liners and memorable quips (""Well, it's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men")
  • her self-defense in the final courtroom scene where she often sashays in front of the jury and at one point quips: "How'm I doin'?"

In a Lonely Place (1950)

In Nicholas Ray's black and white film noir classic:

  • the scene in which beautiful but cool blonde next-door apartment neighbor Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) - first viewed voyeuristically in a window frame - provides an alibi for cynical, hard-living, self-destructive and volatile Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) after he is accused of murdering hat-check girl Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart)
  • Laurel's classic response to Dixon's query about his face: "I said I liked it. I didn't say I wanted to kiss it"
  • Steele's convincing 'visual' re-enactment of his idea of the murder (a strangulation: "Squeeze harder. Harder. Squeeze harder. It's wonderful to feel her throat crush under your arm") in an unforgettable dinner conversation scene
  • his line of dialogue for a script told to Laurel while driving together: "I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me"
  • Laurel's teary words of goodbye to him as he walks away after their relationship has deteriorated by film's end: "I lived a few weeks while you loved me. Goodbye, Dix"

In Cold Blood (1967)

In Richard Brooks' adaptation of Truman Capote's best-selling non-fiction novel:

  • the brutal mass murder crime (delayed in the film and shown only as a post-crime scene) against the four-member Clutter family in rural Holcomb, Kansas (November 15, 1959), surveyed by the camera, conducted by ex-cons Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and Dick Hickock (Scott Wilson) looking for $10,000
  • the killers' long wait on death row in Kansas State Penitentiary
  • the image of Smith's face next to a rain-streaked cell window (that streaks his own face with rain drops) on the night he is scheduled to be hanged
  • the execution by hanging scene (April 14, 1965)

In Old Chicago (1937)

In director Henry King's urban drama/disaster film:

  • the spectacular 20-minute sequence of the famous Chicago fire of 1871 with thousands fleeing into Lake Michigan as a panoramic shot shows the city totally ablaze
  • the ending shot of the rebuilt city with modern skyscrapers

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

In Norman Jewison's Best Picture-winning racial drama:

  • black stranger and Philadelphia homicide policeman Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) identifying himself when asked by bigoted Mississippi red-neck Sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger): "Virgil - that's a funny name for a nigger boy that comes from Philadelphia. What do they call you up there?" - with the famous, angry but noble one-line self-introduction: "They call me Mister Tibbs"
  • the powerful greenhouse scene in which Tibbs trades an angry back-hand to the face of white murder suspect Eric Endicott (Larry Gates) and Endicott's retort: "There was a time when I could have had you shot"
  • the final parting scene at the train station when the begrudging Sheriff and Tibbs show mutual respect and understanding for each other

In the Line of Fire (1993)

In Wolfgang Petersen's thriller:

  • the effective taunting phone call scenes with conversations between haunted JFK Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) and menacing ex-CIA hit man Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) (calling himself "Booth")
  • the scene of the protective agent telling the crazed, cold and calculated killer that his daring plan to shoot the president dead isn't going to happen ("That's not gonna happen. I'm onto you" and "You'd better pray I don't find you, you punk")
  • the climactic elevator car fight in which Leary purposely refuses Frank's hand, deliberately lets go, and falls to his death

(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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