Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments




Jacob's Ladder (1990)

In Adrian Lyne's psycho-horror thriller:

  • the nightmarish, chilling images and scenes of haunted Vietnam vet Jacob Singer's (Tim Robbins) many blurry, drug-related visions (during his own purgatorial after-death after being mortally wounded in combat) and ice bath to calm his fever
  • the hallucinatory scene of temptress Latina girlfriend/co-worker Jezebel's (Elizabeth Pena) erotic dance with a reptilian-tailed devil to James Brown's Ma Thang (Sex Machine) when a horn suddenly erupts from her mouth
  • Jacob's disturbing trip through a decaying hospital (purgatory or hell?) littered with human body parts and deformed mental patients
  • the eyeless doctor with flesh-covered eyes who painfully sticks a syringe in the middle of Jacob's forehead
  • his therapeutic sessions with guardian angel chiropractor Louis (Danny Aiello) who reassures him
  • the final scene in which Jacob calmly ascends a staircase into golden light with his dead son Gabriel (uncredited Macauley Caulkin) after accepting his own death
  • the revelation of the plot twist - his actual death during combat in Vietnam

Jailhouse Rock (1957)

In director Richard Thorpe's prison-related musical:

  • the production number "Jailhouse Rock" by hip-swiveling, arrogant ex-prison convict/rocker Vince Everett who sings "C'mon everybody, let's rock"

Jane Eyre (1943)

In this faithful adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic romantic story set in Victorian times by director Robert Stevenson:

  • the opening scene (voice-over narration) of abused, neglected and orphaned young Jane Eyre (Peggy Ann Garner as child, Joan Fontaine as adult) reading from the first paragraph of the printed novel: "My name is Jane Eyre. I was born in 1820, a harsh time of change in England. Money and position seemed all that mattered. Charity was a cold and disagreeable word. Religion too often wore a mask of bigotry and cruelty. There was no proper place for the poor or the unfortunate. I had no father or mother, brother or sister. As a child I lived with my aunt, Mrs. Reed of Gateshead Hall. I do not remember that she ever spoke one kind word to me." [Note: The opening words were not from the original novel, which began: "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day..."
  • at charity boarding school Lowood Institution, ten year-old Jane's public punishment by rigid disciplinarian Reverend Brocklehurst (Henry Daniell) to stand on a stool and remain ostracized from the other students, and afterwards given a piece of bread by sympathetic fellow classmate Helen Burns (a young Elizabeth Taylor, uncredited)
  • the delayed entrance of mysterious Edward Rochester (Orson Welles), thrown off his horse in the foggy moors, when Jane stepped into his path, and his harsh reprimand of her; Jane's 'mousy' and timid demeanor throughout the film (similar to her role in Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940))
  • the entire brooding, atmospheric mystery (filmed beautifully in expressive black and white and enhanced by Bernard Herrmann's original score) surrounding Rochester's Thornfield Hall, the character of Grace Poole (Ethel Griffies, uncredited) (spoiler- revealed as the nurse/guard of Rochester's insane wife locked up in a tower cell)
  • the Gothic scene of darkly moody and tempestuous Edward Rochester demanding that prim and intimidated governess Jane Eyre express her love and marry him -- followed by lightning striking a nearby tree and cracking off a large branch
  • the marriage ceremony of Jane and Rochester, interrupted by Mason (John Abbott), the elder brother of Bertha Mason, Rochester's deranged, locked away wife

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

In Don Chaffey's visually-stunning fantasy film, a tale of the search for the Golden Fleece:

  • the creative animation effects by Ray Harryhausen
  • the title character (Todd Armstrong) battling harpies, a gigantic Neptune, a 7-headed hydra, a giant bronze statue called Talos, and sword-wielding living skeletons that were transformed from the hydra's teeth

Jaws (1975)

In Steven Spielberg's summer blockbuster:

  • the ominous, driving, menacing John William's 'da-dum...da-dum' score (of cellos) that brings on shark attacks
  • the shocking opening scene in which carefree blonde Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) leaves a beach party to go skinny-dipping and is devoured by being jerked underwater - prefaced by the shark's-eye view of the legs of the nude swimmer
  • the closeup of police chief Martin Brody's (Roy Scheider) face (a simultaneous dolly-in and zoom-out shot) as he watches warily on a crowded beach jammed with vacationers and witnesses the first shark attack
  • shark-hating, salty and grizzled fisherman-hunter Quint's (Robert Shaw) way of catching a tumultuous room's attention - noisily screeching his fingernails against a blackboard
  • marine biologist and shark expert Matt Hooper's (Richard Dreyfuss) examination of the remains of Chrissie and his angry pronouncement: "This was no boating accident!"
  • Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fierro) dressed in funereal clothes and her silent, angry slap of Brody's face
  • Brody's son Sean copying his father's worried gestures at the table and kissing Brody at his request (Brody: "Give us a kiss," Son: "Why?", Brody: "Because I need it")
  • the Brody dinner scene with Hooper explaining his obsession with sharks ("I love sharks!")
  • the shocking sight of the head of fisherman Ben Gardner (Craig Kingsbury) (missing one eye) suddenly appearing in a gaping hole in his sunken boat
  • Hooper's single-handed crushing of his styrofoam cup after Quint crushes his beer can
  • the jolting first full view of the shark one hour and twenty minutes into the film as Brody is throwing chum into the ocean ("Slow ahead! I can go slow ahead. Come on down and chum some of this s--t!") -- followed by Brody's dead-panned quip to Quint after jumping back: "You're gonna need a bigger boat"
  • the memorable drunken evening of story-swapping (about scars) on the boat when WWII veteran Quint descriptively recalls the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the subsequent shark attacks ("the thing about a shark - he's got lifeless eyes")
  • the monumental battle with the shark from The Orca in the finale with Quint's memorable death scene as he slides into the mouth of the Giant Great White while being bitten in half and stabbing at its eyes
  • Brody's killing of the shark by firing at a compressed oxygen tank in its jaws ("Smile, ya son-of-a-bitch")
  • the last shot of Brody and Hooper hand-paddling back to shore and their last-lines quip ("I used to hate the water," with the reply "I can't imagine why")

The Jazz Singer (1927)

In director Alan Crosland's landmark picture - the first Warner Bros' Vitaphone release (and first feature-length Hollywood "talkie" film in which spoken dialogue was used as part of the dramatic action):

  • the milestone first full-length talkie feature
  • Jack Robin's (Al Jolson) first words - an ad-libbed introduction: "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain't heard nothin' yet..." before his dynamic performance of "Toot Toot Tootsie," accompanied by various bird noises made by the singer
  • the lengthy scene of a natural conversation between Jack and his mother Sara (Eugenie Besserer) during the singing of "Blue Skies" at the piano in his home
  • the reconciliation scene in which son Jack meets his dying father Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) and later decides to sing "Kol Nidre" in his father's place in the synagogue
  • Jack's curtain-closing rendition of "Mammy" to his mother in the audience

Jerry Maguire (1996)

In writer/director Cameron Crowe's popular romantic comedy:

  • the three famous catch-phrase lines: "Show me the money!", "You complete me," and the response of idealistic single young mother Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) to cocky sports super agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) after a proposal ("You had me at hello")
  • the scene of their front-door kiss after a date
  • the scene of Jerry's hard-sell claims to a potential client: "I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Super Bowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens. I'll give you 15 minutes to call me back"

Jezebel (1938)

In director William Wyler's romantic drama:

  • the Olympus ball scene in which Julie Morrison (Bette Davis) stubbornly wears a red gown and dances with beau Preston Dillard (Henry Fonda)
  • her apology a year later delivered on her knees while wearing a white dress
  • the scene in which Julie convinces Amy (Margaret Lindsay) to allow her to care for her sick husband
  • the final view of a resolute Julie riding off in a wagon-load of fever victims (including Pres)

JFK (1991)

In Oliver Stone's masterpiece about the possibility of a massive conspiracy and coverup (allegedly led by Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones)) surrounding JFK's assassination:

  • the scene of the secret rendezvous of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) with "Mr. X" (Donald Sutherland) and his spellbinding, 15-minute long monologue to encourage Garrison to continue to pursue his investigation of Kennedy's assassination in Dallas' Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963
  • the jigsaw-like assembly and merging of various sources of material (newsreels, photos, black and white, color, 8 mm, 16 mm, etc., minature models, and re-enactments) into one film
  • the final third of the film in the courtroom, in which the obsessed and dogged Garrison first debunks the single or "Magic Bullet Theory" with a detailed examination of the Zapruder film, to disprove the idea that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) acted alone, and to disprove the Warren Commission's open and shut case of "three bullets, one assassin" - "the time frame of 5.6 seconds established by the Zapruder film left no possibility of a fourth shot"
  • the assertion that the Magic Bullet Theory is unlikely or impossible - junior counselor Arlen Spector's theoretical description of the 'Magic Bullet Theory' as "one of the grossest lies ever forced on the American people"
  • Garrison's walk-through, display of a diagram of the bullet's zig-zag path, and use of a scale model of the Plaza area to continue his arguments
  • the impassioned closing-statement monologue scene - his delivery of a final summation of the case with his damnation of the entire US military-industrial complex

Johnny Belinda (1948)

In director Jean Negulesco's (and Robert Wise's) psychological drama:

  • hearing-impaired/mute Belinda MacDonald (Best Actress winning Jane Wyman) sensing something of what music must be and trying to dance when her hand is placed upon a vibrating violin
  • the shadowy rape-attack sequence of Locky McCormick (Stephen McNally) against Belinda - that quickly fades to black
  • the murder of Belinda's father Black (Charles Bickford) at cliff's edge by her rapist
  • the violent scene of her shotgun murder of her rapist to protect her baby
  • Stella McCormick's (Jan Sterling) outburst at Belinda's trial ("It was him, Locky. He's the baby's father. It was his fault!")
  • Belinda's silent recitation of the Lord's Prayer in sign language at the bedside of her dead father

Johnny Guitar (1954)

In Nicholas Ray's off-beat Western and bizarre psychological film, often called a 'lesbian western':

  • the reversal of a western's traditional iconography and gender roles
    - usually black for the color of intolerant 'good guy' vigilantes (led by Mercedes McCambridge as the blood-lusting, mean-spirited, sexually-repressed, bull-dyke rancher Emma Small) who displayed hostility and animosity toward a new casino on the outskirts of town,
    - and white (or vivid and bright reds and blues) for the color of the outcasts (led by Joan Crawford as mannish, strong-willed, drag-queen-looking, deserted Arizona saloon-owner Vienna) who often wore masculine clothes: a black shirt, a string tie around her collar, pants, and boots

Juarez (1939)

In director William Dieterle's historical biopic:

  • the scene of Benito Pablo Juarez' (Paul Muni) walk to view the corpse and coffin of Maximillian von Habsburg (Brian Aherne) in an ornate cathedral

Jurassic Park (1993)

In Steven Spielberg's big-budget version of Michael Crichton's 1990 best-seller:

  • the revolutionary use of special effects (live-action models, miniatures, CGI-generated images) to recreate realistic-looking prehistoric dinosaurs
  • the scene of the first view of the real-life creatures - a Brachiosaurus eating from a tall treetop - in the island's theme park
  • the view of a herd of animals racing past the human beings when attacked by the Rex
  • the rear-view mirror image in which objects are closer than they appear
  • also the scary build-up to the appearance of the T-REX, with the glasses of water vibrating on the car's dashboard from the dinosaur's ominous footsteps signaling the coming disaster
  • the sudden dropping of a bloody goat's leg onto the windshield after teenage Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) wonders: "Where's the goat"? - and the first sight of the giant monster chomping on the animal
  • the suspenseful stalking of T-Rex around the vehicle with the kids trapped inside, including the monster's giant eyeballing of Lex and then crashing through the vehicle's viewing roof with its giant jaws
  • the monster's stalking and chewing of cowardly lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) cowering in a thatched-roof toilet
  • the tense, hide-and-go-seek scene in the restaurant kitchen with a pair of velociraptors stalking the young children while Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) quips that they're probably safe ("Unless they figured out how to open doors...") - with a cut to a close-up of the kitchen door handle turning and the creature pushing the door open
  • the exciting finale when the group is 'saved' from becoming dinner for the velociraptors by a voracious T-Rex (roaring as a banner reading "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" flutters down)

(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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