Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



L (continued)
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Last Unicorn (1982, US/UK)

In Rankin-Bass' animated fantasy film based on Peter Beagle's 1968 novel of the same name that was one of the most emotionally frank, sophisticated and mature G-rated cartoon ever made - an epic quest to find and restore the Unicorns in the world:

  • the opening prologue before the title credits - a discussion between an elder huntsman with his young son when riding on horses through a forest: (Young son: "Unicorns? I thought they only existed in fairy tales. This is a forest, like any other - isn't it?" Elder Huntsman: "Then why do the leaves never fall here? Or the snow? Why is it always spring here? I tell you there is one unicorn left in the world, and as long as it lives in this forest, we'll find no game to hunt here")
  • the opening dialogue by a white female Unicorn (voice of Mia Farrow), the last - before the titles: ("I am the only unicorn there is? The last?"); and then: ("That cannot be. Why would I be the last? What do men know? Because they have seen no unicorns for a while does not mean that we have all vanished! We do not vanish! There has never been a time without unicorns. We live forever. We are as old as the sky, old as the moon. We can be hunted, trapped; we can even be killed if we leave our forests, but we do not vanish! Am I truly the last?")
  • the playful, rhyming butterfly (voice of Robert Klein), providing hints to the whereabouts of the other Unicorns after they were herded away by a demonic creature known as the Red Bull (voice of Frank Welker)
  • the speech by evil witch Mommy Fortuna (voice of Angela Lansbury) after capturing the last Unicorn and imprisoning it in a cage for display in her Midnight Carnival - and her thoughts about having also captured a dangerous immortal harpy named Celaeno: ("The harpy's as real as you are, and just as immortal. And she was just as easy to capture, if you want to know...Oh, she'll kill me one day or another. But she will remember forever that I caught her, and I held her prisoner. So there's my immortality, eh? Now, you were out on the road hunting for your own death, and I know where it awaits you. I know him, that one...The Red Bull of King Haggard")
  • after escaping from Mommy Fortuna's cage, the Unicorn's regretful statement to clownish, yet heroic, aspiring magician Schmendrick (voice of Alan Arkin) that she couldn't turn him into a magician - his true wish, but her request that he join her on her quest: ("A butterfly told me of a Red Bull, who pushed all the other unicorns to the ends of the earth. And Mommy Fortuna spoke of a King Haggard. So I'm going where they are, to learn whatever they know...You may come with me if you like, though I wish you'd asked for some other reward for having freed me....I cannot turn you into something you are not. I cannot turn you into a true magician")
  • middle-aged and sharp-tongued traveling companion Molly Grue's (voice of Tammy Grimes) powerful and bitter speech castigating the Unicorn: ("And where were you twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Where were you when I was new? When I was one of those innocent young maidens you always come to? How dare you! How dare you come to me now, when I am this!")
  • the temporary transformation of the Unicorn (when racing away from the fiery Red Bull), turned by Schmendrick into a human girl with knee-length white hair named Lady Amalthea
  • Amalthea's reaction to her mortality and her singing about feeling human: ("Who am I? Why am I here? What is it that I am seeking in this strange place, day after day? I-I knew a moment ago, but I-I have forgotten....(singing) Once, I can't remember, I was long ago, Someone strange, I was innocent and wise, And full of pain. Now that I'm a woman, Everything is strange. I must go to him. I must face the Bull again and discover what he has done with them, before I forget myself forever. But I don't know where to find him. And I'm lonely. (singing) Once, when I was searching Somewhere out of reach, Far away, In a place I could not find Or heart obey, Now that I'm a woman, Everything has changed, Everything has changed, Everything has changed")
  • the dangerously obsessive, white-haired character of King Haggard (voice of Christopher Lee) in his castle, who demanded to know Amalthea's real identity: ("What is the matter with your eyes? Why can I not see myself in your eyes? Who is she!?...I want to know who she is!")
  • King Haggard's adopted son Prince Lir (voice of Jeff Bridges) who awkwardly courted and fell in love with Amalthea and then sacrificed his life to save her (after she was turned back into a Unicorn) from the Red Bull
  • the destruction of Haggard's castle (and the death of Haggard) by hundreds of Unicorns freed from the sea
  • after Unicorns were restored to the world, the final scene of the Unicorn's bittersweet thanks and goodbye to Schmendrick, and admitting that it was the only Unicorn who could feel regret - but also love: ("I am a little afraid to go home. I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am no longer like the others, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but now I do. I regret...Unicorns are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me with that joy - save one. And I thank you for that part, too. Farewell, good magician. I will try to go home")

Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Fr/It.) (aka L'Année Dernière à Marienbad)

In this enigmatic, cinematically puzzling, and ambiguous New Wave film - a black and white expressionistic film and fragmented tale about dreamy seduction from director Alain Resnais, that mixed time (past and present), and reality (fantasy vs. memory). Many critics have regarded the film as having a strong influence on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (2001) and Inland Empire (2006).

[Note: in the original screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet, there was an explicit forceful rape, but it was not fully pictured in the film.]

  • the setting after the opening credits: an opulent but empty European hotel or resort chateau in Marienbad (in the Czech Republic) - seen in an atmospheric, deathly, ominous voice-over guided tour with lengthy tracking camera shots (slightly tilted upwards) - viewing the expansive hallways and long dark corridors, mirror-lined walls, statues, high ceilings with ornate chandeliers - and outdoors, geometric gardens, often with repetitive wording:
    (Narrator: "I made my way once again along these corridors and through these rooms, in this building that belongs to the past, this huge, luxurious and baroque hotel, where endless corridors...Silent rooms where the sound of footsteps is absorbed by carpets so heavy, so thick, that all sound escapes the ear. As if the ear itself, as one walks, once again, along these corridors, through these rooms...Cross corridors that lead in turn to rooms heavily laden with a decor from the past, silent rooms where the sound of footsteps is absorbed by carpets so heavy, so thick, that all sound escapes the ear. As if the ear itself were very far from the ground....I made my way once again along these corridors, through these great rooms in this building that belongs to the past. This dismal, baroque hotel where corridor follows corridor. Silent, deserted corridors heavily laden with woodwork and panelling, with marble, mirrors, pictures and darkness, pillars, alcoves and rows of doorways...Cross corridors leading in turn to empty rooms, rooms heavily laden with a decor from the past. Silent rooms where the sound of footsteps is absorbed by carpets so thick that all sound escapes the ear. As if the ear itself were very far from the ground, far from this empty decor, far from this ceiling with its branches and garlands like classical foliage. As if the ground were still sand and gravel and stone paving which I crossed once again on my way to meet you. Between these walls laden with woodwork, with pictures and framed engravings, through which I made my way amongst which I was already waiting for you. Very far from the setting where I find myself now, as you still wait for someone who will not come. Someone who may never come to separate us again, to take you away from me. ") -- eventually the tour entered the hotel's theatre for a play-within-a-film being performed, and attended by the hotel guests (impassive, unmoving, and coldly-still)
  • the introduction of the three main characters involved in a traditional love triangle - an existential, non-linear dance of seduction between two 'lovers' who might not actually know each other, exist together, or even be alive:
    - a nameless unmarried man (hero): X/Stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi), handsome
    - a woman (heroine): A/Woman-Lover (Delphine Seyrig), sleek, elegant and alluring
    - her authoritarian husband (or escort): M (Sacha Pitoeff), brooding, jealous and threatening
  • the statuesque, immobile guests at the hotel appeared to be either trapped or automatons, or were they ghosts or dead souls existing in purgatory (including the main characters)?
  • the many mathematical games (similar to Nim) between the two men - M often enjoyed defeating X/Stranger
  • X's endless and obsessive attempts to convince A that they had met before and had past associations (last year at Marienbad?), including having had sex at the hotel - seen in subjective imaginings (possibly his, possibly hers); the entire object of his intense, but flat and sometimes creepy, pushy questioning was to prove his delusional point, and persuade the woman of his account of the past, while she continued to protest his assertions; when he caressed her breasts in the garden, she responded: ("Leave me alone, please....Who are you? What's your name? You're like some phantom, waiting for me to come. Leave me")
  • X's treatment of the details of the previous year's events at Marienbad were as if they were fictional segments of a conventional movie drama; he believed that A had previously promised to elope or run away with him when they again met, and that they had an unrealized love affair, but she claimed that she couldn't remember, made repeated attempts to rebuff and recoil from him, and became weary by his assertions -- whether X was lying, experiencing a nightmare, or only confused about A's identity was open to question
  • the film's incomprehensible premise: had A been murdered by M because of the alleged affair talked about (there was a brief sequence of M firing on A on her bed with a silencer-gun, and she fell back onto the floor, with her feet still on the bed) - and then X had developed this fuzzy story in his imagination to assuage his guilt, by thinking of her as alive?
  • the 'rape' scene - only viewed as fragmentary and incomplete - the short bedroom scene commenced when A was started by X's advance toward her on the bed; she backed up in fear against the bed's headboard - followed by another of the over-exposed (hallucinatory), feverishly-swift tracking shots (also seen earlier), down a long corridor towards A who was standing in the middle of a room with outstretched arms; separate takes of the same camera movement, but with minor or slight changes, were frantically repeated
The Bedroom "Rape" Scene
  • by film's end, X's ambiguous allegations about what had happened were completely uncertain, although it appeared that the protagonist had gradually succeeded in readying A to leave the hotel one night for an unknown destination, as M watched them depart from a staircase (although X's voice-over account was unreliable and described in the past tense: "The grounds of the hotel were symmetrically arranged without trees or flowers, or plants of any kind. The gravel, the stone, and the marble were spread in strict array in unmysterious shapes. At first sight, it seemed impossible to lose your way. At first sight... Along these stone paths and amidst these statues, where you were already losing your way forever, in the still night, alone with me")

A's "Murder" by M

Laura (1944)

In Otto Preminger's haunting and romantic film noir, with a haunting and atmospheric theme song by David Raksin:

  • the opening scene's pan around the interior of a New York penthouse and the occupant's narration, delivered in voice-over by celebrated, acidic-witted columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb): ("I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her. And I had just begun to write Laura's story when - another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in existence, and that was in Laura's apartment in the very room where she was murdered")
  • the first view of Lydecker, typing his notes in his bathtub when questioned by handsome gumshoe/police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) of the Homicide Bureau; while listening to "Laura's Theme" on the phonograph, Lydecker asked McPherson: "Have you ever been in love?" with the reply: "A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur out of me"
  • the beginning of the investigation inside of Laura's Manhattan apartment by Lydecker and McPherson, including both staring at Laura's portrait above the fireplace
  • and later, the obsessive actions of McPherson alone in Laura's apartment - when he rummaged through Laura's bedroom drawers and lingerie, inhaled her perfume, and peered into her mirrored closets and then stared at the haunting, domineering oil portrait of Laura -- and fell in love with the dead woman in the portrait
  • the memorable snowstorm scene when the jealous Lydecker saw Laura with noted portrait painter Jacoby in her bedroom window, and afterwards wrote a scathing column to assassinate the man's character out of spite: ("I demolished his affectations, exposed his camouflaged imitations of better painters, ridiculed his theories. I did it for her, knowing Jacoby was unworthy of her. It was a masterpiece because it was a labor of love. Naturally, she could never regard him seriously again. There were others, of course. But her own discrimination ruled them out before it became necessary for me to intercede")
  • the scene of Laura's loyal "domestic" maid Bessie Clary (Dorothy Adams) castigating McPherson for reading Laura's private letters and diary: ("You've been readin' 'em, pawin' over them. It's a shame in the face of the dead. That's what it is. It's a shame!") and her statement of adoration for Laura: ("She was a real, fine lady...")
  • Lydecker's incisive description of McPherson's obsession over the murdered woman: ("...It's a wonder you don't come here like a suitor with roses and a box of candy...I don't think I ever had a patient who ever fell in love with a corpse")
  • the surprising and memorable scene when Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) suddenly walked into her apartment - a murdered woman who mysteriously appeared over half way into the film - and the double stunned looks (Laura was shocked to find a stranger in her apartment, and the astonished look of Detective McPherson who had already dreamed of what she was like from her portrait, her perfume, her clothes, her letters, her apartment's decor, and the recollections of others) - had he willed her into existence?; and also later, Lydecker's stumbling reaction to seeing Laura alive
  • the tough interrogation scene in which McPherson grilled Laura about what she had been holding back: ("Let's have it")
  • the final scene of Lydecker's radio broadcast ("I close this evening's broadcast with some favorite lines...Brief Life - They are not long, the weeping and the laughter, love and desire and hate. I think they have no portion in us after we pass the gate...They are not long, the days of wine and roses. Out of a misty dream, our path emerges for a while, then closes within a dream")
  • Lydecker's threat to kill Laura with a shotgun blast rather than lose her to McPherson: ("The best part of myself - that's what you are. Do you think I'm going to leave it to the vulgar pawing of a second-rate detective who thinks you're a dame? Do you think I could bear the thought of him holding you in his arms, kissing you, loving you? There he is now. He'll find us together, Laura as we always have been and we always should be, as we always will be") - and the climactic moment shortly after when Lydecker was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the police
  • Lydecker's last words to Laura when she rushed to his side: "Good-bye, Laura. Good-bye, my love," accompanied by an image of the shotgun-damaged grandfather clock

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951, UK)

In Charles Crichton's Ealing Studios' caper comedy about the pursuit of English schoolgirls to retrieve six golden miniature Eiffel Towers:

  • the opening sequence of prim and timid bank clerk Henry Holland (Alec Guinness) in a fancy restaurant in Rio de Janiero next to a pipe-smoking gentleman, when he met Chiquita (Audrey Hepburn in her screen debut, with a very short walk-on role) and gave her money for a birthday present
  • Holland's beginning of a flashback - expressing pleasure at having had a superb year, and thinking back to when he worked in a London bank and had 20 years of service in the transport of gold bullion: ("One superb year. Just when I was beginning to believe I'd never achieve it. For 20 years, I've dreamed of a life like this. For 19 of those years, fate denied me the one contact essential to the success of all my plans. Still, I never quite lost sight of the goal, inaccessible as it often seemed to me when I was merely a, merely a non-entity. Among all those thousands who flock every morning into the city. Most men who long to be rich know inwardly that they will never achieve their ambition. But I was in the unique position of having a fortune literally within my grasp. For it was my job to supervise the deliveries of bullion from the gold refinery to the bank")
  • his continuing flashback, as he mused in voice-over: ("Many a rascal would have risked his all for half a million, not realizing that gold, in the form of bullion, is useless without a method of smuggling it abroad. To find that method was my last remaining problem...Meanwhile, I gave the bank their gold....I was a potential millionaire, yet I had to be satisfied with eight pounds, fifteen shillings, less deductions. A weekly reminder that the years were passing, and my problem still unsolved. Until my ship came home, I was obliged to live at the Balmoral private hotel in Lavender Hill") - and then, his solution to commit the "perfect" crime - after meeting up with his potential cohort-in-crime Alfred Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) in his Balmoral-Lavender Hill boarding house, who had a foundry that could convert the gold into souvenir Eiffel Tower paperweights to be exported (smuggled) out of the country without detection
  • the zany wild good chase sequences from Paris to London after a group of British schoolgirls who had accidentally bought six of the Eiffel Tower statues (including a crazy and confused police pursuit in squad cars after the robbers as Holland broadcast false directional reports from a stolen police car)
  • the concluding surprise revelation that Holland had escaped to Rio de Janeiro: ("I came straight on to Rio de Janeiro - 'Gay spritely land of mirth and social ease'") with the six Eiffel Tower statues worth 25,000 pounds: ("Enough to keep me for one year in the style to which I was, ah, unaccustomed"), but then was revealed to be handcuffed during the telling of his entire flashbacked story

Lawrence of Arabia (1962, UK)

In David Lean's extravagant Best Picture-winning epic, with visual beauty and cinematography of the desert vistas:

  • the opening sequence (both a prologue and an epilogue) including Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence's (Peter O'Toole) death in mid-May of 1935 while racing his motorcycle on an English country road; at the crest of a hill, he applied brakes and swerved to avoid two bicyclists, losing control and crashing his motorcycle into shrubbery - he disappeared off-screen, although his eye goggles hung lifelessly from a branch
  • the memorial service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, where British adventurer Lawrence was lauded by Colonel Harry Brighton (Anthony Quayle): ("He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew") and American journalist Jackson Bentley (Arthur Kennedy): ("It was my privilege to know him and to make him known to the world. He was a poet, a scholar, and a mighty warrior....He was also the most shameless exhibitionist since Barnum and Bailey")
  • the scene of Lawrence snuffing out a burning match with his fingertips while working as a bored cartographer in the British headquarters in Cairo during World War I: ("The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts") - and then shortly afterwards, in profile in the presence of the Arab Bureau's Mr. Dryden (Claude Rains), Lawrence said he didn't view the desert as a "burning fiery furnace" but instead thought: "It's going to be fun"; Dryden replied: "It is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun" - before Lawrence blew out another match that was burning close to his fingertips - and then the scene transformed and jump-cut to a long-shot view of the burning hot Arabian desert horizon at sunrise
  • the famous entrance scene in cinematic history that began with the slow and majestic appearance of Arab chieftain Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) from a pinpoint in the desert's distance in the shimmering, mirage-like heat as he approached a well and then shot Lawrence's nomadic Bedouin guide Tafas (Zia Mohyeddin) for unauthorized trespassing and drinking; afterwards, Lawrence chastized Sherif Ali: ("Sherif Ali, so long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are")
  • the difficult crossing of the Nefud desert and Lawrence's turning back to rescue fallen friend Gasim, and his successful return, including his retort to Sherif Ali: ("Nothing is written")
  • the exciting attack on and defeat of the Turks at the port city of Aqaba, by engaging in a tribal alliance with Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn) and using an unpredictable strategy -- capturing the Turkish garrison "from the land" while the enemy Turks had their guns pointed in the opposite direction toward the sea
  • the entrance of Lawrence and his Arab guide into the officers' bar in Cairo
  • the bloody ambush guerrilla attack of tribesmen on a Turkish train in the Hejaz desert led by the Messianic-like, wild-eyed, white-robed Lawrence, who personally blew up the train tracks with dynamite and led his warriors to victory ("Come on, men!") - and afterwards miraculously survived being killed by a sniper wielding a gun who was slashed with Auda's sword: ("You are using up your nine lives very quickly"), and then posed for photos (silhouetted against the bright sky and casting a shadow) and exalted with a victory dance on top of the train
  • and the scene of the planned assault on Damascus, when Lawrence and his cavalry force came upon a Turkish column that had just massacred the Arab village of Tafas in its path - his choice was to either go around them and head instead for Damascus, or lead a deadly charge on the Turkish column -- he chose to shout with wild-eyed vengeance and battlefield-intoxication: "No prisoners! No prisoners!"
  • the final sequence - Lawrence was being driven out of Damascus on a dusty desert road in an open car, passing a group of Arabs riding on camels; he rose out of his seat as the Arabs partially moved off the road to let them go by; the driver offered the final spoken lines of the film: "Well, sir. Goin' 'ome...'Ome, sir"; a motorcyclist sped past them on the right, kicking up a small cloud of dust (it was an omen of Lawrence's own tragic demise while riding his motorcycle seen in the prologue); words from a song were heard by soldiers driving past in a truck, singing: "Goodbye, Dolly. I must leave you, Though it breaks my heart to go"
  • the final view of Lawrence was peering through the dirty, dust-covered windshield, almost invisible

A League of Their Own (1992)

In female director Penny Marshall's comedy/melodrama - the history-based portrayal of the All-American Girls Baseball Players League (AAGBPL) team told in flashback:

  • the league's recruited players, including catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), Dottie's sister - fast-ball pitcher Kit (Lori Petty), second base Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh), and two bullies: 3rd base player Doris Murphy (Rosie O'Connell) and center-fielder All-The-Way-Mae Mordabito (Madonna)
  • Dottie's catching of a fast-ball, thrown by Doris and caught one-handed, causing New Yorker recruits Mae and Doris to worry about their competition for the 64 spots to play on 4 teams
  • the humorous scene of boozing, Rockford Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) loudly peeing into a urinal in the crowded ladies locker room, and ignoring the players' request for the line-up
  • the battle of contradictory signs between Dugan and Dottie when Hooch was at bat, provoking Dugan to complain: ("Hey, who is the god-damn manager here? I am!"), and Dottie fought back: ("Then act like it, you big lush!"); when Hooch hit a long drive, and Kit yelled out: ("Good bluff!"), Dugan responded: ("Yeah, but I still say you're not ballplayers")
  • the scene of manager Dugan's tirade at his soft-spoken female right-fielder Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) that reduced her to tears: ("Which team do you play for?...Well, I was just wondering, 'cause I couldn't figure out why you'd throw home when we've got a two-run lead! You let the tying run get on second and we lost the lead because of you. Now you start usin' your head! That's that lump that's three feet above your ass!...Are you crying?... Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There's no crying! There's no crying in baseball!...Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigs--t, and that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to see me play the game! And did I cry?... No! No! And do you know why?... Because there's no crying in baseball! There's no crying in baseball, no crying!"); when the umpire cautioned that Dugan should treat all of his female players like his mother, he insulted him: ("Anyone ever tell you you look like a penis with a little hat on?") and was thrown out of the game
  • the scene of Dugan leading the players in an unorthodox pre-game prayer, while crouched down on one knee in the locker room: ("Uh, Lord, hallowed be thy name. May our feet be swift. May our bats be mighty. May our balls be plentiful. And, Lord, I'd just like to thank you for that waitress in South Bend. You know who she is. She kept calling your name. And, God, these are good girls, and they work hard. Help them see it all the way through. Okay, that's it. Let's go"); afterwards, they put their hands together for a cheer: ("Go Peaches!")
  • the last game-winning play of the World Series with the Peaches' rival, the Racine Belles (with Kit traded to the team), when Kit hit an infield home-run and was able to run the bases to home plate - where catcher Dottie tagged her, but then the ball was dislodged from her hand after their bone-crushing collision - the ball rolled out of her outstretched hand onto the dirt
  • the end sequence showing the real, now-elderly female baseball players visiting together at Cooperstown, NY at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

In John Stahl's brilliantly saturated, Technicolored melodramatic noir, one of the few noirs shot in color:

  • the frightening murder scene orchestrated by psycho-insanely-jealous, neurotically-possessive, heartless and darkly alluring socialite and femme fatale Ellen Berent/Harland (Oscar-nominated Gene Tierney), who was calmly watching from a rowboat as her novelist husband Richard Harland's (Cornel Wilde) younger paraplegic brother Danny (Darryl Hickman) (and her own brother-in-law) tired and drowned in the Maine lake directly in front of her, on a bright and sunny day; she registered no reaction on her heartless face as he sank below the water and never reappeared
  • the scene of Ellen choreographing her own fall down a long flight of stairs (by deliberately catching her left blue slipper under the loose rug) to purposely abort her unwanted child by miscarriage
  • Ellen's final jealous scheme when her suspicious husband threatened to leave her - to suicidally poison herself by mixing up, in her adoptive sister Ruth Berent's (Jeanne Crain) bathroom, a deadly potion of powdered poison (arsenic), in order to frame Ruth Berent as her killer
  • Ellen's deathbed scene, when she breathlessly requested of Richard that he scatter her ashes with those of her father: ("I'm going to die...And you mustn't feeI sorry for me. I'm not afraid. Only, only, promise me one thing. I-I want to be cremated. Like my father, and my ashes scattered in the same place. Remember?....Richard! I'll never let you go, Richard. Never. Never. Never.")
  • in the subsequent scene, a trial hearing was held regarding "cold, brutal premeditated murder"; recently elected Boston-area district attorney Russell Quinton (Vincent Price), Ellen's previous jilted and vengeful fiancee, was serving as the state's DA prosecutor in a case against the defendant Ruth Berent - ("The State will prove that on the afternoon of September 5th at a picnic attended by Ellen Harland, her mother and her adopted sister, that Ellen met death as a result of poisoning. The State will prove that the sugar with which Ellen that day sweetened her coffee was mixed with poison and that she met death by reason of that poison. The State will prove that the defendant had both motive and opportunity to commit this dreadfuI crime. And the State will prove that the defendant, Ruth Berent deliberately and maliciously plotted and carried through the murder")
  • pretending to be a victim before her death, Ellen wrote a letter and sent it to Russell; it clearly stated her fears that Ruth was threatening to kill her; in a dramatic scene during the trial, Richard was forced to read it outloud: (Dear Russ, I am writing this letter to you because we once meant a great deaI to each other and there is no one else to whom I can go for help. Richard is leaving....It was after I left the hospitaI I first began to sense a change in my husband. At first I thought it might be due to the loss of our child and then the truth, the awfuI truth, began to dawn on me. The reason for the change was Ruth. Russ, they love each other, and want to get rid of me. When Richard suggested a divorce, I went to Ruth and begged her to give him up. She said she intended to have him and would stop at nothing. I told Ruth I would never give Richard a divorce, and it was then she threatened to kill me....Russ, I know she means it, and is capable of it. She will kill me the first chance she gets (read twice)...I'm afraid to stay in the house, but I can't leave without Richard. I'd rather die than give him up. I don't know what to do or where to turn, except to you, Russ. Please help me. Ellen")
  • the result of the trial - Ruth did confess to innocently loving Richard (but not with evil intentions toward Ellen); on the stand, Richard testified to the extreme depths of Ellen's insanity and her dual confession to two murders, and was sentenced to two years in prison as an after-the-fact accessory - because he had not reported the extent of Ellen's depraved crimes to authorities

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

In Mike Figgis' tragic love story about a romantically-involved couple - a critically-acclaimed film shot on Super 16 film:

  • the opening credits sequence of failed, out-of-control Hollywood screenwriter - self-destructive, doomed alcoholic Ben Sanderson (Oscar-winning Nicolas Cage) buying a shopping cart loaded with bottles of alcohol
  • the sequence of drunken Ben's sexual fantasy of his appeal to a blonde bank teller (Carey Lowell) who he was attempting to charm for a date, while holding up a tape recorder - his dream was that she was receptive but she declined his invitation: ("Are you desirable? Are you irresistible? Maybe if you drank bourbon with me, it would help. Maybe if you kissed me and I could taste the sting in your mouth, it would help. If you drank bourbon with me naked. If you smelled of bourbon as you f--ked me, it would help. It would increase my esteem for you. If you poured bourbon onto your naked body and said to me 'drink this.' If you spread your legs and you had bourbon dripping from your breasts and your pussy, and said 'drink here,' then I could fall in love with you. Because then I would have a purpose - to clean you up. And that, that would prove that I'm worth something. I'd lick you clean so that you could go away and f--k someone else")
  • after being fired from his job, the sequence of Ben burning most of his possessions (including clothes, photographs, even his passport) and moving to Las Vegas
  • the monologue of high-class Las Vegas hooker, needy street-walking prostitute Sera (Oscar-nominated Elisabeth Shue) about her skilled abilities as a call girl, to her abusive Latvian pimp Yuri (Julian Sands): ("I bring out the best in the men who f--k me. I mean, it's not easy, but I'm very good. I mean, it's amazing. Like, I haven't worked for a really long time and boom, I can just turn on a dime. I can just become who they want me to be. I walk into that room, I know right away, this is their fantasy, and I become it. I'm that service, you know. I just, I perform it, and I perform it well. I'm an equation most of the time. Like, thirty minutes of my body is, costs $300 dollars. Well, that's just to get into the room. And then, it's about $500 dollars after that and we negotiate. But it's a performance. It's definitely a performance")
  • Ben's first encounter with tight, leather-skirted streetwalker Sera, whom he almost struck with his vehicle in a Las Vegas cross-walk: (Sera: "That was a red light. I walk, you stop. Are you sorry?")
  • and later, their rendezvous in his motel room (The Whole Year Inn, which Ben read as "The Hole You're In" when he checked in) after he paid $500 for a one-hour session, and she gave him instructions: ("For $500 bucks, you can do pretty much whatever you want. You can f--k my ass...You can come on my face. Whatever you want to do. Just keep it out of my hair. I just washed it"); she knelt down and began to deliver oral sex, but Ben suffered from impotence (due to his drinking too much tequila): ("What's the story? Are you too drunk to come?") although that afforded both of them time to talk and develop a relationship: (Ben: "I want you to talk or listen. Just stay"); he described his objective over the next four weeks: ("I came here to drink myself to death. Cashed in all my money, paid my AMEX card, gonna sell the car tomorrow... I got enough for about $250, $300 a day...You're a luxury, and your meter just ran out")
  • the scene of Ben's serious and demanding request to Sera that she never ask him to stop drinking: ("You can never, never ask me to stop drinking. Do you understand?")
  • in the motel pool scene (to the sound of Don Henley's singing of "Come Rain or Come Shine"), Sera's straddling of Ben's lap as he sat on a lounge chair, her removal of the top of her one-piece black swimsuit, and her enticing nuzzling of a bottle between her breasts before pouring alcohol over them for him to enjoy - but then they were asked to leave the motel by the next morning: ("We get a lot of screw-ups here. Now you two, you take your loud talk and your liquor to your room. You check out first thing tomorrow. And after that, I don't want to see either one of you back here ever again. And don't you worry about payin' for anything. And don't you worry about cutting your little hands on the glass. Let's just leave it at that. See you in the morning")
  • the scene of Sera's brutal attack and gang rape by a group of three drunken college football jocks in their casino hotel room, who insisted on anal sex, after which the battered and bloodied Sera washed away the blood and memory in the shower
  • by film's end - in a touching final scene, sickly and pal Ben's death in his hotel room, when Sera came to his side and asked: "Do you want my help?" - she then coaxed and readied him for a last loving act of intercourse (Ben: "See how hard you make me, angel? You know I love you") before he expired from toxic alcohol poisoning
  • the final scene of Sera with her therapist (in voice-over), confessing her love for Ben in the film's last lines of dialogue, as she sat on the bed next to Ben's body: ("I think the thing is, we both realized that we didn't have that much time, and I accepted him for who he was. And I didn't expect him to change. And I think he felt that for me, too. I liked his drama. And he needed me. I loved him. I really loved him")

The Left Handed Gun (1958)

In director Arthur Penn's revisionist autobiographical film (his debut film) based on the teleplay The Death of Billy the Kid by Gore Vidal:

  • the Method-influenced portrayal by Paul Newman of legendary outlaw Billy the Kid (aka William Bonney) as an anguished, misfit, unstable, simple-minded, and suicidal juvenile delinquent - a James Dean-like anti-hero character
  • the affecting scene of his death after being shot by lawman Pat Garrett (John Dehner) - he held out his left hand (although in real-life, he was right-handed) to show he was unarmed

The Leopard (1963, It./Fr.) (aka Il Gattopardo)

In Luchino Visconti's epic historical period-drama, one of his best films - based upon Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Lampedusa's best-selling 1958 book published posthumously:

  • the romantic adventure was set in 1860 Sicily - the story of the patriarchal, hereditary ruling figure of "The Leopard" - Sicilian count Don Fabrizio Corbera (Burt Lancaster), the Prince of Salina, a privileged member of the aristocracy whose power and way of life was slowly declining and waning in Italian society - doomed by a civil war and revolution (dubbed "The Risorgimento" and led by red-shirted insurgent forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi) to reunify all of the Italian provinces into one country
  • after the titles, the opening sequence - the camera's entry into an open balcony doorway into the palazzo of the Corberas, where the family was kneeling and participating in Sunday prayers led by the estate's resident Jesuit priest Father Pirrone (Romolo Valli); the proceedings were interrupted by the tolling of a bell and the ominous shocking discovery of the dead body of one of the Royalist soldiers on the grounds of the garden
  • the shaving and dressing-room sequence - to build up his failing family fortune, Fabrizio began to associate himself with his ambitious, dashing and pragmatic nephew Tancredi Falconeri (Alain Delon), Prince of Falconeri; the image of Tancredi's youthful face was first captured in Fabrizio's shaving mirror when he arrived; Tancredi announced his intention to join Garibaldi's volunteers, reasoning with his uncle: "For everything to remain the same, everything must change"
  • the violent, chaotic, lengthy battle war-sequence pitting Garibaldi's volunteers fighting the Bourdbon government's soldiers in the streets of Palermo, resulting in building rubble, bomb craters, with many deaths and some executions
  • during the violent upheavals, the sequence of the Fabrizio family entourage traveling to the summer palace in the regional town of Donnafugata, where the dusty and weary family paraded into the cathedral and took seats in a wooden pew; as the camera panned from right to left, they appeared like a set of neglected museum dolls
  • the plot: Fabrizio's opportunist scheming to set up and approve a match between returning war hero Tancredi and Angelica Sedara (Claudia Cardinale), the beautiful daughter of wealthy, nouveau riche, vulgar ex-peasant Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa) - a landowner rich with vast olive groves, and the newly-appointed Mayor of Donnafugata; Tancredi would be allowed to spurn his uncle's lovelorn daughter Concetta (Lucilla Morlacchi) by chasing Angelica
  • the serious scene of emissary-bureaucrat Cavalier Chevalley (Leslie French) offering Fabrizio, whom he regarded as a great scholar and prestigious nobleman (an aristocratic 'Leopard'), a political senatorial position in the new Parliament in Turin - the offer was politely and poetically rejected and turned down by Fabrizio, who instead recommended Calogero (a 'jackal or hyena'): (Fabrizio: "I belong to an unlucky generation, astride between two worlds and ill-at-ease in both. And what is more, I am completely without illusions. Now, what would the Senate do with me, an inexperienced legislator who lacks the faculty for self-deception, an essential requisite for wanting to guide others. No, I cannot lift a finger in politics. It would be bitten off..."); as Chevalley departed, Fabrizio added that change would be for the worse: "We were the leopards, the lions. Our place will be taken by jackals, by hyenas. We all - the leopards, the lions, the jackals and the sheep - will keep on believing we're the salt of the earth," although the diplomat didn't hear him
  • the amazing concluding sequence: a nearly hour-long ballroom sequence held at another Prince's villa; to begin, Don Fabrizio wandered and drifted through the hallways and chambers of the extravagant facility; alone in the library, he gazed upon Grueze's painting of a patriarch's death: "Death of a Just Man" and contemplated: "I wonder if my death will resemble this. I'm sure my sheets won't be as clean. The sheets of the dying are always dirty"
  • the scene of Fabrizio's return to the dance floor after Tancredi's fiancee Angelica asked him for the first waltz; he accepted: "I have never had a more tempting proposal. Thank you for making me feel young again. I accept. Grant me the first waltz"; they engaged in a hypnotic, twirling, courtly waltz-dance before the assembled partygoers; at the end of the dance, realizing it would be one of his last since change was inevitable, he entered a wash-room with dozens of loo chamberpots in a side room and wiped his brow
  • director Visconti's brilliant visual imagery: the contrast between the stately, regal dancing of Tancredi and Fabrizio (with Angelica), compared to the protelariat attendees who assembled into a conformist dance line and snaked their way into the crowded dance rooms
  • in the final scene, Fabrizio decided to privately walk home to get air rather than ride in a coach; on his way as a priest was led in front of him, taking the sacraments to a dying man in his home, Fabrizio knelt down in the middle of the dusty street and delivered a prayer to the skies; he questioned his own fate and death: ("Oh star, oh, faithful star. When will we go on a less ephemeral date? Far from everything, in your region of perennial certainty?"); meanwhile, Tancredi, Angelica, and her father rode back in a coach as they heard the sounds of the firing squad: (Calogero: "Really good troops, they do a good job. That's exactly what we needed for Sicily. We have nothing more to fear"); Fabrizio slowly walked off - with his cane - into the shadows as a bell tolled

The Leopard Man (1943)

In Jacques Tourneur's and RKO's noirish, and shadowy horror-thriller, the low-budget effort was taglined and described as one of the first serial killer films: "Women Alone the Victims of Strange, Savage Killer!"; it was the third of Tourneyr's horror films produced by Val Lewton, following Cat People (1942) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943):

  • the story, set in a Mexican border town in New Mexico, where a rented tame black leopard was acquired from Indian sideshow performer and traveling zoo owner Charlie How-Come (aka The Leopard Man) (Abner Biberman); the animal was used as a PR stunt in a nightclub act by manager/publicist Jerry Manning's (Dennis O'Keefe) girlfriend Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks); after Kiki made a startling entrance with the black cat, her exotic, castanet-flamenco-dancer rival Clo-Clo (Margo) unwittingly spooked the leashed animal with her castanets during her performance and it fled
  • Charlie How-Come offered advice to Manning: "These cops banging those pans, flashing those lights, they're gonna scare that poor cat of mine. Cats are funny, mister. They don't want to hurt you, but if you scare 'em they go crazy. These cops, they don't know what they're doing"
  • the terrifying, upsetting and truly frightening night stalking sequence of teenaged neighbor Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry), sent out by her impatient and scolding mother to buy corn-meal for her father's meal of tortillas, even though an escaped leopard was reported on the loose; with the nearest store closed, she had to cross town and enter a dusty arroyo (with the wind tossing around a tumbleweed) to another shop where the shopkeeper noted: "Now I remember the little girl who was afraid of the dark" - she responded: "I'm not afraid, what could happen to me?"; as Teresa returned home with the bundle of cornmeal, she heard the sound of dripping water, saw two gleaming eyes under a railway trestle, and was startled by the noise of a speeding train that roared above her (with a screaming whistle); and then she saw the snarling, growling leopard (viewed in close-up) that began chasing after her; when she raced home, her exasperated mother kept the door locked on her (and the lock jammed) as she desperately pounded on it and begged to be let in: ("Mamacita, let me in!...It's coming, it's coming closer! I can see it!"); the mother thought that she was faking a lethal leopard attack as an excuse for returning home late (her death was off-screen with blood-curdling screams, and a slow flow of blood seeping under the door)
  • the scene of the secret rendezvous of two lovers who planned to meet up in a cemetery on the female's birthday; young noblewoman Consuelo Contreras (Tula Parma) was murdered when her lover Raoul Belmonte (Richard Martin) was late and she became locked in by the gatekeeper; she rushed around inside amidst the howling of the wind under a full moon; she spoke over the wall to an unseen man who promised to get a ladder and return shortly; but then, she heard the rustling and breaking of a major tree branch above her - and she screamed - and the next morning was found clawed to death; it was assumed to be a second leopard attack, from the tree
  • the end discovery and sleuthing set-up sequence, to capture the real compulsive serial killer (who had turned murderous after becoming excited by the initial leopard attack) - the killer was Indian museum curator and animal expert Doctor Galbraith (James Bell); he had committed the two additional attacks to make it appear that the leopard was the killer; his failed attempt to hide in a nighttime procession (an annual march of hooded and solemn members with long candles to commemorate the tragic slaughter of peaceful Indians by the conquistadors in the 17th century) led to his apprehension
  • the tormented Galbraith's confession that he was responsible for the murder of Consuelo and Clo-Clo after watching the leopard maul Teresa: "I didn't do anything...Why do you accuse me? You don't know what you're doing. You don't understand...You don't know what it means to be tormented this way...I couldn't rest. I couldn't sleep. All I could see was Teresa Delgado's body - broken, mangled. I saw it day and night. It was waiting everywhere I turned...I didn't want to kill, but I had to"
  • the scene of Galbraith's disturbing description of Consuelo's murder: ("I thought I was gonna help her get over the wall. I can't remember. I looked down. In the darkness, I saw her white face. The eyes - full of fear, fear, that was it. The little frail body, the soft skin. And then she screamed - "), mid-way through his words, Raoul shot and killed him in retribution

Lethal Weapon (1987)

In Richard Donner's action-comedy, 'buddy cop' film - the superior first film of many installments (also 1989, 1992, and 1998):

  • the startling opening scene of a scantily-clad 22 year-old prostitute and drug-user Amanda Hunsaker (Jackie Swanson) jumping to her death from the balcony of an LA high-rise, although later was revealed to have been poisoned by barbiturate capsules filled with drain cleaner
  • the view of the bare buns of psychotic, borderline alcoholic, depressed and self-destructive Vietnam vet/LA cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), after the death of his wife, in his beer can-strewn trailer as he emerged from his bed in a parked camper-shell trailer
  • the scene of the drug bust shootout in a Christmas tree lot, after Riggs showed the dealers his badge: ("Let me say I take the whole stash off your hands for free and you assholes can go to jail. What do you say about that? Now I could read you guys your rights, but nah, you guys already know what your rights are"); when he was called a crazy son-of-a-bitch, he laughed and then asked: ("You think I'm crazy? You called me crazy? You think I'm crazy? Yeah, you want to see crazy? I'll show you... Now, that's a real badge, I'm a real cop and this is a real f--kin' gun")
  • the dramatic scene of Riggs contemplating suicide by playing Russian roulette with a gun pointed at his forehead and jammed down his throat, while he was weeping over a framed picture of his recently-deceased wife of 11 years following a car accident; he then spoke that he would see her later: ("I miss you, Victoria Lynn. Hey, that's silly, isn't it? I-I'll see ya later. I'll see ya much later")
  • the film's ingenious mismatched partnership of Riggs with devoted family man/veteran detective Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), known for saying repeatedly: "I'm too old for this sh-t" because he was only eight days away from retirement, and he was about to celebrate his 50th birthday; he learned he was partnered with Riggs during a case of mistaken identity in the police office and was judo-flipped by Riggs ("Real burnout, on the ragged edge") onto the floor: ("Rog, meet your new partner"); later as the two talked, Murtaugh identified why the film was titled 'lethal weapon': ("File also said you're heavy into martial arts and Tai chi and all that, uh, killer stuff. I suppose we have to register you as a lethal weapon"); Riggs responded: ("Hey look, friend, let's just cut the s--t. We both know why I was transferred. Everybody thinks I'm suicidal, in which case I'm f--ked and nobody wants to work with me. Or they think I'm faking to draw psycho pension, in which case I'm f--ked, so nobody wants to work with me. Basically, I'm fucked"); Murtaugh agreed that he also didn't want to work with him: ("Ain't got no choice. Looks like we both got f--ked")
  • the dramatic scene of Riggs' unconventional strategy of handcuffing himself to another suicidal man high atop a building and convincing him to jump - with him; after the jump, the suicidal man complained: ("Help me! Help me loose! He's trying to kill me! Did you see that? He's out of his mind! He's crazy! He tried to kill me!")
  • after the suicidal jump, Murtaugh's angry tirade against his partner: ("Here, take my gun. Don't nibble on the barrel, pull the trigger. Go ahead, pal. Be my guest! Go ahead, if you're serious!... Put it in your mouth. Bullet might go through your ear and not kill ya...Yeah, under the chin....(Riggs began to pull the trigger, although Murtaugh grabbed the gun and prevented him) You're not trying to draw a psycho pension. You really are crazy")
  • the scene of the death of a drug dealer, shot by Riggs and Murtaugh, who then fell into a pool and drowned when wrapped up in the pool cover; afterwards the two at poolside discussed how they had attempted to follow a policy of "no killing," but had failed: (Murtaugh: "You ever met anybody you didn't kill?" Riggs: "Well, I haven't killed you yet")
  • the tense scene of the Mexican standoff with a grenade at El Mirage Lake in the desert ("If you come closer then we all die"), between Sgt. Murtaugh and vile albino killer/henchman Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey), who had kidnapped Murtaugh's daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe), while Riggs was positioned as a sniper to shoot at her captors and free her
  • the shower electrocution scene in which Riggs was tortured (strung up half-naked, doused in water, and prodded with an electric sponge attached to a car battery) by Mr. Joshua and his Chinese henchman Endo (Al Leong), before his daring escape and freeing of his partner Murtaugh and Rianne: ("Let's do what one shepherd said to the other shepherd ...Let's get the flock out of here")
  • in the finale, the sequence of Riggs' hand-to-hand combat challenge to Joshua on the muddy front lawn of Murtaugh's home during a torrential rain storm: "Whaddya say, Jack? Would you like a shot at the title?" - with the eager reply: "Don't mind if I do!" - and after Joshua was defeated, Murtaugh yelled out: ("Get that shit off my lawn!")

The Letter (1940)

In director William Wyler's great noirish melodrama:

  • the shocking opening murder scene on the porch as Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) pumped six bullets into a man's body - her lover Geoffrey Hammond (David Newell)
  • the emotional scene of Leslie's dramatic, self-defense narrative and confession to her lawyer Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) about what had happened the night of the murder: ("...When I walked past him toward the veranda to call the boys, well, he took hold of my arm and swung me back. But I tried to scream and he flung his arms about me and began to kiss me. I struggled to tear myself away from him. He seemed like a madman. He kept talking and talking and saying he loved me. Oh, it's horrible, I can't go on...He lifted me in his arms and started carrying me. Somehow, he stumbled on those steps. We fell and I got away from him. Suddenly, I remembered Robert's revolver in the drawer of that chest. He got up and ran after me but I reached it before he could catch me. I seized the gun as he came toward me. I heard a report and saw him lurch toward the door. Oh, it was all instinctive. I didn't even know I'd fired. Then I followed him out to the veranda. He staggered across the porch, grabbed the railing, but it slipped through his hand and he fell down the steps. I don't remember anything more, just the reports one after another till there was a funny little click and the revolver was empty. It was only then I knew what I'd done")
  • the timely emergence of an incriminating letter that proved Leslie Crosbie had invited Mr. Hammond to her bungalow the night of the murder, proving pre-meditated murder, according to her lawyer Howard Joyce: ("This letter places an entirely different complexion on the whole case. It'll put the prosecution on the track of - suspicions which have entered nobody's mind. I won't tell you what I personally thought when I read the letter. It's the duty of counsel to defend his client, not to convict her even in his own mind. I don't want you to tell me anything but what is needed to save your neck. They can prove that Hammond came to your house at your urgent invitation. I don't know what else they can prove, but if the jury comes to the conclusion that you didn't kill Hammond in self-defense...") - his words caused Leslie to faint and collapse onto the floor
  • the dramatic re-claiming of the blackmail letter scene from Mrs. Hammond (Gale Sondergaard), Hammond's Eurasian wife, and her dramatic entrance through a jangling bead curtain; the sequence of Leslie's debasement to pick up the incriminating letter, in exchange for $10,000
  • the scene of Leslie's incredible confession to her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall) that she still loved the man she killed: (Robert: "That's not enough, unless... Leslie, tell me. Now. This minute. Do you love me?" Leslie: "Yes, l do. (They kissed) No! l can't, l can't, l can't!" Robert: "Leslie, what is it? Leslie, what is it?" Leslie: "With all my heart, I still love the man I killed! Oh, no")
  • the final retribution scene as Leslie walked deliberately into her own dark tropical garden where she saw the outer gate was ajar; shadows came over her as the moon was covered by clouds; outside the gate in the darkness, she was confronted by vengeful, retribution-seeking Mrs. Hammond, and another man-servant; she was grabbed and gagged by the man (to stifle her screams), and then stabbed to death by a flashing dagger in Mrs. Hammond's hand
  • the view of Leslie's body revealed on the ground, as the moonlight illuminated the murder scene

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

In director Max Ophuls' fine romantic melodrama, told mostly in flashback:

  • the unrequited love and sorrow of Lisa (Joan Fontaine) - an "unknown woman," revealed in a letter (in female voice-over) written to self-absorbed, frivolous dilettante concert pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan) - after her death at St. Catherine's Hospital: ("By the time you read this letter, I may be dead. I have so much to tell you and perhaps very little time. Will I ever send it? I don't know. I must find strength to write now before it's too late, and as I write it may become clear that what happened to us had its own reason beyond our poor understanding. If this reaches you, you will know how I became yours when you didn't know who I was or even that I existed")
  • the first of many flashbacked scenes in which as a shy, fourteen year old schoolgirl, Lisa stood in fright behind a glass door, holding it open for the pianist she had fallen in love with, Stefan Brand
  • the scene on the staircase in which Lisa looked down and witnessed Stefan's return home in the early morning hours with his latest woman-of-the-evening
  • Lisa's one night of romantic bliss with Stefan including his purchase of a single white rose for her
  • the sequence at the Viennese fairgrounds - their cyclorama ride, dancing in a deserted dance-hall, her kneeling at the keyboard as he played, and her return up the stairs to his apartment
  • their goodbye at the train station when Lisa said: "I'll be here when you get back" as Stefan falsely promised to be gone only two weeks: ("It won't be long. I'll be back in two weeks"); however, Lisa's voice-over of her letter recalled: "Two weeks. Stefan, how little you knew yourself. That train was taking you out of my life"
  • the sequence in which Lisa left her husband, wealthy, middle-aged Austrian aristocrat named Johann Stauffer (Marcel Journet) (who accepted her son born out of wedlock), and returned with a large bouquet of white roses to offer herself to her pianist love
  • the touching scene (and ending scene) years later of Stefan (still with the letter at his desk), now with tears in his eyes, looking back and remembering the enamoured young girl shyly holding the door open for him

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

In Joseph L. Mankiewicz' marriage drama:

  • the three flashbacks of three different marriages during a Hudson River boat trip, after a letter, authoried by Addie Ross (off-screen with voice-over by Celeste Holm) arrived - addressed to three married women: Deborah Bishop (Jeanne Crain), Lora Mae Hollingsway (Linda Darnell), and blonde Rita Phipps (Ann Sothern): ("Dearest Debby, Lora Mae and Rita. As you know by now, you'll have to carry on without me from here. It isn't easy to leave a town like our town, to tear myself away from you three dear, dear friends who have meant so much to me. And so I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to take with me a sort of memento. Something to remind me always of the town that was my home, and of my three very dearest friends whom I want never to forget. And I won't. You see, girls, I've run off with one of your husbands. Addie")
  • the review of the lives of the three women, seen in flashback: ex-Navy WAVES soldier Deborah, married to upper-class Brad Bishop (Jeffrey Lynn); radio soap opera writer Rita, married to schoolteacher George Phipps (Kirk Douglas); and golddigger Lora Mae, married to older wealthy department store owner Porter Hollingsway (Paul Douglas)
  • the conclusion in which it was revealed that Porter had begun to run away with Addie, but then he reconsidered and changed his mind, when he confessed to the other couples: ("Brad didn't run away with Addie Ross. I did....A man can change his mind, can't he?")
  • after Porter's confession, he offered to accept a divorce from Lora Mae, but she pretended to not hear him and declined: (Porter: "Okay, you got it. They all heard me say I ran away with another woman. You've got everything you need. You can take me for everything you'll ever want" Lora Mae: "Like always, Porter, when you start knockin' on that brandy bottle, you'll come up with anything. I guess I stopped listening, 'cause if you said something, I just didn't hear it. Why don't everybody dance?")
  • the film's last line ("Heigh-ho! Good night, everybody") - spoken by Addie Ross in voice-over, as one of the drink glasses fell over on the table

Libeled Lady (1936)

In director Jack Conway's funny screwball comedy:

  • after the MGM lion and before the opening credits - the medium shot of the four stars (Harlow, Powell, Loy, and Tracy) walking arm in arm toward the camera and into a wind
  • in the film's plot, the New York Evening Star and its managing editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) had printed a libelous, false story about sophisticated, wealthy heiress Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy), who was accused of breaking up a marriage; the publication resulted in a threatened $5 million libel lawsuit filed by Connie against the paper
  • Haggerty's cooked-up scheme to re-hire ex-employee ladies man Bill Chandler (William Powell) to temporarily marry (in name only without consummation) Warren's own wisecracking, long-suffering bride-to-be divorcee/girlfriend Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) - promising her a quickie Reno divorce afterwards, so in the meantime, Chandler could seduce and then frame or trap Connie in a compromising situation with him to force her to drop the lawsuit
  • in the clever and fast-paced script, memorable scenes included the very long "bride kisses the best man" congratulatory kiss sequence at the city magistrate wedding of Chandler and Gladys (Justice of the Peace: "Well, I hope you'll be very happy and don't forget to invite me to your silver anniversary." Gladys: "It'll have to be within the next six weeks!")
  • the fishing scenes: first, inept Chandler receiving fly-fishing lessons in his hotel room, and then the outdoor scene of inept, nearly-drowned Chandler impressing Connie's angler father Mr. James B. Allenbury (Walter Connolly) by catching an elusive walleye trout
  • the plot twist when Chandler became truly smitten by Connie and then changed his strategy to sweet-talking her to drop the suit and she asked to marry him
  • the multiple confusions in the rushed concluding scene in the hotel room: Bill's marriage to Connie believing that his 'wife' Gladys' previous Yucatan divorce was illegal, countered by Gladys claiming she had a second confirming divorce in Reno, and Bill and Warren's brief fisticuffs while the two ladies revealed their real allegiances
  • the ending line of Mr. Allenbury after he was filled in on the complications, when he screamed exasperatingly: "Quiet, will you please be quiet!"

Liebelei (1933, Germany)

In director Max Ophul's third feature film - a superb poetic, poignant and dramatic masterpiece of tearjerking, romantic (and tragic) love, with beautiful visual compositions:

  • set in Vienna in the early 1900s, the courtship and growing love affair of Austro-Hungarian army lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer (Wolfgang Liebeneiner) with Christine Weyring (Magda Schneider, the mother of actress Romy Schneider), the innocent, shy 19 year-old working-class daughter of an opera musician
  • the scenes of Fritz and Christine silently strolling down a winding backstreet at night, and their lively, heavenly waltzing through an empty coffee bar to the music of a coin-operated Victrola (soon transitioned and contrasted to another waltz in the mansion, to full orchestration as Fritz danced with his adulterous partner - but danced less enthusiastically)
  • the long-shot (and then close-ups) of an idyllic horse-drawn sleigh ride through a wintery wonderland, when Christine admitted her love and pledged herself to eternal romance with Fritz: "I'quo;ll love you for all eternity"
  • Fritz' concurrent indiscretions, philandering and extra-marital affair with the adulterous Baroness von Eggersdorff (Olga Tschechowa), the wife of monocle-wearing, angry cigarette-smoking Baron von Eggersdorff (Gustaf Gründgens)
  • the fateful duel of honor at dawn with pistols (off-screen only with the sound of a gunshot) - demanded by the scorned, offended, outraged and jealous Baron against Fritz
  • the heartbreaking concluding scene of the heroine learning of the fateful news of Fritz' death in the duel: "...he has fought a duel...well, he has, he has...he's dead"; she was then told he fought the duel because of a woman in his past; her facial expressions ranged from doubt, desperation, shock, confusion, disbelief, fear and grief as she responded: "I can never see him again but he always told me that he loves me, and so he has, because of another woman, but that's impossible. No, no, I don't believe it. This is not true. What had I been to him then?"
  • Christine's immediate response - her tragic suicidal jump from her second floor window (off-screen) - followed by a view of the open window and the sight of her body in the street below - and a replay of the wintry, snow-covered backdrop from their sleigh ride (with a pan from left to right, without the sleigh) accompanied by the off-screen words of Christine about eternal love as the film faded to black

Life is Beautiful (1997, It.) (aka La Vita è Bella)

In actor/director Roberto Benigni's tragi-comedy - a Best Foreign Language Film winner:

  • the life-saving, imaginative illusion and play-acting that clowning, child-like hotel waiter Guido Orefice (Oscar-winning Roberto Benigni) gave his young son Giosue/aka Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini) to shield him from the ugly horrors of a Nazi concentration camp where they were interred - with the fiction that the first prize in the game they were playing was a brand-new armored tank
  • Guido's shocking death scene after he was caught by a soldier during an escape attempt; he winked at his son (hidden in a sweatbox and watching) - wanting him to know that things were okay; he deliberately and clownishly marched to his execution by machine-gun fire (offscreen) - there was just a small report of machine-gun fire when he was sacrificially killed
  • the concluding segment, when the young boy thought he had won the "game" as the camp was liberated by the Americans riding in tanks (the boy cried out joyfully: "It's true!"), and he was soon happily reunited with his freed mother Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife); the older Giosue recalled in voice-over: ("This is my story. This is the sacrifice my father made. This was his gift to me"); the boy was happy about winning: ("We won!...A thousand points to laugh like crazy about! We came in first! We're taking the tank home! We won!")

The Life of Oharu (1952, Jp.) (aka Saikaku Ichidai Onna)

In director Kenji Mizoguchi's melodramatic and sad masterpiece, chronicling the tragic, tough, scorned and cruel life of a Japanese woman who was exploited by the male-dominated society of her time - her story of misfortune was told in flashback:

  • the characterization of Oharu (Kinuyo Tanaka), who was originally born as a young noblewoman into a respectable family in 17th century Japan, but her fortunes became reversed through a series of events (disgrace and banishment-exile after "forbidden love," concubinage and betrayal), and she ended up as an impoverished, 50 year-old street prostitute who had to resort to begging
  • the most exquisitely filmed sequence, when Oharu (seated in front of a gate) briefly glimpsed a procession of her upper-class son (whom she bore for Lord Matsudaira many years earlier); he remained oblivious to her existence as she gracefully moved from left to right to follow him ascending a small slope, and then returned to her place by the gate and began to cry

Lifeboat (1944)

In director Alfred Hitchcock's tense ensemble adventure drama:

  • the opening scene - the aftermath of the sinking of an Allied passenger freighter (sailing from New York to London) by a Nazi U-boat's torpedo - swirling waters
  • the views of the debris-strewn surface of the water, in a slow pan from left to right, including a box of American Red Cross supplies for Great Britain, a broken crate of fruit, a New Yorker magazine cover, some playing cards, large wooden spoons, a checkerboard, and a dead German face-down in the water with a lifebelt on his back
  • the first view of the titular lifeboat, with a single occupant wearing a mink coat -- rich, well-dressed, spoiled and cynical fashion photo-journalist Constance "Connie" Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), who was soon joined by anti-Nazi Czech-American Kovak (John Hodiak), a grease-covered engine-room freighter worker, and a number of others
  • the back-lit scene of black steward "Joe" Spencer's (Canada Lee) moving recitation of the 23rd Psalm - part of the burial service (at sea) for the dead infant child of young shell-shocked Britisher Mrs. Higley (Heather Angel): ("....He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen")
  • the surprise cameo appearance of director Hitchcock in a newspaper ad for a waist-slimming product (Reduco Obesity Slayer)
  • the almost-wordless scene of the gruesome amputation of the gangrene-infected leg of German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix), after heating up the blade of a knife with a cigarette lighter (protected from the wind by the hands of the survivors)
  • the revelation that one of the lifeboat's passengers was the Nazi U-boat captain (Walter Slezak), actually Kapitan Willi, and that he was discovered to be steering them toward a German supply boat, not Bermuda
  • the scene of Connie putting her initials in lipstick on Kovac's chest and using her diamond bracelet for fish bait
  • Connie's worry about her appearance after seeing on the horizon the American ship that was to rescue her and her companions after it had attacked, bombarded, and sunk an approaching German vessel
  • the ambiguous ending when they were forced to decide what to do with a young injured and frightened German sailor/survivor who had climbed onboard their lifeboat from the sunken German warship and asked: ("Aren't you going to kill me?"); Kovac mumbled under his breath, and then spoke to English merchant seaman and radio operator Stanley (Hume Cronyn): ("Aren't you going to kill me? What're you gonna do with people like that?"); Stanley answered that some of the deceased might answer: ("I don't know. I was thinking of Mrs. Higley and her baby, and Gus"), and Connie also added, in close-up: ("Well, maybe they can answer that")

(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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