Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



L (continued)

The Last Unicorn (1982, US/UK)

In Rankin-Bass' animated 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:

  • the opening speech by a hunter to his son: ("...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 playful, rhyming butterfly (voice of Robert Klein)
  • the clownish but heroic character of the aspiring magician Schmendrick (voice of Alan Arkin)
  • the speech by Mommy Fortuna (voice of Angela Lansbury) to a captive Unicorn (voice of Mia Farrow) about having captured a dangerous harpy: ("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?")
  • middle-aged and sharp-tongued Molly Grue's (voice of Tammy Grimes) powerful speech castigating the Unicorn: ("...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!") and her anger at turning the Unicorn into the human girl Amalthea
  • Amalthea's reaction to her mortality: ("I can feel this body DYING all around me!")
  • the dangerously obsessive character of King Haggard (voice of Christopher Lee) and his adopted son Prince Lir (voice of Jeff Bridges), who awkwardly courts Amalthea and then sacrifices his life to save her
  • the destruction of Haggard's castle by hundreds of Unicorns freed from the sea
  • the Unicorn's bittersweet thanks to Schmendrick: ("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 not unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I 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")

Laura (1944)

In Otto Preminger's haunting and romantic film noir:

  • the haunting and atmospheric theme song by David Raksin
  • the opening scene's pan and narration ("I shall never forget the weekend Laura died...")
  • the first view of celebrated, acidic-witted columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) typing his notes in his bathtub
  • the obsessive actions in Laura's Manhattan apartment of homicide police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) - who rummages through Laura's bedroom drawers and lingerie, inhales her perfume, and peers into her mirrored closets and then stares at the haunting, domineering oil portrait of Laura and falls in love with the dead woman in the portrait
  • the memorable snowstorm scene when Lydecker sees Laura with a noted painter in her bedroom window, and writes a scathing column assassinating his character out of spite and jealously
  • 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 scene when Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) suddenly walks into her apartment - a murdered woman who mysteriously appears over half way into the film - and the stunned look of McPherson
  • Lydecker's stumbling reaction to seeing Laura alive
  • the tough interrogation scene in which McPherson grills Laura about what she has been holding back ("Let's have it")
  • the final scene of Lydecker's radio broadcast as he threatens to kill Laura with a shotgun blast - and the climactic moment shortly after when Lydecker is mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the police
  • his last words to Laura: "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:

  • the pursuit of English schoolgirls to retrieve six golden miniature Eiffel Towers
  • the screen debut of Audrey Hepburn as a schoolgirl
  • the concluding revelation that prim bank clerk Henry Holland (Alec Guinness) is handcuffed during the telling of the flashbacked story

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

In David Lean's extravagant Best Picture-winning epic:

  • the visual beauty and cinematography of the desert vistas
  • the opening sequence with its flashback
  • British adventurer T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) snuffing out a match with his fingertips
  • and then shortly afterwards, in profile, blowing out another match that is burning close to his fingertips - as the scene cuts to a long-shot view of the burning hot Arabian desert horizon at sunrise
  • the image of a blue-eyed, white-robed Lawrence on a camel
  • the famous entrance scene that begins 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 approaches a well and then shoots Tafas for drinking
  • the difficult crossing of the Nefud desert and Lawrence's turning back to rescue fallen friend Gasim
  • the exciting defeat of the Turks at Aqaba
  • the entrance of Lawrence and his Arab guide into the officers' bar in Cairo
  • the bloody ambush attack on a Turkish train in the Hejaz desert led by the Messianic-like Lawrence and his exultant victory dance on top of the train

A League of Their Own (1992)

In female director Penny Marshall's comedy/melodrama:

  • the history-based portrayal of the All-American Girls Baseball League team with Geena Davis (as catcher Dottie Hinson), Rosie O'Donnell (as 3rd base player Doris Murphy) and Madonna (as center-fielder All-The-Way-Mae Mordabito) as some of the players
  • the scene of boozing manager Jimmy Dugan's (Tom Hanks) tirade at his female right-fielder Evelyn Gardner (Bitty Schram) that reduces her to tears: ("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!")
  • the end credits sequence showing the real, now-elderly female baseball players playing at Cooperstown, NY

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

In John Stahl's brilliantly saturated, Technicolored melodramatic noir:

  • the scenes of the neurotically-possessive, psycho-insanely-jealous, and darkly alluring femme fatale Ellen Berent/Harland (Oscar-nominated Gene Tierney) choreographing her own fall down the stairs (by catching her shoe under the rug) to purposely abort her unwanted child
  • the scary scene of her letting her husband's younger paraplegic brother Danny (Darryl Hickman) tire and drown in the lake as she calmly watched from a rowboat

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

In Mike Figgis' tragic love story:

  • a critically-acclaimed film, shot on Super 16 film about a romantically-involved tragic couple: a failed, out-of-control Hollywood screenwriter and self-destructive, doomed alcoholic named Ben Sanderson (Oscar-winning Nicolas Cage) with a needy street-walking Las Vegas prostitute Sera (Oscar-nominated Elisabeth Shue) who was degraded by her profession with abusive Latvian pimp Yuri (Julian Sands)
  • Ben's plan is to drink himself to death over a five-week period in Las Vegas while enjoying the company of the high-class hooker
  • their first encounter in a hotel room during oral sex, when Ben suffers impotence (due to his drinking) although that affords them time to talk and develop a relationship
  • in the motel pool scene (to Don Henley's singing of "Come Rain or Come Shine"), Sera's straddling of Ben's lap, 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
  • the scene of a brutal gang rape by a group of drunken football jocks after which she washed away the blood and memory in the shower
  • by film's end - in a touching final scene, Ben's death in his hotel room, where she asks: "Do you want my help?" - she then coaxes and readies him for a last loving act of intercourse before he expires

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 holds out his left hand (although in real-life, he was right-handed) to show he was unarmed

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
  • the bare buns of psychotic, borderline alcoholic, depressed and self-destructive Vietnam vet/LA cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) 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 the Christmas tree lot
  • the dramatic scene of Riggs playing Russian roulette with a gun jammed down his throat and weeping over a framed picture of his recently-deceased wife of 11 years following a car accident
  • 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")
  • 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
  • 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 vile albino killer/henchman Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) and his Chinese henchman Endo (Al Leong)
  • in the finale, Riggs' hand-to-hand combat challenge to Joshua in the rain: "Whaddya say, Jack? Would you like a shot at the title?" - with the eager reply: "Don't mind if I do!"

The Letter (1940)

In director William Wyler's great noirish melodrama:

  • the shocking opening murder scene on the porch as Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) pumps bullets into a man's body, her lover Geoffrey Hammond (David Newell)
  • the emotional scene of Leslie's confession to her lawyer Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) of the motives for the murder
  • the dramatic re-claiming of the blackmail letter scene with Mrs. Hammond's (Gale Sondergaard) dramatic entrance through a jangling bead curtain, and Leslie's debasement to pick up the incriminating letter
  • the scene of Leslie's confession to her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall) that she still loves the man she killed
  • the final retribution scene as Leslie walks deliberately into the dark garden toward her murderer, where she was stabbed to death with a dagger by vengeful Mrs. Hammond

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)

In director Max Ophuls' fine romantic melodrama:

  • the unrequited love and sorrow of Lisa (Joan Fontaine) - an "unknown woman," revealed in a letter
  • the scene in which as a shy, fourteen year old girl, Lisa stands in fright behind a glass door, holding it open for the pianist she has fallen in love with, Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan)
  • the scene on the staircase in which Lisa looks down and witnesses 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 plays, and her return up the stairs to his apartment
  • their goodbye at the train station when Stefan promises to be gone only two weeks
  • the sequence in which Lisa leaves her husband and returns with a bouquet of white roses to offer herself to her pianist love
  • the touching scene, years later, of Stefan 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:

  • three flashbacks of three different marriages during a Hudson River boat trip, after three married women receive a letter (telling them that a fourth woman, the author of the letter Addie Ross (off-screen with voice-over by Celeste Holm) has stolen away one of their husbands: "You see - girls. I've run off with one of your husbands")
  • the review of golddigger Lora May Hollingsway's (Linda Darnell) marriage to wealthy department store owner/husband Porter (Paul Douglas) illustrated by one of their squabbles ("To you, I'm a cash register. You can't love a cash register")
  • the conclusion in which everything turns out for the best

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's managing editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) - after his paper prints a libelous, false story about sophisticated, wealthy heiress Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) that results in a $5 million libel lawsuit
  • his cooked-up scheme to re-hire ex-employee ladies man Bill Chandler (William Powell) to temporarily marry (in name only without consummation) his own wisecracking, long-suffering bride-to-be divorcee/girlfriend Gladys Benton (Jean Harlow) - promising her a quickie Reno divorce afterwards, so meanwhile Chandler can seduce and then frame or trap Connie in a compromising situation to force her to drop the lawsuit
  • in the clever and fast-paced script, memorable scenes include 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 (Walter Connolly) by catching an elusive walleye trout
  • the plot twist when Bill becomes smitten by Connie and then changes his strategy to sweet-talking her to drop the suit and she asks 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 reveal their real allegiances
  • the ending line of Mr. Allenbury after he is filled in on the complications, when he screams exasperatingly: "Quiet, will you please be quiet!"

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 (Oscar-winning Roberto Benigni) gives his young son Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini) to shield him from the ugly horrors of a Nazi concentration camp where they are interned - with the fiction that the first prize in the game they're playing is a brand-new armored tank
  • Guido's shocking death scene after he was caught by a soldier during an escape and deliberately clownishly marched to his execution by machine-gun fire (offscreen) when he realized his son (hidden in a box) was watching
  • the joyous scene in which Giosue was reunited with his mother Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni's real-life wife) after American troops liberated the camp, thinking he'd won the "game"

Lifeboat (1944)

In director Alfred Hitchcock's tense ensemble adventure drama:

  • the opening scene of the sinking of an Allied passenger freighter by a Nazi U-boat's torpedo
  • the black steward's moving recitation of the 23rd Psalm
  • the revelation that one of the lifeboat's passengers is the Nazi U-boat captain (Walter Slezak)
  • rich fashion journalist Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead) putting her initials in lipstick on Kovac's (John Hodiak) chest and using her diamond bracelet for fish bait
  • the bombardment and sinking of the enemy boat
  • Connie's worry about her appearance after seeing on the horizon the ship that will rescue her and her companions
  • the ambiguous ending when they are forced to decide what to do with the young German sailor/survivor

(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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