Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



A (continued)

Apollo 13 (1995)

In Ron Howard's epic film about the US space program:

  • two lines to sum up the historical suspense during the failed and traumatic 1970 manned space flight mission to the moon when their capsule is stranded 200,000 miles from Earth:
    - head astronaut Jim Lovell's (Tom Hanks) memorable call to NASA's mission control room after an oxygen tank explodes on-board: "Houston, we have a problem"
    - coordinating Mission Controller Gene Kranz' (Ed Harris) ultimatum: "We've never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option"
  • the triumphant arrival scene in which the assembled crowd (and families) nervously await the re-entry of the capsule

Applause (1929)

In this early landmark musical drama with innovative sound techniques and a constantly-moving camera, from director Rouben Mamoulian (his first sound film):

  • the realistic and cynical look at seamy backstage life - the chorus line of burlesque dancers in the Zenith Opera House composed of unattractive, pudgy and washed-up chorines rather than conventional cute blondes
  • real-life torch singer Helen Morgan as fading, and "washed-up" burlesque star Kitty Darling, the ailing, self-sacrificing mother of convent-bred 17 year-old daughter April Darling (Joan Peers)
  • Kitty's singing of the plaintive What Wouldn't I Do For That Man to a photograph of her unscrupulous, predatory, unfaithful and brutish "Bad Boy" lover and burlesque comic Hitch Nelson (Fuller Mellish, Jr.) - as he kisses another chorine down the hall - in a triangulated split-screen view
  • the scene of an embarrassed April's sight of her mother onstage during the burlesque show and hearing leering male audience spectators calling her 'washed-up' and April pleading: "Let's go away from here"
  • the scene of an all-night date with sailor suitor Tony (Henry Wadsworth) in which they sit on a steel girder - ending with their 'first love' kiss - and then their next date high atop a skyscraper while overlooking the New York buildings and sights below
  • the disturbing end scene in which April (after saying goodbye to Tony at the subway) forces herself to dance sordid burlesque (and vows to give the crowd their 'money's worth': "I'll show them") in place of her mother (whom she tells: "Nothing matters now but you, Mommy. We'll always have each other. Nothing is ever going to separate us again") -- she performs in front of leering, middle-aged men as her mother dies of suicidal poisoning in the dressing room

Army of Darkness (1993)

In director Sam Raimi's third Evil Dead trilogy - an offbeat horror spoof:

  • the witty wisecracks by stranded-in-time, unbalanced hardware store S-Mart clerk Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)
  • Ash's cutting off of his own possessed left hand with his chainsaw, followed by his time-warp transport to medieval 14th century England where he is thrown in a deadite pit (and saves himself with his retrieved chainsaw), followed by his intimidating speech about his "boomstick" ("This is my boomstick!...S-Mart's top of the line")
  • Ash's defeat of another old-hag "she-bitch" deadite with an over-the-shoulder shot
  • his struggle against tiny, mischievous versions of himself in a funny Gulliver's Travels-like segment set in a windmill
  • his fall onto a hotstove when he had to lever his face off with a spatula
  • his struggle against his own doppelganger evil self (that sprouts from his own shoulder after he swallows one of the shard pieces), ending with his dissection of the double with his chainsaw and its burial
  • the scene of his recitation of the wrong magical words (forgetting the words: "Klaatu, Barada, Nikto" from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)) - and his battle with Ray Harryhausen-style "army of the dead" skeletons that emerge from the ground and are led by Ash's resurrected, zombie-doppelganger self
  • after vanquishing the deadites and returning to the present time, the scene of Ash defeating one more She-Demon (Patricia Tallman) in the Housewares Department of S-Mart - afterwards, an impressed co-worker (Angela Featherstone) embraces him, as Ash muses in voiceover: "Sure, I could have stayed in the past. I could have even been king. But in my own way, I am king." He then tells the girl before he passionately kisses her: "Hail to the king, baby!"

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

In director Frank Capra's classic screwball comedy:

  • Mortimer's (Cary Grant) two loveable aunts Martha and Abby (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) who reveal their secret poisoning of male callers with elderberry wine assisted by Teddy for burial in the cellar
  • the opening of the window seat-box twice by Mortimer - and a double-take before realizing a dead body is in there
  • "Teddy Roosevelt" Brewster's (John Alexander) charges up the staircase as if fighting to Spanish-American War
  • the insane pair of Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and his assistant Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre)

Arthur (1981)

In director Steve Gordon's romantic comedy:

  • alcoholic, millionaire playboy womanizer Arthur Bach's (Dudley Moore) sudden realization in the Plaza why his successful advances toward Gloria (Anne De Salvo) were so successful - ("You're a hooker? Jesus, I forgot! I just thought I was doing great with you")
  • the image of Arthur in a bubble bath sipping a martini, with his faithful, wise, and loyal but sarcastic valet Hobson (Oscar-winning John Gielgud) at his side
  • Arthur's strained dinner with lovestruck fiancee Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry) - the daughter of a tycoon, and his saving of lower-class shoplifter and Queens waitress Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli) - whom he later falls in love with
  • Arthur's care for his dying butler - with Hobson reassuring him that death isn't frightening
  • the finale with Arthur's request to his limousine driver ("Bitterman! Do you want to double your salary?...Then, open that door!")

As Good As It Gets (1997)

In co-writer/director James Brooks' romantic comedy:

  • the scene of reclusive, vicious-spirited, obsessive-compulsive novelist Melvin Udall (Oscar-winning Jack Nicholson) befriending the Pomeranian dog Verdell of his gay artist-painter neighbor Simon Nye (Greg Kinnear)
  • the scene in his customary Greenwich Village cafe-restaurant when he makes a mean remark about Brooklynite single mother/waitress Carol Connelly's (Oscar-winning Helen Hunt) asthmatic son Spencer (Jesse James) - and her rage at him
  • and later after he pays for a specialist to treat her son (so that she could continue to wait on him) - her further anger at him when she rushes to his apartment in a rainstorm (causing her thin blouse to be soaked to the skin and see-through) and vows never to have sex with him
  • his later complimentary words to her: "You make me want to be a better man"
  • the masterfully funny scene of Melvin and Carol's dinner date in a Baltimore, Maryland seafood restaurant ("Do they serve hardshells?")
  • their final clinch on the street after Melvin warns: "I'm gonna grab ya"

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

In director John Huston's crime caper:

  • the scene of mastermind criminal Doc's (Sam Jaffe) explanation of his proposed robbery
  • the realistic depiction of all the criminals and their motivations in the crime
  • the actual jewel robbery and the clinically-delineated details of the tense heist (the nitro bottle, the alarm system)
  • the minor memorable cameo role of a blonde, voluptuous mistress Angela (Marilyn Monroe) with corrupt lawyer Emmerich (Louis Calhern) - noted for his line: "Crime is only a left-handed form of human endeavor"
  • Doc's being caught by police because he obsessively (and voyeuristically) watches a young girl dance to jukebox music and delays his departure
  • the final scene of a bleeding Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) stumbling from his car into Hickory Wood Farm - a sunny, Kentucky horse pasture

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

In John Carpenter's gripping, cult classic horror-action film:

  • a gang sniper's infamous shooting of a defenseless little girl named Kathy (Kim Richards) at an ice cream van (as she complains to her father about the erring ice-cream man: "I wanted vanilla twist!")
  • the long siege and first attack on an abandoned Los Angeles police station by a violent, multi-racial urban street gang with guns that are silenced

Atlantic City (1981)

In director Louis Malle's drama:

  • the voyeuristic scene (to the sound of a cassette tape playing Bellini's operatic Norma) of seafood counter (oyster bar) casino worker Sally Matthews (Susan Sarandon) (who dreams of being a croupier in Monte Carlo), after work in a white tank top, rinsing her arms, throat and breasts with lemon juice at her kitchen sink to remove the fishy smell - while being watched in her apartment window from across the way by aging, numbers runner and petty crook Lou Pascal (Burt Lancaster)
  • Lou's reminiscence to Dave Matthews (Robert Joy) on the boardwalk about the old days: "Yes, it used to be beautiful - what with the rackets, whoring, guns... The Atlantic Ocean was something then. Yes, you should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days"
  • the motel room scene after Lou's killing of two gangland hoods to protect Sally (during a sour drug deal) - when he admits he had an exaggerated life: "I never killed anybody in my life...But I did tonight. You saw it"
  • his gleeful response to the TV news story of the murder: "Hey, that's me!...This story is going to be big all over the country: 'Gangland slaying rips apart Atlantic City!'"
  • Lou's final promenade down the Boardwalk with broken-down gangster widow Grace Pinza (Kate Reid) - with a panning shot up to a view of a wrecker's ball smashing into an apartment before the closing credits

Atonement (2007)

In director Joe Wright's epic film of thwarted romance:

  • the three scenes of fantasy-prone 13 year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) witnessing and misunderstanding sex:
    (1) between lithe older sister Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and her 'secret' boyfriend, servant/cook son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) when Cecilia was at an outdoor fountain and dove underwater to retrieve a broken piece of a family heirloom vase - and emerged almost naked in front of Robbie with her soaked and transparent dress, and
    (2) their passionate love-making scene against the stacks in the library, and
    (3) the 'rape' scene between house-guest Paul Marshall (Benedict Cumberpatch) and her 15 year-old cousin Lola Quincey (Juno Temple) - all acts Briony misunderstood with unfortunate circumstances, by wrongly accusing Robbie of 'raping' Lola
  • the bravura extended tracking shot (5 minutes and 30 seconds) of Robbie walking along the French beach during the Dunkirk evacuation - where stranded show horses were being executed, as the camera glided down the beach (amidst a beached barge and a spinning ferris wheel) and then around a choir of wounded infantrymen, and ended finally in a bar
  • at film's end, the interview scene with older, terminally-ill (with vascular dementia) novelist Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) about her latest and last book - an autobiographical work titled Atonement - when she confessed as an act of penance that much of the end portion of the novel was fabricated about their reconciliation, since both Robbie and Cecilia died during the war
  • the final idealized scene of the lovers cavorting on the beach near a beach house, as Briony stated: "So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness"

Audition (1999, Jp.)

In director Takashi Miike's horrific romantic drama:

  • the latter scenes of sadistic, torture and dismemberment revenge that seemingly-demure and dutifully-humble 21 year-old 'auditioned' bride-to-be Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) exacts on middle-aged widower Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) with syringes, acupuncture needles, and piano wire
  • the scene with the suddenly-lurching big burlap sack in the center of her living room as her phone rings

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

In this fast-paced comedy (filled with gags, both verbal and visual) - the first of the PG-rated series of James Bond spoofs with Mike Myers:

  • the cryogenically frozen 60s spy (Myers) who battles his villainous arch-enemy Dr. Evil (Myers also), who gives an initial inflation-challenged ransom of "One... MEEE-llion dollars!"
  • Evil's bizarre relationship with cloned son Scott Evil (Seth Green), including the scene in which he keeps shushing Scott: ("Let me tell you a little story about a man named Sh!") and the inappropriate Family Counseling speech by Evil to his therapist: ("The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin?...At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking - I highly suggest you try it")
  • in the classic honeymoon scene, Austin Powers cavorts naked with Elizabeth Hurley as glamorous "shagadelic" Vanessa Kensington with their private parts teasingly hidden by strategically-placed objects
  • "fem-bots" with guns in the tops of their bikinis who attempt to seduce Austin Powers
  • catchphrases such as: "Bee-have", "Sake it to me baby!", "Yeah, baby, yeah", "Do I make you horny, baby?" and "Shall we shag now or shall we shag later?"
  • Powers' denial (easily refuted) that a Swedish-made penis enlarger is "his bag"

Away From Her (2006, Canada)

In 28 year-old actor/writer Sarah Polley's marital drama - her remarkable debut feature film:

  • the film's opening scene of the closeness in the long-term relationship of 44 years - exemplified by cross-country skiing in secluded, rural northern Ontario, Canada - between devoted retired college professor Grant Andersson (Gordon Pinsent) and his beloved, increasingly-disoriented, silver-haired wife Fiona (Best Actress-nominated 65 year-old Julie Christie) who is on the verge of Alzheimer's disease
  • Grant's frequent recollections of a younger 18 year-old Fiona (Stacey LaBerge) and how she proposed to him (voice-over: "I never wanted to be away from her. She had the spark of life")
  • the scenes of an introductory tour of the Meadowlake retirement center by its chirpy, smooth-talking director Madeleine Montpellier (Wendy Crewson) and the steadfast visits (after an initial 30 days of absence) of Grant to see Fiona - although she becomes increasingly attached and doting to mute, wheelchair-bound patient Aubrey Bark (Michael Murphy) and tells persistent, slightly jealous and bewildered visitor Grant: "He doesn't confuse me at all" - possibly she was giving her husband 'punishment' for his extra-marital indiscretions with students during the early years of their marriage
  • the scenes in the nursing home during Grant's frequent visits when he speaks to sympathetic, friendly and plain-spoken nurse Kristy (Kristen Thomson) who offers her pager number, and with an understanding punk teenager named Monica (Nina Dobrev) who is visiting her grandfather, complimenting Grant during a visit about his devotion: "I should be so lucky"
  • the scene of Grant reading to Fiona from the book "Letters From Iceland"
  • the final scene of unconditional love when Fiona briefly remembers her husband and his self-less care for her ("I'm a very lucky woman") - after he has begun an affair with Aubrey's abrasive, pragmatic and outspoken wife Marian (Olympia Dukakis) - as the camera spins around the embracing couple to the tune of K.D. Lang singing Neil Young's "Helpless"

The Awful Truth (1937)

In director Leo McCarey's great screwball comedy - one of the best of all time:

  • the scene of the disruption of Lucy's (Irene Dunne) song recital
  • Lucy pretending to be Jerry's (Cary Grant) drunk sister at the home of his new fiancee - and her rowdy rendition (with uplifted skirt) of a vulgar nightclub routine and song, My Dreams Are Gone With the Wind
  • the image of the two of them riding motorcycles in evening dress
  • and the final connecting-bedrooms scene and the image of reunited, male and female cuckoo-clock figurines entering the same opening

(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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