Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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

Apollo 13 (1995)

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

  • two lines summed up the historical suspense during the failed and traumatic 1970 manned space flight mission to the moon when their capsule was stranded 200,000 miles from Earth:
    (1) head astronaut Jim Lovell's (Tom Hanks) memorable call to NASA's mission control room after an oxygen tank exploded on-board: "Houston, we have a problem"
    (2) 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 awaited 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 kissed 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 sat 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) told her mother - "Nothing matters now but you, Mommy. We'll always have each other. Nothing is ever going to separate us again"; she forced herself to dance sordid burlesque (and vowed to give the crowd their 'money's worth': "I'll show them") in place of her mother; she performed in front of leering, middle-aged men as her mother died of suicidal poisoning in the dressing room

Army of Darkness (1993)

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

  • the opening flashback of stranded-in-time, unbalanced hardware store S-Mart clerk Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), who remarked that he once was a clerk at an S-Mart store: "It wasn't always like this. I had a real life once. A job" - but was compelled to chain-saw off his own possessed left hand in a cabin's living room, and was then propelled or transported in a whirling timewarp (with his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88) back to medieval times of 1300 AD England, where he was captured and enslaved by Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert)
  • the sequence of Ash thrown in a demon-infested death pit of Deadites (where he saved himself with his retrieved chainsaw which locked onto his arm); he battled against the first pit Deadite (Shiva Gordon) and lopped off the Deadite's head; a second threatening Deadite was impaled by a spike-wall, as Ash pulled himself up to the rim of the pit, and then challenged Lord Arthur and anyone else: "Who's next, huh?"
  • Ash's intimidating speech about his "boomstick": ("This is my boomstick! It's a 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line...")
  • the sequence of Ash's confrontation with another old hag Pit Bitch Deadite (Billy Bryan) that attacked several guards and screamed: "You shall never obtain the Necronomicon"; Ash first challenged ("Yo, she-bitch, let's go!") and then vanquished it by shooting the monstrous creature over his shoulder with his boomstick
  • Ash's seeking of refuge in a windmill, where he crashed into a mirror, and the tiny reflections of himself in shards of shattered glass emerged - he struggled against tiny, mischievous versions of himself in a funny Gulliver's Travels-like segment set; he also fell onto a hotstove when he had to use a spatula to remove his face
  • Ash's struggle against his own full-sized doppelganger evil self (that sprouted from his own shoulder after he swallowed 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 final word in the incantation: "Klaatu, Barada, Nikto" from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)) - he substituted mumbled N words: "necktie," "nectar," and "nickel," etc. for the real third 'N' word ("It's definitely an 'N' word") - and his subsequent battle with Ray Harryhausen-style "Army of the dead" skeletons that emerged from the ground and were led by Ash's resurrected, zombie-doppelganger self
  • after vanquishing the deadites (he drank a potion and recited the three words exactly) 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, a sexy red-headed co-worker (Angela Featherstone) embraced him, as Ash mused 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 told the girl before he passionately kissed her: "Hail to the king, baby!"

Army of Shadows (1969, Fr.) (aka L'Armée des Ombres)

In Jean-Pierre Melville's grim, unsanitized and dark war drama about the true-life exploits of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied (Vichy) France:

  • the devastating pre-title credits opening sequence - a gloomy view of a regiment of German soldiers (led by a drum and bugle corps) marching in front of the Arc de Triomphe and then sharply turning right onto the deserted Champs-Élysées and moving straight toward the camera and filling the frame - before the camera shot froze - to emphasize the frightful sight of the Nazi occupation
  • the tense escape scene of bespectacled, middle-aged civil engineer Philippe Gerbier (Lino Ventura) from Gestapo headquarters in Paris after knifing a guard in the neck; afterwards, he took refuge in a barber shop where he received a shave from the barber (Serge Reggiani), and worried about being turned in (or having his throat slit with a straight-edged razor) as he heard sounds from the street of Germans looking for him
  • the harrowing, lengthy inhumane silent execution sequence in which Resistance members in Marseilles, led by Gerbier, were assembled together to semi-reluctantly carry out a death penalty on traitorous and condemned youth Paul Dounat (Alain Libolt); in front of their agonized prisoner, the group debated the method to be used to kill him - deciding on strangulation to not alert neighbors; Dounat was a former comrade and Resistance follower who had turned informant on Gerbier and betrayed them; young novice Resistance recruit 'Le Masque' (Claude Ullmann) was forced to participate as was Felix Lepercq (Paul Crauchet); during the silent strangulation scene using a tea towel and twisting stick garrotte, 'Le Masque' held the gagged Dounat's legs, Gerbier held the boy's arms, and Felix tightened the noose
  • the concluding scene of the Parisian street assassination of Mathilde (Simone Signoret), the brave and fearless matriarchal Lyons housewife (with one fatal flaw - carrying a photo of her daughter) who supported the efforts of the Resistance; fearing Mathilde would talk under pressure, Jardie and his team in a car pulled up next to her on the Paris sidewalk where she was walking - she was shot twice by burly Resistance veteran 'Le Bison' (Christian Barbier) and left to die on the street
  • the film's ending included text screens documenting the fate of the four remaining Resistance leaders, whose car was detained by the Nazis near the Arche de Triomphe in the final shot - each shown briefly: 'Le Masque' (suicide by cyanide capsules), 'Le Bison' (decapitated by axe in a German prison), leader Luc Jardie (dead from torture), and Gerbier (who decided this time he wouldn't run)

Arsenal (1929, Soviet Union) (aka Арсенал)

In writer-director Aleksandr Dovzhenko's avante-garde, visually expressionistic, beautifully-edited anti-war drama set during the aftermath of the Great War and the Russian Civil War, aka January Uprising in Kiev in 1918:

  • the opening sequence illustrating the bleak and stark aspects of war - the sight of a tree stump and barbed wire under a gray and cloudy sky - then instantly exploded
  • the mini-montages and simple inter-titles amidst stillness - a grief-stricken mother in a deserted village whose three sons had perished in battle: "A mother had three sons," "There was a war," and "The mother doesn't have three sons (any more)"
  • the lengthy, single-shot scene of a smug police officer, non-chalantly strolling down a dirt lane, and fondling the covered breasts of a peasant woman (with a bowed head) who stood motionless without response
  • the analogous connection sequence of an old woman (dying of exhaustion) sowing seeds in a dirt field and collapsing - juxtaposed with the image of oblivious Tsar Nicholas penning a letter in St. Petersburg: ("Today I shot a crow. Splendid weather. Nikky") - the symbolic implication was that the war had forced the woman into poverty and she was the crow that was shot; also, the view of a man brutally beating and kicking his emaciated and stubborn horse (the horse berated its owner: "You're hitting the wrong one, Ivan"), and juxtaposed at the same time, a frustrated mother was violently beating her starving, crying children
  • the Great War montage scene of an officer shooting (in the back) a soldier that refused to fight anymore; the two were seen as silhouettes (with extreme backlighting)
  • the images of the ironic, grim and torturous death of a soldier going insane as he succumbed to the crazed effects of laughing-gas
  • the film's centerpiece in its second part: the January uprising or rebellion of Kiev workers in an arsenal factory and their political unrest against the central ruling Ukranian Parliament, seen through the eyes of returning Ukranian soldier and bearded munitions worker Tymish Stoyan (Semyon Svashenko)
  • the scene of a dead comrade soldier's end of life horse ride (after nine years away at war fighting for the revolution) - his corpse was strapped onto a horse-drawn cart, and there was a frantic attempt to return the soldier home for burial, while his mother stood by his open grave (in the snow) awaiting his arrival; the horses even spoke about their important mission to return him as quickly as possible: "We know it. We're flying like the wind!"; when they arrived at the open grave site, one of the soldiers told the mother: "Here he is mother, and there's no time for explanations. We live and we die for the revolution"
  • and the climactic firing squad sequence and "Superman image" - the execution of the Bolshevik hero Tymish at point-blank range (with his taunting of the Ukrainian nationalist shooters by baring his chest and his miraculous survival and refusal to die)

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 revealed 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 was 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, spoiled 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")
  • Arthur's announcement: "I'm gonna take a bath" - with faithful, wise, and loyal but sarcastic valet Hobson's (Oscar-winning John Gielgud) response: "I'll alert the media"; when Arthur added: "Do you want to run my bath for me?" Hobson said: "That's what I live for" - and then quipped: "Perhaps you'd like me to come in there and wash your dick for you, you little s--t?"
  • the image of Arthur in a bubble bath sipping a martini, with Hobson at his side, who noted: "Bathing is a lonely business"
  • 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 fell in love with; Hobson joked with Linda: "Thank you for a memorable afternoon. Usually, one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature"
  • Arthur's care for his dying butler - with Hobson reassuring him that death wasn't frightening, and his final words: "Arthur, you're a good son"
  • the finale with Arthur's request to his limousine driver Bitterman: ("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) in his customary Greenwich Village cafe-restaurant when he made an offhand joke - a really mean and offensive remark about Brooklynite single mother/waitress Carol Connelly's (Oscar-winning Helen Hunt) asthmatic son Spencer (Jesse James); when ordering his breakfast of slightly-unhealthy ingredients: ("You're gonna die soon with that diet - you know that") - she raged at Melvin when he joked: "We're all gonna die soon, you will, I will, and it sure sounds like your son will"; she spoke harshly to him: "If you ever mention my son again, you will never be able to eat here again, do you understand? Give me some sign you understand, or leave now! Do you understand me? You crazy f--k! Do you?"
  • the scene of Melvin reluctantly befriending the Pomeranian dog Verdell of his gay artist-painter neighbor Simon Nye (Greg Kinnear), who was hospitalized, and his attempt to feed it in his living room
  • and later after Melvin paid for a specialist to treat Carol's ill son (so that she could continue to wait on him) - her further anger at him when she rushed to his apartment in a rainstorm in the middle of the night (causing her thin blouse to be soaked to the skin and see-through) and vowed never to have sex with him, believing he had an ulterior motive beyond returning to the restaurant and serving him breakfast: ("I'm not gonna sleep with you! I will never sleep with you, never, ever! Not ever!") - he responded: "Well, I'm sorry, but, uhm, we don't open for the 'no sex oaths' until 9 am"
  • the masterfully funny scene of Melvin and Carol's dinner date in a Baltimore, Maryland seafood restaurant ("Do they serve hardshells?"), and his beating around the bush to finally offer complimentary words to her: "You make me want to be a better man"; after a long pause, she responded: "That's maybe the best compliment of my life" - he explained further: "Well, maybe I overshot a little, because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walkin' out"
  • Melvin's long confession of love to Carol on the street: ("I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you're the greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer, 'Spence,' and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and how you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good. I think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good, about me. Is that something that's bad to be around? "), and after she replied no, Melvin warned: "I'm gonna grab ya" - and gave her a final clinch on the street

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) watched a young girl dance to jukebox music that delayed 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 complained 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 silencer guns

L'Atalante (1934, Fr.)

In director Jean Vigo's only full-length feature film (and his last film before his death in 1934 at the age of 29), a poetically-told, lyrical, sensual, visually-rich, sometimes playful drama, and a down-to-earth, simple story about a newly-married couple struggling with and adjusting to their wedded relationship:

  • the two honeymooners in a recent marriage and living temporarily on the dingy river barge the L'Atalante: the over-controlling barge captain Jean (Jean Dasté), and the lovely Juliette (Dita Parlo) - an innocent, cheerful, free-spirited small-town French peasant girl
  • the lovely, playful scene of a curious Juliette's visit to the cabin of her husband's entertaining, tattooed crew mate Père Jules (Michel Simon) who owned numerous stray cats - where she was shown many of his gadgets, trinkets, treasures and inventions, including a giant seashell, wind-up music boxes, a Japanese hand-fan, a dead friend's hand kept in a jar, and a marionette conductor - transporting her to different exotic worlds
  • the temporary separation of the newlywed lovers against stubborn Jean's wishes, going their separate ways when the bored, capricious and melancholic Juliette went off to window shop and to see Parisian nightlife, while Jean remained on the barge - and then cast off without her, literally deserting her on shore
  • the heralded sequence of broken-hearted, sad and depressed Jean attempting to acquire a vision of Juliette (according to a folk tale), by diving overboard into the Seine River's water during a dreamlike visual interlude underwater; he had a fanciful, unobtainable vision of his smiling wife Juliette in her white bridal gown underwater (in a super-imposed image)
  • and the exquisite and erotic love scene (filmed in a paralleling montage with intercutting and super-imposed images) of the lonely husband and wife restlessly tossing and turning sleeplessly on separate beds (on the barge, and in a seedy Parisian hotel) - each was thinking of, desiring and nakedly longing for the other (signaled by self-caressing and fondling); while he arched his back and stiffly sat up on his bed, she placed her hand under her nightshirt to touch her breast; the sequence of erotic desire within their fantasy imaginations was heightened by the editing - that matched up or mirrored their movements to make them appear together and realistically reacting to each other

Atlantic City (1980, or 1981)

In director Louis Malle's drama:

  • the voyeuristic scene (to the sound of a cassette tape playing Bellini's operatic Norma) during the film's opening title credits of seafood counter (oyster bar) casino worker Sally Matthews (Susan Sarandon) (who dreamt 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 about the old days to Sally's husband Dave Matthews (Robert Joy) during a lengthy boardwalk stroll together: "Yes, it used to be beautiful - what with the rackets, whoring, guns. Sometimes, things would happen. I'd have to kill a few people. I'd feel bad for awhile but I'd jump into the ocean, swim way out. Come back in feelin' nice and clean, start all over again....The Atlantic Ocean was somethin' then. Yes, you should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days"
  • the motel room scene after Lou's self-defense killing of two gangland hoods on a sidewalk to protect Sally (during a sour drug deal) - when he admitted to her that he had an exaggerated life, and his own surprise at his prowess in saving her: "Hey!...I never killed anybody in my life...But I did tonight. You saw it"; and his proposal to Sally to run off to Florida with him: ("I'll buy ya new clothes, I'll show ya off...Just let the boys see how well I turned out")
  • Lou's gleeful response to the TV news story of the two Atlantic City murders he just committed: "Hey, that's me!...We'll stop on the way down and buy all the newspapers. This story is going to be big all over the country: 'Gangland slaying rips apart Atlantic City!'"
  • in the final sequence after parting from Sally (knowing she wouldn't accompany him to Florida, but preferred France), Lou took a taxi back to Atlantic City for a final promenade down the Boardwalk with his broken-down, middle-aged, invalid gangster widow-friend Grace Pinza (Kate Reid) - with a panning shot up to a view of a crane and wrecker's ball smashing into an apartment during the closing credits, accompanied by discordant jazz music

Atonement (2007, US/UK)

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"

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966, Fr./Swe.) (aka Chosen by Lot Balthazar)

In French writer/director Robert Bresson's wrenching, profoundly-moving, visually-told story or religious parable about the mistreated life and death of a donkey (a "dumb animal") named Balthazar:

  • the opening French countryside scene on a provincial farm, when Jacques (Walter Green), his sisters, and Jacques' childhood sweetheart Marie (Anne Wiazemsky), the rebellious daughter of a local schoolteacher, requested having young Balthazar, who was seen drinking milk from his mother
  • the scene of the children baptizing Balthazar in a mock ceremony, when he was named for one of the three wise men (magi) who traveled to witness Jesus' birth ("Balthazar, I baptize thee n the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost")
  • Balthazar's early associations with the children, especially Marie, who treated Balthazar kindly and adorned his head with a crown of flowers
  • Balthazar's idyllic childhood that turned to a burdened life of hardship as a laboring beast when he changed owners over the years - he was first sent away by Marie's overly-proud father (Philippe Asselin) and became a beast of burden pulling wagons
  • one owner, who used Balthazar as a delivery animal for a bakery, was Marie's thuggish, leather-jacketed, motorcycle-riding juvenile delinquent boyfriend Gerard (Francois Lafarge), who cruelly set Balthazar's tail on fire; then Balthazar was taken by the abusive town drunk and vagrant Arnold (Jean-Claude Guilbert), and also the ringmaster of a traveling circus who used Balthazar to perform a math trick
  • the downtrodden Balthazar's stoic observations of human life around him - his life (of whipping cruelty, exhaustion, sickness) was paralleled in the painful, cruel lives of the villagers and those who came into association with him
  • the sublime sequence of Balthazar's very emotional death, after smuggler Gerard loaded him down with stolen goods (to cross the border) and he was ultimately abandoned (when the group of criminals was fired on by police) and lethally wounded; when Balthazar serenely rested in a meadow, he was surrounded by a nuzzling flock of white sheep for comfort; briefly, barking sheepdogs scared away the sheep, but after Balthazar reclined and simply closed his eyes, the sheep again returned, although Balthazar ultimately was left to die alone
Balthazar's Transcendent End

Audition (1999, Jp./S.Kor.) (aka Odishon)

In director Takashi Miike's horrific romantic drama - a metaphoric, satirical commentary upon Japanese men's sexist attitudes towards women and relationships (and their misogynistic fear of deadly women), usually treating them as objects:

  • the match-making 'audition' sequence, when middle-aged, sad and lonely widower and movie producer-filmmaker Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), seven years after his wife's death, was urged by his teenaged son to remarry; he subjected potential 'perfect' brides-to-be to a rigorous casting-call "audition" - a process to select a partner to help him overcome loneliness and find love; the wannabe actresses thought, however, that they were auditioning for a movie
  • the selection of the winning final candidate by a smitten Aoyama - the seemingly-demure, polite, virginal and dutifully-humble 24 year-old Asami Yamazaki (fashion model Eihi Shiina in her debut role), who was described as "beautiful, classy, obedient"; she was a soft-spoken ballet dancer whose career had been sidelined by a hip injury - and had a long history of abuse by her step-father
  • the scene of a suddenly-lurching big burlap sack in the center of Asami's living room as a phone rang, and during a flashback, the contents revealed to be a man who was missing both feet, his tongue, one ear and three fingers on his right hand; he crawled out of the sack and begged for food from Asami, who obliged by vomiting into a silver dog dish and placing it on the floor in front of him; the man stuck his face into the bowl of vomit and hungrily ate it
  • the series of flashbacks and dream sequences of painful and sadistic, torture and dismemberment revenge on Aoyama by Asami (while wearing black rubber gloves); she drugged and temporarily paralyzed him (with a syringe), and then terrorized him with acupuncture needles (stuck into his eyelids) and razor-sharp piano wire (used to amputate or wire-saw off his left foot) to the sound of a Japanese bird: ("Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri..." or "Deeper, deeper, deeper..."); it was unclear how much of his torment was within his own imagination
  • in the tense conclusion, Asami broke her neck (and became paralyzed from the neck down) after being kicked down stairs by the widower's son during a struggle

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 British spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) who battled his villainous arch-enemy Dr. Evil (Myers also) 30 years later; planning to hold the world hostage, Dr. Evil offered an initial inflation-challenged ransom of "One... MEEE-llion dollars!" for a nuclear warhead, not realizing that this amount of ransom wasn't as threatening in the 1990s as it was in the 1960s; his henchman Number 2 (Robert Wagner) suggested: "Don't you think we should ask for more than a million dollars? A million dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days"; Dr. Evil upwardly revised his ransom to $100 billion dollars!
  • Evil's bizarre relationship with resentful cloned son Scott Evil (Seth Green), and after first meeting him asking repeatedly: "Can I have a hug?"; including the scene in which he kept shushing Scott: ("Let me tell you a little story about a man named Sh!")
  • 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")
  • during a cataloguing of Austin Powers' possessions and embarrassed by the presence of Vanessa Kensington, his denial that a Swedish-made penis enlarger pump was his: ("That's not mine...I don't even know what this is. This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby"), even though a book authored by him on the subject was revealed
  • the characters of Dr. Evil's "fem-bots" with guns in the tops of their bikinis who attempted to seduce Austin Powers; he was able to outwit and defeat the seductive android females by performing a sexy, gyrating strip-tease "Dance of Death" (down to Union Jack red underwear and hairy chest) to the tune of "I Touch Myself" - causing them to short-circuit with sexual electricity as their heads twitched violently and then exploded
  • in a classic honeymoon scene, Austin Powers cavorted naked with glamorous "shagadelic" agent Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) with their private parts teasingly hidden by strategically-placed objects
  • 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?"

L'Avventura (1960, It./Fr.) (aka The Adventure)

In Michelangelo Antonioni's slow-moving mystery drama, often criticized as contrived or pretentious, but also acclaimed as a post-war modern masterpiece - the first part of a trilogy, followed by La Notte (1961, It./Fr.) (aka The Night) and L'Eclisse (1962, It./Fr.) (aka The Eclipse) - it told about an inconclusive search for something missing (similar in theme to Blow-Up (1966, UK), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Australia) and A Passage to India (1984, UK/US)) - and the nihilistic nature of transitory existence and ultimate emotional and spiritual detachment:

  • the film's main starting point: a yacht trip taken by bored, discontented, idle-rich, upper-class Italians to a deserted and barren volcanic island (Lisca Bianca, one of the Aeolians north of Sicily) in the Mediterranean (a metaphor for the lives of the characters); the travelers included dark-haired Anna (Lea Massari), the possibly-suicidal, attention-seeking daughter of an ex-Roman diplomat, Anna's self-absorbed, womanizing fiancee-boyfriend - self-indulgent architect Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti), and Anna's lower-class, shy, blonde best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti)
  • the quarreling argument between Sandro and Anna on the jagged shore of the remote island reflected their relationship issues and a growing rift between them; she dismissed their marriage plans and claimed that he didn't seem serious about marrying her anymore - implying that he couldn't commit - and that they were already an unhappily 'married' couple; he replied: "Why should we be here talking, arguing? Believe me Anna, words are becoming less and less necessary; they create misunderstandings" - she wanted to be left alone at that moment - and suggested that they might become separated even longer in the future -- and then, she inexplicably vanished
  • the search for the missing Anna (the film's MacGuffin) - absent for most of the film although very much present - who suddenly disappeared under mysterious circumstances - she might have committed suicide by jumping or was the accidental victim of the menacing waters (a void of waves and rocks) surrounding the island if she had fallen; or did she escape the island freely, or was she possibly abducted?
  • the growing tenuous, brooding and half-hearted romance that developed between the non-grieving couple, Sandro and Claudia during their search for the almost-forgotten Anna - especially his first unexpected, impetuous sudden kiss of her on the boat
  • Sandro's shallow and aimless description of himself after making career compromises and sacrificing his ideals: "It's strange but I never thought I'd be rich. I saw myself living in a rooming house, full of geniuses. Instead, I have two apartments, one in Rome and one in Milan. As far as genius goes, it's a habit I've never formed"
  • in the enigmatic, virtually dialogue-less conclusion, Claudia's shocked discovery that Sandro was cheating on her after a late-night party held in the San Domenico Palace in Sicily; to find him, she ran down cavernous corridors and through rooms frantically looking for him, and ultimately located him on a couch in an empty lounge - having sex with aspiring starlet Gloria Perkins (Dorothy de Poliolo) - a high-class call-girl; distressed, Claudia turned and fled, and ran outside to a plaza or terrace next to the street, as the prostitute turned to Sandro and asked: "Won't you leave me a souvenir? Just a small souvenir" - he coldly tossed bills on the sofa next to her feet, which she gathered toward herself
  • in the next ambiguous part of the scene, Sandro followed Claudia outdoors, where he saw her completely heartbroken and emotionally crushed while standing next to a railing; the crestfallen, shamed Sandro walked over to a bench and slumped forward, exhibiting tears over his betrayal; Claudia slowly walked over to him, stood behind him, and after a long hesitation and some tentative indecision, she put her right hand on his hair on the back of his head to empathically caress and comfort him (and forgive him?), as the empty dawn arrived with a distant view of snowy Mount Etna
  • the carefully composed and choreographed final image: the screen was split with an expansive landscape and breast-shaped volcano on the left (representing Claudia), while a crumbling facade of a high stone wall was on the right (representing Sandro)
A Compassionate, Hopeful Final Gesture

Awaara (1951, India) (aka Tramp, or The Vagabond)

In director Raj Kapoor's acclaimed, blockbuster Hindi-language social drama and musical love story (one of the most successful Bollywood films ever made), commentary focused upon fate and nature (Does fateful predestination or predetermination of social classes exist? If one was once a thief, was one always a thief?):

  • the main characters in a triangle of relationships: embittered Judge Raghunath (Prithviraj Kapoor, the director's real-life father), his estranged criminal son Raj (director Raj Kapoor) - the "Awara" of the film's title who was struggling to reform himself, and Raj's school friend turned love interest Rita (Nargis) - a Ward (or guardian) of the Judge
  • the sparks of love and misunderstanding between Raj and Rita - especially in the scene of Rita changing her clothes on the beach just after swimming, when she claimed that gentlemen wouldn't stare: ("Gentlemen don't barge in when ladies are changing dresses. Don't you know that?"); when he asked about her label for him ("I'm no gentleman"), she teasingly called him junglee ("a savage") and claimed: "I'm not about to give in to your type" - he was deeply offended by her label for him, and roughly grabbed and slapped her: "Savage? I'm a penniless, uneducated tramp! I don't fit into high society. How dare I maul your fragile body with my beastly hands. I told Ma that childhood friends, like childhood days, are gone, never to return. Good of you to have told me my class"; she apologized: "It was a joke, don't get angry," surrendered to him, and they hugged
  • the 12-minute long musical dream sequence about the uplifting power of love, and a tug-of war for Raj's soul, set in a heaven-and-hell scenario; heroine Rita was in heavenly clouds singing a love song beckoning to Raj below to join with her and be saved: ("Without you, this moonlight is like fire. Do come....The flute is not melodious without you. This life of mine is a melody of pain. Do come"), while in the dark fires of Hell below, Raj sang: ("This is not life. This is not life. I am burning alive in this fire of life. The arrows of fire run through me. I don't want this hell; I want the flower, the love, the friend. I want the spring..."); he struggled to climb and crawl up steps to be united with an overjoyed Rita (Rita: "My foreigner has returned home. The thirst in my eyes is quenched. You are the pearl of my heart. You are the light of my eyes. You are the remembrance of my childhood. My foreigner has returned home. Now don't go away breaking my heart. Don't leave me crying. You are under the oath of my tears") and they walked together on a circular ascending pathway and then along a glittering, meandering trail; suddenly, Raj's father appeared with a gigantic knife - and Raj immediately fell back to hell as he cried out: "Rita!" - Raj awoke from his dream, screaming for his mother Leela (Leela Chitnis): "Mother, Mother, save me, Mother!"
  • the final sequence - Raj was reconciled with his Judge father and accepted as his legitimate son, Raj was imprisoned in jail for three years for the self-defense murder of bandit Jagga (K.N. Singh) (who had originally sullied Leela's name after kidnapping her, and created doubts in the Judge's mind about their unborn son Raj at the time), and there was hope for a future together for Raj and Rita (they hugged each other through the jail cell bars)

Away From Her (2006, Canada/UK/US)

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 was 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 became increasingly attached and doting to mute, wheelchair-bound patient Aubrey Bark (Michael Murphy) and told 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 spoke to sympathetic, friendly and plain-spoken nurse Kristy (Kristen Thomson) who offered her pager number, and with an understanding punk teenager named Monica (Nina Dobrev) who was 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 remembered her husband and his self-less care for her: ("I'm a very lucky woman") - after he had begun an affair with Aubrey's abrasive, pragmatic and outspoken wife Marian (Olympia Dukakis) - as the camera spun 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 divorce proceedings of a couple: Lucy (Irene Dunne) and Jerry Warriner (Cary Grant), to take effect after a 90-day waiting period - and the settlement of one final matter in the courtroom: a custody battle over their dog Mr. Smith or "Smitty" (Asta of the Thin Man series); with the fox terrier dog present in the court, the "final decision" of custody was left up to the dog who was placed equi-distant from them and caught in a dilemma - with calls and pathetic entreaties from both sides for the dog's affection, Mr. Smith swiveled his head back and forth between his two owners, and eventually jumped in Lucy's lap when tempted by its favorite squeeze toy (a Chihuahua's head)
  • the sequence of Jerry hiding behind Lucy's apartment door as she greeted her neighbor-suitor, Oklahoma native Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy) who read her a sugary love poem he had written ("Oh, you would make my life divine If you would change your name to mine") - while Jerry tickled her in the side with a pencil as she listened and tried to maintain her composure
  • the disruption scene of Jerry barging in on Lucy's vocal recital and accidentally tipping back in his chair and noisily falling to the floor
  • the nightclub scene when the couples accidentally turned up with separate dates: Lucy with Dan, and Jerry with singer Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton)
  • the sequence often known as the "two men in a bedroom farce" regarding dual derby hats and their clever dog "Smitty" - when both Lucy's French singing teacher and love interest Armand Duvalle (Alexander D'Arcy) and Jerry had arrived at her apartment and were kept separated; the dog - in a game of hide and seek, persistently kept retrieving and bringing out Duvalle's incriminating derby hat from behind a flower arrangement and a mirror where Lucy had stashed it; Lucy struggled to conceal its whereabouts behind the couch; as Jerry was leaving, he put on what he thought was his derby hat - but the over-sized hat descended down over his ears; quizzically, he looked at himself in another mirror: "Well that's funny, I only bought the hat an hour ago and look at it"; she suggested: "Did you have a haircut, maybe?...Well, maybe you had it on backwards. Put it on the other way around... it is a little roomy, but maybe they're wearing them that way this year"
  • the scene of Lucy pretending to be Jerry's drunk sister at the home of his new fiancee, heiress and debutante Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont) - and Lucy's rowdy rendition (with uplifted skirt) of a vulgar nightclub routine and song, My Dreams Are Gone With the Wind, in order to sabotage Jerry's relationship
  • the image of the stranded couple being transported on cops' motorcycles in evening dress
  • and the final connecting-bedrooms scene in her Aunt's rustic cabin, where the door between their rooms had a weakened and faulty latch and kept opening (on their last night before the 90 day waiting period expired)
  • the metaphoric sexually-tinged, suggestive image at the film's fade-out of reunited, male and female cuckoo-clock figurines (stand-ins for Lucy and Jerry) entering the same opening, after the two had reconciled and realized "the awful truth" that they were irresistible to each other

(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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