Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments




M (1931, Ger.)

In Fritz Lang's first sound film:

  • the scene of young Elsie Beckman (Inge Landgut) bouncing her ball against a billboard and standing in front of the poster (Who is the Murderer?) that offers a 10,000 Marks reward as the shadow of psychopathic Berlin child-killer/molester Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) falls over her
  • Beckert's purchase of a balloon (while whistling a few bars of In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt's Suite #1 by Edvard Grieg) from a 'blind man' in order to seduce the young girl
  • Beckert's look backward toward his reflection and realizing that he has a letter 'M' (meaning "Morder") chalked on the back of his overcoat - branding him with the mark of Cain as an atrocious child-murderer
  • the nervous and out-of-tune whistling of the murderer - now identified by the blind man and leading to Becker's capture
  • the final sequence in the kangaroo court as the tortured, sniveling offender piteously cries out to defend - and self-incriminate himself: "I can't help myself" and "I must!"

M*A*S*H (1970)

In director Robert Altman's subversive and irreverent anti-war comedy:

  • "Suicide is Painless" - the film's theme song playing on the soundtrack during the opening credits sequence
  • the dark humor of wartime, bloody surgeries
  • the broadcast over the camp's PA system of Major "Hot Lips" Houlihan's (Sally Kellerman) love-making to Maj. Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) ("Oh, Frank, my lips are hot. Kiss my hot lips") with a microphone hidden under their cot
  • the practical joke of pulling the tent up while Hot Lips is taking a shower to determine if she is a natural blonde
  • suicidal "Painless Pole" Walt Waldowski's (John Schuck) Last Supper scene with a full rendition of the film's theme song
  • the climactic football game
  • the unique closing credits read by the loudspeaker announcer and ending with "That is all"

Madame Curie (1943)

In director Mervyn LeRoy's fact-based docu-drama/biopic:

  • the scene of lab assistant-wife Marie Sklodowska/Curie (Greer Garson) and scientist Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon) seeing the results of "four long years" of their laborious work (isolating radium) - the "final crystallization" - in a covered evaporating bowl on one of their lab tables
  • Marie's frantic reaction: ("What's happened, Pierre? Where's our radium? What have we done? Where is it?") - while knowing that Marie's hands are being burned by the pure radium and might develop into cancer ("I have never seen burns quite like this before. They are very strange...They obviously don't come from any normal substance")
  • Marie's flash of insight: "Could it be that that stain is radium?" and the scene of their rushing to their lab to peer through the window and see the glowing radium from a distance ("It's there. Our radium! It's there! It's there!") as they hugged each other triumphantly over their profound discovery

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

In George Miller's third Mad Max film:

  • the combat scene in Bartertown's Thunderdome between nomadic pilgrim Max (Mel Gibson) and the weirdly-original, two-person Master-Blaster ("Two men enter, one man leaves"), including the black-robed, ghoulish Master of Ceremonies Dr. Dealgood (Edwin Hodgeman) with a scepter and his introduction ("Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dyin' times here")
  • the bloodthirsty audience hanging over the giant caged dome and cheering the gladiatorial action between the battling protagonists bouncing on rubbery elastic bungee-type straps, and the denouement when Blaster's helmet is knocked off - and he is revealed to be a retarded child
  • Max's exile in the desert when he discovers a green paradise filled with abandoned children and teenagers (who call him "Capt. Walker" and expect him to magically fly them "home")
  • Aunty Entity's (Tina Turner) smiling farewell to Max ("Well, ain't we a pair, Raggedy Man? So long, soldier")
  • the final flight over an abandoned, burned-out, nuclear-devastated Sydney, Australia -- and adult Savannah Nix's (Helen Buday) poignant closing monologue: ("...But most of all we 'members the man who finded us, him that came the salvage, and we lights the city. Not just for him, but for all of them that are still out there. 'Cause we knows there'll come a night when they sees the distant light, and they'll be coming home")

The Magic Box (1951, UK)

In director John Boulting's biopic drama with a double flashback:

  • the scene in which the pioneering, British inventor of the movie camera - obsessed photographer William Friese-Greene (Robert Donat) excitedly urges a helmeted police constable 94-B (Laurence Olivier) passing on the street to come up to his room and witness his first triumphant screen projection upon a white cloth sheet (pictures of Hyde Park taken on a Sunday visit)

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

In director Orson Welles' period drama:

  • the impressive photography and innovative cinematic techniques
  • the scenes within the great Amberson mansion, a convincing, turn-of-the-century re-creation
  • the richly filmed Amberson ball
  • the sleigh-riding sequence
  • the kitchen scene
  • the long, leisurely tracking shot of Lucy Morgan (Anne Baxter) and George Minafer (Tim Holt) in a carriage through town
  • the dining room sequence in which Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten) describes the possible consequences of the automobile revolution
  • Aunt Fanny's (Agnes Moorehead) and George's revealing conversation on different landings of the circular staircase
  • the rambling speech in which old Major Amberson (Richard Bennett) disjointedly muses on the source of life before his life ends
  • the marvelous scene in which Isabel read's Eugene's letter of consolation
  • the image of George watching Eugene leave the mansion for the last time just before Isabel's death
  • the scene of Isabel's death with spider-web shadows falling over her face
  • the lyrical scene of the discussion between Eugene and Lucy in the garden
  • the four-room traveling shot taking an hysterical Aunt Fanny and George from the boiler to the shrouded living room of the Amberson mansion

Magnolia (1999)

In Paul Thomas Anderson's adult-oriented human drama with an ensemble cast:

  • the film's prologue - a tale of a scuba diver in a tree entwined with the urban legend of a son accidentally murdered while trying to commit suicide
  • the scene in a San Fernando Valley hotel of sleazy motivational speaker and self-help guru/shyster Frank T.J. Mackey (Oscar-nominated Tom Cruise) leading a "Seduce and Destroy" seminar for misogynistic, sexually-frustrated males
  • his lecture to his audience to "Respect the cock... and tame the cunt. Tame it" - and his advice: "I will not apologize for what I want!"
  • the scene of Frank's interview with TV reporter Gwenovier (April Grace) with probing questions about his past
  • the cast's (wherever they are located) sing-along of verses to Aimee Mann's heartbreaking ballad "Wise Up" ("...But it's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up")
  • young wife Linda Partridge's (Julianne Moore) guilt-ridden speech about the love she has for her near-death, cancer-stricken husband/TV producer Earl (Jason Robards) and her confessional that she originally married him for his money: ("...I've fallen in love with him now for real as he's dying. I look at him, and he's about to go...")
  • Frank's final and bitterly-angry confrontation with his estranged father on his deathbed, before completely breaking down: ("You don't look that bad. You prick. 'Cock sucker.' That's what you used to like to say, right? 'Cock sucker.' But you are a cock sucker, Earl. It hurts, doesn't it? Huh? You in a lot of pain? She was in a lot of pain. Right to the end, she was in a lot of pain. l know because l was there. You didn't like illness, though, do ya? l was there. She waited for your call. For you to come. l am not gonna cry. l am not gonna cry for you! You cock sucker. l know you can hear me. l want you to know that l hate your f--king guts. You can just f--king die, you f--k. And l hope it hurts. I f--king hope it hurts. I f--king hate you! God damn you, you f--king asshole! Oh God, you f--king asshole, don't go away, you f--king asshole, don't go away, you f--king asshole...")
  • the controversial and audacious ending - a literal rainstorm of frogs

Make Mine Music (1946)

In Disney's eighth animated feature - an unofficial, less "artsy" follow-up to Fantasia (1940):

  • two of the classic animated segments (out of ten total original segments)
    -- the comic retelling of "Casey at the Bat" from the classic Ernest Thayer tale of an arrogant ballplayer,
    -- the 15-minute Disney version of "Peter and the Wolf" based on Sergei Prokofiev's famous symphony of the same name with each character represented by a particular musical instrument, and narrated by scratchy-voiced Sterling Holloway

Malcolm X (1992)

In writer/director Spike Lee's inspirational 3 1/2 hour tribute-documentary on the life of a former burglar, drug-user and pimp - based on Alex Haley's novel The Autobiography of Malcolm X:

  • the titles sequence - in which an American flag burns to an 'X' - also intercut with scenes from the Rodney King beating video
  • the scenes of various speeches (at Harlem, Harvard University, and his pre- and post-Mecca trip press conferences) of controversial black nationalist liberation leader Malcolm "X" Little's (Denzel Washington): ("When you tell your people to stop being violent against my people, I'll tell my people to put away their guns")
  • his famous line: "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock - Plymouth Rock landed on us!"
  • the climactic and chaotic set-piece of X's assassination in New York's Audubon Ballroom in February of 1965 presented as a conspiracy of Nation of Islam leaders - with his devastated wife Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) holding her dying husband in her arms
  • the use of documentary footage of Martin Luther King Jr. commenting on Malcolm's death and Ossie Davis's eulogy for Malcolm X: "He was, at last, our manhood--our black manhood"

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

In director John Huston's classic noir/detective debut film based on Dashiell Hammett's novel:

  • the film's memorable sinister and moody imagery, great casting and characterizations including hard-boiled San Francisco private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), deceitful femme-fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), effeminate and creepy Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre), erudite "Fat Man" Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet), and gunsel Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.)
  • the surprise killing point-blank of Spade's partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan), after Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor) had strolled into the offices of the Spade and Archer detective agency and asked for protection against a mysterious man named Floyd Thursby
  • the scene in which Spade revealed that he knew a deceiving Brigid O'Shaughnessey (alias Miss Wonderly) was trying to charm him: ("You won't need much of anybody's help. You're good. It's chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get in your voice when you say things like 'Be generous, Mr. Spade.'")
  • the menacing scene in the hotel room of a seated Gutman explaining the history of the bird (shot from floor angle, emphasizing his huge girth)
  • the elusive search for the one foot-tall, jewel-encrusted 'black bird' statuette in the shape of a falcon
  • Spade's suggestion to the Fat Man that Cairo be the fall guy: ("Give them Cairo!") - and then Spade informed the Fat Man's intimidated "gunsel" Wilmer that he was being double-crossed in plain sight: ("They're selling you out, sonny") - after knocking out Wilmer, Spade told the Fat Man: "There's our fall guy!" and the Fat Man agreed: "You can have him"
  • the final scene of the unwrapping of the package in which the falcon bird is discovered to be fake - not gold but only made of lead
  • Cairo telling off Gutman, calling him an "...imbecile! You bloated idiot! You stupid fathead!"
  • Brigid's final scene with Spade in which he threatens "Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over" and she takes "the fall"
  • the famous quote in response to Sgt. Polhaus' (Ward Bond) question about the false black bird: "The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of"
  • the last image of Brigid's exit to her fate - down an elevator with the gate casting a shadow of cell bars on her

A Man For All Seasons (1966)

In Fred Zinnemann's Best Picture-winning film of Richard Bolt's adaptation of his own play:

  • the strength and courage of Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More (Oscar-winning Paul Scofield) - after King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) declared himself the head of the church in England - when he refused on principle to sign the Act of Succession that would grant permission to the King to divorce his first barren wife Catherine of Aragon so he could marry mistress Anne Boleyn (Vanessa Redgrave) to produce an heir
  • his reverential defense of the law toward son-in-law William Roper (Corin Redgrave): "This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"
  • the treachery of courtier Richard Rich (John Hurt) to destroy More
  • the trumped-up, fallacy-filled court trial when More defended his actions and chastised his former friend and King ("Since the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will now discharge my mind concerning the indictment and the King's title...")
  • the concluding scene of More's execution and his poignant words to his executioner after giving him a coin for his duty: "Be not afraid of your office: you send me to God"

Man Hunt (1941)

In director Fritz Lang's WWII political thriller:

  • the film's opening - the exciting sequence of big-game hunter Capt. Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) stalking within shooting distance of Hitler's summer palace (Berchtesgaden) in the Bavarian Alps in the summer of 1939, aiming at the dictator's head, and pulling the trigger
  • the realization that his gun is lacking a cartridge - he pauses, thinking about committing the crime for real - but is jumped by a German sentry

The Man of the West (1958)

In Anthony Mann's last western:

  • the notorious scene of violent outlaw Coaley (Jack Lord) humiliating saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London) by forcing her to strip down to her underwear ("Now start takin' off your clothes...Now undress, start with the shoes...Get that petticoat off!") - while holding a knife at the throat of ex-outlaw Texan hero Link Jones (Gary Cooper) during the striptease

The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976, UK)

In Nicolas Roeg's impressionistic, hallucinatory, disjointed, non-literal sci-fi film and parable:

  • the scene of pale, ethereal humanoid alien visitor Thomas Jerome Newton's (rock star David Bowie in his feature film debut) arrival on Earth by splashing into a Southwestern lake
  • his first unsettling contact with society - and his bored and addicted habit of watching a dozen televisions at once (and his scream of "Get out of my head!") and drinking gin and tonics
  • Thomas' memories/visions of his Anthean family suffering and dying on his drought-stricken home planet
  • the startling revelation of his true Anthean form - androgynous, cat-eyed and hairless - to naive, New Mexico hotel cleaning lady/girlfriend Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) who uncontrollably pees down her leg at the horrific sight of him
  • their frequent, unusual, exploratory and explicit sexual encounters together, including the scene in which a drunk Newton threatens Mary-Lou with a blank-firing fake pistol, dips its barrel into a glass of wine, and then licks it, before a frenzied and loveless encounter
  • the final image of a completely drained, eternally-trapped Thomas (his head bowed, with hat to the camera)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

In Alfred Hitchcock's dramatic and colorful remake of his own political thriller film from 22 years earlier:

  • the opening scene in French Morocco in which American tourists Dr. Ben and Jo McKenna (James Stewart and Doris Day) witness the street killing of a Frenchman spy (Daniel Gelin) who whispers something in Ben's ear about a political assassination
  • the wordless 12-minute climactic scene in London's Royal Albert Hall in which the parents attempt to stop an assassination plot (with the murder of the European head of state to take place at the climax of the performance during the clash of cymbals)
  • the final moment when the gunshot is accentuated by Jo's terrified scream

(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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