Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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M
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
Screenshots

M (1931, Ger.)

In Fritz Lang's first sound film about the controversial subject of homicidal pedophilia:

  • the opening scene of young Elsie Beckmann (Inge Landgut), after school, bouncing her ball against a billboard, and the shadow of psychopathic Berlin child-killer/molester Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) moving over the poster (reading "Who is the Murderer?") that offered a 10,000 Marks reward; the poster explained how another young victim had been claimed; Beckert spoke to the girl: ("You have a very beautiful ball. What's your name?...")
  • with his back to the camera, the scene of Beckert's purchase of a balloon (while whistling a few bars of his tell-tale 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; soon after, Elsie's place setting at the table was unoccupied and both the ball (bouncing away) and the balloon (floating away into telephone lines) were seen - signifying the girl's abduction and murder
  • Beckert's grotesque making of faces before a mirror
  • Beckert's look backward toward his reflection and realizing that he had 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 Beckert's capture
  • the final sequence in the kangaroo court as the tortured, sniveling offender piteously cried out to defend - and self-incriminate himself: ("But I, I can't help myself! I have no control over this! This evil thing inside me, the fire, the voices, the torment!... It's there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It's me, pursuing myself. I want to escape, to escape from myself. But it's impossible. I can't escape. I have to obey it. I have to run endless streets. I want to escape, to get away. And I'm pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers. And of those children. They never leave me. They are there, always there. Always, except when I do it. When I - Then I can't remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I've done. Did I do that? But I can't remember anything about it. But who will believe me? Who knows what it's like to be me? How I'm forced to act -- How I must! -- Must!-- Don't want to -- Must! -- Don't want to, but must! And then a voice screams -- I can't bear to hear it! -- I can't go on, I can't go on...")





Madame Curie (1943)

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

  • the scene of determined lab assistant-wife Marie Sklodowska/Curie (Greer Garson) and scientist-husband Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon) seeing the results of "four long years" of their laborious work (isolating radium) in a shed - the "final crystallization" and isolation of "precious elusive radium" within a covered evaporating bowl on one of their lab tables
  • the scene of Marie's visit to a doctor for an examination, where she was cautioned about the danger to her hands after three and a half years of work - burned by the pure radium and potentially developing into cancer: ("We have never seen burns quite like this before. They are very strange. I can't ever remember seeing anything quite like them. They obviously don't come from any normal substance"); Marie was cautioned: ("I don't wish to alarm you, Madame Curie, but it is very possible that these burns might become serious, might in fact develop malignantly if you continue to expose them excessively to your unknown element. It is not impossible that they may be developed into a cancerous nature. It is my advice, Madame, that you abandon your experiments")
  • Marie's frantic reaction: ("There's nothing there, not a trace of anything, not a grain. Only a stain. What's happened, Pierre? Where is our radium? What have we done? Where is it? What's happened? Where is it, Pierre?...What did we do that was wrong? What could we have done?...I can't stand it, Pierre. Where is our radium? We worked for years and years and years. It must be there. It must be there. Four long years in this shed")
  • and later, Marie's flash of insight while lying on her pillow: ("Pierre, that stain on the saucer...We didn't even test it, did we?...What we are expecting to find was a definite amount of radium, wasn't it? Something we could see and feel. Not as much as a pinch of salt, you said....Pierre, what if it's, what if it's merely a question of amount? What does so little radium in proportion to the amount of material that we used that is now - we couldn't see it. What if that stain, even with the merest, merest breath...Pierre, could it, could it be that that stain is radium?")
  • the scene of their rushing to their lab to peer through the window and see the glowing radium from a distance as they hugged each other triumphantly over their profound discovery: ("It's there. Our radium! It's there! It's there!")
  • the concluding scene of a frail Madame Curie making an appearance and speech before the Faculty of Science at the University of Paris, to commemorate the 25th year anniversary of the discovery of radium: ("Even now, after twenty-five years of intensive research, we feel there is a great deal still to be done. We have made many discoveries. Pierre Curie, in the suggestions we have found in his notes and in thoughts he expressed to me, has helped to guide us to him. But no one of us can do much if each of us perhaps can catch some gleam of knowledge which modestly insufficient of itself may add to man's dream of truth. It is by these small candles in our darkness that we see before us, little by little, the dim outlines of that great plan that shapes the universe. And I am among those who think that for this reason, science has great beauty and with its great spiritual strength will in time cleanse this world of its evils, its ignorance, its poverty, diseases, wars and heartaches. Look for the clear light of truth. Look for unknown new roads even when man's sight is keener far than now. Divine wonder will never fail him. Every age has its own dreams. Leave then the dreams of yesterday. You - take the torch of knowledge and build the palace of the future")




Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

In George Miller's third Mad Max film, set in a post-apocalyptic parched world:

  • nomadic pilgrim and ex-cop "Mad Max" Rockatansky's (Mel Gibson) arrival in Bartertown in the Australian desert, where he was told by the town's corrupt overlord Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and the bald Collector (Frank Thring) that power was generated from methane-rich "pig s--t": ("Pigs--t. The lights, the motors, the vehicles - all run by a high-powered gas called methane. Methane comes from pigs--t")
  • the promotion of ritualized gladitorial conflict - in the massive caged Thunderdome, surrounded by a bloodthirsty audience, by Aunty Entity who urged Max to challenge and combat the weirdly-original, two-person Master-Blaster (composed of a dwarf-midget known as the Master (Angelo Rossitto), "the brains" who rode on the back of the hulking, "muscle"-bound Blaster (Paul Larsson)); Aunty Entity began the proceedings: ("Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!")
  • the fight was set up by the black-robed, ghoulish Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Dealgood (Edwin Hodgeman), who held a scepter: ("Listen on! Listen on! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now, busted up and everyone talking about hard rain. But we've learned by the dust of them all. Bartertown's learned. Now when men get to fighting, it happens here. And it finishes here. Two men enter, one man leaves. And right now, I've got two men. Two men with a gut full of fear. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls dying time's here!")
  • the introduction of the two combatants: Mad Max against the Master-Blaster: ("He's the ball cracker. Death on foot. You know him. You love him! He's Blaster! The challenger, direct from out of the Wasteland. He's bad. He's beautiful. He's crazy! It's the man with no name! Thunderdome's simple. Get to the weapons, use them anyway you can. I know you won't break the rules. There aren't any. Remember where you are. This is Thunderdome. Death is listening, and will take the first man that screams. Prepare! Two men enter, one man leaves!")
  • the scene of the spectators around the giant caged dome and cheering the gladiatorial action between the battling protagonists bouncing on rubbery elastic bungee-type straps within the bars of the Thunderdome, and the denouement when Blaster's helmet was knocked off - and he was revealed to be a retarded child ("He's got the mind of a child") - and after a long hesitation, Max's decision to disobey Aunty Entity and not kill his opponent, thus facing Aunty's punishment for breaking the deal of "Two men enter, one man leaves": (to the crowd) ("What's this?! Do you think I don't know the law? Wasn't it me who wrote it? And I say that this man has broken the law. Right or wrong, we had a deal. And the law says, 'Bust a deal, face the wheel'")
  • the scene of Max's sentencing, after the spinning of a wheel to determine his penalty and fate, commented upon by Dr. Dealgood: ("All our lives hang by a thread. Now we've got a man waiting for sentence. But ain't it the truth? You take your chances with the law. Justice is only a roll of the dice, a flip of the coin, a turn of the wheel")
  • Max's exile into the desert wasteland of Gulag on the back of a pack animal during a sandstorm, when he was rescued by a tribal group of abandoned children and teenagers led by Savannah Nix (Helen Buday) (who called him "Captain Walker" and expected him to magically fly them "home" back to civilization), living in a lush green paradise; the youths were descendants of the victims of an earlier Boeing 747 airplane that crashed, piloted by Captain Walker
  • Max's return to Bartertown to rescue some of the tribe members, involving a classic, lengthy desert chase sequence between Max and Aunty Entity - ending with her smiling farewell to Max when she spared his life: ("Well, ain't we a pair, Raggedy Man? Ha, ha, ha. So long, soldier")
  • the final flight toward abandoned, burned-out, nuclear-devastated Sydney, Australia -- and Savannah Nix's poignant closing voice-over monologue (her nightly Tell) about the tribe's journey and its salvation by Mad Max: ("This you know. The years travel fast. And time after time I done the Tell. But this ain't one body's Tell. It's the Tell of us all. And you got to listen it and remember. 'Cause what you hears today, you gotta tell the newborn tomorrow. I's lookin' behind us now, into history back. I sees those of us that got the luck and started the haul for home. And I 'members how it led us here and how we was heartful 'cause we seen what there once was. One look, and we knewed we'd got it straight. Those what had gone before had the knowin' and the doin' of things beyond our reckonin' - even beyond our dreamin'. Time counts and keeps countin', and we knows now finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our trek, we gotta travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna lead. Still in all, every night we does the Tell, so that we 'member who we was and where we came from. 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 comin' 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), urged a helmeted police constable 94-B (Laurence Olivier) passing on the street to come up to his room - he spoke excitedly to the constable: ("Come quickly! Come on, come and see...I've got something to show you, something I've done. You must come and see!..I feel I've simply got to show someone")
  • inside his apartment, the inventor instructed the wary constable, who at first grabbed for his nightstick: "Now, watch that white sheet" - and Friese-Greene proudly showed off his first triumphant film screen projection (hand-cranked and making a loud mechanical clicking noise) upon a hanging white cloth sheet (with pictures of Hyde Park taken on a Sunday visit); the constable was amazed but dumbfounded: "That was Hyde Park. I recognized it. Where's it come from? And where's it gone to?"; Friese-Greene pointed at his machine: "It's all here. Here, look!...Like a magic lantern"; he then explained about the development of a strip of celluloid film over many years: ("That's the secret. Dozens of snapshots of Hyde Park, only in one picture, the carriage is here, the next it's here, the next it's here, and so on"); after some more technical details: ("Eight pictures every second, and they all merge together into one moving, living picture"), he was tearfully joyful about his accomplishments: ("And then, all of a sudden, it's there. It's in your hands with a life of its own"); the policeman was congratulatory: ("You must be a very happy man, Mr. Friese-Greene")


The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

In director Orson Welles' period drama, with impressive photography and innovative cinematic techniques:

  • the scenes within the great Amberson mansion, a convincing, turn-of-the-century re-creation: (narrated: "There it is, the Amberson mansion. The pride of the town...Sixty thousands dollars worth of woodwork alone. Hot and cold running water, upstairs and down. And stationary washstands in every last bedroom in the place")
  • the sleigh-riding sequence in winter-time, when George Minafer (Tim Holt) and Lucy Morgan (Anne Baxter) were seen whirling along in a horse-drawn sleigh, passing a stalled vehicle and calling out: "Get a horse!" but then their sleigh carriage tipped over, and dropped them into the snow where they were seen sneaking a kiss with each other
  • the long, leisurely tracking shot of Lucy and George in a horseless carriage riding through town
  • the dining room sequence in which automobile entrepreneur Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten) elegantly and beautifully delivered a very significant speech, philosophizing about the growth of the new invention: the automobile - and admitting the possible consequences of the new industrial revolution: ("With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization. It may be that they won't add to the beauty of the world or the life of men's souls. I'm not sure. But automobiles have come. And almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring. They're going to alter war and they're going to alter peace. And I think men's minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles. And it may be that George is right. It may be that in ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn't be able to defend the gasoline engine but would have to agree with George: that automobiles had no business to be invented")
  • Aunt Fanny's (Agnes Moorehead) and George's revealing conversation on different landings of the circular staircase, with each successive landing of the staircase with stained-glass windows that were labeled "Faith," "Hope," "Charity," "Music," and "Poetry"
  • the rambling and incoherent speech in which old and senile Major Amberson (Richard Bennett) disjointedly mused on the source of life before his life ended: ("It must be in the sun. There wasn't anything here but the sun in the first place...The Earth came out o' the sun, and we came out of the Earth. So whatever we are..")
  • the marvelous scene in which Isabel was deeply affected after reading Eugene's letter asking if she would choose her oedipal son or stand up against him: (in part: "...And so we come to this, dear. Will you live your life your way, or George's way? Dear, it breaks my heart for you, but what you have to oppose now is your own selfless and perfect motherhood. Are you strong enough, Isabel? Can you make a fight? I promise you that if you will take heart for it, you will find so quickly that it's all amounted to nothing. You shall have happiness and only happiness. I'm saying too much for wisdom, I fear. And oh my dear, won't you be strong? Such a little short strength it would need...")
  • the close-up image of George watching Eugene leave the mansion for the last time just before Isabel's death - his determined face was reflected in the window pane from Isabel's familiar vantage point - he replaced her image and imposed his own will
  • the scene of Isabel's (Dolores Costello) death-bed farewell scene, with spider-web shadows falling over her face - and at the moment of her death, the shade was pulled down over the lace curtain and the web patterns became dark over her face
  • the low-key but powerful sequence, with voice-over narration (by Orson Welles), when George finally received his "come-uppance" after his mother died and he sat at her empty bedside: ("George Amberson Minafer walked homeward slowly through what seemed to be the strange streets of a strange city. For the town was growing, changing. It was heaving up in the middle, incredibly. It was spreading incredibly. And as it heaved and spread, it befouled itself, and darkened its sky. This was the last walk home he was ever to take up National Avenue to Amberson Addition, and the big old house at the foot of Amberson Boulevard. Tomorrow, they were to move out. Tomorrow, everything would be gone....Something had happened, a thing which years ago had been the eagerest hope of many, many good citizens of the town. And now it came at last: George Amberson Minafer had got his come-uppance. He'd got it three times filled and running over. But those who had so longed for it were not there to see it. And they never knew it. Those who were still living had forgotten all about it, and all about him")
  • 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 emphasizing the themes of chance and coincidence - 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 where sleazy motivational speaker and self-help guru/shyster Frank T.J. Mackey (Oscar-nominated Tom Cruise) led 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! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no!...You will not control me! No!...You will not take my soul! No!...You will not win this game! 'Cause it is a game, guys. You want to think it's not, huh? You want to think it's not? You go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane. Respect the cock. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who's in charge. I am the one who says Yes!... No!... Now!... Here!... And it's universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal. We...are...men!" - and his advice: "l will not apologize for who l am. l will not apologize for what l need. l will not apologize for what l want!"
  • the scene of Frank's interview with TV reporter Gwenovier (April Grace) with probing questions about his past, and his answers about his family: ("My father was in television. My mother - this is going to sound silly to you...She was a librarian"); when asked: ("How does she feel about 'Seduce and Destroy'? What does she say?"), Frank answered: ("Well, she says, 'You go get 'em, honey'")
  • the cast's (wherever they were located) sing-along of verses to Aimee Mann's heartbreaking ballad "Wise Up" ("...But it's not going to stop / 'Til you wise up")
  • the sequence of Linda's visit to a pharmacy to pick up a strong prescription of medications (Prozac, Dexedrine, and liquid Morphine), and the inquisitive clerk asking: ("Strong, strong stuff here, boy. Wow, what exactly you have wrong, you need all this stuff?"); she became extremely agitated: ("Motherf--ker!...You f--king asshole!...Who the f--k do you think you are? l come in here, you don't know me. You don't know who l am, what my life is, and you have the balls, the indecency, to ask me a question about my life?...l come in here, I give these things to you, you check, you make your phone calls, look suspicious, ask questions! I'm sick! l have sickness all around me, and you f--king ask me my life? What's wrong? Have you seen death in your bed? In your house? Where's your f--king decency? And then I'm asked f--king questions. What's wrong?!")
  • the scene of regret, expressed to nurse Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who was caring for near-death, cancer-stricken TV producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), about Earl's meeting up with Lily in grade 12, and then being unfaithful to her for 23 years, and abandoning his family and young son Frank when she was dying of cancer: ("And we meet. She was f--king like a doll. Yeah. A beautiful porcelain doll. And the hips, child-bearing hips, you know that? So, so beautiful. And I cheated on her, over and over and over again. Because I wanted to be a man. And I didn't want her to be a woman, you know? A smart, free person who was something! My f--king mind then. So stupid, that f--king mind! Stupid! Jesus Christ! What would I think, did I think for what I'd done? She was my wife for twenty-three years and I went behind her over and over. F--king asshole that I am. I'd go out and I'd, I'd f--k and I'd come home and get in her bed, and say 'I love you.' This is Jack's mother. His mother, Lily. These two that I had and I lost. This is the regret that you make. This is the regret that you make and the something you take and the blah, blah, blah, something, something. Gimme a cigarette. Mistakes like this, you don't make. Sometimes, you make some and OK. Not OK, sometimes, you make other ones. Yeah. Know that you should do better. I loved Lily. I cheated on her. She was my wife for twenty-three years. And I have a son. And she has cancer. And I'm not there, and he's forced to take care of her. He's fourteen years old. To, to take care of his mother and watch her die on him. A little kid, and I'm not there. And she does die. l loved her so. And she knew what l did. She knew all the f--king stupid things I'd done. But the love was stronger than anything you can think of. The god-damn regret. The god-damn regret! And I'll die. Now I'll die, and I'll tell ya what, yeah, the biggest regret of my life. l let my love go. What did l do? I'm sixty-five years old. And I'm ashamed. Million years ago. The f--king regret and guilt, these things. Don't ever let anyone ever say to you, you shouldn't regret anything. Don't do that. Don't. You regret what you f--king want. Use that. Use that. Use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, OK? Oh, oh God.")
  • young gold-digging, drug-addicted trophy wife Linda Partridge's (Julianne Moore) guilt-ridden speech to her husband's lawyer Alan Kligman (Michael Murphy), requesting that her sick, wealthy husband/TV producer Earl Partridge's will must be changed because she didn't deserve his money; in the scene, she confessed and admitted that she never loved Earl, and originally married him only for his money, but now really loved him as he was dying: ("l have to tell you something. l have something to tell you. l want to change his will. Can l change his will? l need to....No, you see, uhm, l never loved him. l never loved him - Earl. When l met him when I started, I met him, I f--ked him, and l married him because l wanted his money. You understand? I'm telling you this. I've never told anyone. l didn't love him, but now, you know, l know I'm in that will, I mean, we're all there together. We made that f--king thing, and all the money I'll get. And l-I don't want it, because l love him so much now. I've fallen in love with him now for real as he's dying. And, uhm, l look at him, and he's about to go, Alan. He's moments, he's - l took care of him through this, Alan. What now, then? (slightly later) l don't want him to die. l didn't love him when we met and l-I did so many bad things to him that he doesn't know. Things that l want to confess to him. But now l do. l love him...l don't want any money. l couldn't live with myself with this thing that I've done. I've done so many bad things. I f--ked around. I f--king cheated on him"); Alan suggested that her only avenue was to "renounce the will when the time comes," so the money would go to the "nearest relative" - Frank, causing her to become hysterical, suicidal and extremely agitated: ("No, that can't happen. Earl doesn't want him to have anything")
  • 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
  • the film's last lines, a conversation between Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) and Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Walters) about having their relationship work out, overshadowed by Aimee Mann's song "Save Me" -- ("But can you save me come on and save me if you could save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone"): ("I just wanted to come here, to come here and say something, say something important, something that you said. You said we should say things and do things. Not lie, not keep things back, these sorts of things that tear people up. Well, I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna do what you said, Claudia. I can't let this go. I can't let you go. Now, you, you listen to me now. You're a good person. You're a good and beautiful person, and I won't let you walk out on me. And I won't let you say those things - those things about how stupid you are and this and that. I won't stand for that. You want to be with me, then you be with me. You see?" (she smiled))








Make Mine Music (1946)

In Disney's eighth animated feature - an unofficial, less "artsy" follow-up to Fantasia (1940) - containing two of the classic animated segments (out of ten total original segments)

  • the comic retelling of "Casey at the Bat" from the classic 1888 Ernest Thayer tale of an arrogant ballplayer; it ended with the verses, as Casey was at bat with two strikes against him without ever swinging: ("The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate; he pounds with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow. (song) Somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright; somewhere bands are playing sweetly, and somewhere hearts are light, somewhere men are laughing, somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out")
  • 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 (biopic) on the life of a former burglar, drug-user and pimp who became a controversial Black Nationalist leader - based on Alex Haley's novel The Autobiography of Malcolm X:

  • the titles sequence - with the words of Malcolm X in voice-over: ("Brothers and sisters, I'm here to tell you that I charge the white man. I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth. I charge the white man with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that that man can go and say he created peace and harmony. Everywhere he's gone, he's created havoc. Everywhere he's gone, he's created destruction. So I charge him, I charge him with being the greatest kidnapper on this earth! I charge him with being the greatest murderer on this earth! I charge him with being the greatest robber and enslaver on this earth! I charge the white man with being the greatest swine-eater on this earth, the greatest drunkard on this earth! He can't deny the charges. You can't deny the charges! We're the living proof of those charges! You and I are the proof. You're not an American, you are the victim of America...") - as an American flag burned 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")
  • specifically, Malcolm's angry Harlem speech to residents above the oppressive 'white man': ("...I'm gonna tell you like it really is. Every election year these politicians are sent up here to pacify us! They're sent here and setup here by the White Man! This is what they do! They send drugs in Harlem down here to pacify us! They send alcohol down here to pacify us! They send prostitution down here to pacify us! Why you can't even get drugs in Harlem without the White Man's permission! You can't get prostitution in Harlem without the White Man's permission! You can't get gambling in Harlem without the White Man's permission! Every time you break the seal on that liquor bottle, that's a Government seal that you're breaking! Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok! This is what He does...")
  • Malcolm X's famous line: "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock - Plymouth Rock landed on us!"
  • the hospital march scene of supporters (in solidarity for wounded Brother Johnson (Steve White), crying out: "We want justice") in which Malcolm X spoke to Captain Green (Peter Boyle) after being told to disband the mob: ("Fruit of lslam are disciplined men. They haven't broken any laws, yet"); when news came from the doctor that Johnson would live, Malcolm X called off the march by quietly signaling to the marchers; the Captain noted: "That's too much power for one man to have"
  • 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, when he was shot-gunned to death while standing at the podium and then two others pumped bullets into his prone body - with his devastated wife Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) holding her dead husband in her arms
  • the use of documentary footage of Martin Luther King Jr. commenting on Malcolm's death ("The assassination of Malcolm X was an unfortunate tragedy and it reveals that there are still numerous people in our nation who have degenerated to the point of expressing dissent through murder and we haven't learned to disagree without being violently disagreeable");
  • Ossie Davis's voice-over eulogy for Malcolm X, presented with a montage of photos of Malcolm's life: ("Here, at this final hour, in this quiet place, Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes. Extinguished now, and gone from us forever. It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community, has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us - unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro-American. Afro-American Malcolm. Malcolm had stopped being Negro years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American, and he wanted so desperately that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans, too....")
  • the final sequence of African-American schoolchildren throughout the world standing and declaring individually: "I am Malcolm X", followed by a view of Nelson Mandela standing in a South African classroom and speaking to the students: ("As Brother Malcolm said: 'We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be given the rights of a human being, to be respected as a human being in this society on this earth in this day which we intend to bring into existence'"); the last words were spoken by Malcolm himself: ("'--by any means necessary!'")









The Maltese Falcon (1941)

In director John Huston's classic noir/detective debut film based on Dashiell Hammett's novel, about the elusive search for a one foot-tall, jewel-encrusted 'black bird' statuette in the shape of a falcon:

  • 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 when she begged helplessly: ("You've got to trust me, Mr. Spade. Oh, I'm so alone and afraid. I've got nobody to help me if you won't help me. Be generous, Mr. Spade. You're brave. You're strong. You can spare me some of that courage and strength surely. Help me, Mr. Spade. I need help so badly. I've no right to ask you, I know I haven't, but I do ask you. Help me"); he could see through her fake sincerity: ("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 scene of Joel Cairo (with a gardenia-perfumed business card) meeting with Spade in his office, and telling about his search for the statuette and an offer of $5,000 for its recovery: ("I'm trying to recover, an ornament that, ah, shall we say has been mislaid...I thought and hoped you could assist me. The ornament, ah, is a statuette, the black figure of a bird"); when Cairo drew a gun, Spade quickly disarmed him and knocked him out - and when Cairo regained consciousness, he whined: "Look what you did to my shirt!", and soon drew his gun a second time on Spade: ("Will you please clasp your hands together at the back of your neck? I intend to search your offices")
  • Spade's rough treatment of Cairo when meeting with him and Brigid, and his harsh words toward the petty criminal: ("When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it!")
  • the menacing scene in the hotel room of a seated Gutman speaking to Spade over drinks, emphasizing the importance of straight-talking: ("I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously unless you keep in practice. Now, sir, we'll talk if you like. I'll tell you right out - I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk"), explaining the history of the bird (shot from floor angle, showing off his huge girth), and later speaking about his obsessive quest over 17 years for the bird: ("I'm a man not easily discouraged when I want something")
  • 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 was discovered to be fake - not gold but only made of lead: ("Fake! It's a phony! It-it's lead! It's lead! It's a fake!")
  • Cairo telling off Gutman, blaming him for their failures, and calling him names: ("You, it's you who bungled it, you and your stupid attempt to buy it. Kemidov found out how valuable it was. No wonder we had such an easy time stealing it. You, you imbecile! You bloated idiot! You stupid fathead!")
  • Brigid's final scene with Spade in which he forced her to confess to the murder of his partner Miles Archer: ("This isn't the time for that school girl act. We're both of us sitting under the gallows. Now, why did you shoot Miles?"); she confessed and then tried to throw herself at him, but he coldly rejected her: ("Well, if you get a good break, you'll be out of Tehachapi in 20 years and you can come back to me then. I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck...Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you"); he then reasserted his resolve: (Spade: "You're taking the fall." Brigid: "You've been playing with me. Just pretending you care to trap me like this. You didn't care at all. You don't love me!" Spade: "I won't play the sap for you!"); and then Spade reiterated his code of ethics: ("When a man's partner's killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him, he was your partner, and you're supposed to do something about it. And it happens we're in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it's - it's bad business to let the killer get away with it. Bad all around. Bad for every detective everywhere")
  • the famous ending 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, UK)

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 of England - when More refused on principle to sign the Act of Succession and would not take the Oath of Supremacy that would grant permission to the King to divorce his first barren wife Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry mistress Anne Boleyn (Vanessa Redgrave), in order 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 trumped-up, fallacy-filled court trial that included the treachery of courtier Richard Rich (John Hurt) to destroy More, when he perjured himself; More denied the accusations of Rich: ("In good faith, Rich, I am sorrier for your perjury than my peril"), and then asserted: ("You know if I were a man who heeded not the taking of an oath, I need not be here. Now, I will take an oath. If what Master Rich has said is true, I pray I may never see God in the face. Which I would not say were it otherwise, for anything on earth!"); then he stated that Rich's testimony doomed him: ("I am a dead man. You have your will of me")
  • in the short following sequence, More noticed a golden pendant around Rich's neck: ("a chain of office...The Red Dragon") - obviously a bribery reward - Rich had recently been appointed as the Attorney General for Wales; More noted to Rich: ("Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales"); without a jury or deliberations, More was quickly pronounced "guilty of high treason"
  • during his last words, More defended his actions and chastised his former friend and King, for committing an illegal action - he cited the Biblical basis for the authority of the Papacy over Christendom, and stated that the Church was immune to the state's interference - guaranteed in both the Magna Carta and in the King's own Coronation Oath: ("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 indictment is grounded in an act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the law of God and His Holy Church. The supreme government of which no temperable person may by any law presume to take upon him. This was granted by the mouth of our Saviour, Christ Himself, to St. Peter and the bishops of Rome whilst He lived and was personally present here on earth. It is therefore insufficient in law to charge any Christian to obey it. And more than this, the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and in the King's own Coronation Oath"); he then went on, vowing his allegiance to the King, but still disapproving of the marriage: ("I am the King's true subject and I pray for him and all the realm. I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive then in good faith, I long not to live. Nevertheless, it is not for the supremacy that you have sought my blood, but because I would not bend to the marriage!")
  • the concluding scene of More's execution at the Tower of London and his brief poignant words: ("I am commanded by the King to be brief and since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first"); then he spoke directly to his executioner after giving him a coin for his duty: ("I forgive you, right readily. Be not afraid of your office. You send me to God")
  • the epilogue voice-over of the narrator (voice of Colin Blakely): ("Thomas More's head was stuck on Traitors' Gate for a month. Then his daughter, Margaret, removed it and kept it 'til her death. Cromwell was beheaded for high treason five years after More. The Archbishop was burned at the stake. The Duke of Norfolk should have been executed for high treason, but the King died of syphilis the night before. Richard Rich became Chancellor of England and died in his bed")





Man Hunt (1941)

In director Fritz Lang's WWII political thriller:

  • the film's opening - the tense 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 chest with a telescopic viewer, and pulling the trigger - although it clicked empty - the gun was unloaded (he later claimed "it was a sporting stalk")
  • after realizing the gun was unloaded, he gave a salute-wave to the Fuhrer, paused for a moment, and then thought about committing the assassination for real; Thorndike loaded a cartridge into the rifle, but he was jumped by a German sentry as he pulled the trigger a second time, and the shot went wild
  • Thorndike's capture, when he was brought before the brutal Gestapo, led by white-uniformed, monocle-wearing chief Major Quive-Smith (George Sanders) for torture and execution, but ultimately survived being thrown off a cliff, and escaped from Europe to England during a massive pursuit and man-hunt by the Nazis
  • the sequence of a tense chase in the subway tunnel of underground London
  • in the film's denouement set during WWII, Thorndike had joined the British RAF, and was parachuting into Germany's Third Reich - his objective was to again assassinate Hitler, as the narrator patriotically described (in voice-over) in the film's last lines, to the tune of "My Country 'Tis of Thee": ("And from now on, somewhere within Germany, is a man with a precision rifle and the high degree of intelligence and training that is required to use it. It may be days, months or even years, but this time he clearly knows his purpose and, unflinching, faces his destiny")




Man of the West (1958)

In Anthony Mann's last western:

  • the notorious scene of drunken and violent outlaw Coaley Tobin (Jack Lord) beginning to threaten Crosscut Saloon singer Billie Ellis (Julie London) by forcing her to strip down to her underwear; he forced ex-outlaw Texan hero Link Jones (Gary Cooper) - his own cousin - to watch by sitting him on a chair: ("Come on in, Link, you're just in time...Your gal's gonna undress for us. We saved a front row seat for ya! Ha, ha, ha! It's gonna be a big show"); Coaley instructed the humiliated Billie to undress, and to force her to begin the striptease, he wielded a knife: ("You see this? (He held up his knife) Now start takin' off your clothes. What's the matter with your girl, Link? Make her do it...It's gonna be right now....Start takin' off your clothes....(He held a knife at Link's throat) You're not talkin' us out of this. Now undress. Start with the shoes. Wanna see me cut him? Huh? Ha-ha! (She removed her shoes) The stockings. (She removed her black stockings) Get up. That shirt thing, now, peel it off. (She unbuttoned her red top) I don't have to tell you what's next, do I? (She unfastened her red dress) Come on. Come on! (She removed her white blouse) How are ya enjoying this cousin? Huh? Huh?...Get that petticoat off!")
  • and later, Link's vengeful retaliation against Coaley by goading him into a brutal and epic fistfight (without Coaley's gunbelts or knife), and then forcing him to strip off his clothes!



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 "Tommy" 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 - his bored, crippling and addicted habit of watching a dozen televisions at once (and his screams of "Get out of my mind, all of you! Stay where you belong! Go away! Go back where you came from")
  • 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 and lonely New Mexico hotel cleaning lady/girlfriend Mary-Lou (Candy Clark) who uncontrollably peed down her leg at the horrific sight of him
  • the frequent and often unusual playful encounters between Tommy and Mary-Lou, including the scene in which he drunkenly threatened Mary-Lou with a pistol: ("I think you know, you know too much about me... I can do anything, now, you know? I can kill you right here on this bed. Then I could phone room service. And they'd - they'd take your body away, and then I'd have them send up another girl"); she begged for her life: ("Oh, Tommy. Tommy. I just want it to be like it was. Me, the two of us. You. You. The way you were"); however, it was only a blank-firing fake gun
  • in an exploratory and explicit sex scene involving the mock pistol, Tommy dipped the gun's barrel into a glass of wine, licked it and drank from the glass, and then had a frenzied and loveless encounter with Mary-Lou
  • the final image of a completely drained, eternally-trapped, broken, depressed and alone alcoholic Thomas in a cafe chair (with his head bowed, and his hat facing the camera), with the film's final lines: ("I think maybe Mr. Newton has had enough, don't you?" "I think maybe he has")







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 early scene in a bazaar marketplace in Marrakech, French Morocco (in Northern Africa), when American tourists: surgeon Dr. Benjamin "Ben" McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife Josephine "Jo" (Doris Day) from Indianapolis, Indiana, saw a robed, dark-skinned man (Daniel Gelin), obviously with face paint, being chased by police, and then stumbling into the square and falling to the ground, with a knife sticking out of his back; he reached out to speak to Dr. McKenna: ("Monsieur McKenna. I'm Louis Bernard")
  • the whispered secret told to Dr. McKenna (with a closeup of his ear) by the disguised Arab, actually Frenchman Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin) whom the McKennas had met earlier: ("A man, a statesman, he is to be killed, assassinated, in London. Soon, very soon. Tell them in London. Ambrose Chappell"); mystified by the murder, Dr. McKenna told his wife: ("Why should he pick me out to tell?") - it was later revealed by the police that Louis was a French Intelligence agent working there in Morocco, part of the Deuxime Bureau, better known as the "American FBI": ("The dead man found out what he had been sent here to discover. That's why he was killed. He told you what he had discovered...Because he placed complete confidence in you")
  • the ominous phone call received by Dr. McKenna in the police headquarters, revealing that son Henry or "Hank" (Christopher Olsen) had been kidnapped for blackmailing purposes: ("If you tell even one word of what Louis Bernard whispered to you in the marketplace, your little boy will be in serious danger. Remember, say nothing")
  • the revelation by Dr. McKenna to Jo, that he had figured out why they had been approached by Bernard before his death - they had been mis-identified as a couple that Bernard was suspiciously tracking: ("He started to talk to us, and the reason he started to talk to us was 'cause he was on the lookout for a suspicious married couple.. a different married couple....He found them, all right. It was in the restaurant where we had dinner last night. And that's one of the reasons he was killed") -- the McKennas had met a friendly English couple at the local restaurant in Marrakech: the real criminals -- the Draytons: Lucy (Brenda De Banzie) and Edward (Bernard Miles) (Note: they were associated with a church back in London known as Ambrose Chapel!)
  • the wordless 12-minute climactic sequence in London's Royal Albert Hall in which the McKennas attempted to stop an assassination plot (the murder of foreign Prime Minister (Alexis Bobrinskoy) to take place at the end of the performance during a dramatic clash of cymbals)
  • the final climactic moment when the gun barrel was visible pointing out from behind a red box curtain in the balcony, and the gunman's shot was accentuated by Jo's terrified scream, causing the gunman to miss his mark and only wound the targeted statesman in the arm, and the assassin's death when he tumbled from the balcony






100's of the GREATEST SCENES AND MOMENTS
(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
M4
| 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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