Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



M (continued)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

In John Ford's nostalgic and memorable last Western with John Wayne:

  • the opening scene in which elderly and revered US Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) arrives in the small western town of Shinbone, Arizona with his wife Hallie Stoddard (Vera Miles), and tells newspaperman Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young), in the film's lengthy flashback, about how he became a legend and was known as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"
  • Stoddard's explanation of his relationship with tough and rugged homesteader and gunslinger Tom Doniphon (John Wayne in a quintessential role) - who had protected Ransom (famously referred to as "Pilgrim") from continual taunting when he was a young, idealistic pacifistic attorney at law from the East Coast newly arrived in the small frontier town
  • the memorable performance of Lee Marvin as drunken, abusive, violent, silver-knobbed whip-wielding villain Liberty Valance and his conflict with Ransom - especially their memorable confrontation scene when Valance deliberately trips saloon cafe dishwasher/waiter employee Ransom while serving a steak dinner to Doniphon - who then threatens Valance: "That was my steak, Valance!"
  • the scene in which Doniphon teaches Ransom to shoot - when three paint cans splatter Ransom with paint - and Ransom's growling response and slugging of Doniphon in the jaw that sends him to the ground: "I don't like tricks, myself!"
  • the climactic and miraculous shootout on the street in which wounded Ransom left-handedly shoots Valance dead
  • Doniphon's private confrontation with Ransom when he informs him that he never shot Liberty - with an ensuing 'flashback-within-a-flashback' ("You didn't kill Liberty Valance...Think back, Pilgrim") revealing how he was hidden on a side street and had shot Liberty to sacrificially protect the love of his life Hallie from heartbreak (knowing Stoddard would die in a face-off), and also for the greater good of the territory poised for statehood
  • local newspaper editor Scott's famous line of dialogue at film's end when he refuses to publish the truth of the story after Ransom finishes his legendary tale: (Ransom: "You're not going to print the story, Mr. Scott?" Scott: "No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend")
  • the complex (and melancholic) reactions of Ransom and Hallie when the conductor on their train back to Washington DC after their visit tells them: "Nothing's too good for the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

The Man Who Would Be King (1975, UK)

In John Huston's revered and rollicking adventure film based upon the short story by Rudyard Kipling (depicted in the film by Christopher Plummer):

  • the realistic site locations used for remote Kafiristan (in Afghanistan)
  • the camaraderie of Sean Connery (as Daniel Dravot) and Michael Caine (as Peachy Carnehan) - two British adventurers seeking wealth
  • the battle scene in which Daniel pulls an arrow from his chest to give the impression that he is immortal
  • the ritualistic wedding scene revealing Dravot's humanity and mortality (a bloody bite on the cheek from his bride-to-be Roxanne (Shakira Caine) "The slut bit me") - causing an angry reaction from the natives and Peachy's assessment: "The jig's up"
  • Daniel's spectacular death scene on a rope bridge high above a canyon gorge
  • the final image of Daniel's severed head, still wearing the crown - presented by Carnehan to the Narrator

The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)

In director Otto Preminger's code-defying, ground-breaking, powerful drama about heroin addiction - the first major Hollywood film about the subject:

  • the opening Saul Bass title credits sequence with jagged lines
  • the Academy Award-nominated role of Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) (known for having "arms of pure gold") as both a jazz drummer and a professional poker dealer (with a knack for lucrative card-dealing) - he was also a rehabilitated prison-hospital ex-con returning to his slummy and squalid Chicago neighborhood
  • the assortment of characters surrounding Frankie's demise into using drugs again: oily and smarmy, dandified drug dealer Louie (Darren McGavin), Frankie's small-time hoodlum Schwiefka (Robert Strauss) and illicit card-game manager, and Frankie's mentally-challenged comic sidekick Sparrow (Arnold Stang)
  • the over-the-top performance of Eleanor Parker as lying and deceiving Sophia "Zosch" Machine, Frankie's dependent, neurotic and nagging wife - supposedly crippled and wheelchair bound after a car accident (when DUI Frankie was at the wheel)
  • the scene of the marathon, all-weekend poker game, culminating with strung-out Frankie pressured to resort to cheating
  • the close-ups of Frankie's eyes - revealing whether he was high or not
  • the devastating breakdown during a Monday audition when Frankie tried out to be a jazz drummer in a band
  • the sensational and painful sequence of Frankie going "cold turkey" ("Here we go, down and dirty") after strip-club/bar hostess mistress/friend Molly (Kim Novak) (with a heart of gold) sarcastically challenged him ("Why should you hurt like other people hurt? Yes, so you had a dog's life with never a break. Why try to face it like most people do? No, just roll up all your pains into one big hurt, and then flatten it with a fix"); she promised to keep him locked in her apartment (after bundling up all sharp objects), to help him beat his habit (by keeping him from quivering, writhing, and feeling cold with blankets and the warmth of her own body)
  • the final twists - (1) the revelation that Zosch was actually able to walk and only pretending to be an invalid, (2) the death of Louie when Zosch pushed him to his death down the stairwell (he had just discovered that she was a fraud, and she feared that he would ruin her life by divulging the truth), and (3) Zosch's incrimination of Frankie for the crime, but then Zosch's suicide by throwing herself off the balcony onto the brick street below after she had again shown she was stringing everyone along

The Man With Two Brains (1983)

In director Carl Reiner's comedy:

  • the classic scene of a drunk-driving test that brain surgeon Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) must pass in front of a Viennese Austrian policeman - he was asked to stretch out his arms and touch his nose, walk a straight line and then return doing a two-handed and one-handed handstand, perform cartwheels and backflips, and then juggle and tap dance while singing a German song
  • Hfuhruhrr's horrible poetry ("O pointy birds, o pointy pointy, anoint my head, anointy-nointy...")
  • Hfuhruhurr's love affair with pickled disembodied brain # 21 (inside a jar in a Vienna laboratory) named Anne Uumellmahaye (voice of Sissy Spacek) - on which he placed a pair of wax rubber lips to kiss

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

In John Frankenheimer's classic political thriller:

  • the famous brainwashing/dream sequence in which Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) and Lt. Marco (Frank Sinatra) and their platoon are present at a ladies' garden club auxiliary meeting in a small hotel - the camera begins a slow, 360 degree, all-encompassing tracking shot around the meeting to reveal that they are part of a brain-washing demonstration within Manchuria
  • the phrase used by all of the Korean war veterans (by brainwashing) for describing their commander: "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life"
  • the scene of the televised press conference during which Raymond's mother (Angela Lansbury) watches her husband's diminutive image on a TV monitor as he provokes his rival
  • a brainwashed Shaw's shooting of young soldier-comrade Bobby Lembeck (Tom Lowell) and blood from his brains splattering over a poster of Stalin - all within Corporal Melvin's nightmare
  • the intriguing scene in the space between railcars when Marco meets and speaks to the mysterious and attractive Rosie Chaney (Janet Leigh)
  • the image of a large American flag suddenly having caviar scooped from its star pattern during a patriotic costume ball
  • the transition from the use of a bottle of ketchup at dinner to testimony that there are 57 card-carrying Communists in the State Department
  • Marco's reaction when he sees Chunjim (Henry Silva) at his buddy's apartment door
  • the brilliantly-photographed assassination sequence of Raymond's killing of his father-in-law Senator Jordan (John McGiver) (he bleeds milk instead of blood) and his own new wife Jocie (Leslie Parrish)
  • the scene in which Marco attempts to de-program Shaw by fanning an entire deck of 52 Queens of Diamonds in front of his face
  • the monstrous Mrs. Shaw's seductive, incestuous warm kiss on her son's lips
  • the final climactic sequence during the political convention in Madison Square Garden of Marco desperately sprinting to the top of the arena to prevent an assassination in the making
  • the dissolve from the gunshot to thunder at film's end

Manhattan (1979)

In co-writer/director Woody Allen's classic comedy:

  • Gordon Willis' exquisite soft-focus B/W cinematography, shot in 35 mm Panavision, with one of the greatest cinematic opening montages ever
  • with Gershwin's music ("Rhapsody in Blue") accompanying the beautiful black-and-white photography of New York City by day and then night (including fireworks) starting with the skyline, then buildings and streets; television author/joke writer Isaac Davis' (Woody Allen) voice-over monologue/narration of various versions of "Chapter One" of his planned novel he aspires to write ("New York was his town, and it always would be...")
  • neurotic Mary Wilke's (Diane Keaton) famous line: "I'm beautiful, I'm bright and I deserve better!"
  • the scene of Isaac and Mary taking an after-hours stroll and sitting on a park bench (silhouetted) against the sight of the Brooklyn Bridge to the sounds of the Gershwin tune: "Someone to Watch Over Me"
  • Isaac's famous line of dialogue: "I think there's something wrong with me because I've never had a relationship with a woman that's lasted longer than the one Hitler had with Eva Braun"
  • the heartbreaking malt shop breakup scene between Isaac and his radiant seventeen year-old girlfriend Tracy (Oscar-nominated Mariel Hemingway)
  • Isaac's "why is life worth living" dictation into his tape recorder (he mentions jazz, sports, and entertainment heroes such as Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, Louis Armstrong, and concludes with the smile on Tracy's face)
  • his breathless run through NY streets to stop his (now) eighteen year-old drama student/girlfriend Tracy's departure for London to study at the Academy and their romantically poignant and touching final scene when the young lover consoles Isaac with the bittersweet line: ("Six months isn't so long. Everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people")
  • the concluding shot of Isaac's face with a wry, resigned smiling expression (a farewell version of The Tramp's (Charlie Chaplin) expression in City Lights (1931)) followed by a reprise of the opening montage featuring the skyline from dawn to dusk to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"

Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)

In Woody Allen's comedy - his ode to The Thin Man (1934) and Rear Window (1954):

  • the reuniting of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton as middle-aged Larry and Carol Lipton - a married New York couple whose lives are energized by the 'mystery' death of their neighbor Mr. House's (Jerry Adler) wife Lillian
  • Carol's obsessive 'Nancy Drew'-like suspicions of murder by the non-mourning husband (to Larry's exasperation)
  • the many funny, acerbic one-liners by Larry: ("I've reevaluated our lives! I got a 10, you got a 6!", "There's nothing wrong with you that a little Prozac and a polo mallet can't cure!", "Jesus, save a little craziness for menopause!")
  • the funny moment when an elevator stalls and the Liptons find a corpse ("Claustrophobia AND a dead body - this is a neurotic's jackpot!")
  • the character of sultry writer Marcia Fox (Anjelica Huston) who helps Larry, Carol and single playwright friend Ted (Alan Alda) devise a trap to ensnare Mr. House
  • the clever recreation of the climax of The Lady From Shanghai (1948) in the back of an old revival theatre (the characters reenact the mirror scene as it plays behind them on the screen)
  • the final exchange: (Larry: "...I mean, take away his fake tan, his capped teeth and his Cuban heels and what have you got?" Carol: "You!")

Manhunter (1986)

In Michael Mann's original version of Red Dragon - the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991):

  • the skin-crawlingly creepy prologue in which a hand-held videocamera "stalks" a family and then cuts to titles shortly after one of the victims awakens in her bedroom
  • retired FBI forensic expert Will Graham's (William L. Petersen - later starring in CSI onTV) vivid description of a macabre crime scene
  • his tense interview with the first incarnation of "insane" Dr. Hannibal "Lecktor" (Brian Cox) in a stark, antiseptic, harshly-lit white cell (Graham was reminded: "Do you know how you caught me? The reason you caught me, Will, is we're just alike. Do you understand? Smell yourself")
  • the 'eureka moment' profiler Graham had about the serial killer's modus operandi as he climbed a tree outside the Jacobi house ("When night came, you saw them pass by their bright windows. You watched the shades go down, and you saw the lights go out one by one. And after a while, you climbed down and you went into them, didn't you? (shouts) DIDN'T YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU WATCHED THEM ALL GODDAMN DAY LONG!! That's why houses with big yards")
  • the scene of tall, near-albino serial killer Francis "Tooth Fairy" Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) capturing pushy tabloid reporter Freddy Lounds (Stephen Lang) and setting him ablaze down a parking lot ramp in a spectacular murder scene
  • the sexually charged scene in which Dollarhyde takes a blind, fiercely independent lab technician co-worker Reba McClane (Joan Allen) to feel an anesthetized tiger
  • Graham's scene with his son Kevin (David Seaman) while grocery shopping when he has to answer questions about his job and what he does (including how he had been inducted into a mental institution due to his association with Lektor)
  • the climactic scene in which Graham explosively bursts through a glass doorway to save Reba from the Tooth Fairy, as Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida throbs rhythmically

Marathon Man (1976)

In John Schlesinger's paranoid thriller:

  • the scene of aging, ex-Nazi Szell's (Laurence Olivier) recognition by an old woman in a Jewish section of town
  • death camp dentist Szell's two sessions of sadistic, grim torture of a tied-up doctoral student Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) in a window-less room using probing dental instruments as he repeatedly and calmly asks the baffling question: "Is it safe?"
  • Babe's marathon escape across Manhattan
  • Szell's flight through NYC's garment district

March of the Penguins (2005, Fr.) (aka Le Marche de l'Empereur)

In the highest grossing nature documentary ever made (up to its time), Luc Jacquet's Oscar-winner for Best Documentary Feature:

  • the fight for survival by Emperor penguins, as they travel to the center of the harshest place on Earth - Antarctica
  • awe-inspiring visuals of the icy continent itself
  • the miles-long penguin march and their awkward, waddling-walking when not flopping on their bellies to slide forward on the hardened snow
  • the clumsy, perilous ballet of handing off eggs (later chicks) between parents
  • the graceful underwater swimming by the penguins
  • the final, crowd-pleasing moment when the adolescent penguin chicks dive into the water -- as US narrator Morgan Freeman puts it: "Going home for the first time"

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

In director Rouben Mamoulian's adventure-swashbuckler (a remake of UA's silent version with Douglas Fairbanks):

  • the beautiful Linda Darnell as mayor's niece Lolita Quintero - Zorro's love interest
  • the thrilling, magnificent dueling scene between Zorro/Diego de Vega (Tyrone Power) and cruel villain Capt. Esteban Pasquale (Basil Rathbone), one of the best in cinematic history

The Marrying Kind (1952)

In George Cukor's bittersweet marriage comedy/drama:

  • two middle-class New Yorkers -- Florence (Judy Holliday) and Chet Keefer (Aldo Ray in his film debut) and their marriage difficulties
  • the initial, revelatory and reflective flashbacks of the ups and downs of their relationship while in divorce court (in various "he said/she said" scenes)
  • the tragic family picnic scene in which Joey (Christopher Olsen), their six-year-old son accidentally drowns in a park pond while an oblivious Florence is singing "How I Love the Kisses of Dolores" on a ukelele to her husband

Marty (1955)

In director Delbert Mann's Best Picture-winning heartwarming romance drama:

  • overweight butcher Marty's (Ernest Borgnine) recurring conversation with friend Angie (Joe Mantell): Angie: "What do you feel like doing tonight?" Marty: "I don't know, Ange. What do you feel like doing?"
  • the realistic depiction of the relationship between Marty and wallflower Clara (Betsy Blair)
  • Marty's statement to like-minded Clara: "Dogs like us, we ain't such dogs as we think we are"
  • Clara's apology for rejecting his kiss

Mary Poppins (1964)

In Disney's fantasy adaptation of the beloved P. L. Travers children's books with an Oscar for Best Original Score:

  • the film's amazing blending of live action with animated cartoon characters - and audio animatronics (the robin) - winning a Special Effects Academy Award
  • the title sequence in which Mary Poppins (Oscar-winner Julie Andrews in her film debut) sits on a cloud over London with her talking parrot-headed umbrella and then drops down to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to be the new Banks family nanny about 20 minutes into the film
  • the character of Mary's love interest - the carefree Cockney sidewalk artist/chimney-sweep Bert (Dick Van Dyke)
  • the jump into a chalk painting that takes Mary, Dick and the Banks children to a cartoon world where they sing the catchy classic tune "Super-califragilistic-expialidocious"
  • the poignant singing of "Feed the Birds" (pigeons) by Mary - with Jane Darwell (in her final screen appearance) as the old bird woman at St. Paul's Cathedral
  • the manic, fireworks-filled rooftop dance "Step In Time" by Bert and his fellow chimney-sweeps
  • the scene in which stodgy father Mr. George W. Banks (David Tomlinson) tells off his bank founder boss - the ancient Mr. Dawes, Sr. (also Van Dyke): "Go fly a kite!"
  • the other memorable songs including "Chim-Chim-Cher-ee" (which won the Best Song Oscar), "A Spoonful of Sugar" and the triumphant finale: "Let's Go Fly a Kite"

The Mask (1994)

In Charles Russell's live-action comedy (with CGI-effects) reminiscent of Tex Avery's best cartoons:

  • Jim Carrey's tour-de-force of animated zany-ness, in a dual role as the mild-mannered and nerdy bank teller Stanley Ipkiss, and - after donning a magical mask - his metamorphosis into a zoot-suited (in bright yellow), green-faced, flamboyant and manic super-hero tornado and lady-killer
  • the scene of Stanley's first jaw-dropping sighting of bank customer Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz in her screen debut)
  • and then her second entrance as a sexy blonde night-club singer at the Coco Bongo Club that causes him to drool over her (with his eyes popping, mouth/jaw dropping and tongue hanging out) and leads to his frenzied, drum-accented dance ("Let's rock this joint") with her to Cab Calloway's "Hi De Ho"
  • Stanley's scene-stealing dog Milo (Max, a Jack Russell terrier)
  • with lots of quotable lines, such as: "OOO, somebody stop me" and "SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS-MOKIN!"
  • the image of Stanley with gigantic guns pulled out - a la Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: "You gotta ask yourself one question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya? Punks!"

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

In Martin Campbell's action-filled film:

  • the one moment that captured all the advertising and viewer's attention, when Mexican thief Alejandro Murrieta / Zorro's apprentice or successor (Antonio Banderas) used his sword to duel against and undress nobleman Don Diego de la Vega's/Zorro's (Anthony Hopkins) beautiful grown-up daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
  • his stealing of a kiss from her as a reward

The Master (2012)

In Paul Thomas Anderson's well-crafted, visually-compelling, intelligent, R-rated psychological drama, that spawned considerable controversy for its similarities to the leader of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard:

  • the gripping scene of an informal technique called "processing" proposed by the "Master": Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the opportunistic, charismatic cult leader of "The Cause," to be used on sex-obsessed, rogue drifter Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) - a series of lengthy, free-association sessions (that required one not to blink) to help relive past traumatic events and eliminate toxicity, negative emotional impulses, and inner turmoil; the series of disturbing psychological questions seemed to conquer Freddie's past traumas and exorcise his demons in a frightening way
  • the startling scene of Freddie's twisted, zany, hallucinated sexual dream-fantasy - of Dodd singing and dancing among many naked (full-frontal) female disciples at the Philadelphia home of one of the Master's devotees
  • the concluding scene between Dodd and Freddie, when Dodd offered an ultimatum and farewell - to leave "The Cause" and never return: ("Free winds and no tyranny for you? Freddie, sailor of the seas. You pay no rent. Free to go where you please. Then go. Go to that landless latitude, and good luck. For if you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest us know, will you? For you'd be the first person in the history of the world...If you leave here, I don't ever want to see you again. Or you can stay... If we meet again in the next life, you will be my sworn enemy, and I will show you no mercy"); before Freddie left, Dodd serenaded him with the 1948 popular song: Slow Boat to China.


(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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