Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



M (continued)

The Matrix (1999)

In Andy and Larry Wachowski's first remarkable film in a series of three futuristic sci-fi action films:

  • the zoom-shot into dripping Japanese-like characters in the film's opening
  • the gripping sequences of combat that defy gravity with mid-air, limbo-style freeze-frames of the dodging of bullet shots between rebellious, cyber-messiah, obsessed computer software hacker Thomas 'Neo' Anderson (Keanu Reeves) ("My Neo") and the indomitable Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving)

A Matter of Life and Death (or Stairway to Heaven) (1946, UK)

In Powell and Pressburger's romantic fantasy:

  • the opening sequence of a radio distress call by squadron leader Peter D. Carter (David Niven) delivered within a burning British RAF bomber plane -- as he falls in love with American WAC radio operator June (Kim Hunter) before leaping without a parachute
  • his waking up - still alive - and meeting June on an English beach
  • the panoramic view of the trial in the enormous heavenly courtroom
  • the startling POV shot through a huge eyelid when Carter is on the operating table
  • the marvelous stairway into the heavens (filmed in B/W) lined with statues of famous people
  • and the final scene of a tearful June taking Carter's place on the staircase to the Other World to die for him, culminating with the lovers' embrace when the stairs stop with a jolt and Carter's appeal is approved ("Nothing is stronger than the law in the universe, but on Earth, nothing is stronger than love")

Maytime (1937)

In director Robert Z. Leonard's romantic operetta - the third of MGM's popular and profitable Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy films:

  • the idyllic May Day country fair sequence
  • the operatic scene as the voices of tragic lovers Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy) and Marcia (Jeanette MacDonald) rise to a passionate crescendo as her husband looks on
  • Paul's death scene
  • the magnificent and sentimental closing scene of the two unrequited lovers with the reprise of "Will You Remember?" ("Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Though our paths may sever, To life's last faint ember, we will remember Springtime, love time, May") amid images of the spirits of Paul and Marcia in eternity on a path showered with flower blossoms

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

In Robert Altman's haunting revisionist Western:

  • the scene in which brothel madam Constance Miller (Oscar-nominated Julie Christie) tells small-time, cocky drifter/gambler John McCabe (Warren Beatty) how to run a whorehouse in the Pacific Northwest mining town - after voraciously eating her meal
  • the long death stalking sequence amidst a blowing snowstorm and a fire-fighting brigade battling a church blaze in town
  • the image of mortally wounded McCabe tragically dying in the swirling, deep snow after being shot by hired bounty hunters
  • the final close-up of the eye of opium-addicted Constance smoking from a pipe in an opium den

Mean Streets (1973)

In Martin Scorsese's episodic breakthrough crime drama about low-life gangsters:

  • the opening voice-over (of director Scorsese) with a black screen accompanied by the view of a startled-awake small-time mob collector Charlie Cappa (Harvey Keitel) who feels conflicted Catholic guilt: "You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bulls--t and you know it"
  • the playing of home movies under the credits
  • the sub-titled introduction of the film's characters (Johnny Boy blowing up a mailbox) and Scorsese's ground-breaking use of pop tunes in the narrative, such as the Ronettes' "Be My Baby"
  • the memorable image of Charlie holding his hand in the flame of a votive candle before an altar (and also with matches and other burning objects) as he offers penance and tests himself against the fires of hell - and the many reddish-hued scenes in bars
  • the details of life in New York's Little Italy
  • a point-of-view sequence of a drunken Charlie staggering through a bar (to the tune of the Stones' "Back to Me") and joining strippers on stage, including beautiful black stripper Diane (Jeannie Bell)
  • Charlie's secret love relationship with epileptic cousin Teresa Ronchelli (Amy Robinson)
  • the brilliantly realistic dialogue - especially during the collection argument about the late payment of debts of a pool hall owner and the line: "You can't call me a mook"
  • the following extended classic pool hall/bar brawl scene (with a hand-held camera following the action around the perimeter to the tune of "Please Mr. Postman")
  • the scene of volatile John "Johnny Boy" Civello (Robert De Niro) raging at life by shooting with a .38 at the lights of the Empire State Building from a rooftop - and also later raising his fists against heaven before having a climactic fist-fight with Charlie - while Teresa experiences an epileptic fit
  • the final retributive shooting in moving cars

Medium Cool (1969)

In Haskell Wexler's debut film:

  • the realistic, documentary footage of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention protests and riots (demonstrators battling police) blended together with a fictional story - signaled by a crew member's shout: "This is real, Haskell"

Meet John Doe (1941)

In Frank Capra's populist melodramatic tale about the common man:

  • the scene of plain-speaking "Long John" Willoughby or "John Doe's" (Gary Cooper) radio speech in which he speaks of his faith in the essential goodness of the common man and promotes brotherly love with one's neighbor: ("Wake up, John Doe, you're the hope of the world")
  • the scene of his public humiliation at a rainy political convention by right-wing tycoon and high-pressured financier-publisher D. B. Norton's (Edward Arnold) dictatorial, anti-democratic intentions
  • the scene of John Doe's threat to jump off City Hall on a snowy Christmas Eve when reporter Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) hysterically sobs and urgently begs him not to kill himself - and admits her love for him ("I won't let you, I love you, darling")
  • the upbeat conclusion in which John Doe walks away from the ledge toward his supporters carrying an unconscious Ann in his arms, after the John Doe club members have renewed their faith in him ("There you are, Norton! The people! Try and lick that!") and John has decided to not commit suicide - with the finale accompanied by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

In Vincente Minnelli's gorgeous musical:

  • Esther Smith's (Judy Garland) singing of "The Boy Next Door" as she falls for the literal neighbor boy John Truett (Tom Drake)
  • Esther with a night-gowned 'Tootie' Smith (Margaret O'Brien) performing a spontaneous, delightful little song "Under the Bamboo Tree" and cakewalk complete with straw hats and canes in a home-style minstrel shuffle
  • the "Trolley Song" scene
  • Tootie's Halloween scene
  • Esther's heartbreaking singing of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" at a wintry window
  • the destruction of the snowman scene
  • the final concluding scene at the turn-of-the-century St. Louis World's Fair itself with Esther hand-in-hand with her boyfriend ("I can't believe it, right here where we live! Right here in St. Louis!")

Melvin and Howard (1980)

In Jonathan Demme's quirky comedy of a possibly true story about the American dream:

  • the opening title-credits sequence of an endless highway lane viewed in a moving car's headlights
  • the memorable scene of Nevada milkman Melvin Dummar (Paul LeMat) singing a duet of "Bye Bye Blackbird" and also singing "Santa's Souped Up Sleigh" with his injured, bearded companion-passenger - a dying eccentric millionaire/hobo Howard Hughes (Jason Robards) while driving in his pickup to Las Vegas
  • the scene of Melvin's ditzy go-go stripper/dancer wife Lynda (Oscar-winning Mary Steenburgen) stripping off her costume and storming out of a Reno club naked
  • the scene of her tap-dancing to the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" on the "Easy Street" game show

Memento (2000)

In writer/director Christopher Nolan's unique who-dun-it thriller:

  • the very originally-told tale of this film, beginning with a murder and the taking of a Polaroid of the bloody body (in retrospect, the protagonist has just killed undercover cop Teddy Gammell (Joe Pantoliano) - believing that he is the perpetrator of a hideous crime) that works backwards in reverse sequence - and also forward in time (in scenes alternating between color and b/w)
  • the protagonist - ex-insurance investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) who attempts to discover who raped and killed his wife while he suffers from short-term memory loss - and his clever methods to remember things -- writing notes, taking Polaroid pictures, and tattooing messages on his body
  • Leonard's final voice-over while driving: "I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different -- Now, where was I?"

Metropolis (1927, Germ.)

In Fritz Lang's science-fiction classic:

  • the inspired, expressionistic scenes of a futuristic (year 2026), mechanized city with soaring skyscrapers and landscape (using miniature models)
  • the contrast between the leisure class above ground and the underground workers and their slums
  • the beautiful young Maria's (Brigitte Helm) appearance with the worker children
  • the shuffling march of the workers
  • the robot-transformation sequence and the stunning feminine, look-alike robot that appears in Maria's image to incite unrest in the masses and to cause lust in men
  • the sequence of the great flood

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

In John Schlesinger's X-rated (originally) Best Picture-winning drama:

  • the soundtrack with Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'" the friendship that develops between con artist Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) and displaced Texas dishwasher/stud Joe Buck (Jon Voight)
  • the "Hey, I'm walkin' here!" scene as the crippled Ratso crosses a busy New York City street and bangs on a taxi-cab hood that almost hits him
  • their visit to the tombstone and gravesite of Ratso's illiterate father who couldn't sign his name
  • Ratso's fantasy dream - during Joe's propositioning of a woman - in which he is in Florida in good health and enjoying the good life there without a limp (sunning, sprinting with Joe on the beach, having his shoes shined on a terrace above a luxury hotel's swimming pool, being pampered, gambling with rich dowager women, being admired by women from balconies, and sampling a gourmet spread) - until the deal falls apart (and so does the dream)
  • the scene of Joe wiping off the sweaty head of ailing friend Ratso in a stairway before attending an underground film-making party in Greenwich Village
  • their poignant Florida-bound bus trip when Ratso expires in Joe's arms in the back of the bus

Midnight Express (1978)

In Alan Parker's harrowing drama with a pulsating score by Giorgio Moroder:

  • the riveting opening scene in which a twitchy Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) tapes blocks of two kilos of hashish to his body and nervously tries to board an airliner at a Turkish airport in 1970 - accentuated by his loudly-beating heart
  • the scene of his interrogation when he is stripped at gunpoint and thrown in a brutally-hellish prison
  • Billy's five years of imprisonment before escape when he was subjected to brutal beatings, rapes, and torture by sadistic guards - including Hamidou (Paul Smith)
  • the scene in which Billy asks his girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) to show him her breasts by pressing them against the glass so he can kiss them and pleasure himself
  • the second trial scene when Billy shrieks at the judge: "I hate you, I hate your nation, and I hate your people. And I f--k your sons and daughters because they're pigs! You're all pigs!"
  • the shocking scene in which Billy vengefully bites off the tongue of Rifki (Paolo Bonacelli) with his teeth and spits it out

Midnight Lace (1960)

In director David Miller's Hitchcock-style mystery thriller - (the trailer warned: "Please, don't reveal to your friends the shocking surprise ending!"):

  • the opening, pre-credits sequence in which vulnerable but carefree American heiress Kit Preston (Doris Day), newly married to wealthy London businessman Tony Preston (Rex Harrison), strolls through pea-soup thick fog in a London (Mayfair) park square and is accosted/stalked by a mysterious, eerie, high-pitched, sing-song voice
  • the threat upon her life: "Mrs. Preston, I'm over here! Don't be afraid, Mrs. Preston. I'm close to you -- close enough to reach out . . . and put my hands around your neck, Mrs. Preston! You'll know when the time comes, Mrs. Preston, just before I kill you"
  • the series of anonymous, threatening mysterious phone calls
  • the climax in which Kit flees for her life on a scaffolding outside her apartment building

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

In this romantic/fantasy comedy adapted from Shakespeare's play of the same name, co-directed by William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt:

  • the beautiful, shimmering fairy sequences in the forest
  • the Pyramus and Thisbe play-within-a-play scene

(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

Previous Page Next Page