Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



M (continued)

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

In Woody Allen's comedy:

  • the clever but overused Greek Chorus (led by F. Murray Abraham) that observes and makes comments on the plot
  • the Oscar-winning performance of Mira Sorvino as dumb, high-pitched-voiced, crude, horny, classless and blonde long-legged prostitute/porn actress Linda Ash/Judy Cum
  • neurotic sportswriter and adoptive father Lenny Weinrib's (Woody Allen) first encounter with Linda at her apartment door ("Hi, are you my 3 o'clock?"), with her thinking that he was a "high-strung" male "john" - a married client who was overdue for fellatio
  • her gleeful observation about her erotic antique watch, a gift that she recently received: "As the main spring goes back and forth, the bishop keeps f--king her in the ass. It's a genuine antique and it keeps perfect time"
  • her incredulous reaction that he doesn't want to sleep with her, after making numerous comments or attempts about reforming, saving, or changing Linda from her hooker sex-trade to something more domestic
  • in their third meeting together, the revelation that she is the mother of his adopted son Max (due to a broken condom)
  • the bittersweet twist ending (with the Chorus urging: "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles with You)") when they both meet about a year later in a toy store - Linda was now married, with a regular job as a hairdress, and she was pushing a baby in a stroller (fathered by Lenny, although she hadn't told him!) - each ended up with the other's child, without each other's knowledge

Mildred Pierce (1945)

In director Michael Cortiz' classic melodramatic post-war film-noir:

  • the opening beach house murder scene - in which two-timing playboy Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott), Mildred's second husband, is shot to death - by an unidentified assailant
  • the following scene of Mildred Pierce (Oscar-winning Joan Crawford) walking on a pier where she is saved from suicide by a patrolling cop
  • the many flashback scenes from the local police station where Mildred is brought for questioning, and where she took the blame for Monte's murder
  • Mildred's scenes as a doting, long-suffering, sacrificial mother figure for her ungrateful and spoiled-rotten daughter Veda (Ann Blyth)
  • Veda's slapping of her mother on the stairs and Mildred's threat: "Get out before I kill you"
  • the establishment of Mildred's restaurant
  • wise-cracking Ida's (Eve Arden) words of warning about Veda: "...alligators have the right idea - they eat their young"
  • the final revelation (told through lengthy flashbacks) that promiscuous Veda killed Monte, after he told her: "Look. You don't really think I could be in love with a rotten little tramp like you, do you?"
  • the final scene of Veda being booked for murder and led away, as Mildred is released to the outside dawn and greeted by her estranged husband Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett)

Miller's Crossing (1990)

In the Coen Brothers' twisty and complex crime drama (their third feature) that paid homage to hard-boiled 40s gangster films:

  • initially weaponless Prohibition-era Irish gangster Leo's (Albert Finney) single-handed killing of five Tommy Gun-wielding assassins while a 78 rpm grammophone record plays 'Danny Boy'
  • the faked execution scene when Prohibition mobster Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) takes a double-crossing Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) into the woods at Miller's Crossing to shoot him, but then frees him after Bernie pleads on his knees: "I can't die out here in the woods like a dumb animal!...I'm praying to you! Look in your heart!"
  • and later, another execution with no second chances ("What heart?")

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

In the poignant Best Picture-winning film from actor/director Clint Eastwood:

  • the characters of headstrong, willful, Ozark white trash, uneducated waitress-turned-boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Oscar-winning Hilary Swank), and her crusty, overprotective boxing manager/mentor and former cut-man Frankie Dunn (Oscar-nominated Clint Eastwood, and winner of the Best Director award) - estranged from his biological daughter, and sympathetic ex-boxer and gym janitor Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris (Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman)
  • Maggie's speech to Frankie explaining her love of boxing ("This is the only thing I ever felt good doing") to finally convince him to take her on though he isn't impressed by female boxers ("Girlie, tough ain't enough")
  • the realistic boxing matches
  • the inspiring match against the British champion, in which Maggie wears a green boxing robe emblazoned with the Gaelic phrase "Mo chuisle" ("Pulse of my heart")
  • the scene in which Maggie's self-centered trailer park mother Earline (Margo Martindale) rejects her gift of a house
  • the crowd-pleasing scene in which Eddie teaches a crass, abusive, hot-shot young boxer Shawrelle Berry (Anthony Mackie) a lesson
  • the dirty tactics used by world champion Billie the Blue Bear (real-life boxer Lucia Rijker) that leave Maggie a quadriplegic
  • Maggie's insistence on dying (at one point trying to commit suicide by biting off her own tongue)
  • the controversial, emotionally-draining ending with Frankie's final, pained acquiescence to her wishes - killing her by removing her breathing tube and by injecting her with an overdose of adrenaline
  • the silhouetted shot of his walking away forever from boxing

Minority Report (2002)

In director Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller based on a short story by Philip K. Dick:

  • the film's spectacular opening sequence including a violent murder
  • the scene of 2054 DC Pre-Crime cop John Anderton (Tom Cruise) manipulating a computer interface in mid-air like a symphony conductor
  • the idea that advertisements flashing on walls are specially-tailored to each person due to casual, public retinal scanning and tracking
  • the concept of pre-crime law enforcement using psychic 'precogs' who lie in flotation tanks and forecast/envision future crimes
  • the very fragile Pre-Cog Agatha (Samantha Morton) who helps Anderton during their flight with advantageous hints, and a secret "minority report"
  • the action sequence in which Anderton leaps from car to car as they plunge vertically to escape pursuit
  • the suspenseful sequence in which mechanical bot-spiders perform retinal scans in a tenement building to determine identities from eyeballs and find out whether fugitive Anderton is there - as he hides in a tub of ice water
  • the conclusion in which corrupt Pre-Crime boss Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) was revealed to be the murderer of Agatha's mother Anne Lively (Jessica Harper) by drowning - when discovered, he committed suicide

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)

In director/writer Preston Sturges' fast-moving, farcical screwball comedy - one of the funniest films ever made:

  • the film's subversive fun of motherhood and "our boys overseas" - at one time, one of the more controversial films ever made
  • Trudy Kockenlocker's (Betty Hutton) shocking discovery of her pregnancy (she eventually gave birth to sextuplets), and her marriage to a departing soldier (whose name she couldn't remember) after a wild, drunken farewell party
  • 4-F rated local bank clerk Norval Jones' (Eddie Bracken) involvement in Trudy's problems by stepping in as the soldier-father of the unborn child, leading to a comedy of errors

The Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

In director George Seaton's Christmas classic:

  • the marvelous and charming Macy's Christmas Santa 'Kris Kringle' (Edmund Gwenn)
  • young Susan Walker's (Natalie Wood) delightful skepticism about Santa's existence when meeting him
  • Kringle's kind-hearted speaking to a non-English-speaking immigrant Dutch girl/orphan (Ida McGuire) in her own native language (and performing a duet of a traditional Dutch carole together while Susan watches from the side)
  • Susan's letter to Kris Kringle to cheer him up while in court (with her mother Doris' (Maureen O'Hara) added postscript: "I believe in you, too")
  • the heartwarming courtroom scene when lawyer Fred Gailey (John Payne) asks questions of the District Attorney's young son Tommy (Bobby Hyatt) on the witness stand: "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" and "Why are you so sure there's a Santa Claus?" - and wins the case to prove that Santa Claus exists
  • the display of evidence - bags and stacks of mail brought into court to prove Kris was Santa Claus

The Miracle Worker (1962)

In Arthur Penn's biographical drama:

  • the famous scene of the physical and mental battle of wills between teacher Annie (Oscar-winning Anne Bancroft) and pupil Helen Keller (Oscar-winning Patty Duke) in the learning of manners
  • the climactic moment of triumph in the water-pump scene when Helen learns to use sign language to say "water" and Annie screams out: "She knows!"

The Mirror (1975, Soviet Union)

In Andrei Tarkovsky's transcendent, auto-biographical, collage-like, unconventional drama, presented as a series of flashback-poems as the narrator (a dying poet) lies on his deathbed:

  • the many visually-beautiful, unforgettable long takes and images in the film, including the mysterious opening sequence when a teenage boy was being cured of his stammer by a physician-hypnotist, a dream sequence of Maria (Margarita Terekhova) washing her hair in a basin (and in slow-motion whips her hair around), and another dream of Maria levitating several feet above her bed, and the most indelible (from the year 1935) -- the family barn on fire and slowly burning to the ground as everyone watches


Misery (1990)

In director Rob Reiner's film from a Stephen King adaptation:

  • rescuer/nurse Annie Wilkes' (Oscar-winning Kathy Bates) strange idolization ("I'm your number one fan") of car accident victim and romance author-writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who has penned a series of books about a lovelorn 19th century character named Misery Chastain
  • Wilkes' nursing him back to health in her place in Colorado until she maddeningly learns that he has killed off the heroine character - and her deranged, frightening decision to 'fix' things
  • in the famed 'hobbling scene' - to prevent him from running away, she cripples Sheldon by breaking his ankles - after she lifts the sledgehammer and says: "Trust me, it's for the best," she blasts his left foot so that it visibly bends, and then his right foot
  • after completing the horrible deed, she adoringly says: "God, I love you"
  • the haunting ending in a restaurant where Paul continues to have visions of a now-dead Annie still stalking him

The Misfits (1961)

In director John Huston's modern western drama - the last film of both Gable and Monroe:

  • the image of Reno divorcee Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe) in her polka-dotted white dress
  • the overpowering action sequence of aging rodeo hand Gay Langland's (Clark Gable) one-on-one confrontation with the leader of the wild herd of horses
  • girlfriend Roslyn's hysterical reaction to the cowboys' roundup of "misfit" mustangs for dogfood
  • the film's memorable closing lines as they ride back in a truck: (Roslyn: "How do you find your way back in the dark?" Langland: (pointing to the nighttime sky) "Just head for that big star, straight on. The highway's under it. It'll take us right home")

Mister Roberts (1955)

In John Ford's/Mervyn LeRoy's comedy-drama:

  • the portrayal of Lt. Doug 'Mister' Roberts (Henry Fonda) as a well-liked officer who reluctantly serves on the WWII naval cargo ship 'bucket' named USS Reluctant while pining for real war action
  • the scene of his confrontation with tyrannical and pompous Captain Morton (James Cagney) when blackmailed to refrain from writing letters of transfer off the ship in order to allow the crew 'liberty' leave
  • the character of cowardly and lazy Ensign Frank T. Pulver (Oscar-winning Jack Lemmon) and the mixing of scotch (from water, Coke, iodine, etc.) for his R&R aboard ship with visiting nurses
  • Pulver's cock-eyed scheme to blow up the Captain with a homemade firecracker that instead blows up the laundry and causes an overflow of soapy suds throughout the ship
  • the scene of Mister Roberts saluting the Captain's revered palm tree before heaving it off the ship - and the revelation when the crew hears over the PA system about the Captain's strong-armed tactics and dastardly bargain with Roberts - and the crew's renewed respect for their officer for his sacrificing of his own ambitions
  • the concluding letter-reading scene when it is learned that Roberts died in action during a kamikaze raid - and Pulver's reaction - tossing the replacement palm tree off the ship and finally standing up to the Captain ("Now what's all this crud about no movie tonight?")

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

In director Frank Capra's famous Capra-corn film:

  • the scene of Mr. Longfellow Deeds' (Gary Cooper) departure for New York from Mandrake Falls, VT
  • his meeting with the opera board
  • reporter Babe Bennett's (Jean Arthur) masquerade as "Mary" in a rainstorm and their visit to Grant's Tomb
  • their "Swanee River" duet
  • his marriage proposal with a sentimental poem
  • the climactic lunacy hearing when Deeds is accused of being "pixilated" and then successfully defends his philanthropy with a speech about helping the 'underdog'

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

In Frank Capra's classic political-drama with a message:

  • the scene in the Lincoln Memorial in which a disillusioned and betrayed Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is encouraged by Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur) to go against the odds and tell the truth
  • the classic, climactic scene of the idealist Senator Smith's exhausting filibuster (almost 24 hours) in the US Senate against the graft of distinguished Senator Joseph Paine (Claude Rains), causing him to collapse but also forcing Paine to finally admit his dishonesty
  • the conclusion - when the Senate floor and gallery erupt with joy

Moby Dick (1956)

In director John Huston's stirring adventure film:

  • the departure of the Pequod
  • the peg-legged Captain Ahab's (Gregory Peck) obsession with the great white whale that caused him to lose his leg
  • the first glimpse of the monster
  • the thrilling sequence of Ahab's final encounter with the great white whale as he becomes entangled in the harpoon ropes wrapping around the mortally-wounded creature

Modern Times (1936)

In actor/director Charlie Chaplin's last 'silent' film:

  • the opening metaphoric image of sheep (workers) entering a factory
  • the scene of the 'Big Brother' factory owner spying on workers including the Tramp (Charlie Chaplin)
  • the out-of-control automated feeding machine promoted by a recorded voice, a masterful sequence of visual comedy involving a corn-cob feeder and a gentle face-wiper mechanism, and the engineer's final words: "We'll start with the soup again"
  • the opening factory assembly-line scene with the Tramp armed with nut-tightening wrenches in both hands and unable to keep up with the fast-moving line
  • the Tramp's consumption by the big wheels of machinery
  • his unwitting leading of a protest march
  • his singing of a gibberish/nonsense song in a restaurant/nightclub as a singing waiter
  • his dive into an empty lake
  • his rollerskating scene in a department store
  • the final unforgettable image of the Tramp arm in arm with the homeless Gamin (Paulette Goddard) silhouetted together and walking into the sunrise (not the sunset!)

(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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