Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
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Network (1976)

In Sidney Lumet's satire on TV and the media (based on Oscar-winning Paddy Chayefsky's script):

  • the character of smart, driven programming executive Diana Christensen's (Oscar-winning Faye Dunaway) rant to her various program directors: ("I want angry shows. I don't want conventional programming on this network. I want counter-culture. I want anti-establishment")
  • the Messianic, raging figure of maniacal veteran TV anchorman Howard Beale (posthumous Oscar-winning Peter Finch) as an "angry prophet" and his rousing, rallying battle cry challenge to listeners; his on-air rant directive was to defiantly yell out from New York City windows: ("I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!")
  • Diana Christensen's unrestrained turn-on by media ratings during the Beale controversy and during a sexual affair with veteran network news boss Max Schumacher (William Holden)
  • Schumacher's put-down of Diana when he left her: ("...everything that you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality")
  • the scene of Beale's chastisement by the powerful conglomerate head Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty): ("You have meddled with the primal forces of nature")
  • Howard Beale's speech about how "democracy is a dying giant"
  • the superb and moving monologue in which Max's wife Louise Schumacher (Oscar-winning Beatrice Straight) berated her husband for unfaithfulness
  • the film's climactic ending when Howard Beale was murdered by two assassins in his audience during the start of his TV show - because of "lousy ratings"




Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)

In another of W.C. Field's unusual comedies - directed by Edward F. Cline:

  • the Great Man's (W. C. Fields) two very funny restaurant ordering scenes in the Cozy Corner Cafe - a greasy-spoon restaurant with a tough, obnoxious, fat waitress named Tiny (Jody Gilbert); he asked: "Is there any goulash on this menu?"; she wiped a spot off the menu and replied: "It's roast beef gravy"; then, he asked about the steak: "Is that steak New York cut?"; she crossed if off the menu because it was unavailable. Pouring him a glass of ice water, she became distracted and he ended up with the overflow on his lap. He joked: "No extra charge for the cold shower, I hope"; struggling to order something, he asked: "Do you think it's too hot for pork chops?" That also was crossed off the menu, along with a number of other items. He wondered: "That, uh, practically, uh, eliminates everything but ham and eggs...No ham." He was forced to order two four-minute eggs in a cup, white bread, and milk, causing him to mutter: " I don't know why I ever come in here - the flies get the best of everything."
  • during his second visit to the restaurant with the fleshy waitress, he told her: "I didn't squawk about the steak, dear. I merely said I didn't see that old horse that used to be tethered outside here" - and then insultingly commented on her big behind: "There's something awfully big about you too"; when he paid his tab, she advised: "And another thing, don't be so free with your hands" - to which he replied: "Listen honey. I was only trying to guess your weight. You take things too seriously"
  • the scene of his diving to retrieve his precious bottle of booze which he had accidentally knocked over the side while gesturing; he made a drunken free-fall dive from out of the airplane, now flying over Mexico; catching up with the bottle as he fell thousands of feet to the ground, he landed on a giant mattress in a strange mountain cliff-top country (Ruritania), bouncing about a dozen times until he came to rest, and then asked himself: "Why didn't I think of that parachute? What a bump!"
  • the scene of the Great Man falling in a large basket off the cliff of the mountain top retreat of wealthy matron Mrs. Hemogloben (Margaret Dumont) and her lovely daughter Ouliotta Delight Hemogloben (Susan Miller), to avoid marriage, and his remark as he looked down: "Don't start worrying until we get down to one-thousand, nine-hundred, and ninety-nine. It's the last foot that's dangerous"
  • the final ten minutes - the Great Man's mad drive through downtown LA to take an oversized woman (he presumed she was pregnant) to the maternity hospital (borrowed for Abbott and Costello's In Society (1944)), with a police escort from cops on motorcycles, sirens blaring; after many near-misses and collisions, his car's roof was tangled up with the hook and ladder of a fire-engine, and his car was hoisted high into the air and then dumped back onto the highway; he narrowly missed pedestrians and other cars in the frantic ride to the hospital; his wrecked and disintegrating car finally came to a halt next to the "Maternity Hospital Quiet!" sign, where he was left holding only the steering wheel in his hands. Hospital orderlies rushed out with a stretcher and wheeled the unconscious passenger into the delivery room - she recovered consciousness just in time to berate the hospital staff. The Great Man staggered at the crash site, musing: "Lucky I didn't have an accident...I would have never gotten here"






The New World (2005)

In writer/director Terrence Malick's visually-stunning poetic historical epic:

  • the first meeting in 1607 with the so-called "naturals" by expedition leader Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer) and his men - who timidly approached the strange visitors "like a herd of curious deer"
  • the scene in which the favored daughter of Powhatan (August Schellenberg) - lovely and graceful "princess" Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) - saved Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) from death out of curiosity and empathy
  • the sublime sequence of them falling in love - as he taught her English words ("Water," "Sun," "Eyes," "Lips," etc.)
  • the extensive use of narrated internal monologues
  • the winter scene in which the "princess" brought food to the starving Jamestown fort inhabitants
  • the scene of Pocahontas playing hide-and-seek with her child in a manicured English garden
  • the reunion scene in the English garden with her first love: regretful Captain John Smith, asking: "Did you find your Indies, John? (pause) You shall" - and his response: "I may have sailed past them. I thought it was a dream - what we knew in the forest. It's the only truth. It seems as if I was speaking to you for the first time" - followed by her expression of fully devoted love (and kiss) to her loyal farmer-husband John Rolfe (Christian Bale) (whom she called: "My husband")
  • a score enhanced by Mozart's concerto and a recurring prelude from Wagner's Das Rheingold





Niagara (1953)

In this Techni-colored noir directed by Henry Hathaway:

  • a sensual, adulterous Rose Loomis (Marilyn Monroe) lounging naked in her bed sheets in the Rainbow Lodge cabins next to the Falls
  • her memorable hip-bouncing walking scenes, first briefly in a light blue dress, and then overtly flaunting herself at an outdoor party in a bright red dress
  • her singing along with the tune "Kiss" (the illicit lovers' theme song) just before her crazed husband George (Joseph Cotten) destroyed the phonograph record with his bare hands
  • another scene of Rose's backside in a tight black dress and red top, walking away from the camera
  • Rose's husband's stalking of his scheming wife up a clock-bell tower before murdering her
  • the exciting finale in which pretty honeymooner Polly Cutler (Jean Peters, who later married Howard Hughes) and George were adrift in a boat and heading toward the precipice -- before her rescue by helicopter from a rock outcropping and his demise down the falls



Night After Night (1932)

In director Archie Mayo's comedy/drama:

  • Maudie Triplett's (Mae West, in her first talking film) bawdy, wise-cracking entrance scene
  • her famous dialogue: ("Goodness, what lovely diamonds" Maudie: "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie")
  • the creation of havoc for speakeasy owner Joe Anton's (George Raft) private dinner party

Night and Fog (1955, Fr.) (aka Nuit et Brouillard)

In director Alain Resnais' documentary-style short film:

  • the gruesome, graphic, sobering images of the corpses of Holocaust victims

A Night at the Opera (1935)

In this superb Marx Brothers classic directed by Sam Wood:

  • regarded by some as the funniest sequence ever filmed -- the famous "stateroom" scene (preceded by the 'food-ordering' scene) in which a small cruise ship room was crowded with all four Marx Brothers, chambermaids, an engineer, a manicurist, the engineer's assistant, a passenger looking for her Aunt Minnie, and staff stewards - and opera matron Mrs. Claypool's (Margaret Dumont) opening of the door that spilled all the occupants out onto the floor
  • the preceding egg-ordering scene
  • the classic 'contract-tearing' parody scene of contract negotiations between shady shyster manager Otis P. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) and Fiorello (Chico Marx): "The party of the first part...", ending with Fiorello's concluding that "You can't fool me - There ain't no Sanity Clause"
  • the scene at City Hall in which the stowaways posed as bearded air heroes and Fiorello's speech when he described the aviators' difficult trip to America
  • the hilarious, rearranged furniture and bed-switching sequence in Driftwood's apartment to elude and confuse private Detective Henderson
  • Driftwood's complaint/suggestion: "You're willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why, you can get a phonograph record of Minnie the Moocher for 75 cents. And for a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie"
  • and the operatic opening night finale (a lavish production number) of Il Trovatore with madcap havoc: wild backdrops, backstage and onstage chaos, Harpo swinging Tarzan ape-like on stage fly-ropes in tune to Verdi's music, and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"





Night Moves (1975)

In Arthur Penn's moody, post-Watergate noir detective film with the enigmatic title 'Night Moves' - or more significantly 'Knight Moves' symbolizing the protagonist's chessboard of life in which he was 'blind' to the events of his case:

  • the character of ex-football player and LA private eye Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman)
  • Harry's famous quote when asked to attend a Rohmer film: "I saw a Rohmer film once; it was kind of like watching paint dry"
  • the missing persons case in which Harry tracked promiscuous runaway 16 year-old daughter Delly Grastner (Melanie Griffith in an early role) in the Florida Keys - the step-daughter of wasted ex-actress and sexually-liberated studio boss divorcee Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward)
  • the night-time nude dive sequence from a glass-bottom boat when Delly discovered a crashed plane with the remains of a stunt pilot named Marv Ellman (Anthony Costello) - later revealed to have been killed by suspicious mechanic Quentin (James Woods)
  • its conclusion involving Delly's orchestrated death in LA during a failed film location stunt with Joey Ziegler (Edward Binns)
  • the revelation of smuggling of pre-Colombian art by Delly's ex-stepfather Tom Iverson (John Crawford)
  • the shocking ending of the deaths of four individuals (Iverson's murder of Quentin, Iverson's fight to the death with Harry, Ziegler's drowning in a seaplane that crashed, with Iverson's mistress Paula (Jennifer Warren) being hit by the plane's propeller after emerging on the surface from scuba diving)
  • dying Harry's stranded boat (named "Point of View") circling about the ocean wreckage



Night Nurse (1931)

In this notorious Warner Bros. pre-Code melodrama from director William Wellman, its emphasis on the themes of drug usage and alcoholism, neglectful mothering and child abuse, medical establishment malpractice and corruption, and violence against women:

  • the salacious and sexually adventurous activities of the two trainee "night" nurses/roommates: Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) and sassy blonde friend B. Maloney (Joan Blondell), and the film's use of every imaginable excuse to have the two actress-stars frequently and liberally undressing down to their silky, lacy underwear: (1) in a hospital scene, Lora (in her bra and slip when trying on her nursing uniform) was spied upon by a horny male intern who told her: "Oh, don't be embarrassed, you can't show me a thing. I just came from the delivery room"; and (2) the two stripped when sneaking into their dorm room late at night, (3) and then undressed a third time when working
  • the film's story: the discovery by a courageous Lora that there was a dastardly plot (a slow-poison scheme) to kill two abused and deliberately-starved children Desney and Nanny (Betty Jane Graham and Marcia Mae Jones), who had an unfit, widowed, alcoholic mother Mrs. Ritchey (Charlotte Merriam), in order to acquire their trust fund inheritance; the evil plan had been orchestrated by the mean and evil family chauffeur Nick (Clark Gable); Lora confronted him: "You want those kids to die...because you want what their father left 'em. That's why you keep the mother all hopped up and full of booze all the time. One of these days, you'll take her out and marry her and grab the children's trust fund. That's what you're after, but you're not going to get away with it!"
  • by the conclusion, the plot was foiled when kindly Dr. Arthur Bell (Charles Winninger) provided Nanny with a blood transfusion, and Lora's "My Pal" Mortie (Ben Lyon), a befriended bootlegger, sent Nick to the morgue in the final scene (My Pal: "I happened to mention I didn't like Nick so good" - so he was "taken for a ride"); in the film's unusual ending, Lora happily accompanied criminal "My Pal" in his convertible



The Night of the Hunter (1955)

In actor/director Charles Laughton's only directed film - a remarkable debut film noir, a truly compelling, haunting, and frightening classic masterpiece thriller-fantasy:

  • the opening, voice-over delivered by plain, Bible-fearing farm woman Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish), dressed in a plain dress with shoulder shawl, who magically materialized over the star-filled night background; she spoke to her five disembodied foster children around her and suspended in the heavens, and told them a Bible story about false prophets ("ravening wolves") in sheep's clothing, while a chorus sang behind her: "Dream, Little One, Dream": "Now, you remember children how I told you last Sunday about the good Lord going up into the mountain and talking to the people. And how he said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.' And how he said that King Solomon in all his glory was not as beautiful as the lilies of the field. And I know you won't forget, 'Judge not lest you be judged,' because I explained that to you. And then the good Lord went on to say, 'Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly, they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.'...A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them"
  • the next image of terrifying Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) - a sinister, crazed, malevolent, black-cloaked, wide-brimmed and hatted 'Preacher' - a serial killer driving in his stolen Model T Essex, and his chilling, perversely evil and memorable monologue to the Lord: "Well now, what's it to be Lord? Another widow? How many has it been? Six? Twelve? I disremember. (He tipped his hat) You say the word, Lord, I'm on my way...You always send me money to go forth and preach your Word. The widow with a little wad of bills hid away in a sugar bowl. Lord, I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if you really understand. Not that You mind the killin's. Yore Book is full of killin's. But there are things you do hate Lord: perfume-smellin' things, lacy things, things with curly hair"
  • the first sight of some of his tattoos: LOVE and HATE on the fingers of his right and left hands, seen as Rev. Powell attended a strip show - his left hand, tattooed with the letters "H-A-T-E" on his four fingers, clenched and then reached in his coat pocket to grab his concealed switchblade knife; as his libido was aroused, the flick-knife spontaneously opened - a sexual phallic symbol - violently and orgasmically ready to strike
  • the ominous scene, shot with a slanted camera angle, as a train approached the depressed rural town of Cresap's Landing - carrying Powell who had been released from prison and was in malevolent pursuit of a $10,000 cache of money, believed to be in the possession of the Harper family: widowed wife Willa Harper (Shelley Winters), and her two children: young 9 year-old John Harper (Billy Chapin), and young Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce)
  • the frightening moment of Powell's shadow filling the window of the children's bedroom - it was the preacher dressed all in black standing by the streetlight in front of their house; he strolled away, seductively singing a modified version of his signature tune (and the film's ironic refrain), the hymn - "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms": "Leaning, leaning..."
  • the sequence of Powell's favorite hand-wrestling sermon told to young John - a monologue that provided commentary on the eternal battle between the forces of good and evil that grappled together: "Ah, little lad, you're starin' at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of Right Hand-Left Hand - the story of good and evil? (He rose and flexed the fingers of his left hand) H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. (He raised his right hand) L-O-V-E. You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends! The hand of love! Now watch and I'll show you the story of life"; he pretended that his hands were battling each other in a schizophrenic wrestling match - the struggle between good and evil, love and hate - his warring inner demons: "These fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warrin' and a-tuggin', one agin the other. Now, watch 'em. Ol' brother Left Hand. Left hand, he's a-fightin'. And it looks like LOVE's a goner. But wait a minute, wait a minute! Hot dog! LOVE's a winnin'? Yes, siree. It's LOVE that won, and ol' Left Hand HATE is down for the count!"
  • the tortuous wedding night scene between the Preacher and Willa Harper, who was dressed in a nightgown as she stood barefoot in front of a bathroom mirror before joining her virile husband in bed - she was vulnerable and ready to consummate her love, but he lectured her about not having any more children: "Look at yourself! What do ya see, girl? You see the body of a woman, the temple of creation and motherhood. You see the flesh of Eve that man since Adam has profaned. That body was meant for begettin' children. It was not meant for the lust of men. Do you want more children, Willa?...It's the business of this marriage to mind those two you have now, not to beget more"
  • the scene of the preacher violently coaxing Pearl to disclose where her father hid the money: "Where's the money hid? You tell me, you little wretch, or I'll tear your arm off!"
  • Willa's frightening knifing murder scene in a A-frame bedroom - she was resigned to her death with her arms crossed over her chest; Powell delivered a benediction, and then raised his switchblade knife high above her (in his right hand - the one marked with LOVE) to carry out the ritualistic murder - on the altar-bed
  • the creepy, nightmarish, hypnotically-eerie discovery of Willa's corpse sitting underwater in a Model T with her long blonde hair tangling, swaying, and mingling diaphanously in the current with the river's underwater reeds
  • the pursuit sequence in the basement fruit cellar as the homicidal Powell (Frankenstein-like), who had just learned that the money was hidden in Pearl's doll, chased the two children up the stairs with arms outstretched
  • the children's escape and flight to their father's skiff, where Powell waded out and lunged toward them, but slipped waist-deep in the mudhole as the skiff slid into the current just out of his reach - and the lyrical, fairy-tale-like nighttime sequence of their floating down the river amidst God's benevolent creatures on the shoreline (a croaking frog, rabbits, an owl, tortoise, sheep, and a spider's web)
  • the distant silhouette of the preacher on horseback (a stolen horse) against the night-time sky as the children slept in a barn's hayloft
  • the preacher's first acquaintance with his strong-willed opponent - a kindly, warm-hearted, benevolent savior Mrs. Rachel Cooper, an elderly matriarchal widow who protectively rescued children ("I'm a strong tree with branches for many birds. I'm good for somethin' in this old world, and I know it, too"), and brought Pearl and John to her farmhouse, and defended against the Preacher's intrusion with a shotgun
  • the image of Rachel sitting on the porch in a rocking chair on a screened-in porch (looking like Whistler's Mother) with the shotgun across her lap to battle against him with her own vigil; as he sang his rendition of the hymn with the words: "Leaning, leaning..., she countered by defiantly and harmoniously singing the authentic version of the Protestant religious hymn with a spiritual reference to Jesus: "Lean on Jesus, lean on Jesus"
  • in the conclusion, the arrest of Powell, and Rachel's triumphant, reassuring final words as she marveled about the orphaned, brutalized children who had reclaimed their innocence, after many nights of being hunted by a demon: "They abide and they endure"
















Night of the Living Dead (1968)

In George Romero's raw and uncompromising low-budget midnight movie about flesh-eating zombies:

  • the opening scene in a cemetery, in which living dead Johnny (Russell Streiner) teased sister Barbra (Judith O'Dea) by approaching her in the graveyard and taunting: "They're coming to get you, Barbra!" - but then found himself bitten by one of the zombies (Bill Heinzman)
  • the horrific scene of the horde of crazed, lurching, flesh-eating zombies surrounding the old farmhouse and terrorizing survivors Barbra and black hero Ben (Duane Jones)
  • the attack and murder of Barbra by her own zombified brother and other instances of cannibalism
  • the moment when the young girl died and she returned as a zombie to kill her traumatized mother with a trowel
  • in the last scene - the tragic shooting of Ben by vigilantes, mistaking him for a zombie





A Night to Remember (1958, UK)

In Roy Baker's documentary-style accounting of the April 14, 1912 sinking:

  • the climactic ending in which the Titanic oceanliner hit an iceberg and sliced a hole in the ship, sending hundreds of passengers to their icy death

(Tim Burton's) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

In Tim Burton's (and director Henry Selick's) imaginatively dark musical fantasy:

  • the technical brilliance of the stop-motion animated puppets and originally-composed songs (by Danny Elfman)
  • the scenes of the disastrous circumstances when Jack Skellington - the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown - kidnapped Santa Claus and delivered scary Halloween gifts instead of Christmas gifts from a coffin-shaped sleigh pulled by reindeer skeletons - at the conclusion of the "Making Christmas" sequence
  • rag-doll friend Sally's warning to Jack
  • the image of terrified children opening up their horrific presents: ("And what did Santa bring you, honey?") (i.e., a scary yellow duck, bats, a shrunken head, a large toy snake that ate Christmas trees)
  • the fantastic "Poor Jack" song when Jack realized his mistake and sang a torch song in an angel headstone's arms - lamenting: "What have I done? / What have I done? / How could I be so blind?"
  • the triumphant finale, with Jack finally realizing his love for Sally ("...for it is plain as anyone can see: we're simply meant to be") with a closing kiss on a snowy curlicue hill





A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

In Wes Craven's horrific and unpredictable film teen slasher film:

  • the character of burn-faced, striped sweater-wearing Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) with a fedora hat, bladed-clawed hands in this original film and all its sequels - a child murderer who attacked during dreams
  • the scene of teen girl Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) - during her dream - being invaded by Freddy and dragged up the wall and across her bedroom ceiling by the invisible Krueger
  • policeman's daughter Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) napping during a bubble bath with Freddy's gnarled hand appearing and moving towards her crotch area
  • the silhouetted image of Freddy reaching his 10 foot arms out to touch the walls in an alleyway
  • Freddy's transformation of a phone into a demonic tongue
  • the liquifying death scene of Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp in his debut movie role) when he drifted off to sleep with a blaring TV on his lap and Freddy's clawed hand burst through, pulled him through the bed cover and reduced him to a bloody geyser that gushed toward the ceiling



9 1/2 Weeks (1986) (aka Nine 1/2 Weeks)

In director Adrian Lyne's sensual, soft-porn film:

  • Wall street executive John's (Mickey Rourke) question: "Does this excite you?" before caressing blindfolded art gallery assistant Elizabeth's (Kim Basinger) naked body with melting ice cubes
  • also his feeding her (with her eyes closed) one olive, a bowl of maraschino cherries, one cherry tomato, a pint of strawberries, one glass of champagne, two spoonfuls of Vick's cough syrup, a forkful of cold spiral pasta, a spoonful of cherry Jello, four jalapeno peppers, one glass of milk, a bottle of sparkling water, and gobs of honey - to the tune of Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love"
  • the steamy sex scenes behind a giant roof-top clock-face and in a rainy brick stairway



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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