Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



N (continued)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

In director Michael Radford's grim adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel:

  • the opening credits sequence of governmental propaganda films (featuring Big Brother - "played" by Bob Flag)
  • the screaming Two Minutes Hate
  • oppressed middle-class drone Winston Smith's (John Hurt) narration from his diary writing: "April the 4th, 1984. To the past, or to the future. To an age when thought is free. From the Age of Big Brother, from the Age of the Thought Police, from a dead man... greetings"
  • Winston's job at the Ministry of Information (ironically-titled) to alter the past by turning people into non-existent "unpersons"
  • Winston's oft-repeated dream of a green pasture with isolated trees on the horizon that is turned into a reality during an idyllic love affair with rebellious Julia (Suzanna Hamilton)
  • once found out, the excruciating torture/brain-washing of Winston administered by O'Brien (Richard Burton): ("If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever") in Room 101 with the notorious rat-cage torture
  • the bleak ending in which Winston plays chess with himself in the Chestnut Tree Cafe (as he admits his crimes on a television screen), after having an unromantic encounter with Julia ("Under the spreading chestnut tree / I sold you / You sold me") - he turns to the image of Big Brother and tells it: "I love you"

Nine to Five (1980) (aka 9 to 5)

In director Colin Higgins' feminist-leaning workplace farcical comedy:

  • personal secretary Doralee Rhodes' (Dolly Parton in her film debut) tirade at lecherous boss Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman): (" If you say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I'm gonna get that gun of mine and I'm gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!")
  • the "old fashioned ladies' pot party" in which Doralee, new secretary Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda), and senior office manager Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) fantasize about killing their boss in various ways:
    - Judy hunts him down with a rifle
    - Doralee hog-ties him and puts him on a spit
    - and Violet portrays Disney's Snow White and poisons him
  • the scene of Violet - thinking she'd poisoned Hart with rat poisoning - stealing a corpse from the hospital
  • Hart held captive by the trio in a bizarre suspension system
  • Hart's reaction to his unwanted transfer: "Brazil?"
  • Hart's sycophantic assistant Roz's (Elizabeth Wilson) reaction to the triumphant, champagne drinking trio: "Holy merde!"
  • the catchy Oscar-nominated title song sung by Parton

Ninotchka (1939)

In Ernst Lubitsch's sophisticated romantic comedy (with the tagline "Garbo LAUGHS!"):

  • the two instances in the film in which Garbo states her famous wish to be alone: "We want to be alone" - and "We want to be left alone"
  • the celebrated cafe scene in which suave Count Leon (Melvyn Douglas) tells joke after joke - without any reaction - and then accidentally falls off his chair - causing dour, stone-faced Russian commissar Ninotchka (Greta Garbo) to laugh and laugh uncontrollably
  • the famous "execution" scene
  • the stinging repartee between Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire) and Ninotchka
  • the last image of Kopalski (Alexander Granach) picketing the restaurant with a sandwich board that reads: "Buljanoff and Kranoff Unfair to Kopalski"

Nixon (1995)

In Oliver Stone's documentary-drama with homage paid to Citizen Kane (1941) with its flashback structure, dinner-table scene and newsreels:

  • the recreation of the 1960 Presidential television debate between Richard M. Nixon (Oscar-nominated Anthony Hopkins) and John F. Kennedy (Himself)
  • the scene of Nixon noisily playing "Happy Days Are Here Again" on the piano and calling his wife Pat (Oscar-nominated Joan Allen) a "cocksucker" when she complained about political life (and then suggested a divorce) after he lost to incumbent Pat Brown in California during the gubernatorial race in 1962: ("It's over, Dick....I have always stood by you. I campaigned for you when I was pregnant. During Checkers, when Ike wanted you out, I told you to fight. This is different, Dick. You've changed. Life is tough and it is unfair and sometimes you forget that in your self-pity. You forget sometimes, Dick that I had a life before you - before California...You've changed. You've grown more bitter, like you're at war with the world. You weren't that way before. I'm 50 years old now, Dick. How many millions of miles have I traveled? How many millions of peoples' hands have I shaked that I just don't like? How many thank-you notes have I written? It's as if I, I don't know, just went to sleep a long time ago and missed the years between. I've had enough...I want a divorce...This isn't political, Dick. This is our life")
  • Nixon's press conference, when he promised to never run again after his defeat in 1962: ("...But as I leave you, I-I want you to know. Just think what you're gonna be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore"), to prevent a divorce from Pat
  • the famous televised "I am not a crook" speech to the nation: ("...Because people have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I've earned everything I have....She doesn't have a mink coat, but she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat")
  • the scene in which a resigning and sobbing President Nixon prays with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Paul Sorvino): "What have I done wrong? I opened China. I made peace with Russia. I ended the war. I did what I thought was right. Ah... God, why do they hate me so? Is unbelievable. It is insane. Oh, M-Mom, I'm sorry. God, please forgive me, God. I really didn't mean it. I didn't know what to do. I don't know why this is happening to me. I can't believe..."
  • and his poignant late-night conversation with a portrait of Kennedy: "When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they ARE..."
  • his sweaty, final farewell and impromptu speech to his assembled White House staff, including a tribute to his mother: ("Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother. My mother was a saint....Yes, she will have no books written about her. But she was a saint...the greatness comes, not when things go always good for you but the greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain...Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then, you destroy yourself. And so we leave with high hopes and good spirits and with deep humility. And I say to each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you but always you will be in our hearts. And you'll be in our prayers")

No Way Out (1987)

In Roger Donaldson's twisting political thriller (an update of the 1946 Kenneth Fearing potboiler The Big Clock, originally adapted for the big screen as The Big Clock (1948) and starring Ray Milland):

  • one of the most infamous sex scenes of all time - the passionate love scene in the back seat of a limousine between Lt. Commander Tom Farrell (Kevin Costner) and the Defense Secretary David Brice (Gene Hackman) mistress Susan Atwell (Sean Young) - punctuated by a glimpse of the Washington Monument
  • the scene of Brice's accidental murder of Atwell who fell from her second floor balcony
  • the surprising suicide of scheming, yet loyal aide Scott Pritchard (Will Patton) when his superior Brice tried to make him the fall guy in the murder of Susan Atwell
  • the devious trick-surprise ending revealing Farrell's true loyalty (to the KGB) as fabled mole/spy 'Yuri'

Noah's Ark (1928)

In this melodramatic epic directed by Michael Curtiz:

  • this silent film (part-talkie) featured intercut sequences of the Biblical story of the 'Great Flood', with a climactic flood sequence - that mixed minatures, double-exposures, and the full-scale destruction of actual sets
  • in a scene reminiscent of Cecil B. DeMille's earlier Biblical epic The Ten Commandments (1923), Noah (Paul McAllister) went on a mountain trek where in one dramatic scene he experienced a burning bush and the creation of giant tablets on a mountainside with flaming letters warning of a Flood ("to destroy all flesh") and commissioning him to build an Ark
  • just before the flood, virginal Miriam (Dolores Costello) was to be sacrificed by King Nephilu (Noah Beery) of Akkad - as the archer drew back his bow, he was struck by lightning
  • a fierce storm and another lightning bolt destroyed the temple and torrents of water caused a massive flood that ravaged everything

Norma Rae (1979)

In director Martin Ritt's social drama:

  • the inspirational scene in which small-town Alabama cotton mill union organizer Norma Rae (Oscar-winning Sally Field) holds up above her head a hand-scrawled, cardboard "UNION" sign while standing on a table -- causing her fellow factory workers to one-by-one shut down their machines in solidarity and stand up for their rights

North by Northwest (1959)

In Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece of mistaken identity:

  • the memorable Saul Bass opening credits sequence set to Bernard Herrman's lively score
  • the opening kidnapping scene when baffled New York adman Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken as double agent Kaplan
  • the drunk-driving sequence and the elevator scene when Thornhill's mother Clara (Jessie Royce Landis) asks his enemy assassins: "You gentlemen aren't really trying to kill my son, are you?"
  • the United Nations murder scene with Roger photographed while gripping a knife in a dead man's back
  • the seduction scene aboard a railroad car with cool blonde Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint)
  • one of the most famous set pieces ever filmed -- Thornhill's standing at a deserted Highway 41 crossroads where a stranger stands across the road from him (widescreen) and wonders: "that plane's dustin' crops where there ain't no crops"
  • the famous pursuit-attack sequence by a deadly crop-dusting bi-plane in an open, flat and desolate field as Thornhill seeks protection in a cornfield, the dramatic editing that heightens suspense when the strafing plane crashes into an oil truck
  • the art auction scene when Thornhill low-bids himself into the safe hands of the police
  • the cliff-dangling episode at Mount Rushmore when Eve and Thornhill cling for their lives and he quips: "They (two previous wives) said I led too dull a life"
  • the final, clever transition as Thornhill tugs on Eve (hanging on the immense carved stone face) and - CUT - pulls her up into a berth in the interior of a Pullman sleeping car (that heads into a tunnel)

Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens (1922, Germ.) (aka A Symphony of Terror/Horror)

In this influential German expressionistic film by director F.W. Murnau:

  • the scene of the appearance of hideous Nosferatu (undead) vampire in his castle in Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains - a bald-headed and cadaverous creature with claw-like/skeletal fingernails, long teeth (or fangs) and bat ears
  • Count Graf Orlok (Max Schreck) was seen glimpsed at a long distance, but then approached quickly (through dissolves) toward the horrified, visiting real estate agent Johannes Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) until he was completely in the curved, pointed doorway with a Gothic arch, revealing his ugly, scary figure
  • the similar scene of Count Orlok rising straight up from his earth-filled coffin in the cargo hold of the double-masted "death ship" Empusa - causing the crazed first mate (who was hacking into the coffin) to run on-deck and hurl himself into the water
  • the low-angle image of the predatory creature's walk across the prow of the ship (looking like a spider spinning his web in the rigging) transporting him to his new home in the north German town of Wisborg
  • the shadowy approach of the vampire's elongated hand as he climbed the stairs and reached out to a door and toward his stalking victim - an awaiting possessed Ellen Hutter (Greta Schroeder) - who had read in his book that "Deliverance is possible by no other means but that an innocent maiden maketh the vampire heed not the first crowing of the cock - this done by the sacrifice of her own bloode"
  • and finally, the scene of Orlok's death-fading away scene by exposure to sunlight at her window after the rooster crowed signaling the dawn

Nothing Sacred (1937)

In director William Wellman's great screwball comedy:

  • the comic lady-beating scene between reportedly-dying Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard) and hotshot newspaperman Wally Cook (Fredric March) to make Hazel look properly bruised and terminally ill, ending up with Hazel knocked out with a terrific punch

Notorious (1946)

In this vintage Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller:

  • the longest kiss in film history (to date) - in order to bypass the Production Code's restriction on a screen clinch beyond 3 seconds long - it was a passionate 3-minute kissing scene between American agent Devlin (Cary Grant) and sexy Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) that began on a Rio balcony, moved inside to the telephone where Devlin took a call and ended at the front door with them all the while talking and kissing
  • the incredible, long and unbroken crane shot zeroing in on the key clenched in Alicia's hand (in closeup) that will unlock the wine cellar
  • the tense champagne party and wine cellar sequence where uranium dust is found by Devlin and Alicia in the bottles
  • their ploy to fool WWII Nazi agent (Claude Rains)
  • the scene of Alex's humiliating confession to his domineering mother (Mme. Konstantin) about his wife being an American agent
  • the exciting and nerve-wracking finale with Devlin's ascent of the stairs to rescue Alicia on her deathbed, and carry her down the staircase in full view of the enemy and out to a car
  • Alex's final summons by his Nazi superiors

Now, Voyager (1942)

In director Irving Rapper's great romantic tearjerker:

  • the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from misfit, neurotic, ugly duckling spinster from Boston to vibrant beauty
  • psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) flipping through Charlotte's old photo journal/album
  • the balcony scene with Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid) - the first time he lights two cigarettes simultaneously and gives one to Charlotte who confesses "I'm immune to happiness" but then sheds tears of gratitude
  • the confrontational scenes between tyrannical mother (Gladys Cooper) and victimized but changed daughter (including her death scene)
  • Jerry and Charlotte's sensitive scene at the Back Bay Station as he prepares to board a train
  • the final famous tearjerking scene between them, including his cool question "Shall we just have a cigarette on it?", the lighting of two cigarettes, and the final closing line as Charlotte gratefully looks up at the night sky while Max Steiner's score swells, realizing that she will be happy taking care of his 12 year-old daughter Tina - "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon...we have the stars"

The Nun's Story (1959)

In director Fred Zinnemann's religious drama:

  • the scene of the Belgian Congo native attacking and beating to death the nun in the hospital
  • the final silent fadeout as Nun Sister Luke (Audrey Hepburn) removes her nun's habit, and slowly walks away from the convent out into the sunlit street, totally alone and without her nun's habit for the first time in many years

The Nutty Professor (1963)

In this farcical comedy written, directed, and acted by Jerry Lewis - and over three decades later remade by Eddie Murphy as The Nutty Professor (1996) - now obese - with Murphy playing most of the roles of the Klump family in the film:

  • the Jekyll-Hyde character in the film: buck-toothed, whiny-voiced, nerdy and naive scientist Professor Kelp
  • the hip, greasy-haired and obnoxious ladies man alter ego Buddy Love - who sings "That Old Black Magic" upon his first appearance

(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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