Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments




The Palm Beach Story (1942)

In Preston Sturges' fast-paced 'comedy-of-errors' classic comedy:

  • the frenzied opening credit montage of confusing, mystifying marital vignettes without dialogue (unexplained until film's end)
  • the character of the hard-of-hearing "Wienie King" (Robert Dudley)
  • the madcap scenes on the southbound train with the Ale and Quail Club and runaway wife Gerry (Claudette Colbert)
  • the crackpot billionaire J.D. Hackensacker (Rudy Vallee) and his yacht
  • the "Goodnight Sweetheart" serenade scene
  • the two unzipping of gown romantic scenes between Gerry and poor struggling inventor husband Tom (Joel McCrea)

Pandora's Box (1929, Ger.) (aka Die Büchse der Pandora)

In director G.W. Pabst's classic silent film melodrama:

  • the scene of the insatiable, free-spirited, 18 year-old cabaret chorus girl and femme fatale Lulu (Louise Brooks), with a black bob (pageboy) haircut, caught backstage in a wardrobe room scandalously kissing her obsessed and spell-bound patron - a wealthy newspaper owner named Dr. Ludwig Schon (Fritz Kortner) - by his more socially-acceptable fiancee Charlotte Marie Adelaide (Daisy d'Ora)
  • the scene of Dr. Schon's subsequent wedding party in which virginally white-dressed (inappropriately), bi-sexual and amoral bride Lulu engages in an intimate, flirtatious tango with black silken-dressed, chic lesbian aristocrat Countess Anna Geschwitz (Alice Roberts)
  • the dramatic scene in which just-married bridegroom Dr. Schon becomes enraged with jealousy at Lulu (for her starry-eyed flirtations with his son Alwa (Franz Lederer)) and thrusts a gun at her, crying: "Take it! Kill yourself! that you don't drive me to murder as well" - and the moment of his accidental murder/manslaughter during a struggle for the gun between them
  • the trial scene in which the prosecutor accuses the hedonistic Lulu (wearing a black veil) of being like a Pandora's box of evil
  • the expressionistic finale on Christmas Eve as London Soho prostitute Lulu becomes another gleaming-knifed victim of Jack the Ripper (Gustav Diessl) during an erotic embrace and kiss (her hand goes limp to indicate her death)

Paper Moon (1973)

In director Peter Bogdanovich's comic road-drama:

  • the character of young and precocious, orphaned 9 year-old Addie (Oscar-winning Tatum O'Neal in her film debut) who convinces her 'father' Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) in a diner (while eating a Coney dog and drinking a Nehi) to let her accompany him ("We got the SAME jaw!" and "I want my $200") on the road
  • the image of Addie smoking in bed
  • the scenes of their conversations on the road and her manipulative swindling with Moses as they sell Bibles to recent widows - especially when she suggests upping the price for rich widows and giving Bibles away to poor clients
  • the entrance of gold-digging carnival dancer Miss Trixie Delight (Madeline Kahn) walking to Moses' car - and when she tries to cajole Addie on a hillside to come down to the car and sit in the back seat ("But right now, you're gonna pick your little ass up and you're gonna drop it in the back seat and you're gonna cut out the crap - you understand?")
  • and later, the scene of Addie ingeniously devising a way to separate Trixie from Moses by having her bed the hotel clerk
  • the final tearjerking scene in which Addie leaves Moze a picture of herself in his car after they parted - of her sitting on a paper moon at a carnival - so that she could be reunited again with him on the road by film's end

Papillon (1973)

In director Franklin J. Schaffner's biographical prison-escape film:

  • the horrible prison conditions in the notorious French penal colony of Devil's Island
  • the character of French prisoner Henri "Papillon" Charriere's (Steve McQueen) feeding on bugs (centipedes, cockroaches) during solitary confinement at half-rations
  • his response to guards during an interrogation when asked to rat on a friend (he was threatened: "Give me the name and you're back on full rations"): "I was born skinny"
  • the idyllic scenes of Charriere being nursed back to health by topless native girl Zoraima (Ratna Assan) after a miraculous escape
  • the final successful third escape attempt of Charriere as he takes a plunge off a Devil's Island cliff with a raft made of coconuts lashed together

The Parallax View (1974)

In Alan J. Pakula's post-Watergate political conspiracy film:

  • the memorable six-minute sequence in the middle of this film - a 'brainwashing' montage-collage of non-verbal images (juxtaposed with white-on-black words such as "Mother", "Country", and "Me") that functioned as a psychological test for rogue investigative newspaper reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) by the shadowy Parallax Corporation
  • his obsessive pursuit of a possible conspiracy about political assassination ("Who's ever behind this is in the business of recruiting assassins") and his recruitment into the organization as a disaffected political assassin - with unforseen consequences

Paris, Texas (1984, US/W. Germ.)

In director Wim Wenders' road movie drama:

  • the music of Ry Cooder accompanying the quest by dazed wanderer Travis Clay Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) for his estranged wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski) - beginning with his stumbling through and out of the arid Texas desert during the film's opening credits
  • the peep-show booth reunion scene, when Travis ended his search and found Jane on the other side of a one-way mirror
  • the bravura scene of their long conversation (through microphones) and his confession to her
  • her gradual realization that she recognizes his voice, and the moment he turns his booth light off so that she can see him
  • the overlapping or melting together of their images and then their separation
  • the heartbreaking conclusion - estranged father Travis returns his seven year old son Hunter (Hunter Carson) to Jane and then drives away

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Fr.) (aka La Passion De Jeanne D'Arc)

In director Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent film masterpiece

  • French warrior heroine Jeanne D'Arc's (Maria Falconetti) heresy trial (bound in chains) before the Holy Office of cruel, tormenting, grotesque inquisitors (stern priests, prison guards and judges)
  • the scenes of her ridicule, when she was shouted at, beaten, tortured, and deceived; also mocked and abused in prison, was given a fake crown to wear, and denied the Holy Sacrament, while she continually clung courageously and painfully to her faith (eventually with tears streaming down her face) without confessing to the charges
  • the verdict of guilty and her execution - burned at the stake (with an uplifted, beatific, and forgiving face)

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

In Mel Gibson's popular version of the final twelve hours of Jesus Christ's life (in Aramaic and Latin with English subtitles):

  • the quiet prayer scene of Christ (James Caviezel) in the garden of Gethsemane before the graphic and unforgiving torture scenes of Christ that include a whipping, a bloody crown of thorns, and the agonizing, unsparing crucifixion itself with nails driven into hands and feet

Pat and Mike (1952)

In director George Cukor's sports-related romantic comedy:

  • the scene of Spencer Tracy (as sports promoter Mike Conovan) telling Katharine Hepburn (as outdoorsy athlete and college phys-ed instructor Pat Pemberton): "A lady athlete properly handled - always a market...I don't think you've ever been properly handled" and her retort: "That's right, not even by myself"
  • his commenting about her figure as she walked away across a golf course green: "Nicely packed that kid...There's not much meat on 'er, but what's there is cherce"
  • their concluding decision to get married: "Together, we can lick 'em all"

Paths of Glory (1957)

In Stanley Kubrick's pacifist war film:

  • the tracking shot as WWI French commander Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) walks through the trenches
  • the authentic battle scenes and devastating suicidal attack on the Ant Hill ordered by Gen. Paul Mireau (George Macready)
  • the courtmartial trial scene in the chateau
  • the march of the scapegoated soldiers toward the firing squad-execution scene
  • the final tavern scene in which a captured blonde German girl (Susanne Christian in the credits) sings for French soldiers and the look on their faces as they first humiliate her, and then soften, listen empathically and understand her pain

Patton (1970)

In Franklin J. Schaffner's Best Picture-winning biopic war film:

  • the unforgettable opening shot of fierce American General 'Old Blood and Guts' Patton (George C. Scott) in front of an enormous red and white-striped US flag, addressing the troops in a memorable 6-minute pep-talk monologue ("Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country...")
  • the scenes of Patton standing in a street and firing his pistol at German planes during an air raid
  • Patton's battlefield confession: "I love it. God help me, I do love it so. I love it more than my life"
  • his threat toward Hitler ("And when we get to Berlin I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler")
  • the scene of Patton's slapping of a 'cowardly' combat-fatigued soldier

The Pawnbroker (1965)

In director Sidney Lumet's psychological drama:

  • quick-cutting flashbacks representing Nazi concentration camp survivor and Harlem pawnbroker Sol Nazerman's (Rod Steiger) memory flashes (including his memory of outstretched hands next to barbed wire having jewelry removed from fingers by the Nazis)
  • Sol's skewering of his hand
  • the controversial scene in which a prostitute (Thelma Oliver) bares her breasts for him in exchange for money ("You've got to get me some money - Look!") - it was the first US film to show a woman nude from the waist up with bare breasts that was granted a Production Code seal because the nakedness was integral to the story

Pearl Harbor (2001)

In Michael Bay's recreation of the Dec 7, 1941 Japanese attack:

  • the revolutionary, famous (or infamous) special effects shot, dubbed the "bomb-cam" - in which a bomb dropped on a ship is followed from its point of view as it is released, falls and explodes on the USS Arizona

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)

In director Michael Powell's highly-disturbing, British psychological horror film about voyeurism - a variation on Psycho (1960):

  • the 'voyeuristic' chilling story of shy, reclusive and disturbed young cameraman (and psychopath) Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) who murdered women with his 16mm camera (with a cross-haired viewfinder creating a POV shot) at the time of their deaths with an ingenious mirror device attached so that his screaming, red-headed female victims could watch themselves die
  • he captured their distorted, fearful faces in a mirror as the sharp spiked leg of his camera tripod was plunged into their throats
  • in the opening credits sequence, Mark stalked and filmed the murder of a prostitute he met on a dark London street
  • also the scene of the viewing of b/w home movies by female friend Helen Stephens (Anna Massey) of Mark's abused childhood when he was tormented by his professor-father (director Michael Powell himself) and experiments were conducted on him (e.g., his reaction to the lizard dropped on his bed)
  • Lewis' own suicidal death (in the same horrific manner that he often used) when he impaled himself in the neck with his own spiked device, as he spoke to spared Helen: "Helen, Helen, I'm afraid...And I'm glad I'm afraid," and then slumped to the floor before the police arrived

Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

In director Tim Burton's garish first major feature film - a road film:

  • the look of the quirky man-child Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) character (tight gray suit, white shoes, red bow tie, with lipstick, etc.)
  • the cartoon-like toy/contraption-filled environment of Pee Wee's home and the Rube-Goldberg method in which he makes breakfast
  • the scene of Pee Wee's argument with his neighbor ("I know you are but what am I?")
  • Pee-Wee's worship of his ridiculously over-gadgeted beloved bicycle (complete with plastic lion's head on the handle-bar)
  • his famous remark after tumbling when he attempts to perform tricks with it: "I meant to do that!"
  • his Rebel Without a Cause (1955)-inspired warning to love interest Dottie (Elizabeth Daily): "There's things about me you don't know, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand...You don't want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel"
  • his delighted perusal of Mario's Magic Shop (at one point putting on an oversized ear and yelling, "WHAT? WHAT?")
  • his anguished realization that his overly-chained red bike has been stolen (and his feverish inquisition of his friends)
  • Pee Wee's search for his bicycle during a tour of America after a sham fortune-telling gypsy named Madam Ruby (Erica Yohn) tells him it's in the Alamo's basement (non-existent, of course)
  • Pee-Wee's helping an escaped con Mickey (Judd Omen) escape the law by pretending to be his wife
  • his crashing the car and strolling around in total darkness (cartoonishly, only his eyes are seen)
  • Pee-Wee's startling and hysterical encounter with the ghost of trucker Large Marge (Alice Nunn)
  • Pee-Wee's nightmares about the fate of his bike (eaten by a T-Rex, destroyed by clown surgeons)
  • Pee-Wee proving over the phone that he's in Texas (he shouts "The stars at night are big and bright...", and a crowd sings back: "...deep in the heart of Texas!")
  • spoiled child actor Kevin Morton (Jason Hervey) growling at his director: "Doesn't it look like I'm ready? I am always ready! I have been ready since first call! I am ready! ROLL!"
  • the cameo appearance of heavy metal rock group Twisted Sister
  • Pee-Wee's escape from the Warner Bros. studio lot where his bike was eventually located as a prop for a film - ensnaring Santa Claus, Godzilla, and swinging across a ravine on a bike and yodeling like Tarzan
  • Pee-Wee's hilariously deep-voiced cameo in a Hollywood movie about his own story ("Paging Mr. Herman, Mr. Herman, you have a telephone call")
  • the evocative closing shot as the silhouettes of Pee-Wee and Dottie bicycle sedately in front of the kissing Hollywood versions of themselves

Penny Serenade (1941)

In director George Stevens' classic heartbreaker melodrama:

  • the scene of childless parents Roger Adams (Cary Grant) and his wife Julie (Irene Dunne) bringing home an adopted baby girl
  • their nervousness about keeping quiet and their exhaustion after getting up all night with it
  • the scene before a judge a year later, when Roger (without an income) movingly begs and pleads for the official to grant them a continuation of the adoption, rather than return the child to the orphanage: "...the first time I saw her, she looked so little and helpless. I didn't know babies were so, so little. And then when she took a-hold of my finger and I held onto it. She, she just sort of walked into my heart Judge and, and she was there to stay. I didn't know I could feel like that... It's not only for my wife and me, I'm asking you to let us keep her Judge, it's for her sake, too. She doesn't know any parents but us. She wouldn't know what'd happened to her. You see, there's so many little things about her that nobody would understand her the way Judy and I do. We love her Judge, please don't take her away from us. Look, I'm not a big shot now, I-I'll do anything, I'll work for anybody. I-I'll beg, I'll borrow, I-I'll. Please, Judge, I'll sell anything I've got until I get going again. And she'll never go hungry, she'll never be without clothes not so long as I've got two good hands, so help me!"
  • and later, the scene of the aftermath following the death of their six-year-old child Trina (Eva Lee Kuney) following a brief illness, when the bereaving Mrs. Adams writes a letter to the saddened adoption agency's representative Miss Oliver (Beulah Bondi): "Since the night of Trina's death, we have been like strangers to one another. I don't know what to do. It seems as if there is nothing between us any more. I've tried to talk to him, but he does not wish to listen. He is punishing himself, not realizing that he is also punishing me"
  • the final scene in which another child, a two-year old boy, is offered for adoption to the Adams couple, communicated via a phone call from Miss Oliver: "He's the exact image of the youngster you asked for when you first wrote to me. Do you remember? I have that old letter here in front of me now - 'Curly hair, blue eyes, dimples'. And this is strictly off the record, but really, another couple has the right to see him first, but he's such a remarkable baby that I thought perhaps you and Mr. Adams might take a look"; Julie responds with great anticipation: "Please don't have that other couple see him until we do!"

(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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