Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



P (continued)

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

In director Alexander Korda's biographical/historical drama:

  • Anne of Cleves' (Elsa Lanchester) famous line: "The things I've done for England"
  • the unforgettable scene of despotic and gluttonous King Henry VIII (Oscar-winning Charles Laughton) at a banquet table devouring a chicken and tossing the remains over his shoulder

Prizzi's Honor (1985)

In Oscar-nominated director John Huston's dark romantic black comedy that was adapted from Richard Condon's early 80s novel:

  • a story of dim-witted, dutiful Brooklyn Mafia (Prizzi family) hitman Charley Partanna (Oscar-nominated Jack Nicholson), the grandson of Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey), who changes allegiances from his spurned, vengeful longtime sweetheart and cousin (and the don's daughter) Maerose Prizzi (Oscar-winning Anjelica Huston) by falling in love with beautiful blonde, non-Italian California hit-woman Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner) at a family wedding
  • Charley's first view of her in a lavender dress in the church balcony and then his dance with her at the reception
  • the scene of Charley's questioning of his black sheep, malevolently witty cousin Maerose about killing or marrying Irene: ("Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of these?" and the reply: "Marry her, Charley. Just because she's a thief and a hitter doesn't mean she's not a good woman in all the other departments")
  • the scene in which the two lovers calmly discuss their dinner plans while disposing of the corpse of their latest victim
  • the shocking unusual 'love scene' moment when Charley settles the score with Irene by impaling her with his stiletto knife while she shoots at him

The Producers (1968)

In Mel Brooks' farce:

  • cash-hungry producer Max Bialystock's (Zero Mostel) romancing of rich little old ladies for their money ("...when you've got it, flaunt it!"), during a high energy, hysterical opening credits sequence ("Don't forget the check-y! Can't produce plays without check-y") in which Max plays ridiculous sex games (like "The Countess and the Chauffeur") with a spry Old Lady (85-year-old Estelle Winwood)
  • Max's unsuccessful attempts to calm meek and neurotic accountant Leo Bloom's (Gene Wilder) hysteria: ( "I'm hysterical and I'm wet. I'm in pain and I'm wet, and I'm still hysterical")
  • his clever scam to overproduce a "sure-fire flop" play
  • their promenade through the park (riding a carousel and renting a boat) - with the eruption of Lincoln Center's fountain
  • Max and Leo's meeting with goose-stepping, ex-Nazi WWII helmet-wearing Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars)
  • Max's hiring of a "toy" -- a blonde, buxom, hip-swinging, Swedish-speaking secretary Ulla (Lee Meredith) whose "work" consists of go-go dancing for Max
  • their recruitment of pompous, flamboyant, cross-dressing director Roger DeBris (Christopher Hewett) and his assistant/lover Carmen Giya (Andreas Voutsinas)
  • the extensive auditions for the play Springtime for Hitler with deranged, middle-aged hippie Lorenzo St. Du Bois "L.S.D."'s (Dick Shawn) audition featuring the pathetic flower child love song "Love Power"
  • the premiere of the show - with the opening, satirical title number Springtime for Hitler by a goose-stepping, black-booted Nazi chorus (filmed Busby Berkeley style in a revolving swastika formation from overhead) that sings and dances (with the lyrics: "Don't be stupid, be a smarty, Come and join the Nazi party!")
  • the character of Hitler played by spaced-out, adult flower child LSD
  • the panic of Leo and Max realizing that their flop will be a big hit - and Leo's court defense ("Whom has he hurt?") of Max when charged with fraud
  • their similarly fraudulent production of Prisoners of Love in Sing-Sing (with Max bellowing: "Sing it out, men! Higher, you animals, higher! We open in Leavenworth Saturday night")
  • the affectionate tribute to Mostel in the end credits, listed only as "Zero"

The Professional (1994) (aka Leon)

In director Luc Besson's provocative action thriller:

  • the redeeming but twisted father/daughter relationship between hitman-assassin Leon (Jean Reno) and protected 12 year-old, street-wise orphaned New York neighbor Mathilda (young Natalie Portman in her film debut)
  • the scene of the killing of her family by corrupt New York cop and drug kingpin Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman)
  • Mathilda becoming acquainted with Leon and learning about guns and how to "clean" (kill) a scoped target with a rifle from a rooftop
  • the very bloody ending with Leon's surprise self-sacrificial death

The Professionals (1966)

In director Richard Brooks' western adventure (an Old West version of The Dirty Dozen (1967) and the precursor to The Wild Bunch (1969)):

  • the four man mercenary team (Lee Marvin as munitions expert Henry "Rico" Fardan, Woody Strode as tracker and bow/arrow expert Jake Sharp, Robert Ryan as horse specialist Hans Ehrengard, and Burt Lancaster as dynamiter Bill Dolworth) assembled by Texas railroad tycoon/millionaire Joe Grant (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue "in one bold swift stroke" his 'kidnapped'(?) wife (Claudia Cardinale as Maria) from Mexican revolutionaries led by the guerrilla leader Jesus Raza (Jack Palance)
  • Dolworth notable explanation of his life's work: "I was born with a powerful passion to create. I can't write, I can't paint, can't make up a song..." ("So you explode things") "Well that's how the world was born. Biggest damn explosion you ever saw"
  • the surprise plot-twist character reversal (Maria loves Mexican outlaw Raza from whom she was rescued, and is eventually allowed to return to him)
  • the curtain closing dialogue when Grant accuses Rico of negating their "bad deal" agreement: (Grant: "You bastard" Rico: "Yes, Sir. In my case, an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man")

Psycho (1960)

In Alfred Hitchcock's ground-breaking horror thriller:

  • the opening shots with a view of 1960s Phoenix as the camera above the city slowly descends into the window of a motel (not the first in the film)
  • the furtive love-making scene with secretary Marion Crane (Oscar-nominated Janet Leigh) in white bra and half-slip
  • the tense shots of Marion's face and the puzzled look on her boss' astonished face as she pauses at a stoplight
  • the tracking shot in Marion's apartment linking her packed suitcase to the envelope stuffed with money
  • the scene of the state trooper's interrogation of Marion on the side of the road
  • the first sight of the Bates Motel seen through a rainy windshield
  • the haunted-looking Gothic house behind the motel
  • the back parlor scene of proprietor Norman's (Anthony Perkins) conversation with Marion amidst his stuffed birds
  • Norman's perverse peeping through a hole in the wall at Marion undressing
  • the shocking, carefully-edited shower murder scene of the major star in the first third of the film - with the violin-screeching soundtrack of Bernard Herrmann, the ting-ting-ting sound as the shower curtain rings pull off the rod, and the image of bloodied water spiraling down the drain that dissolves into a close-up of dead Marion's stationary open eye
  • Norman's laborious clean-up of the murder scene and the car's slow descent into the swamp
  • private investigator Arbogast's (Martin Balsam) murder at the top of the staircase and the high-angle overhead shot of his unbalanced fall backwards down the entire length of stairs - and the relentless stabbing that he suffers from Norman's "mother" after hitting the floor
  • the Sheriff's (John McIntire) line of dialogue about who is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery
  • Lila's shocking, revealing, fruit-cellar discovery scene when she turns a chair holding an elderly woman and sees Norman's mummified "mother" under the swinging light - casting ghastly images onto the wall, and she responds with a shriek
  • the next-to-last image of a psychotically-crazed Norman wrapped in a blanket with his Mother's voice-over (the film's final line: "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly...")

Public Enemy (1931)

In director William Wellman's gritty gangster classic:

  • brutal, cocky gangster Tom Powers' (James Cagney) infamous, argumentative breakfast scene when he stuffs half a grapefruit in the face of annoying mistress Kitty (Mae Clarke) after telling her: "I wish you was a wishing well, so that I could tie a bucket to ya and sink ya!"
  • the scene of the off-screen execution of a horse
  • the climactic shoot-out scene in which Tom slaughters and eliminates his rival gang as the camera deliberately remains on the outside of the building while a barrage of shots and moaning screams of the wounded and dying are heard from inside
  • his wounding on a rainy street
  • in the final horrifying scene, his bandaged body's special delivery to his home - propped up like a mummy at the doorstep of his mother's (Beryl Mercer) house and his face-first fall forward (while a scratchy Victrola phonograph record plays the upbeat tune I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles on the soundtrack)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

In co-writer and director Quentin Tarantino's great tri-story classic with witty dialogue and heart-stopping violence:

  • the opening credits sequence including the coffee shop scene with a pair of hold-up artists Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and Pumpkin (Tim Roth)
  • the skillful interweaving of three major story lines throughout the film
  • the casual conversation between two low-life, black-clad hit men Vincent Vega (Oscar-nominated John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) about the strange names given to Parisian McDonald's menu items such as a QuarterPounder with cheese ("a Royale with cheese") and a Big Mac ("Le Big Mac")
  • and their discussion about gangster boss Marsellus Wallace's (Ving Rhames) jealous attitude toward anyone giving his wife Mia (Oscar-nominated Uma Thurman) a foot massage
  • Jules' paraphrased recitation of Ezekiel 25:17 - "the path of the righteous man..." before executions
  • the scene between Vincent and Mia in retro-fifties era diner Jack Rabbit Slims (with the MC impersonating Ed Sullivan) - and their hip-swiveling twist dance the Batusi (a dance invented for the mid-60s Batman TV series) to a Chuck Berry tune during a dance-off
  • Mia's overdose after snorting heroin and the subsequent frantic recovery scene in which her heart (marked with a red dot) is directly injected with an adrenaline-filled needle
  • the scene of Captain Koons' (Christopher Walken) gold watch-up-his-ass speech
  • the character of boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) and the scene with two psychopathic hillbillies in a pawn shop
  • the absurd scenes of the blood-drenched car's grisly insides when Vincent accidentally shoots back-seat passenger Marvin (Phil LaMarr) at point-blank range and "clean-up" specialist the Wolf (Harvey Keitel) is called upon

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

In writer/director Woody Allen's comedic Depression-era ode - a 'film within a film':

  • the surprise scene in which the handsome fictional adventure hero Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) of the 30s black and white film 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' steps out of the screen and speaks to audience member and New Jersey waitress Cecilia (Mia Farrow) - who has an abusive husband Monk (Danny Aiello)
  • Tom's innocence about real life (he's never made love, seen a pregnant woman, etc.)
  • the seduction of Cecilia by selfish and deceptive actor Gil Shepherd (also Jeff Daniels) attempting to reject the fictional character for the real man (so his acting career could be saved from the scandal)
  • Tom's bringing of Cecilia into the film world
  • the dark downbeat conclusion in which wounded and forsaken Cecilia finds further comfort at the movie theatre while watching the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Top Hat (1935) as they sing/dance "Cheek to Cheek" (I'm in Heaven)


Queen Christina (1933)

In director Rouben Mamoulian's classic historical-romance drama:

  • scenes of Queen Christina's (Greta Garbo) impersonation of a young boy
  • her affectionate kiss given to her neglected, complaining lady-in-waiting Countess Ebba Sparre (Elizabeth Young)
  • her revelation to Don Antonio (John Gilbert) during a clandestine love affair in a shared inn bedroom
  • her "memorization" of all the items in the bedroom scene
  • the Queen's silencing of a threatening mob by appearing at the top of the outdoor stairs
  • the abdication scene
  • the lengthy, slow-tracking-in final image of the proud, unblinking Queen's enigmatic face at the bow of her ship as she sails off to Spain to face her destiny in the film's final image

The Quiet Man (1952)

In Best-Director winning John Ford's romance comedy:

  • the incredible color cinematography and the lush green countryside of Ireland
  • the fairy tale romance of Sean Thornton (John Wayne) and red-haired Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara)
  • especially his first sight of her as she tends a flock of sheep in an emerald-green grassy area
  • their kissing scene in his new cottage
  • Michaeleen Flynn's (Barry Fitzgerald) horse stopping (from habit) in front of Cohan's Pub
  • the sensual romantic scene in the drenching rain at a church graveyard
  • their quiet tender scene in front of the golden glow of the hearth
  • Sean's pursuit of Mary Kate at the train station after which he drags her five miles across the fields with a crowd of spectators following
  • the lengthy, epic brawl/fist-fight scene in the Irish village between Sean and Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen)
  • the scene of Will's reluctant release of Mary Kate's dowry
  • the final scene of Mary Kate whispering a sexy secret in Sean's ear

Quiz Show (1994)

In director Robert Redford's morality play about the quiz show scandals of the 1950's:

  • the fixed 50s NBC-TV game show "Twenty-One" with host Jack Barry (Christopher McDonald) and the authentic period design of the studio, and the prominent product placement of sponsor Geritol ("America's #1 tonic. Geritol, the fast-acting, high-potency tonic, that helps you feel... stronger... fast... ") above and between the two isolation booths
  • the character of Jewish working class, geeky contestant Herb Stempel (John Turturro)
  • Stempel's victimized anguish at being instructed to miss an easy question (regarding the well-known film Marty (1955)) to hand a victory (in exchange for $70 grand) to popular, WASP-ish bachelor "Twenty-One" contestant Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) - English teacher at Columbia University and son of ethical and disapproving poet Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield)
  • the Senate trial scenes in which Herb explains how he was coached in acting for the fixed game show
  • the revelation of proof to Harvard law graduate and federal investigator Richard 'Dick' Goodwin (Rob Morrow) that Van Doren was pre-supplied with answers
  • the scene of Van Doren (shot from behind with a smash-zoom) deliberately losing to earn a lucrative regular spot on NBC Today
  • the powerful line by smug Geritol president Martin Rittenhome (Martin Scorsese) to Federal investigator Dick Goodwin about the popularity of quiz shows: "You see, the audience didn't tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money"
  • the character of slimeball producer Dan Enright (David Paymer)
  • the subtly accusatory, slow-motion end credits showing a 50s television audience mindlessly laughing and applauding as Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" plays

(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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