Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



B (continued)

Basic Instinct (1992)

In Paul Verhoeven's erotic thriller:

  • the opening scene - a couple making love - the unidentified female with her face obscured (the film's brutal ice-pick murder suspect) atop rock star Johnny Boz (Bill Cable), and elements of S&M revealed when she tied his arms to the bedpost with a length of sheet - before reaching back and stabbing him to death with an ice-pick
  • the infamous police interrogation scene when ice-pick murder suspect/millionaire mystery novelist and bi-sexual Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) first smokes in the no-smoking area ("What are you going to do? Charge me with smoking?") and then openly crosses her legs - a full underwear-free view - to flirtatiously tease a panel of policemen facing her
  • her oversexed taunting line to Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) - "Have you ever f--ked on cocaine, Nick? (long pause) It's nice"
  • and other outrageous dialogue by scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas, such as: "Well, she got that magnum cum laude pussy on her that done fried up your brain"
  • Catherine's openly seductive lesbian dance with Roxy (Leilani Sarelle) in a nightclub to taunt the detective
  • Nick's controversial, brutal love-making scene with police psychiatrist Beth Gardner (Jeanne Tripplehorn)
  • the film's final scene - paralleling the opening sex-murder sequence, in which Catherine was making love to Nick, and the question of whether she was going to pick up and murder him with the ice-pick conveniently under her side of the bed

Batman (1989)

In Tim Burton's influential and dark blockbuster about the comic-book superhero:

  • Danny Elfman's memorable, brooding march score during the opening credits when a Batman logo is revealed
  • Anton Furst's revolutionary, Oscar-winning art direction/set design of a Gotham City (part Blade Runner, part comic book) with massive architecture and statuary
  • the first appearance of Batman (Michael Keaton) to a crook: "I'm Batman"
  • the first appearance of growling mob enforcer Jack Napier after being dropped into acid; the famous, oft-imitated "plastic surgery" scene in which Jack (seen from behind, face hidden) after having reconstructive facial surgery demands a mirror, and upon looking at his face in the mirror moans at first before laughing maniacally and smashing the mirror
  • his first memorable entrance as The Joker, in which he tells his boss Carl Grissom ("Jack? Jack is dead. You can call me... Joker!")
  • the post-coital moment when blonde photographer Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) wakes up to see Bruce Wayne swinging like a bat while doing his exercises
  • the many classic one-liners by the cackling, villainous Joker ("Winged freak terrorizes? What'll they get a load of ME!", "Where does he get those wonderful toys?", and "If you gotta go, go with a SMILE!")
  • the murder of a disloyal subordinate with a lethal joy-buzzer ("Oh, I've got a live one here!")
  • the flashback in which Bruce remembers his parents being murdered by Jack - and the killer's chilling line: "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? I always ask that of all my victims!"
  • Vicki's ride through a dense forest in the Batmobile en route to the Batcave
  • the ironic silhouette of the Batplane against the moon to form the Batman logo
  • the death of the Joker - plunging from a cathedral spire with a gargoyle attached after his climactic dual with Batman
  • the ending in which the Batsignal is revealed followed by the closing shot of Batman standing alone in a heroic pose on the top of a building, the guardian of his city

Batman Begins (2005)

In Christopher Nolan's tight and re-tooled prequel of the Caped Crusader series, the fifth film in the revived series:

  • an emphasis on the early roots of tortured superhero Batman's (Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale) career, including his fall as a young 8 year-old boy (Gus Lewis) into a well on his parents' estate Wayne Manor and his recurring, traumatic, batphobic nightmare of fluttering black bats attacking him, and his horrific witnessing of his parents' death by a mugger named Joe Chill in a city alleyway outside an opera house
  • later, his training to face his fears with the vigilante ninja sect The League of Shadows led by mystic Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) and enigmatic martial arts mentor Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) - ultimately revealed as the real Ra's Al Ghul in a concluding plot twist
  • the creation of Batman's persona and accoutrements/gadgets (the armored Batsuit and cowl, the all-terrain Batmobile called The Tumbler, the cave, the cape, etc.) by Wayne Enterprises' genius high-tech scientist Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman)
  • the evil characters of Italian crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) (who was tied to a floodlight to make the first bat-symbol in the sky) and effete psycho-pharmacologist Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka "The Scarecrow" (Cillian Murphy) who was the perverse proprietor of Arkham Asylum populated with lunatics, and often used a burlap bag mask when he sprayed opponents with a toxic vapor
  • the kiss between Wayne and his childhood friend, now grown-up Gotham City Assistant DA Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) who didn't know Bruce was Batman: "The man I loved - the man who vanished - he never came back at all. But maybe he's still out there, somewhere. Maybe some day, when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I'll see him again"
  • earlier, Rachel had set him on his mission in the crime-ridden, economically-depressed city with helpful advice: "It's what you do that defines you", and "Justice is about harmony. Revenge is about you making yourself feel better... You care about justice? Look beyond your own pain, Bruce"
  • the climactic action sequence of a race against time to prevent an elevated train from reaching Wayne Towers and causing the destruction of the city by releasing a fear-inducing hallucinogen into and through Gotham's water supply (and then vaporizing it with a stolen microwave-emitter)

The Battleship Potemkin (1925, Russ.)

In Russian director Sergei Eisenstein's classic film with revolutionary uses of montage and editing:

  • the extremely famous Odessa Steps montage sequence of the indiscriminate execution and massacre of civilians by rows of the Czar's Cossack's troops during the failed, real-life 1905 revolution - including these images:
    - angry citizens
    - a young mother being cut down and her baby carriage carrying her infant bouncing and tumbling down the harbor steps in Odessa (later copied in Brazil (1985), and The Untouchables (1987))
    - a woman being shot in the face (shattering her glasses)

Beau Geste (1939)

In director William Wellman's adventure drama:

  • the memorable puzzling opening sequence in which a relief column of French Foreign Legionnaires soldiers crosses the Saharan desert dunes and arrives at a strangely silent Fort Zinderneuf
  • the brutality of sadistic Sergeant Markoff (Brian Donlevy) toward deserters
  • the unraveling of the 'Blue Water' Sapphire mystery - with the final line tearfully spoken by a grateful Lady Patricia Brandon (Heather Thatcher) after she finishes reading Beau's (Gary Cooper) letter: "Beau Geste? Gallant gesture. We didn't name him wrongly, did we?"

Beautiful Girls (1996)

In director Ted Demme's coming-of-age comedy/drama:

  • the memorable scene of Paul Kirkwood's (Michael Rapaport) monologue about "supermodels" and "beautiful girls" ("Supermodels are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinkin' Jack and Coke all morning. She can make you feel high - full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow....")
  • also the scene of the bar-room singing of "Sweet Caroline"
  • and the scene of down-to-earth Gina Barrisano's (Rosie O'Donnell) smart-mouthed put-down monologue about the centerfold beauty myth and unrealistic expectations that guys have about supermodels to Tommy Rowland (Matt Dillon) and high-school grad Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) - ("Oh, guys, look what we have here. Look at this, your favorite, oh you like that?...Yeah, that's nice, right? Well, it doesn't exist, OK? Look at the hair, the hair is long, it's flowing. It's like a river. Well, it's a f--king weave, OK? And the tits? Please! I could hang my overcoat on them. Tits, by design, are intended to be suckled by babies. Yeah, they're purely functional. These are silicon city. And look, my favorite, the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being so unruly and all. Very vain. This is a mockery, this is sham, this is bulls--t...")
  • and the advice-giving scenes between Willie and precocious, well-versed 13 year-old neighbor girl Marty (Natalie Portman) - from a window (Marty: "Romeo and Juliet, the dyslexic version") and Marty's recognition of their age difference: "Alas, poor Romeo, we can't do diddly. You'd be taken to the penitentiary and I'd become the laughing stock of the Brownies," and Willie's follow-up comment about growing up: ("I can't play Pooh to your Christopher Robin") at the edge of a frozen pond while Marty ice-skates

Beauty and the Beast (1946, Fr.) (aka La Belle et La Bete)

In director Jean Cocteau's visual fantasy:

  • the fanciful scenes including the one in which Beauty's merchant father (Marcel André), and then Beauty (Josette Day) enter the Beast's (Jean Marais) enchanted and haunted castle and move down its corridor - with human arm candelabra (that light themselves) reaching out from the walls
  • the magnificent costuming of the Beast himself, who has steaming claws (symbolic of a recent kill of deer), and the image of Beauty's tear that transforms into a diamond

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

In Disney's landmark film - the first (and only) animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture:

  • the moving ballroom dance scene in Disney's film between Belle (voice of Paige O'Hara) and the Beast (voice of Robby Benson), in which an anthropomorphic, grandmotherly talking teapot - or Mrs. Potts (voice of Angela Lansbury) sings the memorable title ballad, "Beauty and the Beast"

Becky Sharp (1935)

In director Rouben Mamoulian's period drama:

  • a landmark 3-color technicolor film (the first), taking advantage of the rich color process in the grand ball scene

Beetlejuice (1988)

In Tim Burton's haunted comedy:

  • the sight of Michael Keaton as the demonic, over-the-top title character Betelgeuse (the "afterlife's leading bioexorcist"
  • the scene of the Maitlands (Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis) haunted 'parlor trick' dinner-table in which they attempt to spook the yuppie Dietz family at a hosted dinner party by having obnoxious wife Delia (Catherine O'Hara) belt out the calypso "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" - in Harry Belafonte's voice
  • the Maitland's waiting room scene full of other recently dead clients, especially the explorer with a shrunken head and ping pong ball eyes
  • the final scene with Betelgeuse's shrunken head and his hilarious deadpanned statement about his messed up hair: ("Hey, this might be a good look for me!")

Before Sunrise (1995)

In Richard Linklater's sweet romance:

  • the initial chance meeting between two young tourists on a train bound for Paris: American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy), and their lengthy existential ruminations (that started in the dining car) on life, death, love, past lives, success, parents, relationships, religion, etc.
  • the scenes of their roaming around Vienna (and taking public transportation) throughout the night, and their first realization of a romantic attraction for each other in a record booth while listening to a 33 rpm recording of Kath Bloom's "Come Here", making shy eye contact and nervous shifting
  • their first kiss on the famous Viennese Ferris wheel the Riesenrad [the location of the famous "cuckoo clock" speech and scene in The Third Man (1949)] when she asks: "Are you trying to say you want to kiss me?" after which she hugs him closely and tenderly rests her head on his shoulder
  • also, their encounter with various Viennese personalities - such as a palm reader (Erni Mangold) who tells them they both are composed of stardust ("You're an adventurer, a seeker...You need to resign yourself to the awkwardness of life...You're both stars, don't forget, and the stars exploded billions of years ago to form everything that is this world. Everything we know is stardust. So don't forget. You are stardust. Ha, ha!"), and a strange vagrant street poet (Dominic Castell) who rapidly writes poems with any random word given to him ("milkshake") and presents them with the poem Delusion Angel (written for the film by the poet David Jewell) ("...See what you mean to me / Sweet-cakes and milkshakes / I'm a delusion angel / I'm a fantasy parade...")
  • the concluding heartbreaking goodbye scene in the train station when they hastily part with a few final kisses and embraces (Celine: "OK, I guess this is it, no?...Have a great life. Have fun with everything you're gonna do!"), vow to see each other again in exactly six months at the same location, as she boards the train and he catches a bus to the airport (and each reflect upon their time together during the closing montage as the film returns to the locations they had visited which are now empty) - to the sound of Bach's Andante from Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Viola

Being There (1979)

In Hal Ashby's satire adapted from Jerry Kosinski's screenplay:

  • the enigmatic character of illiterate, TV-watching gardener Chance the Gardener or Chauncey Gardiner (Peter Sellers)
  • Chauncey's simpleton lecture to President Bobby (Jack Warden) about how the garden grows ("In a garden, growth has its season . . . as long as the roots are not severed, all will be well")
  • his shocking but understandable line to love-starved, seductive Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine) - the wife of a rich industrialist: "I love to watch" as she demonstrates self-love to him on the floor, atop a bear-skin rug
  • and the cryptic, mystical final shot of Chauncey strolling on water as his Presidential candidacy is discussed off-screen

Belle de Jour (1967, Fr.)

In Luis Bunuel's first color film:

  • the fantasy, masochistic erotic dream sequence of bored, repressed upper-class Parisian housewife Severine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve) who takes up afternoon prostitution with the name "Belle de Jour" -- she is driven in a carriage into the woods where her husband society doctor Pierre Serizy (Jean Sorel) instructs the coachman to tie her to a nearby tree where her dress is torn and her bare back is whipped (pleasurably), before a presumed scene of rape -- the scene cuts back to Severine's bedroom where she sits in bed with her husband and refuses to pay attention to him
  • the scene of Severine's reply to fearful but sympathetic brothel maid Pallas (Muni) after she services a strange East Asian client (Iska Khan) - "What do you know about it, Pallas?"

La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Fr.) (aka The Beautiful Troublemaker or The Beautiful Nuisance)

In French director Jacques Rivette's lengthy (almost 4 hour) Grand Prize of the Jury winner at Cannes:

  • the creative process, exemplified by the return to work (after 10 years) on an abandoned, neglected masterpiece of ten years - a painting known as "La Belle Noiseuse," by uninspired, married, impatient and aging French artist-painter Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli)
  • the many scenes in his vast, long-neglected stone-walled studio - with minimal dialogue - engaged with his strong-willed model named Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart) who was required to be stark naked as his muse for the majority of the film
  • the captivating process by which he made many preliminary sketches of her in various naked poses, as he attempted to capture her essence, while positioning her in painful, demanding, contorted, cramping and unmoving positions. As he touched her to set her postures, he told her: "I don't care about your breasts, legs, your lips... I want more. I want everything. The blood, the fire, the ice... All that's inside your body. I'll take it all. I'll get it out of you and put it into this frame...I'll get to know what's inside under your thin surface. I want the invisible"
  • at the film's conclusion when the painting was finished after a marathon battle of wills over a 4-day period, Marianne described its stunning image: "A thing which was cold and dry -- it was me"
  • also, the surprise scene of Frenhofer secretly sealing the painting - unseen - behind a newly-laid brick wall, and then presenting another faceless painting as the finished product, claiming: "It's my first posthumous work"

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

In this silent film religious epic from director Fred Niblo:

  • the original, thrilling chariot race sequence (filmed with 42 cameramen) between Judah Ben-Hur (Ramon Novarro) and Roman centurion Messala (Francis X. Bushman)

(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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