Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions
Screenshots

Saboteur (1942)

In Alfred Hitchcock's exciting thriller:

  • the spectacular opening scene of a self-immolating attempt to put out a factory fire
  • Barry Kane's (Robert Cummings) frantic grinding of his handcuffs with the fan belt of his car as another car approached
  • the bizarre encounter with the Russell Bros. circus - a caravan of unusual freaks
  • the scene at the charity ball where an exit-escape was impossible
  • Kane's race to stop the sabotage of a ship launching at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and his wrestling with foreign saboteur Fry (Norman Lloyd)
  • Patricia Martin's (Priscilla Lane) entrapment high in an office building and her SOS note (written in lipstick) sent fluttering into the wind
  • the pursuit scene across the movie theatre stage of Radio City Music Hall
  • the frightening, harrowing scene high on the Statue of Liberty's torch when Fry's coat sleeve slowly ripped away stitch by stitch and he fell to his death

Sabrina (1954)

In Billy Wilder's delightful romantic comedy:

  • the tremendous beauty and charm of Long Island chauffeur's daughter Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn)
  • her snooping on the Larrabee's party on Long Island from a perch in a tree
  • her costumed Cinderella-like transformation after returning from Paris - when she was picked up at the railroad station by astounded ultra-rich playboy David Larrabee (William Holden)
  • her response to his question about where she had been all his life: ("Right over the garage")

Safe (1995)

In director Todd Haynes' provocative and compelling drama:

  • the portrayal of sexually-unfulfilled, affluent, zombie-like and bored San Fernando Valley housewife Carol White (Julianne Moore), a milk-a-holic, who became afflicted with a psycho-somatic, debilitating allergy to her environment (various pollutants, car exhaust, poisons, chemicals, the ozone, high-energy wires, additives-preservatives, pesticides, etc.)
  • the scene of her choking on exhaust fumes from a truck
  • her retreat from life to an expensive, New Mexic0 New Age center named Wrenwood - a non-profit desert community run by chemically-sensitive, opportunistic, HIV-positive Peter Dunning (Peter Friedman)
  • the self-help group's daily mantra: "Give yourself to love!"
  • the film's final image of the vulnerable, self-effacing Carol attempting to find elusive liberation through self-love (addressing her mirror image with "I love you... I really love you... I love you...") as the sole occupant of a sterile, egg-like, hermetically-sealed igloo 'home' at Wrenwood



Safety Last (1923)

In this well-known romance comedy from co-directors Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor:

  • the mild-mannered and timid Boy's (Harold Lloyd) suspenseful, slapstick-filled daredevil climb up the side of a twelve-story building in the big city, culminating in the famous image of him hanging from the arms of a huge clock high above the busy street below - at every floor, the Boy was beset by an incredible array of problems (pesky, flapping pigeons who feasted on nuts that had fallen on him from above, a tennis net that became enveloped around him, painters who thrust a protruding two by four paint platform at him, a swinging window, a rope, a vicious dog, a flagpole, a mouse that climbed up his pants leg, a photographic subject who was posing with a gun pointed at him at the exact moment the flash exploded, a revolving weather vane, and a second rope entangled around his ankle which swung him pendulum-like from the top of the building)

Salvador (1986, UK/US)

In director Oliver Stone's political thriller about the bloody 1980 civil war strife in Central America:

  • the heavy-drinking, joke-telling drive south in a Mustang convertible into politically-unstable El Salvador by two adventurers: sleazy, obnoxious freelance American photo-journalist Richard Boyle (Oscar-nominated James Woods) and his drug-taking DJ buddy Doctor Rock (James Belushi)
  • the horrors of war (stinking piles of corpses of raped/murdered victims) that were uncovered when Boyle and John Cassidy (John Savage) found themselves shooting at the body dump
  • the scene in a San Salvador cathedral when Boyle sought redemption and forgiveness from a priest but realized "that's gonna be a little tough" to change his ways


Samson and Delilah (1949)

In Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical epic:

  • hunk Samson's (Victor Mature) quick bit of dialogue before a kiss with potential pretty Philistine bride Semadar (Angela Lansbury): (Samson: "What is sweeter than honey?" Semadar: "What is stronger than a lion?")
  • Samson's destruction of the Philistinian army with the jawbone of an ass in a savage battle scene
  • Semadar's younger sister Delilah's (Hedy Lamarr) seduction of Samson and the shearing of his locks after drugging him, to weaken him and to betray him to the enemy Philistines
  • the spectacular scene of the blinded Samson's destruction of the temple of Dagon after his hair grew back, after he was led by remorseful Delilah to the main support pillars to topple them and crush everyone



San Francisco (1936)

In director W.S. Van Dyke's dramatic disaster film:

  • the stunningly realistic 20-minute earthquake and fire sequence, with spectacular special effects (including the splitting apart of the earth and the fiery aftermath)
  • Blackie Norton's (Clark Gable) and Father Tim Mullin's (Spencer Tracy) discovery of Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald) on a hillside singing "Nearer My God to Thee"
  • Blackie's confession of thanks to God on his knees and his reunion with Mary as she sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" with the throngs of people
  • the final scene (after "the fire's out") in which crowds gathered on a hill to look down on the devastated city
  • the dissolve from the ruined city to a view of the reconstructed city with the reprised sound of the title song: "San Francisco"






Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

In director Allan Dwan's action-war film:

  • the scene of tough Marine Sergeant John M. Stryker (Oscar-nominated John Wayne) addressing his combat soldiers, a new batch of recruits to fight in the Pacific theatre of the war as a rifle squad, with his determination to harshly mold them into fighting men: ("You gotta learn right and you gotta learn fast. And any man that doesn't want to cooperate, I'll make him wish he hadn't been born. Before I'm through with you, you're gonna move like one man and think like one man. If you don't, you'll be dead")
  • Stryker's threat to kill Pfc Conway (John Agar): ("That's just what I'll do. This mission is bigger than any individual") for wanting to rescue wounded comrade Pfc. Bass (James Brown) (whose faint voice could be heard calling out "Corpsman"), but would tip off their whereabouts to the Japanese enemy; Conway asserted: "The only way you can stop me is to kill me"
  • Stryker's repeated phrase: "Saddle up!"
  • the unexpected and random, unheroic death of Stryker who had just completed a strategic assault on the volcanic Japanese island of Iwo Jima - he paused to relax with a cigarette after having just told fellow Marine Conway: "As a matter of fact, I never felt so good in my life" and was asking: "How about a cigarette?" - when he was shot and killed by a sniper in a bunker
  • the somber reading of an undelivered and unfinished letter written by Stryker to his son: ("Dear son, I guess none of my letters have reached you, but I thought I'd better try again cause I have the feeling that this may be the last time I can write you. For a long time, I've wanted to tell you many things. Now that you're a big boy, I will. If we could have been together even for a little while, I could've explained many things much better than writing them. You've gotta take care of your mother, and love her and make her happy. Never hurt her or anyone as I did. Always do what your heart tells you is right. Maybe someone will write you some day and tell you about me. I want you to be like me in some things, but not like me in others, because when you grow older and get to know more about me, you'll see that I've been a failure in many ways. This isn't what I wanted, things just turned out that way. If there was only more time, I...")
  • the film's last line (accompanied by the singing of The Halls of Montezuma) was heard with the memorable raising of the flag ("There she goes") on Mount Suribachi: "All right! Saddle up! Let's get back in the war!"




Saturday Night Fever (1977)

In director John Badham's 1970s disco dance classic, a defining 70s dance film:

  • under the credits, the swaggering footsteps of Italian Saturday night disco king Tony Manero (a star-making, Oscar-nominated role for John Travolta) walking down a Brooklyn sidewalk while swinging a paint can, to the tune of "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees
  • the "Night Fever" line dance
  • Tony's amazing display of dancing style on a pulsating color-tiled dance floor of the 2001 Odyssey club, especially his brilliant solo "You Should Be Dancin'" with a soundtrack enhanced by the Bee Gees
  • the contest scene with a white-suited, black-shirted Tony dancing next to partner Stephanie Mangano (Karen Lynn Gorney) to the tune of "More Than a Woman" to win the $500 prize




Saving Private Ryan (1998)

In Best Director-winning Steven Spielberg's WWII epic:

  • the film's opening with an American flag and the first word heard - "father" as an elderly man knelt at a tombstone while visiting the war dead
  • the gripping, documentary-style, graphically-bloody, visceral Allied D-Day landing on Omaha Beach (actually filmed on the coast of Ireland) in the opening half-hour (beginning with a close-up of shaking hands of a young soldier on a PT boat - later revealed as belonging to Capt. John Miller (Oscar-nominated Tom Hanks))
  • the mission of a unit of soldiers led by Miller to rescue the last Ryan son (the other three Sean, Peter, and Daniel had been killed)
  • the scene of Miller's revelation: "I'm a schoolteacher. I teach English composition... in this little town called Adley, Pennsylvania..." and his concern about how the war might change him
  • Miller's heroic, dying order to Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) with the terse words: "James, earn this. Earn it"
  • in voice-over, as a lengthy letter from General George C. Marshall to Ryan's mother was read informing her that her sole surviving, youngest son was alive and returning home from the European battlefield, Miller's face transitionally dissolved or morphed into the face of the nameless, elderly teary-eyed veteran (Harrison Young) - revealed to be an older Ryan - visiting the Normandy cemetery at the film's beginning (50 years later) - at the grave site of Captain Miller
  • Ryan was reassured by his wife after asking her: "Tell me I've led a good life...Tell me I'm a good man"
  • the final image of a back-lit American flag billowing in the wind









Say Anything... (1989)

In director/writer Cameron Crowe's teen romance (his directorial debut film):

  • the scene of a three second kiss in the pouring rain between brainy and beautiful high-school girlfriend Diane Court (Ione Skye) and Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack)
  • their awkward and painful scene of breaking up in his car, when she gave him a parting gift of a pen to write to her: ("She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen")
  • his replaying of Peter Gabriel's haunting "In Your Eyes" on a boom box (defiantly held high above his head) to serenade his ex-girlfriend outside her bedroom window at dusk
  • the final scene on an airplane where flight-fearing Diane and a comforting Lloyd were awaiting the all-clear and safe 'ding' of the "Fasten Seatbelts" sign going off - and when it dinged the screen cut to black



Scarface (1932) (aka Scarface, The Shame of the Nation)

In this brutally realistic crime-gangster film produced by Howard Hughes and directed by Howard Hawks (and a great screen story by Ben Hecht), with its many X images signifying an impending murder:

  • the character of reptilian maniac gangster Tony Camonte (Paul Muni), revealed in an early scene in a barber's chair with his face and body wrapped in a towel and sheet - when unwrapped, the sheet revealed an immigrant face, an ugly X-shaped scar on his left upper cheek, and slicked-back, pomaded oily hair - the X on his face identified him as the title character of Scarface
  • George Raft in his famous coin-flipping role as Tony's unflappable and dapper right-hand man Guino Rinaldo
  • Tony's overprotective, close and almost-incestuous relationship with his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak)
  • the ambush, drive-by shooting sequence at the Columbia Cafe-Restaurant, where Tony was sweet-talking tall, slender blonde moll Poppy (Karen Morley): "I'm not hungry - except for you. You got something I like...Say, I've been waiting a long time. I'm crazy about you...I've got everything BUT what I want. Ya understand?"; the two had to duck for cover as rival gangster O'Hara's slow-moving hearse followed by other black cars (in a fake funeral procession) drove by the window-fronted restaurant and sprayed it with gunfire from their repeating tommy guns
  • Tony's excitement at acquiring one of the gang's tommy guns: "Hey Johnny, look what I got!...Lookit, Johnny, you can carry it around like a baby...We don't give 'em time. We go after them. We throw them micks up for grabs... There's only one thing that gets orders and give orders. (He tapped the gun) And this is it. That's how I got the South Side for ya and that's how I'm gonna get the North Side for ya. Some little typewriter, eh? I'm gonna write my name all over this town with it in big letters...Get outta my way, Johnny, I'm gonna spit!"
  • the many murder/massacre scenes, including the execution in a bowling alley (signified by a strike on a score sheet) of one of the last members of O'Hara's gang, Tom Gaffney (Boris Karloff as a gangsterish-like Frankenstein)
  • in one later scene, Tony's jealousy and overprotectiveness led to a raging argument with Cesca: "Yeah, runnin' around with the fellas, huh? Lettin' 'em hold ya like that. Lettin' 'em look at you. Dressin' up like that for the fellas to see, huh?" (He ripped her spaghetti shoulder strap, baring her bra and slip); Cesca screamed back: "What I do with fellas is MY business!" (He slapped her repeatedly)
  • the scene in which Tony took possession of his murdered ex-boss Johnny Lovo's (Osgood Perkins) mistress, the icy-cold and scheming blonde Poppy - and pointed out to her the blinking THE WORLD IS YOURS sign outside the window to reinforce his current position at the top of the underworld: ("Hey. Come here. Look at that. Do you remember what I told ya?")
  • Tony's misguided, cold-blooded murder of Guino at his apartment building's doorway, and then Cesca's revelation of their recent secret marriage - she cursed her brother for being a "murderer" and a "butcher" in the fratricidal killing: "Tony, it's my Guino. I love him. We were married yesterday, Tony...We were going to surprise you - weren't we, Guino? Oh, God. He's dead. He's dead. He loved me, really loved me. (She pushed Tony away.) Don't touch me. Don't come near me. (He staggered toward her.) Stay away from me. You're not my brother. Don't you think I know? Murderer! He kills people. He kills everybody. He kills everything. He's a butcher. That's what you are. You're a butcher. You're a butcher"
  • the climactic and prolonged final shootout sequence that included two death scenes: first Cesca who was mortally-wounded when hit by a stray bullet in the mid-section (Tony reacted: "I'll be here all alone. You can't leave me here all alone...Cesca! You're all I've got left...I'm no good without you, Cesca. I'm no good by myself. Cesca!"), and then Tony's stumbling, staggering descent down the stairs to the front door where he made a cowardly plea for his life ("Gimme a break, will ya? Don't shoot. You got me covered. I can't do nothin'"), but many police guns opened fire and riddled his body with hundreds of bullets when he made a break for it, and died in the street's filthy gutter
  • the film's final ironic image: the camera moved up and away from Tony's sprawled body toward the flashing electric sign that promised Tony the world: "THE WORLD IS YOURS"











Scarface (1983)

In Brian De Palma's (and writer Oliver Stone's) bloody and violent remake:

  • the character of Cuban refugee turned coke addict Tony Montana (Al Pacino)
  • the immigration interview
  • the shocking chain-saw dismemberment scene (off-screen, but accompanied by blood splattering)
  • the entrance scene of Tony's sexy but callous cokehead future wife Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer) with a backless dress descending in an elevator
  • the visceral shootout ending in which the Miami gangster faced overwhelming odds with his M16 assault rifle (and grenade launcher) at the top of the stairs - tempting the assassins raiding his mansion with: ("Say hello to my little friend")



The Scarlet Empress (1934)

The Scarlet Empress (1934)

In Josef von Sternberg's startling, dark, daring, visually opulent, hauntingly expressionistic, and mostly fictional, unorthodox biopic of German-born Princess Sophia Frederica - a semi-erotic tale of 18th century Russia; it marked the sixth (of seven) film collaborations between Sternberg and Dietrich:

  • the opening montage of sado-masochistic, depraved tortures and brutalities in Tsarist Russia - told as a bedtime story to young Sophia Frederica (Maria Sieber/Riva, Marlene Dietrich's own daughter), including views of a woman strapped to a revolving wheel, multiple axe-executions and beheadings, a group of bound topless women burnt at the stake, and an upside-down male torture victim used as a giant bell-clapper
  • the scene of young, naive, tremulous bride-to-be Princess (Marlene Dietrich) brought on a seven-week journey to Russia for an arranged marriage to Grand Duke Peter III (Sam Jaffe in his film debut), son of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (Louise Dresser); Sophia's unpleasant, domineering mother-in-law hoped to improve the royal blood line by having Frederica marry her no-good nephew ("...pushed like a brood mare into the preparations for her marriage to a royal half-wit"), and her first meeting with Peter
  • the scenes of an awed 14 year old Sophia looking in shock-amazement at everything during her first meeting with Peter: the gothic imagery of giant, ghoulish gargoyle-like statues each holding a candle, various religious icons, the 20-foot-high, oversized carved wooden doors (requiring many women to open), and her revulsion at her bumbling, idiotic, grinning, and childlike husband-to-be in an arranged marriage, who blurted out: "I want to play with my toys!"
  • the bravura marriage ceremony sequence, with the veil-covered, stone-faced Sophia Frederica looking trapped amidst bearded Orthodox priests with crucifixes and waving incense - and everyone holding candles, including Sophia with one flickering close to her face
  • the slowly-transformed character of Russia's queen into a sexually-depraved dominatrix ruler with a whip, and her many romantic and flirtatious involvements with men in her entourage, mostly with Russian emissary Count Alexei (John Lodge), an opportunistic womanizer
  • Catherine's clandestine meeting with Count Alexei in the stable barn, where she seductively kept replacing a piece of straw between her lips and warned: "If you come closer, I'll scream"; he removed every strand and then coyly answered: "It is easier for you to scream without a straw in your mouth," before kissing her; she was startled by the whinnying of a horse mid-kiss and ran off
  • the scene of her shock at watching a giant drill bit penetrating and emerging from the eye of a mural painting - Peter had drilled a hole in the wall to spy on his Aunt's bedroom
  • in another scene of adulterous seduction, she met up with an anonymous palace guard on his first night of duty, who was astonished to learn who she was: ("If you are the Grand Duchess, then I am the Grand Duke...On a night like this, anything might happen - if I'm fortunate"). She mentioned that he was "very fortunate" and clasped her hands behind him (with extended fingers) as she embraced and surrendered to him - before a fade to black
  • the scene of her appraisal of her troops (wearing a fur-hat), with her swaggering, flirtatious assertions to Captain Orloff (Gavin Gordon), and then her singling-out of Lieutenant Dmitri (Gerald Fielding) - one of her attractive, virile soldiers: "Now there's another good-looking soldier....And your duties, Dmitri?...It must be cold at night, sometimes?...Anyway, I'm certain you're very efficient, Lieutenant"; she presented him with a medal and pinned it on his chest: "For bravery in action. See that you do justice to it in future emergencies" - he was most likely the one who had borne her a child!
  • she also appeared that evening with a gauzy veil over herself before allowing Count Alexei to vow his love for her: ("Catherine, I love you, worship you"); when he leaned down to kiss her behind the veil, she gripped the veil with her fist and drew it aside to reveal their affectionate kiss, and then asked for a favor from the scorned Count - to open her secret door for another man - Captain Orloff
  • in the bell-ringing conclusion, Catherine (in the white uniform of a male Cossack) had engineered a coup d'etat with the military, coordinated the downfall of Peter III, and was crowned as Catherine the Great, Tsarina of Russia; the film's last lines were delivered by Count Orloff to Emperor Peter who had been dethroned: "There is no emperor. There is only an empress"














The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934, UK)

In director Harold Young's historical adventure - adapted from Baroness Emmuska Orczy's 1905 novel of the same name:

  • the oft-repeated poem recited by Sir Percy Blakeney/The Pimpernel (Leslie Howard): ("They seek him here. They seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven? Is he in Hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel")

Scarlet Street (1945)

In Fritz Lang's fatalistic film noir - one of the moodiest, blackest thrillers ever made, its three main actors, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea, had all appeared together in Lang's The Woman in the Window (1944):

  • the tragic story of a meek, middle-aged cashier and unhappily-married, hen-pecked husband and amateur painter named Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson)
  • Cross unwittingly fell into a cruel trap set up by cold-hearted, amoral femme fatale gold-digger and Greenwich Village streetwalker Katherine "Kitty" March (Joan Bennett); he first met Kitty on a rainy night when she was being beaten up by her own abusive, slick and mercenary boyfriend-pimp Johnny (Dan Duryea); she enticingly asked: "Would you take me home?"; they got to know each other in a bar for a late-night drink - he was immediately entranced by the clear plastic raincoat-wearing sexy dame
  • Kitty's evil deceptions and extortions -- she led Cross to commit embezzlement (of his wife's and employer's funds) in order to rent an expensive apartment for her (to serve as an art studio), impersonated him in order to sell his paintings, and was deceitful and cruel to him
  • in the middle of all the deceptive proceedings, there was an amazing and contrived plot-twist; the previous husband of Cross' wife Adele (Rosalind Ivan), corrupt policeman Patch-eye Homer Higgins (Charles Kemper) suddenly appeared - he had been presumed drowned during the rescue of a suicidal woman; Cross now assumed that his marriage to Adele was invalidated, and that he was free to marry Kitty
  • the scene of Cross' pitiful and pathetic proposal of marriage to Kitty: ("I haven't any wife, that's finished...Her husband turned up, I'm free...I can marry you now, I want you to be my wife. We'll go away together, way far off so you can forget this other man. Don't cry, Kitty, please don't cry"), when she humiliated him and revealed her true feelings; Kitty called Cross an "idiot": ("I am not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!...Oh, you idiot! How can a man be so dumb?...I've wanted to laugh in your face ever since I first met you. You're old and ugly and I'm sick of you. Sick, sick, sick!"); she ordered him out ("You want to marry me? You? Get out of here! Get out! Get away from me!") -- leading him to commit murder in a jealous rage by stabbing her with an ice-pick through her bed covers when she hid
  • the film's ending - Johnny was accused of the crime (and sentenced to death), and Cross (although innocent) suffered humiliating disgrace, psychological torment and mental anguish (i.e., a failed suicide attempt by hanging and abject homelessness as he wandered the streets)
  • the final image was his shuffling by a 5th Avenue gallery when he passed the 'self-portrait' he had drawn of Kitty, and overheard its sale to an elderly matron for $10,000; he heard the art dealer Mr. Dellarowe (Arthur Loft) comment: "Well, there goes her masterpiece. I really hate to part with it" - the buyer replied: "For $10,000 dollars, I shouldn't think you'd mind, Mr. Dellarowe"
  • the last lines of dialogue, heard as the tormented and haunted Cross slowly ambled down the deserted street under a movie marquee - he thought of Kitty and Johnny together, with echoing words of love spoken (off-screen) between them: Kitty: "Johnny. Oh Johnny." Johnny: "Lazy Legs." Kitty: "Jeepers, I love you, Johnny."












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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