Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

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:

  • reptilian maniac gangster Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) and his close and almost-incestuous relationship with his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak)
  • George Raft in his famous coin-flipping role as Guino Rinaldo
  • the many murder/massacre scenes including gangster Gaffney's (Boris Karloff) execution in a bowling alley
  • the many X images signifying an impending murder
  • Cesca and Tony's death scenes in the climactic final shootout

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 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:

  • the tragic story of a meek, middle-aged cashier and unhappily-married, hen-pecked husband Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) who unwittingly fell into a cruel trap set by cold-hearted femme fatale gold-digger Katherine "Kitty" March (Joan Bennett)
  • her abusive, slick and mercenary boyfriend Johnny (Dan Duryea), particularly obvious in the scene when she laughed at Cross for proposing marriage and revealed her true feelings, calling him an "idiot": ("I'm not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!...Oh you idiot! How could a man be so dumb?"); she ordered him out -- leading him to commit murder in a jealous rage by stabbing her with an ice-pick through her bed covers
  • the film's ending - Cross' suffering of 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 portrait he had made of Kitty, and overheard its sale to an elderly matron for $10,000

(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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