Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



S (continued)
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Spiral Staircase (1945)

In director Robert Siodmak's suspenseful psychological drama:

  • the atmosphere of terror and suspense in an old dark mansion - a raging storm outside, dark shadows, a spiral staircase, the killer's menacing eyes, gusts of wind, flickering candlelights, creaking doors - tormenting a young victimized mute Helen (Dorothy McGuire)
  • the suspenseful climax of her scream at the moment of peril and speaking her first words since childhood with a phone call for a doctor ("1-8-9...Dr. Parry...Come...It's I, Helen") - the film's final line of dialogue

Spirited Away (2001, Jp./US) (aka Sen to Chihiro No Kamikakushi)

In director Hayao Miyazaki's classic, best-known anime and the highest-grossing film in Japanese box-office history at the time:

  • the characters and storyline of this Alice-in-Wonderland-like (and Wizard of Oz) coming-of-age tale for unhappy 10 year-old, pony-tailed Japanese schoolgirl Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase), as she entered a spirit-haunted, abandoned amusement park with her parents - when suddenly her father and mother (voices of Michael Chiklis and Lauren Holly) were turned into pigs after eating food in a deserted cafe
  • also the imaginative characters she encountered in a nocturnal bath-house/spa for spirits as she struggled to save her parents:
    - greedy, cranky, large-headed twin sister/matron Yubaba (voice of Suzanne Pleshette) who ran the bathhouse and could morph into a flying crow
    - young boy Master Haku (voice of Jason Marsden) - also seen as a flying dragon
    - "The Boiler Man" with six arms, named Kamajii (voice of David Ogden Stiers)
    - a white-masked, destructive, gluttonous spirit named "No Face" (voice of Bob Bergen) who presented everyone with gold
    - three green bouncing heads
    - stink spirits, the Radish Spirit, a giant baby (Chihiro's doppelganger), destructive paper birds, and more

Splash (1984)

In Ron Howard's romantic comedy (and Disney's first Touchstone release):

  • the scene of Manhattanite fruit/vegetable wholesaler Allen Bauer's (Tom Hanks) second rescue by a mermaid named Madison (Daryl Hannah) in the waters of Cape Cod
  • her arrest for being naked on Liberty Island (at the statue of liberty)
  • her screeching pronounciation of her name that shattered store windows
  • the sprouting of a tail while taking a bath and having to hide her flipper from Allen
  • the scene of the fish-woman's devouring of a live lobster (with its shell) in a restaurant
  • their farewell scene when she kissed him before diving back into the water -- and Allen's last-second decision to join Madison underwater forever!

Splendor in the Grass (1961)

In Elia Kazan's romantic drama of William Inge's screenplay:

  • the many appealing scenes of two love-struck teenage sweethearts in Kansas in the 1920s - Bud (Warren Beatty in his film debut) and Wilma Dean ("Deanie") (Oscar-nominated Natalie Wood), but repressed and sexually frustrated
  • the film's opening scene - the teenagers necking in a car next to a raging waterfall
  • the image of an unsatisfied Wilma Dean on her bed wrapping herself around a pillow or grinding her hips into his and languishing on the floor
  • the scene of her walking down the school corridor with a radiant look of love on her face toward Bud
  • the school scene of her interpretation of the "splendor in the grass" Wordsworth's poem
  • the emotionally devastating sequence beginning with Deanie's steam bath (and her strict mother's (Audrey Christie) questioning about her being spoiled) and her rejected-love scene followed by her drowning suicide attempt
  • and years later, the final sequence of her bittersweet reunion with Bud (who had since married an Italian waitress (Zohra Lampert)) while wearing a virginal white dress outfit and hat - and her recollection of the Wordsworth poem (in voice-over) and its meaning after being asked: "Do you think you still love him?"

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977, UK)

In director Lewis Gilbert's large-scale action film:

  • as in many James Bond films, the spectacular pre-title credits opening stunt sequence - of a chase after Agent 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) by four machine-gun wielding Russian KGB agents on skis in the Austrian Alps, and Bond's free-falling ski jump (by stunt man Rick Sylvester) off a snow-covered cliff (and the unveiling of the Union Jack parachute above him)
  • the theme song by Carly Simon "Nobody Does It Better"
  • Bond's sexy Russian KGB agent love interest Major Anya Amasova (or Agent Triple-X) (Barbara Bach) who suggested provocatively: "When necessary, shared bodily warmth"
  • the memorable character of gigantic, steel-toothed, mute henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) whom Bond electrocuted through his teeth, during a fight on a train, with the exposed filaments from a broken lamp
  • the image of Bond's Lotus Esprit turning into an amphibious vessel after a spectacular motorcycle-car-helicopter chase
  • the famous closing exchange when the Minister of Defence Sir Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen) discovered Bond under silk sheets in an escape pod making love to Anya: (Gray: "Bond! What do you think you're doing?!" - Bond: "Keeping the British end up, sir")

Stage Door (1937)

In director Gregory La Cava's showbusiness-related comedy-drama:

  • the sparring scenes between roommates at the Footlights Club - the sexy, insult-slinging Joan Maitland (Ginger Rogers) and rich/refined Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn)
  • the realistic performances of other theatrical boardinghouse roommates
  • the tearjerking scene of a depressed Kaye Hamilton (Andrea Leeds) ascending a staircase and hearing applause as she was about to commit suicide
  • Terry's memorable tearful rendition of the "calla lilies are in bloom..." and her curtain call speech

Stagecoach (1939)

In director John Ford's quintessential western:

  • charismatic Ringo Kid's (John Wayne) specially-highlighted entrance scene in which a tracking shot zoomed in as he was twirling and re-cocking his Winchester rifle in one hand
  • the great spectacular footage of Monument Valley
  • the character study of six passengers on a stagecoach and the seating of the group around a table at the Dry Fork way station - with prejudice shown toward fallen woman Dallas (Claire Trevor)
  • the delivery of Lucy's (Louise Platt) baby
  • the great shot of the stagecoach dwarfed by Monument Valley and the quick pan to the left to an awaiting group of Apache Indians
  • the lengthy ferocious Indian attack/salt flats chase on the stagecoach as Ringo jumped onto the horses to steer the out-of-control coach (with great, often-imitated stuntwork by Yakima Canutt)
  • the cavalry rescue
  • the climactic three-against-one shoot-out with the Plummers (Ringo Kid blasted his gun directly into the camera) on the dusty streets of a town

Stalag 17 (1953)

In director Billy Wilder's black comedy:

  • the scene in which suspected traitor Sergeant J.J. Sefton (William Holden) in a WWII POW camp received his first clue as to the real villain's identity while on his bunk and under the shadow of a naked hanging lightbulb (serving as a signal - with a knot or loop in the cord) - while the others marched around the barracks singing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"

Stand By Me (1986)

In director Rob Reiner's coming-of-age film - an adaptation of a Stephen King story (The Body):

  • the opening voice-over narration by the Writer (Richard Dreyfuss) - introducing a flashback: "I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959 - a long time ago"
  • the quartet of young boys and their adventures, including the train-dodging sequence
  • the interesting question posed: "Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog, so what's Goofy?"
  • the conversation between Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) about Mighty Mouse vs. Superman
  • the poignant nighttime campfire scene between two twelve year-old schoolboy buddies Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton) regarding how Chris was always labeled a 'low-life' due to his family's 'black-sheep' reputation ("That's the way they think of me") in their town of Castle Rock in Oregon
  • the film's last line (accompanied by Ben E. King's title theme song) in which the Writer lamented as he types on his computer monitor: ("Although I hadn't seen him in more than ten years I know I'll miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?")

A Star is Born (1954)

In director George Cukor's dramatic musical - the superior remake of the 1937 film of the same name:

  • the darkened nightclub scene (with stacked chairs all around) of aspiring Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester (Judy Garland) singing the jazzy "The Man That Got Away"
  • the extravagant production sequence "Born in a Trunk" (including various renditions of "Swanee")
  • the recorded proposal scene
  • the scene of boozing, washed-up actor Norman's (James Mason) intrusive entrance and interruption of Vicki's Oscar acceptance speech during the Academy Award banquet ceremony when he flung his arm out and accidentally struck his wife while demanding recognition
  • the scene of Vicki singing the first chorus of "Lose That Long Face" followed by her confessional breakdown in the dressing room scene about her alcoholic husband Norman with Oliver Niles (Charles Bickford): ("What is it that makes him want to destroy himself?...You don't know what it's like to watch somebody you love just crumble away bit by bit, day by day, in front of your eyes, and stand there helpless. Love isn't enough, I thought it was. I thought I was the answer for Norman. But love isn't enough for him....Sometimes, I hate him. I hate his promises to stop, and then the watching and waiting to see it begin again. I hate to go home to him at nights and listen to his lies...I hate me cause I've failed too...All he's got left is his pride"); afterwards, she forced herself to go back on stage to sing the song again
  • suicidal Norman's sunset swim-walk into the sea ("It's a New World")
  • the unforgettable poignant ending and closing tribute line to her husband in front of a large audience (as she identified herself: "This is Mrs. Norman Maine")

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

In Nicholas Meyer's superior sequel to the first installment:

  • the frightening scene of genetically-engineered superhuman Khan's (Ricardo Montalban) description of horrifying Ceti eels that he placed into the ears of crew-members Officer Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield): "their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex" - to control their minds: "This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow follows madness and death"
  • the scene of Enterprise Admiral James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) conversation with a gloating and vengeful Khan when he believed he had stranded Kirk on the barren planet of Regula: (Khan: "I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her -- marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. Buried alive. Buried alive." Kirk (shouting back): "KHAAANNNN! KHAAANNNN!")
  • the revelation of the Genesis Cave - opening into a lush biosystems paradise
  • the great sacrificial death scene of pointy-eared Vulcan Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) from radiation poisoning to save the U.S.S. Enterprise (and provide it with warp speed) after the venomous Khan decided to blow up his own spaceship with the Genesis torpedo device and thereby also destroy the Enterprise
  • Kirk's simple "No" as he watched Spock die
  • the intimate scene of Kirk's heartfelt eulogy for Spock during a funeral ("Of all the souls I have encountered, his was the most... human")
  • Spock's send-off into space to orbit a newly-birthed planet

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)

In director George Lucas' sequel to the prequel-trilogy:

  • the crawling of the beginning credits ("A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...") into a star-studded area of space
  • the spectacle of an exciting action story with landmark special effects and fanciful, unique characters
  • the dramatic opening - first the appearance of a small rebel ship belonging to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), which was being pursued by a gigantic, wedge-shaped imperial Star Destroyer spaceship of the evil Galactic Empire that completely covered the screen
  • the entrance (and first appearance) of black-garbed (with a swirling cape), masked, heavy breathing Dark Lord of the Sith - or Darth Vader (with the deep breaty voice of James Earl Jones), a towering, faceless, helmeted leader of the cruel and villainous forces during the assault on the crippled rebel ship; he spoke with a commanding voice - a vision of evil, signaled by the soundtrack
  • the anthropomorphic Laurel and Hardy-like robots or 'droids - the beeping R2D2 and gold-plated companion C-3PO, first seen in the corridor during the assault, and later lost in the desert
  • the scene of the robots' capture by Jawas and their imprisonment in a sandcrawler with other droids
  • the scene at Mos Eisley and its outerspace cantina featuring bizarre and intimidating space creatures and aliens ("a wretched hive of scum and villainy"), with the introduction of the hot-shot mercenary flyer Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who quickly shot bounty hunter Greedo at one of the tables
  • Han's flying of his Millennium Falcon with Wookie first-mate navigator Chewbacca or "Chewie" (Peter Mayhew) - and the moment of their light-speed blast-off
  • the iconic image of young hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) - gazing out at desert planet Tatooine's twin suns
  • his meeting to learn the ways of the Force (to become a Jedi knight and wield a lightsaber) from the great Jedi master Old Ben or Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness)
  • the scene in the Death Star's garbage bin crusher
  • Han's snarling words to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher): "Look! Your Worshipfulness! Let's get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person. Me"
  • the intergalactic final battle between the forces of good and evil - and the planetary explosion of Alderaan after orders by the Death Star's commanding officer Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) to destroy it
  • the "laser" lightsabers duel between Vader and Kenobi, culminating in the slaying of Kenobi
  • Han's unexpected reappearance with his Millennium Falcon to save the day ("You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!")
  • the bombing raids by the X-wing rebels across the surface of the Evil Empire's enormous battle station the Death Star and down into a narrow trench toward the target
  • Obi-wan Kenobi's telepathic advice to Luke to use his intuition: "Use the Force, Luke" rather than his targeting computer when firing
  • the climactic destructive explosion of the Death Star

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

In director J.J. Abrams' 7th installment of the fantasy, sci-fi action/adventure space epic:

  • the nostalgic scene of Chewbacca ("Chewie") and Han Solo (an aging Harrison Ford) entering and stepping onboard their Millennium Falcon, as Han remarked: "Chewie, we're home"

Stardust Memories (1980)

In writer/director Woody Allen's self-indulgent, often incoherent, impressionistic and dark comedy - an homage to Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963) and Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (1941), with Gordon Willis' harsh and washed-out B/W cinematography:

  • the hysterical and nightmarish sequence on a train (the proposed ending of the protagonist's latest work, in which he was trapped) with a collection of hopeless Fellini-esque "grotesques" filmed in wide-angle closeup
  • the demanding groupies - at a reluctantly-attended weekend's retrospective film seminar held at the Stardust Hotel beach resort in New Jersey - where pretentious, successful, and much-revered comedic filmmaker Sandy Bates (Woody Allen) answered questions during a forum and was harrassed with:
    - nonsensical questions ("Why are all comedians hostile or latent homosexuals?, or "Have you ever had intercourse with any type of animal?")
    - requests for autographs or sex: ("I drove all the way from Bridgeport to make it with you...empty sex is better than no sex, right?")
    - and proposals for ridiculous films from aspiring film-makers: ("It's a comedy based on that whole Guyana mass suicide!")
  • the studio's uplifting "Jazz Heaven" altered ending to one of his Berman-esque-like dramas
  • the fantasy sequence in the countryside of Sandy hearing a Martian alien advising him to stop taking himself so seriously and to go back to making comedy films: ("And, incidentally, you're also not Superman. You're a comedian. You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes")
  • the ending twist/plot device in the Stardust Hotel projection room, where Sandy was told: "Why do all comedians turn out to be sentimental bores?"; suddenly, Sandy fainted from "nervous tension," after a disturbing hallucinatory fantasy of being shot by an ultimately-adoring, fervent fan with a .32 caliber pistol ("Sandy? You know, you're my hero") (eerily presaging the John Lennon murder by Mark David Chapman shortly thereafter)
  • the scene of Sandy recalling his favorite loving and emotional moment one spring with former bipolar, neurotic and unbalanced lover Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling) accompanied by Louis Armstrong's recording of Stardust: (""It was one of those great spring days, a Sunday, and you knew summer would be coming soon. And I remember that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park. We came back to the apartment. We were just sort of sitting around. And I put on a record of Louis Armstrong, which was music that I grew up loving. It was very, very pretty, and I happened to glance over, and I saw Dorrie sitting there. And I remember thinking to myself how terrific she was and how much I loved her. And I don't know. I guess it was the combination of everything, the sound of that music, and the breeze, and how beautiful Dorrie looked to me. And for one brief moment, everything just seemed to come together perfectly, and I felt happy. Almost indestructible, in a way. And it's funny, that simple little moment of contact moved me in a very, very profound way.")
  • in a train compartment with Isobel, (Marie-Christine Barrault), Sandy's married French mistress, he begged her to stay with him, by claiming that he had thought of a new and better ending for his film - the film being watched - about being on a train with her and having a "good sentimental" relationship with her; she thought otherwise: "You like those dark women with all their problems...They give you a hard time and you like"; eventually, he convinced her to give him "a huge, big wet kiss" - it "would go a long way to selling this idea"; he then added: "I'm very serious. I think this is a big, big finish, you know?"; the train pulled out of the station as they hugged and kissed - and the audience clapped its approval of the film's coda
  • the plot twist -- all of the characters exited the theatre - leaving Sandy alone with an empty screen and chairs, signifying that the entire movie was a 'film-within-a-film' being screened at Bates' (or Woody Allen's?) film festival/charity event

Starman (1984)

In John Carpenter's romantic, tearjerking science fiction film:

  • the scene of alien Starman's (Oscar-nominated Jeff Bridges) creation from Jenny Hayden's (Karen Allen) dead painter-husband Scott's DNA (found in a hair strand in a photo album)
  • the scenes of the naive, robotic Starman's ' ecstatic reaction to Dutch Apple Pie and his resurrection of a deer (and later Jenny)
  • the wet sex scene in a train car with Starman pointing out his star to Jenny and telling her: "I have given you a baby tonight"
  • the eloquent speech by the dying alien to scientist Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) while trapped in federal custody in a restaurant: "We are... interested in your species...You are a strange species, not like any other -- and you would be surprised how many there are. Intelligent but savage. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst"
  • Starman's farewell to hostage-turned-lover Jenny in the middle of the Arizona crater where he was met by an alien search party: (Jenny: "I'm never going to see you again, am I?")
  • the final lingering shot of Jenny's face as Starman's ship departed to return home to the sounds of Jack Nitzsche's swelling score

(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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