Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



B (continued)

Ben-Hur (1959)

In William Wyler's monumental, Best Picture-winning Biblical epic:

  • the opening nativity scene
  • the moment that Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is given water by Jesus (and the reverse scene on the road to the crucifixion)
  • the interior sequences aboard the galley ships and the exciting slave galley ship battle
  • and the most famous sequence of all - the thrilling 40 minute chariot race scene between Ben-Hur and his villainous childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd) before an immense crowd
  • Messala's gruesome deathbed scene
  • the final crucifixion and healing scene of Ben-Hur's leprosy-afflicted mother and sister

Best in Show (2000)

In director/writer Christopher Guest's satirical mockumentary film:

  • the quirky views and interviews with neurotic dog owners
  • the national dog show itself, the Mayflower Kennel Club's annual competition, emceed by the comical TV commentator Buck Laughlin (Fred Willard) and his co-host Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock) ("And to think that in some countries these dogs are eaten")

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

In William Wyler's insightful, Best Picture-winning homefront drama:

  • the early scene in the B-17 bomber nose when three returning veterans have their first glimpse of their hometown
  • the poignant shot of Homer's mother having an uncontrollable reaction at the first sight of double-amputee son Homer's (Oscar-winning Harold Russell) hooks for hands
  • husband Sgt. Al Stephenson's (Fredric March) homecoming reunion scene in which he enters the apartment complex and then the door of his apartment and silences with his cupped hand the mouths of his son and daughter and then Milly's (Myrna Loy) first realization ("Who's that at the door, Peggy? Peggy? Rob? Who is...?") that he has come through the door
  • the moving sequences in which Homer thrusts his hooked hands through a window at tormenting neighbor children, and later how he demonstrates to loyal girlfriend Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell) his helplessness without a harness as he prepares for bed
  • the scene of Fred's father reading with pride his son's citation for a Flying Cross honor
  • Air Force Captain Fred Derry's (Dana Andrews) walk through a junked airplane graveyard where he relives his wartime memories in the nose of an abandoned B-17 bomber
  • the film's final scene of Wilma's and Homer's wedding and the skill with which Homer places a ring on her finger

Beyond the Forest (1949)

In King Vidor's melodramatic camp classic:

  • trampy dark-haired Rosa Moline's (Bette Davis) immortal words: "What a dump!" (later imitated by Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966))
  • the scene in which Rosa forces her husband Dr. Lewis Moline (Joseph Cotten) to stop the car so she can leap into a ravine, forcing an injury and miscarriage of her unwanted pregnancy
  • the last scene of Rosa's death as she staggers from her house to the train station

Big (1988)

In director Penny Marshall's body transference fantasy:

  • the joyous Heart and Soul and Chopsticks tap dances of 13 year-old Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) - in a 35 year old's body - with toy executive boss "Mac" MacMillan (Robert Loggia) on a giant, floor-sized and mounted electronic piano keyboard in an F.A.O. Schwartz toy store
  • Josh's eating of a miniature ear of corn at a fancy cocktail party
  • Josh's jumping on a trampoline (viewed from outside) and the sharing of his bunk bed with yuppie toy executive Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins) - who had asked to spend the night for a 'sleep-over' followed by Josh's guileless reply about sleeping on the top bunk: "Well, OK, but I get to be on top"
  • also the tender, simple and innocent scene in which he gently touches her breast through her bra before kissing her
  • and in the conclusion the poignant final shot of Susan seeing Josh, after waving goodbye, transformed into a 13 year-old boy again (with clothes that now don't fit him) - as he runs toward his home, calling out: "Mom?...I missed you all so much"
  • the short epilogue in which Josh and his friend Billy (Jared Rushton) walk down the street discussing playing stick ball (to the instrumental tune of Heart and Soul)

The Big Chill (1983)

In writer/director Lawrence Kasdan's classic nostalgia film:

  • the reunion of aging college friends from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who ponder the subject of death ("the big chill") and loss of idealism during the funeral-weekend of a suicidal friend (an off-screen Kevin Costner)
  • the group's boogie-dance to The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" while cleaning up in the kitchen and wrapping up left-over food -- the tune was also heard during the opening credits montage as the news of the death reaches all the characters and preparations are made for the funeral by the mortician

The Big Clock (1948)

In director John Farrow's film noirish suspenseful thriller (later updated as the spy thriller No Way Out (1987) with Kevin Costner):

  • the opening scene of 1940's New York media executive and Crimeways weekly magazine journalist George Stroud (Ray Milland) inside his company's gigantic $600,000 privately-owned corporate clock in the building's lobby (which synchronizes with all other clocks in the entire building and in secondary printing plants and dozens of other foreign bureaus) - in a symbolic race against time to clear his own name (as he narrates: "How'd I get into this rat race anyway? I'm no criminal. What happened? When did it all start? Just 36 hours ago, I was down there crossing that lobby on my way to work, minding my own business, looking forward to my first vacation in years. 36 hours ago, I was a decent, respectable, law-abiding citizen with a wife and a kid and a big job. Just 36 hours ago by the big clock")
  • and the flashback to 36 hours earlier when he was implicated in the murder of his clock-obsessed, ruthless and detestable boss Earl Janoth's (Charles Laughton) blonde mistress Pauline York (Rita Johnson)
  • the intense scene of the jealous Janoth killing Pauline by striking her in the head with a phallic-shaped, heavy metal sundial after seeing a male figure exiting (whom Pauline elusively identified as "Jefferson Randolph" to protect Stroud) - with a contorted closeup of Janoth's grotesque face with a twitching upper lip
  • and the ensuing cat-and-mouse game to find the killer (who was witnessed accompanying Pauline during the evening by many individuals) by Stroud as he used a method of "irrelevant clues" while steering the manhunt away from himself
  • and the taut confrontational scene at the film's end when the framed Stroud, after all clues pointed to him as the prime suspect, accuses Janoth's right-hand man Steve Hagen (George Macready) of being the killer in order to smoke out Janoth - causing a raging Janoth to shoot Hagen (after he confessed: "Janoth killed Pauline") and then fall to his death down the building's elevator shaft in his attempted escape

The Big Combo (1955)

In Joseph H. Lewis' melodramatic crime noir:

  • the opening scene of mobster hood-kingpin Mr. Brown's (Richard Conte) weak-willed, abused, and unwilling society blonde girlfriend Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace) pursued through the dark underground of a boxing arena by two thugs - and then caught and appearing naked with only her bare shoulders visible
  • the sadistic Brown's philosophy: "First is first and second is nobody"
  • the torture scene in which obsessed police detective Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is tormented through a hearing aid - and forced to drink a bottle of hair tonic
  • the psychological suicidal meltdown of Alicia (Helen Walker), Brown's estranged and supposedly-murdered wife ("I'd rather be insane and alive...than sane and dead")
  • the merciful death of Brown's right hand man - the hearing impaired McClure (Brian Donlevy)
  • the almost-prohibited suggestive scene of Brown kissing Susan in his apartment - first her ear, cheek, then neck, and then traveling behind her body and out of sight, as the camera dollied in for a stunning erotic close-up
  • the film's climax in a dark, fog-shrouded airport when Brown is trapped by headlights

The Big Country (1958)

In William Wyler's widescreen Western epic:

  • the memorable credits sequence including Jerome Moross' sweeping thematic score
  • the confrontational sequences over access rights to water at Big Muddy between patriarchal enemies/landowners Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) and Rufus Hannassey (Oscar-winning Burl Ives)
  • the marathon night-time fist-fight without witnesses (sometimes filmed in long-shot) between non-violent, transplanted Eastern ex-sea captain James McKay (Gregory Peck) and Terrill's foreman Steve Leech (Charlton Heston) ending with McKay's question: "What did we prove? Huh?"
  • the gentlemen's duel between McKay and Hannassey's own no-good, cowardly son Buck (Chuck Connors) - ending with Buck's death by his own father ("I told you I'd do it")
  • the final stalking in Blanco Canyon between Terrill and Hannassey - ending with both men dead and lying on top of each other (filmed from a high-angle long shot)

Bigger Than Life (1956)

In this insightful Nicholas Ray drama:

  • the image of ill and frustrated schoolteacher and middle-class family man Ed Avery (James Mason), while being treated with an experimental wonder drug (cortisone) for a severe illness, standing in front of a cracked bathroom mirror - expressing how his tormented character goes through wild personality changes and fractured mood swings
  • the scene in which he constantly belittles and tyrannizes his pre-teen son Richie (Christopher Olsen) during home-schooling - with his presence (and shadow) towering over him, in a low-angle shot, during a mathematics lesson
  • the dinner scene in which he tells his long-suffering and loving wife Lou (Barbara Rush) that their marriage is over although he stays in the house "solely for the boy's sake"
  • his criticisms of every tenent of 50s life including denouncing the school at a PTA meeting for "breeding a race of moral midgets" - the film was a superb critique of the suffocating conformity of 50s middle-class life
  • the scene of Avery reading from the Bible (with a knife in his hand) about Abraham's aborted sacrifice of his son Isaac in the Old Testament and his emphatic declaration to his wife: "God was wrong"

The Big Heat (1953)

In director Fritz Lang's film-noirish police/crime drama:

  • the scene of the car bombing (with a blinding explosion outside his house) that kills Police Sergeant Bannion's (Glenn Ford) wife instead of himself as he tends to his young daughter
  • the scalding hot coffee in the face scene (off-screen) between an angry henchman named Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) and girlfriend Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame)
  • Debby's moving death scene

The Big House (1930)

In George Hill's early prison flick:

  • used as a model for subsequent prison films, the realistic and brutal portrayal of prison conditions
  • also Wallace Beery's portrayal of convict ringleader Machine Gun Butch
  • the scenes of the attempted prison escape and massacre

The Big Lebowski (1998)

In this quirky Coen Brothers stoner comedy - a Philip Marlowe-style LA neo-noir:

  • the scene in which bearded hippie, pot-smoking, slacker slob Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), wearing shorts and a T-shirt, complains and demands compensation from his wheel-chair bound philanthropist millionaire namesake Jeffrey 'The Big' Lebowski (David Huddleston) for two debt-collector hoods that peed on his favorite carpet ("that rug really tied the room together")
  • the Dude's introduction of himself: "I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing"
  • the scene of living erotic art (with Julianne Moore as eccentric, super-stoic feminist artist Maude Lebowski, an estranged daughter)
  • the Dude's fantasy musical dream sequence called Gutterballs after being slipped a mickey by sleaze king mobster Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) - filled with images including the Viking Queen, Saddam Hussein, and bowling
  • the bowling alley scene in which competitive Latino bowler Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) threatens: "Nobody f--ks with the Jesus..."
  • the other scary scene at the bowling alley in which uptight nutcase war veteran Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) tells bowler Smokey (Jimmie Dale Gilmore) that he has committed a minor infraction of bowling league rules by fouling over the line - accompanied by gun-wielding threats: "You're entering a world of pain" and "Mark it zero"

The Big Parade (1925)

In King Vidor's war-drama epic:

  • the scene in which World War I American soldier James Apperson (John Gilbert) introduces French girl Melisande (Renee Adoree) to chewing gum (she swallows it)
  • the spectacular view of 200 trucks and hundreds of troops moving up to the front in a single-file "big parade"
  • the memorable farewell sequence in which Melisande looks toward the army truck taking away her lover as he throws her his watch, dog tags chain and shoe which she clutches to her breast
  • the harrowingly realistic battle scene of the soldiers' chilling march into enemy machine gun sniper fire at Belleau Wood
  • the scene of James being trapped in a shell hole with a young dying German soldier and the moving moment when he gives him a cigarette
  • the scene of his desperate search for Melisande
  • the homecoming scene in which he appears missing a leg and the shocked reaction of his parents (especially his mother who recalls him as a healthy baby boy with two legs)
  • and the finale of his return when he hobbles with a wooden leg toward a long-overdue reunion in France with Melisande

The Big Sleep (1946)

In Howard Hawks' classic private detective film:

  • private detective Philip Marlowe's (Humphrey Bogart) encounter with flirtatious Carmen (Martha Vickers) ("she tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up") in the hallway of General Sternwood's (Charles Waldron) mansion
  • Carmen's taunt: "You're not very tall, are you?"
  • the hothouse talk with Sternwood
  • Marlowe's dalliance with a bookshop proprietor (Dorothy Malone)
  • the famous sexy, innuendo-laden dialogue between Philip Marlowe and Vivian (Lauren Bacall) - a metaphoric, horse-racing, over-drinks and cigarettes conversation (Marlowe: "...Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but, uh...I don't know how - how far you can go." Vivian: "A lot depends on who's in the saddle. Go ahead, Marlowe, I like the way you work. In case you don't know it, you're doing all right")
  • their joking phone call to the police department from his office
  • the scene of her request for another kiss in a car: "I like that -- I'd like more"
  • their final clinch: (Vivian: "You've forgotten one thing. Me." Marlowe (pulling her to him): "What's wrong with you?" Vivian: (with a smoldering glance) "Nothing you can't fix")

(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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