Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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

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) was 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, semi-improvised mockumentary film about championship dog breeding and shows:

  • the interviews with different sets of neurotic and quirky dog owners, including salesman Gerry Fleck (Eugene Levy), cursed with two left feet (literally), and his wife Cookie (Catherine O'Hara) with their Norwich terrier "Winky" - and his astonishment when his wife admitted she had "hundreds" of boyfriends
  • the description of the relationship between young and very buxom trophy wife Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge) and her very elderly 80 year-old husband Leslie (Patrick Cranshaw): ("We have an amazing relationship and it's very physical. I mean, he still pushes all my buttons. And uhm, you know, people say: 'Oh, but he's so much older than you.' And you know what? I'm the one having to push him away. We both have so much in common. We both love soup and uh, we love the outdoors, uh, we love snow peas, and uh, talking and not talking. Uh, we could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about")
  • wealthy, materialistic, and neurotic dog owners - catalogue lovers Meg Swan (Parker Posey) and Hamilton Swan (Michael Hitchcock), with matching sets of braces, who met at Starbucks: ("Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other") who were worried with their therapist that their Weimaraner "Beatrice" had been traumatized and was depressed after watching them have experimental Kama Sutra style sex: ("We got a book, Kama Sutra. I lit some candles and, uh, played some music and got myself in a position that wasn't, uh, very easy for me emotionally. Uhm, it's called the congress of the cow, uh, where, uh, the woman is bent over, the hands are on the floor, and the man is behind")
  • the characters of Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch) and Sherri Ann Cabot who created a magazine titled "American Bitch" designed specifically for lesbian pure-bred dog owners
  • the scene of Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest) traveling to the road show with his bloodhound, in which he told a story about how he drove his mother mad by his unique talent of naming nuts: ("I used to be able to name every nut that there was. And it used to drive my mother crazy, because she used to say, 'Harlan Pepper, if you don't stop namin' nuts,' and the joke was, of course, that we lived in Pine Nut, and I think that's what put it in my head at that - at that point. So I'd go to sleep - she'd hear me in the other room and she would just start yellin'. I'd say: 'Peanut. Hazelnut. Cashew nut. Macadamia nut.' That was the one that would send her into goin' crazy. She'd say: 'Would you stop namin' nuts!' And Hubert used to be able to make the sound, and he wasn't talkin', but he used to go "rrrawr rrawr" and it sounded like Macadamia nut. Pine nut, which is a nut, but it's also the name of a town. Pistachio nut. Red pistachio nut. Natural, all natural white pistachio nut")
  • the national dog show itself, the 125th annual Mayflower Kennel Club's competition for the "Best in Show", emceed by the comical TV commentator Buck Laughlin (Fred Willard) and his long-suffering co-host Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock): ("When you look at how beautiful these dogs are, and to think that in some countries these dogs are eaten," and "If you're gonna put them on a football team, which would be your wide receiver, which would be your tight end? Who can go the farthest, the fastest?", and "Look at Scott! He is prancing along with the dog! Man, I tell you something, if you live in my neighborhood and you're dressed like that, you'd better be a hotel doorman", and "I don't think I ever could get used to being probed and prodded. I told my proctologist once: 'Hey, why don't you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?'")

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 had their first glimpse of their hometown of Boone City - feeling alienated, aloof and detached from the strange sights and memories of their former home
  • the poignant shot of Homer's mother (Minna Gombell) at the first sight of her double-amputee son's (Oscar-winning Harold Russell) hooks for hands, and her uncontrollable reaction - she muffled a gasp and sobbed involuntarily - but then not wanting to draw attention to his permanent handicap, she blurted out: "It's nothing"
  • middle-class husband Sgt. Al Stephenson's (Fredric March) homecoming reunion scene in which he entered the apartment complex and then the door of his apartment and silenced with his cupped hand the mouths of his son Rob (Michael Hall) and daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright) - and then wife Milly's (Myrna Loy) first realization that he had come through the door: ("Who's that at the door, Peggy? Peggy? Rob? Who is...?")
  • the scene of PTSD, when Air Force Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) experienced fitful, sweaty nightmares of a disastrous bombing run over Germany, and Peggy comforted and soothed him: "There's nothing to be afraid of. All you have to do is go to sleep and rest. Go to sleep. Go to sleep, Fred. Go to sleep and rest"
  • the continuing vow of love from Homer's loyal childhood sweetheart-girlfriend Wilma Cameron (Cathy O'Donnell): "All I know is, I was in love with you when you left and I'm in love with you now. Other things may have changed but that hasn't"
  • the moving sequence in which Homer was being tormented by curious neighbor children - he yelled at them ("You want to see how the hooks work? Do you want to see the freak? All right, I'll show ya!"), and then thrust his hooked hands through a window
  • the offer of a bank job to Al by bank president Mr. Milton (Ray Collins), becoming Vice President of the Cornbelt Trust Company in charge of a new department (small loans to veterans) at a salary of $12,000 a year; after approving a questionable loan to fellow veteran Mr. Novak (Dean White), he had to defend his idealistic, non-collateral loan on the basis of his own judgment: "Novak looked to me like a good bet...You see Mr. Milton, in the Army, I've had to be with men when they were stripped of everything in the way of property except what they carried around with them and inside them. I saw them being tested. Now some of them stood up to it and some didn't. But you got so you could tell which ones you could count on. I tell you this man Novak is okay. His collateral is in his hands, in his heart and his guts. It's in his right as a citizen"
  • and the memorable sequence - at a welcome-home banquet attended by stuffy bankers and their wives - of Al's delivery of a wartime parable to rectify himself in front of his astonished, skeptical audience; he argued about how battles and wars were not won by first demanding collateral from Uncle Sam; he asked his associates to show more tolerance and acceptance toward the less privileged veterans returning from the war, and to not always seek collateral or guarantees for every risk of expenditure
  • the homewrecking efforts of persistent and young Peggy Stephenson, Al's intelligent, articulate, headstrong daughter, to win Air Force Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) away from his mismatched marriage to unloving blonde floozy wife Marie Derry (Virginia Mayo): "I've made up my mind...I'm going to break that marriage up. I can't stand it seeing Fred tied to a woman he doesn't love and who doesn't love him. Oh it's horrible for him. It's humiliating and it's killing his spirit. Somebody's got to help him...He doesn't love her, he hates her. I know it. I know it"
  • the unconventional love scene of Homer with Wilma showing her his difficult nightly routine with his 'hooks' as he prepared for bed; after removing his harness without assistance, he stood helplessly in front of her with what was left of his arms; she gently reassured him of her deep love, paving the way for Homer's acceptance that their love could overcome any misfortune or disability
  • the bittersweet scene of Fred's father reading with pride his son's citation for a Flying Cross honor, for valor and heroism in the skies over Germany: "Despite intense pain, shock, and loss of blood, with complete disregard of his personal safety, Captain Derry crawled back to his bombsight, guided his formation on a perfect run over the objective, and released his bombs with great accuracy. The heroism, devotion to duty, professional skill, and coolness under fire displayed by Captain Derry under the most difficult conditions reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America. By command of Lieutenant General Doolittle"
  • the scene of Fred Derry's walk through a junked airplane graveyard where he relived his many wartime memories of bombing missions 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 placed a ring on her finger - with the added knowledge that Peggy and Fred - seen in the background - would eventually also marry after his divorce with Marie could be finalized; in the final line of dialogue, he realistically cautioned Peggy before they kissed: "You know what it'll be, don't you, Peggy? It may take us years to get anywhere. We'll have no money, no decent place to live. We'll have to work - get kicked around"

La Bête Humaine (1938, Fr.) (aka The Human Beast)

In Jean Renoir's classic, tragic, and film-noirish crime drama about murder, guilt and adulterous infidelity within a love triangle, adapted from Emile Zola's 1890 novel:

  • the film's lengthy opening - the five-minute montage of a train speeding throughout the French countryside as two grimy engineers operated the train in almost perfect unison, during their regular trip from Paris to the port city of Le Havre (with the sounds of the whistling train roaring along the track, POV shots of the tracks ahead as the train came in and out of tunnels, and the blurred views of the countryside and buildings whizzing by)
  • the main characters: homicidal, tormented railroad engineer Jacques Lantier (Jean Gabin) - the "human beast" who loved his locomotive (Lison), Le Havre deputy station master Roubaud (Fernand Ledoux), and his sexy, manipulative and troubled femme fatale wife Séverine Roubaud (Simone Simon)
  • Lantier's description of his own violent tendencies (due to his father's alcoholism): "I feel like I'm paying for all those fathers and grandfathers who drank. All those generations of drunkards who poisoned my blood... It's like some thick smoke that fills my head and distorts everything. I'm like a mad dog that wants to bite"
  • the scene of the night-train murder of philandering aristocrat M. Grandmorin (Jacques Berlioz), Severine's abusive godfather (Grandmorin was her mother's employer - and possibly her father!), who was robbed and knifed to death by her jealous husband Roubaud (with Severine in the same train compartment to serve as his accomplice) - a crime that was solely witnessed by bystander Lantier
  • the sharing of the murderous secret between Severine and Lantier, for which he was rewarded with sex during a passionate love affair to keep his silence; to rid herself of her husband in a very unhappy marriage and her fatalistic view of life, she suggested that Lantier kill her husband: ("Tomorrow will be just like yesterday: the same grief and sorrow. It really doesn't matter. What happens, happens. All I can do is go on living my miserable life until Roubard kills me")
  • Lantier and Severine attended a night concert in the railwaymen's ballroom (where they waltzed to a live band playing the tune of the popular French song "Le Coeur de Ninon" about a sad love affair); shortly later, the two of them were in her apartment - where his uncontrollable impulses led him to inexplicably strangle her and then stab her to death; the aftermath of her murder was juxtaposed - with masterful parallel editing - by a return to the dance hall scene where a singer was performing the same sad song
  • the conclusion - Lantier confessed the crime to his understanding assistant-colleague stoker Victoire Pecqueux (Colette Regis): "I have something to tell you, but don't say anything, don't move. I've killed her. Yes, I've killed her. So now it's over. I won't see her anymore. I won't see her anymore and I'll die of it. I know I'll die of it. You know, I won't be able to hold her in my arms. I loved her, you know. What I loved most were her hands. I loved holding her little hands. One thing I don't understand, they haven't arrested me. Do you understand that?"; Pecqueux calmly suggested that he give himself up; and then shortly later after they set off on another train run, Lantier suicidally jumped to his death from the moving train
  • Pecqueux found Lantier's body lying lifeless beside the railroad tracks, and closed his eyes; he then delivered a short eulogy: "Poor bloke. He must have been in pain to do that. I haven't seen him look so calm for a long time"; a conductor responded with the film's final line of dialogue: "We have to clear the line. We'll pull the train to the next station. I'll stay with him"

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 forced her husband Dr. Lewis Moline (Joseph Cotten) to stop the car so she could leap into a ravine, forcing an injury and miscarriage of her unwanted pregnancy
  • the last scene of Rosa's death as she staggered from her house to the train station

The Bicycle Thief (1948, It.) (aka Ladri di Biciclette, or Bicycle Thieves)

In Vittorio de Sica's humanistic post-war drama - a Best Foreign Film Oscar winner (before the category was officially created) - an all-time classic Neo-realism film (with an amateur, unprofessional cast filmed in non-studio locations):

  • in a simple, tragic, yet compelling story set in post-WWII Italy during a time of unemployment and devastation, the story of the desperate economic plight of a prototypical Italian father - impoverished, working-class family man, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani)
  • the pawnshop scene when Antonio's wife Maria Ricci (Lianella Carell) sold their dowry's linen sheets for 7,500 lira to a pawnshop, allowing him to buy back his own bicycle for 6,500, which he had pawned weeks earlier for money to buy food - the pawnbroker added the linens to a huge pile on a stacked scaffolding
  • the theft of Antonio's bicycle in the ruined city of Rome while he was hanging up a film poster of Rita Hayworth on a ladder, on the first day of his job; a confederate helped the robber get away - victimized Antonio's very job and survival were dependent on this simple form of transportation
  • the search of anguished, panic-stricken father with his constant companion, son Bruno Ricci (Enzo Staiola) for the bike for a full week
  • the scene of frustrated and annoyed Antonio slapping his son, and the look on his son's hurt face; shortly later a young boy, not Bruno, was rescued from drowning and Antonio thought it was his son, but then was overjoyed to find his son unhurt - feeling guilty, he ordered them mozzarella sandwiches in a nearby restaurant; during the meal when they briefly forgot their troubles, Antonio shared his glass of white wine with him, establishing a closer bond, while next to them, a richer family - in contrast - was eating a fine meal
  • defeated after the stolen bike couldn't be located, and they were met with apathy from police, the desperate father stole another bicycle outside the football stadium, but he was immediately apprehended and humiliated in front of his son; the bike owner let the humiliated Antonio go because his son was present; although upset, Bruno offered his father his hand as they walked off into the crowd, in the touching, concluding sequence

Big (1988)

In director Penny Marshall's body transference fantasy:

  • the scenes of a 13 year-old boy Josh Baskin (David Moscow) in the "big" body of a thirty-year-old man (Tom Hanks) after his wish to be "big" at a carnival machine came true
  • the joyous foot-tapping Heart and Soul and Chopsticks tap dances of teenaged Josh Baskin with toy executive boss "Mac" MacMillan (Robert Loggia) on a giant, floor-sized and mounted electronic piano keyboard in the main showroom of an F.A.O. Schwartz toy store
  • Josh's reaction to the hors d'oeuvres (miniature corn cobs) at a fancy office cocktail party
  • Josh's jumping on a trampoline (viewed from outside)
  • Josh's confused sexual relationship with sexy yuppie toy executive Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), a top-level co-worker, who had asked to spend the night for a 'sleep-over' in bunk beds; and the sharing of his bunk bed with her - Susan: "I want to spend the night with you." Josh: "Do you mean sleep over?" Susan: "Well... yeah!" Josh (with a guileless reply): "Well, okay... but I get to be on top!"
  • also the tender, simple and innocent scene in which he gently touched 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 didn't fit him) - he ran toward his home, calling out: "Mom?...I missed you all so much"
  • the short epilogue in which Josh and his friend Billy (Jared Rushton) walked 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, generation-defining film:

  • the reunion of seven aging college friends (ex-baby boomers) from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, who pondered the subject of death ("the big chill") and loss of idealism - they were brought together during the long funeral-weekend of suicidal friend Alex (an off-screen Kevin Costner), a brilliant physics student at the University of Michigan who had slit his wrists. Alex was introduced in the film's opening by a phone call to Sarah Cooper (Glenn Close) who silently announced his death to her husband Harold (Kevin Kline) - to the tune of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." In the opening credits montage, the news of the death reached all the characters and preparations were made for the funeral (by the guests, the mortician, etc.)
  • the Minister's (James Gillis) sermon at the funeral service: ("It makes me angry. And I don't know what to do with my anger. Are not the satisfactions of being a good man among our common men great enough to sustain us anymore? Where did Alex's hope go? Maybe that is the small resolution we can take from here today. To try to regain that hope that must have eluded Alex")
  • Sarah's tearful and sentimental admission to the reconnecting group that that they once had idealized counter-cultural dreams: ("He should be here. I feel like we should've had a chair for Alex. Of course, we don't have enough food. This is all so familiar, and I love you all so much. I know that sounds gross, doesn't it?... I feel I was at my best when I was with you people"); then Harold gave his opposite opinion - admitting that their past idealism was so unreal: ("Not me. Gettin' away from you people was the best thing that ever happened to me. I mean, how much sex, fun, friendship can one man take? Had to get out in the world, get dirty")
  • 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 scene of Meg (Mary Kay Place), an ex-idealistic public defender who was now a well-paid corporate attorney in Atlanta, who felt guilty about a past abortion in the 60s, and was now confiding in Sarah that she was fertile and ovulating and wanted to be impregnated: ("I've been taking my temperature and I know I'm ovulating right now. The ground is ready. I just need someone to plant the seed"). Sarah replied: ("Yeah, but who's going to be the lucky farmer?"). Meg eventually bedded down Sarah's husband Harold who told her: ("This bed has always been lucky for Sarah and me") and Meg's evaluation of the coupling: ("I feel like I got a great break on a used car") - to the tunes "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" and "I'm Gonna Wait Till the Midnight Hour"

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 synchronized 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 narrated: "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, accused 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) in a strapless black dress, pursued through the dark underground tunnel of a boxing arena by two thugs Fante (Lee Van Cleef) and Mingo (Earl Holliman) - and then caught and appearing naked with only her bare shoulders visible - she told her captors that she didn't want to go back into the arena and join Brown: "I don't want to see the fights. I'm hungry. Call a cab"
  • the sadistic Brown's philosophy: "First is first and second is nobody"
  • the almost-prohibited suggestive scene of Brown kissing Susan in his apartment when she appeared bothered and told him: "I hate and despise you!" - he nibbled her ear, cheek, then neck, and then traveled behind her body and down out of sight, as the camera dollied in for a stunning erotic close-up
  • the torture scene in which obsessed police detective Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde), who had been tailing Susan Lowell for six months (in order to bring down Mr. Brown), was tormented through a hearing aid (and loud magnified sounds) - and then forced to drink a bottle of 40% alcohol-based hair tonic
  • the psychological suicidal meltdown of Alicia (Helen Walker) hiding out in a sanitarium - she was Brown's estranged and supposedly-murdered wife, who was tracked down by Diamond and confronted with witnessing Brown's murder of his former mob boss Grazzi, seven years earlier. She cried out to be left alone: "Please! Please, I'm sick! Can't you see I'm sick?" - Diamond responded: ("You're sick all right, Alicia. Sick with fright. Now you're in our custody, you have nothing more to fear. You know that, because you're perfectly sane"). Alicia yelled out that she didn't want to be "sane and dead": ("I'd rather be insane and alive...than sane and dead")
  • the death of Brown's right hand, second-in-command - the hearing- impaired Joe McClure (Brian Donlevy), during a failed ambush attempt to betray his boss and take over. When caught in the act, Joe begged for his life from Mr. Brown before being gunned down by Brown's two thugs: ("Wait a minute. What's the matter, you fellas gone loony? I'm McClure. Can't you see me? This is McClure! Don't do it, Mango! I'll give you dough! All the dough I got! $10,000! $20,000! Everything. No, Fante! Don't do it! Mr. Brown! Mr. Brown! Mr. Brown, tell them not to do it! I'll do anything you want, I'll go away! You'll never see me again! Please, Mr. Brown! Don't just stand there and let 'em kill me! Please, Mr. Brown. I don't want to die, tell 'em! Please tell 'em"). To ease his execution, Brown offered to take away McClure's hearing aid: ("I feel sorry for you, Joe. So, I'm gonna do you a favor. You won't hear the bullets"). From McClure's POV, the blasting machine-guns lit up the darkness
  • the film's climax in a dark, fog-shrouded airport hangar when Brown (who was attempting to make a getaway with Susan) was delayed by his late-arriving plane, as he ranted: ("What's keeping that plane? It was supposed to be here an hour ago. I've kept that stupid pilot on my payroll for years, just for a spot like this. Why doesn't he come?...Why doesn't he come? I got everything all figured out. Top to bottom, smooth as silk! Everything's falling apart! You can't trust nobody! Nothin'!"). When Diamond pulled up and revealed him in headlights, Brown was confronted: ("Come on out, Brown! You can't get away, Brown! You can't get away, drop the gun"). Even though Susan illuminated Brown in a spotlight, Brown resisted arrest and refused to go to jail: ("Come and get it!...You're not taking me to jail! You'll have to kill me first! Go ahead, shoot! Go ahead. Kill me, Copper! Kill me! Go ahead! Kill me! Kill me!l..I won't go to jail! I won't! Shoot!")
  • the iconic image of Diamond and Susan facing each other, after Brown was apprehended

The Big Country (1958)

In William Wyler's widescreen Western epic:

  • the memorable credits sequence including Jerome Moross' sweeping thematic score
  • the confrontational scene over access rights to water at Big Muddy between Rufus Hannassey (Oscar-winning Burl Ives) and his rival patriarchal enemy, landowner Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford), when Rufus visited in Terrill's house (during a party to announce an engagement), berated Terrill, and delivered an ultimatum: ("This is a mighty fine house, Major Terrill: a gentleman's house. Those are mighty fine clothes you are wearin'. Well, maybe you've got some of these folks fooled, but you ain't got me fooled, not by a damn sight! The Hannasseys know and admire a real gentleman when they see one, and they recognize a high tone skunk when they smell one. Now, I'm not here complainin' about twenty of your brave men who beat three of my boys 'til they couldn't stand. Maybe they had it comin'. Anyways, they're full-growed and can take their lickin's. And I'm not here complainin' because I know that you're tryin' to buy the Big Muddy to keep my cows from water. Though it galls me sore to see the granddaughter of a genuine gentleman like Glenn Maragon under this roof. I'll tell you why I'm here, Major Terrill! When you come a-ridin' roughshod over my land scarin' the kids and the women folks, when you invade my home, like you was the law or God Almighty, then I say to you, I've seen every kind of critter God ever made, and I ain't never seen a meaner, lower, more stinkin', yellow, hyprocrite than you! Now you can swallow up a lot of folks and make 'em like it, but you ain't swallowin' me. I'm stuck in your craw, Henry Terrill, and you can't spit me out! You hear me now! You rode into my place and beat my men for the last time and I give you warnin'. You set foot in Blanco Canyon once more and this country's gonna run red with blood 'til there ain't one of us left! Now I don't hold mine so precious, so if you want to start, here, start now! What's the matter? Can't you shoot a man a-facin' ya? I'll make it easy fer ya. Here's my back")
  • the marathon pre-dawn fist-fight without witnesses (sometimes filmed in long-shot) between non-violent, transplanted Eastern ex-sea captain James McKay (Gregory Peck) and Terrill's cocky foreman Steve Leech (Charlton Heston) ending with McKay's question about the futility of their fight: "Tell me Leech. What did we prove? Huh?"
  • the gentlemen's duel between McKay and Hannassey's own no-good son Buck (Chuck Connors), when Buck fired early and was reprimanded by his father Rufus (who was officiating) - ending with cowardly Buck's death by his own father, when Buck stole another man's gun and was about to kill the unarmed McKay: (Rufus: "I warned you, you dirty little...I told ya! I told ya I'd do it. I told you, but you wouldn't believe me! Damn your soul, I told you!")
  • the final stalking in Blanco Canyon between the two sole protagonists: Terrill and Hannassey - ending with both men squaring off against each other and killing each other - one lying on top of the other (filmed from a high-angle long shot)

The Big Heat (1953)

In director Fritz Lang's film-noirish police/crime drama - the title referred to the "big heat" applied to the police dragnet surrounded the evil crime syndicate:

  • the shocking scene of the car bombing (with a blinding explosion outside his house) that killed Police Sergeant Dave Bannion's (Glenn Ford) beloved wife Katie (Jocelyn Brando) instead of himself as he tended to his young daughter Joyce (Linda Bennett); moments earlier, Katie had proposed to drive over and get their teenaged baby-sitter Maxine ("Be back in a minute"). Bannion rushed outside, pulled open the driver's-side door and pulled his wife to safety, but she was already dead
  • the scalding hot coffee in the face scene (off-screen) between angry henchman Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) and his girlfriend Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame)
  • Debby's moving death scene, when she was shot twice in the back by gangster Vince Stone, who was arrested and taken into custody; sympathetically, Sgt. Bannion cradled Debby's head with her mink coat; although she was attended by a doctor, she realized that she was dying, as he knelt at her side; she pulled up her mink coat to hide the disfigured, hideous left side of her face in its pillow - he regarded her from her 'good side'; she longingly looked to Bannion for assurance and approval, and commiserated with him: ("Dave, I'm gonna die."); in response, he eulogized his wife Katie, speaking of her quick temper and loving nature, their marital relationship, and how they had led a close life together - often sampling each other's drinks, or plates of food; Debby peacefully referred to Bannion's murdered wife as she died: "I like her...I like her alot," although Bannion continued to lovingly describe his wife and didn't realize that Debby had expired; he smiled as he idealistically remembered more about his wife, his "princess" daughter, and their blissful family life: ("Sometimes when I came home from work, she'd have the baby dressed up like a, oh, like a princess. One of the most important parts of the day was when I came in and saw her looking like something that just stepped down off a birthday cake. I guess, I guess it's that way with most families")

The Big House (1930)

In George Hill's early prison flick, often used as a model for subsequent prison films:

  • the realistic and brutal portrayal of prison conditions
  • the portrayal of convict ringleader Machine Gun Butch (Wallace Beery)
  • the scenes of the attempted prison escape and massacre

The Big Knife (1955)

In Robert Aldrich's cynical screen adaptation of Clifford Odets' 1949 stage play - a devastating and dark, film noirish, over-the-top look at Hollywood's ruthless search for fame and power:

  • the opening voice-over narration (uncredited Richard Boone): "This is Bel Air, the lush, luxurious retreat of the wealthy and powerful. If you work in the motion picture industry and are successful, this well-tended suburb of Hollywood is where you will probably make your home. Failure is not permitted here. Our story has to do with a 20th-century phenomenon. Name: Charlie Castle. Profession: movie star. Problem: survival. Charlie Castle is a man who sold out his dreams but he can't forget them"
  • the overheated story of actor Charles 'Charlie' Castle (Jack Palance), a philanderer and drinker who was struggling with his personal life, his estrangement from his idealistic wife Marion (Ida Lupino), and his compromised career as an actor in bad, exploitative films
  • Charlie was in the grip of domineering, tyrannical, blackmailing, white-crew-cutted studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger) and his slimy lawyer-assistant Smiley Coy (Wendell Corey) - in an opening sequence, he was being blackmailed into renewing his long-term 7-year contract (he was threatened with the revelation of his studio-covered-up drunken hit-and-run car-crash accident that killed a child); Hoff reminded Charlie of the murderous Faustian deal that had saved Castle's career: "You came to see me more than once....I was there for you and yours in the vexing problems that are so manifold in the heat and toil of the day. And then on a certain night in this very room, the law spelled scandal, I was there for you then too!"
  • the film's concluding downhill slide for the tortured Castle: his extra-marital affair with alcoholic Connie Bliss (Jean Hagen) - the slutty wife of Charlie's friend and studio publicist Buddy Bliss (who confessed and took the blame for Charlie's hit-and-run), and his relationship with contracted starlet Dixie Evans (Shelley Winters) who threatened to not keep quiet about her knowledge of the crash
  • the later sequence of the despotic Hoff's second confrontation with Castle in the star actor's Bel Air mansion, when Charlie expressed how he was tired of being pressured by Hoff; the egotistical studio chief countered with a screaming tirade that he would reveal the truth about Charlie's accident and ruin him: "We know who the expert is when it comes to murder....A boy like you. Who are you? Who are you? Are you some kind of special aristocracy because the, the female public wants to make love with you? Who are you with your dirty, unmanicured fingernails. And what, what are you without Hoff Federated behind you? I built the studio! I, I with my brain and my hands! I ripped it out of the world, with my brains and my hands. And who are you?"
  • Hoff's studio even stooped to threaten to extort Marion by exposing secretly-recorded 'taped' conversations (on long-playing vinyl records) of her affair with Horatio 'Hank' Teagle (Wesley Addy); enraged by the thought, Charlie broke the records in two, and moved forward to strike Hoff, who defensively put his arms into an X posture in front of his face, as Charlie told him: "Ah, you're so lucky, yet if this were a movie, you'd have been on the floor ten times. (He lightly slapped Hoff across the forehead) It's just a small token" - as he was leaving, Hoff vowed he would reveal Charlie's crime: "I'll break you!...Nah, nah. I'll let the law do it for me. l'll let the law do it for me this time, and you lose everything. You lose everything. This is the scandal and a disaster and a ruin. And that dead child's family and the insurance company will take everything off your back in any court in the land. The clothes off your back, off your child, and off that woman. Everything goes, Charlie. Everything goes, the house goes, the paintings go, and you! You go! Oh no, Charlie. You threw away a kingdom today"
  • the fateful consequences of Charlie's resistance to the studio - the silencing-death of Dixie Evans (a city bus ran over her on Sunset Blvd.), and Charlie's own suicide in a hot bath in his upstairs bathroom by slashing his wrists (off-screen) - signaled by water leaking through the downstairs ceiling; Smiley called in a falsified news release for the press from the home phone in the Bel Air home: "Charlie Castle, reknowned star of 30 Hoff Federated Pictures, (Marion screamed) died today of a heart attack in his Bel Air home, at 7:55 Pacific Daylight Time. At his bedside was his physician Dr. Curley, his wife Marion, his 7 year-old son Billy, and his close friend and associate Stanley Shriner Hoff. Now get that out to the AP, UP, and the rest of the wire services. Don't ask questions! Bring a dozen studio cops when you come. This place is gonna be a madhouse in a minute. What? Tell Stanley he slashed himself in three places"
  • in the conclusion, Hank dismissed Smiley so he could handle the situation himself without another cover-up - and tell the truth: "I'll talk to the reporters...Your work is finished here. There will be no photographers, no more lies, no display. I'll tell the story. He killed himself out of the pain and anguished love he had for others, he gave up his salvation. But no man had a greater reverence for life, a greater zest for living. Yes, he was wrong. But he just couldn't go on hurting those he loved"
  • the film's final repeated words: Marion calling out as she hugged Charlie's coat and the camera pulled back to blackness: "Charlie! Charlie! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!"

The Big Lebowski (1998)

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

  • the opening assault by two debt-collector hoods (Mark Pellegrino) and Woo (Philip Moon), who alleged that bearded hippie, pot-smoking, slacker, unemployed slob Jeffrey 'The Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) in his Venice Beach (California) bungalow owed them money: ("Don't f--k with us! Your wife owes money to Jackie Treehorn. That means you owe money to Jackie Treehorn") - they roughed him up and then Woo peed on the Dude's favorite carpet: ("No, no, don't do that! Not on the rug, man"), but then after realizing he was the wrong individual took off: ("He looks like a f--kin' loser...F--king time wasted. Thanks a lot, asshole")
  • the Dude's commiseration with his bowling buddies, uptight nutcase Vietnam war veteran Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and ex-surfer Donny (Steve Buscemi), about his ruined, valued rug ("Yeah, man, it really tied the room together") that was peeded upon by a Chinaman
  • the scene in which The Dude, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, complained and demanded compensation from wheel-chair bound philanthropist, Pasadena, CA millionaire Jeffrey 'The Big' Lebowski (David Huddleston), his namesake, for the mistaken attack by two hoods (due to a mix-up of addresses for "Lebowski"), that were really tarketing Mr. Lebowski's indebted wife
  • the Dude's introduction of himself to "The Big" Lebowski: ("You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, uh, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or uh, you know, El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing")
  • Mr. Lebowski's employment advice to the laid-back Dude - who briefly answered: "Oh, F--k it!" and left: ("My wife is not the issue here! I hope that someday my wife will learn to live on her allowance, which is ample, but if she does not, that is her problem, not mine, just as the rug is your problem, just as every bum's lot in life is his own responsibility, regardless of who he chooses to blame. I didn't blame anyone for the loss of my legs. Some Chinaman took them from me in Korea. But I went out and achieved anyway. I cannot solve your problems, sir, only you can....Yes, that's your answer. That's your answer to everything. Tattoo it on your forehead. Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski! Condolences! The bums lost! My advice to you is to do what your parents did! Get a job, sir! The bums will always lose! Do you hear me, Lebowski?! The bums will always lose!")
  • on his way out of the Lebowski estate, the Dude's meeting up with the millionaire's sexy young trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid), a free-spirited nymphomaniac, and one of the porn stars of sleaze king mobster Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara), who offered: ("I'll suck your cock for $1,000 dollars")
  • the scene of living erotic art exhibited by Mr. Lebowski's estranged daughter Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), an eccentric, super-stoic, avante-garde feminist artist, who delivered a "vagina monologue": ("Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?...My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina....Yes, they don't like hearing it and find it difficult to say, whereas without batting an eye, a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson")
  • the Dude's fantasy musical dream sequence of bowling called Gutterballs after being slipped a mickey in his White Russian cocktail by Jackie Treehorn - filled with images including the Viking Queen, Saddam Hussein, and bowling
  • the bowling alley scene in which competitive, flamboyant Latino bowler Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) threatened: "Nobody f--ks with the Jesus..."
  • the other scary scene at the bowling alley in which the Dude's bowling buddy Walter told rival bowler Smokey (Jimmie Dale Gilmore) that he had 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 scene of the scattering of Donny's cremated ashes (in a Folger's coffee can), who had suffered a fatal heart attack, with Walter's rambling eulogy ("Donny was a good bowler and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors and bowling. And as a surfer, he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and up to Pismo. He died, he died, as so many men of his generation, before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright, flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Lan Doc, and Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. So did Donny. Donny who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabatsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince"); however, the breeze blew the ashes back - and all over the Dude's face

The Big Parade (1925)

In King Vidor's war-drama epic:

  • the scene in which World War I American soldier James Apperson (John Gilbert) introduced French girl Melisande (Renee Adoree) to chewing gum (she swallowed 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 looked toward the army truck taking away her lover as he threw her his watch, dog tags chain and shoe, which she clutched 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 gave him a cigarette
  • the scene of his desperate search for Melisande
  • the homecoming scene in which he appeared missing a leg and the shocked reaction of his parents (especially his mother who recalled him as a healthy baby boy with two legs)
  • and the finale of his return when he hobbled 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 between Marlowe and General Sternwood
  • Marlowe's afternoon dalliance (during a rainstorm) with a bookshop proprietor (Dorothy Malone) who removed her eyeglasses and closed early: ("It looks like we're closed for the rest of the afternoon")
  • 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")
  • Marlowe's and Vivian's prank phone call to the police department from his office: (Marlowe: "I hope the sergeant never traces that call"), and Vivian's observation: "You like to play games, don't you?"
  • 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")

Big Wednesday (1978)

In writer/director John Milius' surf classic:

  • the friendship of three young Southern California surfing friends: calm Jack Barlow (William Katt), reluctant, carefree hero Matt Johnson (Jan Michael Vincent), and recklessly masochistic Leroy Smith (Gary Busey)
  • the scene at the draft board of the attempted ruses of the young men to avoid being drafted for Vietnam in 1965, such as feigned insanity, faked homosexuality, etc: (Leroy: "I like pain...any kind of pain....I like fights, I've dove through windows, I've eaten light bulbs, I like sharks, any kind of blood. If you gave me a gun, I'd shoot you in the face just to see what it looked like when the bullet hit"); after a series of blunt questions, Leroy accused the psychologist of picking on him: ("Why are you pickin' on me?...You're tryin' to pick on me"), before he crashed through a door and fought his way down stairs, after which he was put on a stretcher and driven away in an ambulance
  • the friends' reunion at the Great Swell in the spring of 1974 following the war, when they come together to ride the big wave, filmed with gorgeous cinematography

(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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