Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

In writer/director Preston Sturges' brilliant screwball comedy and satire about Hollywood movie-making, with added social commentary about class divisions:

  • the speech of butler Burrows (Robert Greig) about poverty to Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who became tired and disgusted with making escapist comedies: ("Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned")
  • the classic chase scene of the studio's entourage trailing Sullivan
  • Sullivan's first meeting and pairing with The Girl (Veronica Lake) in a diner
  • The Girl dressed as a male hobo, and her wanderings with Sullivan (also dressed as a hobo) across America to experience poverty for themselves - and his predicament when accused of murder and imprisoned in a case of mistaken identity
  • the scene of a presumed-dead and incarcerated Sullivan in a prison farm, and brought to a black church one night to watch a screening of a 1934 Pluto/Mickey Mouse cartoon (Playful Pluto) on a flimsy white sheet - and his laughing along with his fellow, hardened Georgia chain-gang prisoners at the crazy antics when Pluto became stuck on flypaper and attempted to extricate himself but became even more entangled - a relevant image for Sullivan's own situation; he rhetorically asked himself: "Hey, am I laughing?" then suddenly realized that humorous movies, like religion, were the therapeutic solution to the pain of poverty or to the enmity between races
  • Sullivan's inspired return to making film comedies: ("There's a lot to be said for making people laugh! Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan! Boy!")

Summer of '42 (1971)

In director Robert Mulligan's war-time, New England beachside summer romance and coming-of-age tale with Michel Legrand's famous score:

  • the nostalgic atmosphere of 1940s Nantucket Island, the three young teenagers:
    - Oscy (Jerry Houser)
    - nerdy Benjie (Oliver Conant)
    - Hermie (Gary Grimes)
  • their sexual awkwardness and discussions
  • the scene of nervously purchasing a condom from an unsympathetic storeowner
  • the touching scene of teenaged Hermie's sexual initiation and coming-of-age with a lonely, 22 year-old neighboring war bride Dorothy (Jennifer O'Neill) after she learned by telegram that her husband had been killed in action
  • with tears in her eyes and slightly drunk, she put her head on Hermie's shoulder, slowly danced (barefooted) with him to the tune (the film's theme song) playing on a phonograph record, and tenderly kissed him a few times
  • clasping his hand in hers, she led him to her bedroom, where she removed her outer slip (and her undergarments) and beckoned him to join her in bed
  • the next day, her note explaining that perhaps the meaning of the event would come in time to him
  • the final bitter-sweet voice-over from the Narrator, middle-aged Herman Raucher (voice of Robert Mulligan): "I was never to see her again. Nor was I ever to learn what became of her. We were different then. Kids were different. It took us longer to understand the things we felt. Life is made up of small comings and goings. And for everything we take with us, there is something that we leave behind. In the summer of '42, we raided the Coast Guard station four times, we saw five movies, and had nine days of rain. Benji broke his watch, Oscy gave up the harmonica, and in a very special way, I lost Hermie forever"

The Sundowners (1960)

In director Fred Zinnemann's lengthy epic western drama of 1920s Australia about a hard-working pioneer family of migrant drovers or "sundowners" (Australian slang for someone whose home was where the sun went down every evening):

  • the continuing tension in the Carmody family of nomadic sheep-herders and sheep-shearers, between head-strong yet long-suffering, loyal wife Ida (Deborah Kerr) and her teenaged son Sean (Michael Anderson, Jr.) who wanted to settle down on a farm in Bulinga vs. wanderlusting, vagabond Irish husband Paddy (Robert Mitchum)
  • the stunning cinematography of on-location exteriors of rural Australia, including the 'crown' tree-top firestorm that threatened a flock of sheep being herded to market at Cawndilla, and various scenes of wildlife (koalas, kangaroos, dingos, emus, kookaburras, etc.)
  • the character of bachelor friend, hired hand and bearded British drifter Rupert "Rupe" Venneker (Peter Ustinov) and his on/off relationship with Cawndilla's feisty, marriage-seeking hotel barmaid/owner Mrs. Firth (Glynis Johns)
  • the well-acted scene of an unglamorous Ida, sitting in a covered wagon near a train unloading passenger at a station, where she covetously observed a rich, well-dressed female passenger in an open car window applying face-powder
  • the marathon sheep-shearing contest pitting Paddy against frail and elderly Herb Johnson (Wylie Watson) - who easily exhausted and defeated him
  • the scene of Ida's joy at seeing a stove in the kitchen of the farm-house that she thought the family could now acquire with a 400 quid downpayment
  • the scene of Paddy's confession to Ida that he had spitefully and drunkenly gambled away and lost 400 quid (the family's entire savings stored in a glass jar) in a game of two-up: ("I've done something, Ide. I lost the money. Two-up...I wrote IOUs. I lost it all. I don't know what to say. I looked at you both, you and Sean. You were just like strangers. I wanted you to have what you wanted, but God forgive me, I must've hated you both. I just wanted to get away from you, get drunk, get the taste out of me mouth. That's all I meant to do, darl, was just get drunk. That's all I meant to do. I'll make it up to you, darl. I promise you. I'll get ya a place"); the money was enough for a down-payment on a 2,000 quid farm (a property for sale in Bulinga viewed across the river in the opening scenes)
  • the final horse race at a bush-country track when the Carmody's horse Sundowner won - and then was disqualified for interference, turning the fate and fortunes of the family back to a nomadic lifestyle (Ida: "There goes both our chances to be noble")

Sunrise (1927)

In director F.W. Murnau's silent film classic - the winner of the first 'Best Picture' Academy Award for "Artistic Quality of Production":

  • impressionistic visuals of the camera work, including an impressive full-moon tracking shot
  • the erotic seduction scene under a full moon of a farmer (George O'Brien) who was first seen walking across a field and entering a misty swamp (where the trees parted to reveal a temptress) - he was greeted for a secret rendezvous by an awaiting wicked, black-clad seductress (Margaret Livingston) who suggested: "Sell your farm... come with me to the City"; she had plans to murder his young wife (Oscar-winning Janet Gaynor) ("Couldn't she get drowned?")
  • the tension in the attempted drowning/murder scene
  • the scene of the young couple's tram ride into the city
  • the romantic reconciliation sequences of their romantic day together in the city (as they kissed - the scenery changed behind them from traffic to a country scene), including the church scene
  • the loving reunion of the husband and presumed-drowned wife after she had been found alive, but unconscious; the husband was at his wife's bedside when she opened her eyes and turned her head on the pillow toward her husband. Their lips slowly drew together for a kiss, dissolving into the bright rays of an art-deco sun filling the screen
  • the word "Finis" floated upward to take the place of the sun as the music dramatically swelled

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

In director Billy Wilder's great black comedy/drama about Hollywood:

  • the opening scene of a body floating face down in a pool in a rotting mansion while the corpse started to narrate the flashback story: ("Yes, this is Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. It's about five o'clock in the morning. That's the Homicide Squad - complete with detectives and newspapermen")
  • the scenes between cynical hack writer Joe Gillis (William Holden) and fading silent film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) - with her faithful butler/ex-husband Max (director Erich von Stroheim)
  • the bridge game with her old "waxworks" friends
  • the moonlight funeral/burial of Norma's pet monkey in her backyard
  • Norma watching her old silent movies (including Swanson's own disastrous and uncompleted Queen Kelly from 1928)
  • the classic line: "I am big - it's the pictures that got small"
  • the New Year's Eve party scene
  • Norma's meeting with director Cecil B. De Mille on the set of a film
  • Norma's shooting of Joe and his capsizing into the pool
  • deranged Norma's last great "entrance" and comeback scene as she made a grand descent of her staircase - madly deluded that she was playing the part of Salome for the silent film cameras: ("...and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my closeup") as police, cameramen and press corps reporters waited below
  • the out-of-focus fade out to black at film's end

Superman: The Movie (1978) (aka Superman)

In Richard Donner's comic-book superhero classic:

  • the image of the "Man of Steel" comic book Superman hero / alias bespectacled Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) with red cape and tights soaring over Metropolis
  • Superman's rescue of Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) as she fell from a helicopter and their conversation (Superman (politely): "Easy, miss. I've got you" Lois Lane (screaming): "You've got me? But who's got you?")
  • their flight over the city with Lois in a blue chiffon evening gown to find out how fast he could fly while she recited the poem Can You Read My Mind
  • the scene of Superman's flying chase next to an Army missile
  • his saving resolution of various catastrophes when a Navy missile struck the San Andreas fault
  • his anguished primal scream howl-reaction to Lois Lane's death (by suffocation) in her car following a massive earthquake
  • the scene of his angry flight into the air to attempt to change the past with light-speed circumnavigation of the globe - to reverse time in order to bring Lois back to life

(no title screen)

Super Size Me (2004)

In writer/director Morgan Spurlock's Oscar-nominated documentary:

  • the scathing expose of how McDonald's fast food - eaten for 30 days straight
  • the result - rapid deterioration of writer/director Morgan Spurlock's health (constantly monitored by three doctors)
  • the shocking effectiveness of advertising used on children to buy the product (the image of Ronald McDonald)

The Sure Thing (1985)

In Rob Reiner's traditional comedy romance:

  • the scene when college freshman Walter "Gib" Gibson (John Cusack) first saw a photograph of his 'sure thing' dream date - a sexy "blonde in a string bikini" (Nicollette Sheridan) - and was lured to California by his buddy Lance (Anthony Edwards)
  • his dream fantasies of "traveling 3,000 miles to get laid" and meeting her in a Malibu beachhouse and being seductively whispered to: "You want it, I want it. You know I want it. You don't have to bulls--t to get it, and even if you do bulls--t me, you still get it"
  • then later when she begged for more: ("Come on, Giblet, one more time, one more time...It was so good. It was so masterful, relentless, but with a delicate touch. Confident, creative. I was overwhelmed. You're a true artist")
  • Gib's ultimate realization that his smart, seemingly-incompatible, cross-country traveling companion Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga) was more suited for him - even though he was promised: "Tonight is the first night of the rest of your sex life"
  • in his writing class after they both returned to the East Coast school after vacation and an English essay he had written titled The Sure Thing was read outloud by his teacher, Alison realized that he didn't sleep with his "sure thing" as he explained to her: "She wasn't my type"
  • their shared, curtain-closing, feel-good ending kiss under the stars

Suspicion (1941)

In Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense/thriller:

  • the film's opening in total darkness in a train tunnel
  • the anagram game scene in which the word "MURDER" was formed and Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) fell faint to the floor
  • the shadows from the skylight in the front hall casting a giant spider-web appearing to trap Lina
  • the dinner conversation about murder while cutting into Cornish hens
  • the famous sequence in which handsome husband Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) carried a glowing glass of milk (that may or may not have been poisoned) upstairs to his sick wife Lina - and her staring at the glass which she thought was poisoned
  • the climactic scene of their car struggle in the final scene during a cliffside drive

Suspiria (1977, It./W.Germ.)

In Dario Argento's stylistic gothic horror masterpiece:

  • the dazzling, starkly chromatic, and gaudy cinematography (with rich pinkish reds and hazy blue colors) and meticulously-designed Hitchcockian set-pieces
  • the opening sequence of dancer-heroine Suzy Bannion's (Jessica Harper) surreal taxi-cab ride to Tans (Dance) Academy in Freiburg, Germany
  • the series of creatively-brutal and bloody murder scenes (i.e., the elaborate double-murder sequence: a repeated chest stabbing into a dancer's still-beating heart and then her body hanging from an electrical cord, and the bisecting of another dancer by a falling shard of glass from a crashing stained glass-window ceiling above her)
  • the trapping of blind pianist Daniel (Flavio Bucci) in a large public plaza where his own seeing-eye dog suddenly lunged at his throat and ripped it out
  • and later - death in a room filled with razor wire for dancer Sara (Stefania Casini) when her throat was slit with a straight-edged razor
  • the rain of maggots, and the bat attack
  • the scene of undead Sara's reanimation, and her butcher knife attack on Suzy

The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Canada)

In director Atom Egoyan's drama about the effects of the tragic accident (resulting in the deaths of 14 children) and subsequent lawsuit and trial on the families and residents of the Canadian town:

  • the distressing, long-shot image at the mid-point of the film of a yellow schoolbus filled with children, in British Columbia (Canada), skidding off a slippery and snowy road, sliding down an embankment onto a frozen lake, and falling through the cracking ice because of its weight

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

In director Alexander Mackendrick's examination of New York's dark underside from a script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman:

  • the first look at the beetle-browed, thick-spectacled, pallor-faced, power-mongering NY columnist J. J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) in the "21" Restaurant
  • his put-down of politician-Senator Harvey Walker (William Forrest) for dallying with show-biz hopeful Miss Linda James (Autumn Russell)
  • his brilliant, but vitriolic and foul monologue toward lackey press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) that ended with the famous line: "Match me, Sidney"
  • the night scene in which Hunsecker gazed out and towered over the skyline from his high-rise parapet to survey the prone city below that he loved, possessed, and dominated like an imperious gargoyle
  • the revelation of Hunsecker's unnatural possessiveness of his sister Susan (Susan Harrison)
  • his desire for her to break up with musician boyfriend Steve Dallas (Martin Milner) - causing her to attempt suicide by hurling herself from the high-rise balcony
  • the final scene of her departure to escape from her smothering brother as she strode into the early morning sunlight at film's end

Swing Time (1936)

In director George Stevens' superb song-and-dance film:

  • the magical dancing rapport between gambler John "Lucky" Garnett (Fred Astaire) and dancer Penelope "Penny" Carrol (Ginger Rogers)
  • the light courtship "Pick Yourself Up" scene in which dance instructor Penny attempted to teach pupil Lucky how to dance as he faked ignorance and pretended to be a klutz and caused both of them to collapse to the floor after trying a simple dance step
  • her huffing of: "I can't teach you anything...No one could teach you to dance in a million years!"
  • Lucky's singing of the Oscar-winning "The Way You Look Tonight" as Penny shampooed her hair
  • the formal "Waltz in Swing Time" in a spotlight and backed by a small orchestra
  • "A Fine Romance" sung together in a snowy winter wonderland (and reprised at film's end)
  • the black-faced tribute to dancer Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson with "Bojangles of Harlem" (Astaire's first and last blackface performance) in which he danced with a chorus line and then tap-danced along with three huge silhouette-shadows
  • the preface to their stunning finale dance number "Never Gonna Dance" - set on a deserted dance floor in an Art Deco nightclub, where he told her: "I've danced with you. I'm never gonna dance again" - and then sang "Never Gonna Dance" to appeal to her as she stood on a staircase slightly above him - he told her of his broken heart and frustration, and how forlorn, pained and sad he would be without her
  • they began their poignant, ethereal, and melancholic dance duet by transforming their steps on the empty dance floor into a smooth gliding motion (followed equally smoothly by the camera moving side to side), and then by transitioning into a dance step as their love affair was repeatedly and gently rekindled; they separated and danced up the two sides of the curved staircase leading to another higher dance floor, spinning their way to the upper landing at the top (filmed with a well-executed crane shot), where they experienced one final flurry of propelled spins and twirling turns - her pirouettes in her white gown glowed fiery and bright - before she ran from him and exited

Swingers (1996)

In Doug Liman's original and low-budget comic drama:

  • the many quotable lines ("You're so money and you don't even know it!" - using money as an adjective meaning 'to be indisputably correct' or 'utterly gorgeous')
  • the lounge-hopping and pick-up efforts of five party-animal, show business wannabes in the singles scene - both in LA and Vegas
  • the use of the Jaws theme music to identify the predatory 'sharks' at a bar picking up on women
  • the discussion about their most favorite moments in movies like GoodFellas (1990) and Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  • the in-jokes about how: "Everybody steals from everybody, that’s Hollywood"
  • Trent Walker's (Vince Vaughn) advice on how to pick up women: ("All I do is stare at their mouths and wrinkle my nose, and I turn out to be a sweetheart")
  • the excruciatingly funny, but agonizing strike-out scene of aspiring, wanna-be NY stand-up comedian Mike Peter's (screenwriter-actor Jon Favreau) repeated phone calls to new LA acquaintance Nikki's (Brooke Langton) answering machine: ("This is Nikki. Leave a message") whom he had just met in a bar, when it cut him off as he left his phone number, and how he excused himself for his repeated phone calls and messages by stating: "I don't want you to think I was weird or desperate..." - and her live retort to his calls: "Don't ever call me again"; the scene covered all the various emotions that come to play in a male/female relationship

Swordfish (2001)

In director Dominic Sena's action crime/thriller:

  • the unnecessary money-shot sequence in which undercover agent Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry) was reading and sunbathing behind a book, and then lowered her book to reveal her toplessness

(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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