Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



S (continued)

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

In writer/director Preston Sturges' brilliant satire about movie-making:

  • butler Burrows' (Robert Greig) speech to Hollywood comedy director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) about poverty ("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
  • his first meeting and pairing with The Girl (Veronica Lake) in a diner
  • The Girl dressed as a male hobo and their wanderings as hoboes traveling across America to experience poverty for themselves
  • the scene of a presumed-dead and incarcerated Sullivan in a prison farm watching a screening of a Pluto/Mickey Mouse cartoon - and laughing along with his fellow, hardened Georgia chain-gang prisoners
  • 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 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
  • the erotic seduction scene under a moon in a misty swamp of a farmer (George O'Brien) being tempted by a wicked seductress (Margaret Livingston) to murder his young wife (Oscar-winning Janet Gaynor)
  • 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 kiss - the scenery changes behind them from traffic to a country scene), including the church scene
  • the loving reunion of the husband and presumed-drowned wife after she has been found

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 starts 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 makes the grand descent of her staircase - madly deluded that she is 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 wait below
  • the out-of-focus fade out to black at film's end

Superman: The Movie (1978)

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 falls 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 can fly while she recites 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 strikes the San Andreas fault
  • his anguished primal scream reaction to Lois Lane's death (by suffocation)
  • the scene of his light-speed circumnavigation of the globe to reverse time in order to bring Lois back to life

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" is formed and Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) falls 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) carries a glowing glass of milk (that may or may not be poisoned) upstairs to his sick wife Lina - and her staring at the glass which she thinks is poisoned
  • the climactic scene of their car struggle in the final scene during a cliffside drive

Suspiria (1977, It.)

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 lunges at his throat and rips it out
  • and later - death in a room filled with razor wire for dancer Sara (Stefania Casini) when her throat is 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 (1996)

In director Atom Egoyan's drama about the effects of the tragic accident on the residents of a Canadian town:

  • the distressing, long-shot image at the mid-point of the film - of a yellow schoolbus filled with children skidding off the road and falling through ice on a frozen lake

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 a show-biz hopeful Miss Linda James (Autumn Russell)
  • his brilliant, but vitriolic and foul monologue toward lackey press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) that ends with the famous line "Match me, Sidney"
  • the night scene in which Hunsecker gazes out and towers over the skyline from his high-rise parapet to survey the prone city below that he loves, possesses, and dominates 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 strides 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 attempts to teach pupil Lucky how to dance as he fakes ignorance and pretends to be a klutz and causes 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 shampoos 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 Bill Robinson with "Bojangles of Harlem" in which he dances with a chorus line and then tap-dances along with three huge silhouette-shadows
  • their stunning finale "Never Gonna Dance" on a dance floor with a stunning staircase

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 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 great but agonizing segment of wannabe stand-up comic Mike Peters (screenwriter-actor Jon Favreau) making multiple phone calls to the answering machine of a potential date named Nikki (Brooke Langton) that he just met in Los Angeles - covering 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) is reading and sunbathing behind a book, and then lowers 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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