Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



W (continued)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

In director Mike Nichols' searing and visceral four-person drama - his debut film:

  • the bawdy and saucy performance of Oscar-winning Elizabeth Taylor as Martha - probably her greatest role ever
  • her spouting of "What a dump!" to invoke Bette Davis
  • the scenes of social games including Humiliate the Host, Get the Guests, Hump the Hostess, and Bringing Up Baby with young colleagues from the university
  • the dramatic sequence in which history professor George (Oscar-nominated Richard Burton) finds a gun and points it at the back of Martha's head as she tells the guests an embarrassing incident from his past
  • Nick's (Oscar-nominated George Segal) and George's drunken banter in the yard revealing Honey's (Oscar-winning Sandy Dennis) false pregnancy
  • the emotionally-charged scene in the road house culminating in George's physical assault of Martha
  • the scene in which George realizes how he can ultimately triumph over Martha
  • the final climactic sequence in which George purges and exorcises their son-myth by revealing their "secret"

The Wicker Man (1973, UK)

In Robin Hardy's suspenseful and erotic horror cult film:

  • the missing-girl investigation of repressed and devoutly religious Scottish policeman Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) on the remote island of Summerisle inhabited by openly-sexual pagan worshippers
  • his discovery of a potential virgin sacrifice of a missing young schoolgirl named Rowan (Geraldine Cowper) - and his encounter with the sexy inkeeper's daughter Willow (Britt Ekland) as she performs a nude dance in her room
  • the atheistic beliefs of the people's leader Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee)
  • the May Day finale in which Howe is burned alive ("Oh, my God!") as the perfect sacrifice in the massive hollow 'wicker man' statue (created of wicker materials designed to be used for fire sacrifices)

Wild at Heart (1990)

In director David Lynch's Wizard of Oz-related, lovers-on-the-run cult arthouse romance film:

  • the two lovers: violent 23 year-old ex-con and snakeskin-wearing, Elvis-obsessed Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) and horny goodtime 20 year-old Lula Pace Fortune (Laura Dern) ("This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top") with her monstrous and vindictive homicidal mother Marietta (Oscar-nominated Diane Ladd, Dern's real mother)
  • their sexed-up dialogue: "Baby, you'd better run me back to the hotel. You got me hotter than Georgia asphalt"
  • their encounter with a dying and bloody car wreck victim (Sherilyn Fenn)
  • the startling death scene of psychotic hitman Bobby Peru (Willem Dafoe) as he blows his own head off during an aborted robbery of a feedstore
  • the final scene of Ripley being visited by the Good Witch (Sheryl Lee)

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

In William Wellman's neglected, but representative social-issue film/morality tale of its time from Warner Bros.:

  • the startling docu-style sight of multitudes of wandering (not wild) young boys (and one disguised girl Sally (Dorothy Coonan Wellman, the director's young wife)) forced to 'hit the road' (by freight train) during the Depression to look for work
  • the constant threat of railroad dicks policing the freight yards and tracks and sending some of the transients to juvenile hall
  • the excruciating scene of homeless Tommy (Edwin Phillips) losing his leg to an oncoming train

The Wild Bunch (1969)

In Sam Peckinpah's violent and controversial western:

  • the extraordinary opening sequence (including an impressive presentation of the credits) of a Southwestern Texas border town (filled with parading Temperance Union rally participants) and robbery
  • leader Pike's (William Holden) chilling command in the bank office: "If they move, kill 'em"
  • the ambush of the Wild Bunch outlaws in a dusty town by bounty hunters with slow-motion, fast-edited, carnage and slaughter - paralleled with the images of children watching scorpions tortured by a blanket of red ants
  • the sight of a rider plunging through a storefront window on his horse
  • the exciting action sequence of the train robbery (including the explosion of a bridge after Pike's magnificent hat salute)
  • the shot of Dutch Engstrom (Ernest Borgnine) emerging from behind a gun barrel
  • the courageous, heroic march of the four remaining gang members to face ruthless General Mapache (Emilio Fernandez) and his army for a showdown
  • the brutal full-frontal view of the slitting of young Mexican gang member Angel's (Jaime Sanchez) throat
  • the spectacular, climactic bloodbath in the open courtyard as the gang takes on an entire Mexican soldier regiment and commandeers the big gun for awhile

The Wild One (1953)

In director Laslo Benedek's sub-genre-defining motorcycle gang film:

  • the opening credits sequence and the image of leather-jacketed, anti-hero Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando), leader of the motorcycle group "The Black Rebels" approaching on the highway
  • the scene of the bikers dragging on the street for beers
  • the memorable scene in which Johnny responds to the question: "What are you rebelling against?" with "What've you got?"
  • the scene of a group of rival cyclists circling sheriff's daughter Kathie (Mary Murphy) and terrorizing her
  • Kathie's rescue and moonlit motorcycle ride on the back of Johnny's motorcycle and their scene in the park

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996)

In Australian writer/director Baz Luhrmann's hip, retro-futuristic version of Shakespeare's tragic play about star-crossed lovers - a flamboyant modernizing with gang warfare between the Montague and Capulet Boys, guns, MTV-style editing and filming, with a rock soundtrack:

  • the scene of lovely Juliet (17 year-old Claire Danes) and Romeo (Leonardo di Caprio) first meeting - the young couple from opposing families are at a costume ball, where "bright angel" Juliet is wearing angel wings, while he is dressed in knight's armor
  • they first see each other on opposite sides of an aquarium tank (with colorful fish) where they flirt, and soon kiss each other after love at first sight
  • following the crucial balcony scene, they plunge into a swimming pool where they kiss below and above water
  • in the climactic double-suicide scene at film's end, Juliet regains consciousness on a flower-strewn altar lit by 2,000 candles just as Romeo is poisoning himself and expires
  • she then holds a semi-automatic gun to her head and pulls the trigger to join him

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

In director Mel Stuart's unlikely scary children's film adaptation of Roald Dahl's bizarre fairy tale - remade by Tim Burton as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), starring Johnny Depp as the famed chocolatier:

  • the memorable rendition of "The Candy Man" by Aubrey Woods ("Who can take a sunrise? Sprinkle it with dew. Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two. The Candy Man! The Candy Man can!")
  • the thrilling moment when poor boy Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum in his only film role) discovers a Golden Ticket
  • the character of the sweet but slightly wicked candy man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder in a definitive role) and his chocolate factory in a fanciful land populated by orange-skinned, green-haired Oompa-Loompas workers
  • the factory tour given for the lucky, mostly bratty children (and the musical number "Pure Imagination") with Willy's insight: "Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation and 2% butterscotch ripple"
  • the sight of all the sweets - marshmallow mushrooms, candy umbrellas, and other sweets
  • the scene in which tormenting, purple-clad Willy offers a boat ride down the Chocolate River to the kids and their parents - while hallucinatory, colorful, hellish and surreal images (a kaleidoscope of insects, a beheading of a chicken, a slimy worm on a face, etc.) are back-projected behind them while Willy provides strange commentary
  • the fates of the "naughty" children - highlighted by Violet (Denise Nickerson) being transformed into a giant blueberry (!)
  • the crowd-pleasing finale in which Willy Wonka makes Charlie his heir ("Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted...He lived happily ever after!")

Winchester '73 (1950)

In director Anthony Mann's adult psychological western (the first of eight films with James Stewart):

  • the character of slightly mad, obsessed and vengeful frontiersman Lin McAdam (James Stewart) in relentless pursuit of villainous 'black sheep' brother Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) who killed his father and possesses McAdam's prized, one-of-a-kind and rare Winchester '73 rifle that he won after a July 4th marksman shooting contest in Dodge City
  • the character of psychotic killer dandy Waco Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea)
  • the film's final chase and shootout in the rocky outcroppings of mountains between the two brothers

The Wind (1928)

In legendary Swedish director Victor Sjöström's (billed as "Victor Seastrom") masterpiece, and one of the last great silent films:

  • the stark realism of scenes of lengthy gusty, howling and gritty wind/sand storms
  • the wedding night scene that conveys naive bride Letty's (Lillian Gish) paralyzing fear with her new husband Lige (Lars Hanson) - by contrasting shots of her feet and his cowboy boots
  • the nightmarish scene of Letty's near-rape by Wirt Roddy (Montagu Love) and his accidental point-blank shooting
  • her attempt to bury his body during a fierce wind and sandstorm
  • her half-crazed reactions as she sees the body unearthed by the wind
  • her final disappearance into the sandstorm - and the studio's distorting tacked-on upbeat and hopeful ending

Winged Migration (2001, Fr.)

In Jacques Perrin's incredible documentary:

  • one of the most beautifully shot documentaries ever made (almost completely without the use of visual effects), that followed the migration patterns of dozens of bird species
  • one flying tern that traveled thousands of miles over oceans and continents during its migration
  • memorable scenes included ducks flying past the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty in New York City, birds fleeing an avalanche, and an old woman feeding cranes on her farm
  • the disturbing imagery, such as birds abruptly being shot down by hunters in mid-flight, an injured wader bird being stalked and then fed upon by dozens of hermit crabs, and a poacher's boat holding various parrots and toucans as well as a spider monkey

Wings (1927)

In the first Academy Award Best Picture winner by director William Wellman:

  • the spectacular aerial photography and dogfight scenes (shot in the air and not in a studio) - including a sequence in which a German pilot was hit (blood spurted from his mouth) and his plane went into a fiery tailspin
  • the final battle sequence (a full-scale reconstruction of the Battle of St. Mihiel)
  • the first on-screen male-male kiss on the lips when a handsome young soldier John "Jack" Powell (Charles "Buddy" Rogers) placed a lingering kiss on the mouth of his dying friend David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) in the aftermath of the battle

Wings of Desire (1987) (aka Der Himmel über Berlin)

In director and co-writer Wim Wenders' visually-affecting, moody and soaring film (remade as City of Angels (1998) starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan):

  • the plot regarding two earthbound, heavy flannel coat-wearing angels - sad-faced Damiel and Cassiel (Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) who watch over Berlin (both modern-day and war-time) - with the accompanying image (drained of color because of their isolation from earthly life) of Damiel surveying Berlin from the wings of the Victory statue atop its column in the Konigsplatz
  • the early scene of the two angels conversing in an open automobile about what it would be like to be human (to crave weight and pain)
  • the many scenes of the angels who observe and listen in without judgment to the thoughts of commuting subway passengers and library patrons of differing nationalities - and to other's random thoughts and voices
  • the two scenes of the angel accompanying a motorcycle accident victim and a suicidal man
  • also the transcendent scene of Damiel lovingly observing trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin) in her trailer
  • the way in which American movie star (Peter Falk) tempts Damiel with tactile and sensory sensations (drawing, coffee, cigarettes, the feel of cold on one's hands, etc.)
  • the moment that Cassiel sees that Damiel (after declaring his intention to join the earthly world) has left his footsteps in the sand on the East German side of the wall

Witness (1985)

In director Peter Weir's love story and meditation on violence and culture clash:

  • the film's opening scene of a brutal murder in a Philadelphia train station restroom witnessed by young Amish boy Samuel Lapp (Lukas Haas)
  • the Amish community's barn-raising scene
  • the scene of young recently-widowed Amish woman Rachel Lapp's (Kelly McGillis) treatment of homicide detective John Book's (Oscar-nominated Harrison Ford) gunshot wound
  • the smoldering, forbidden love relationship between Book and Rachel displayed in their informal, awkward serenade in the farm's barn (to the tune of a car radio playing Sam Cooke's "(What A) Wonderful World") - and lit by the car's headlights
  • the scene in which an unembarrassed Rachel gives herself a sponge-bath and boldly turns to reveal her bare-breasted self to John, soon followed by their strongly passionate kiss in the twilight

(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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