Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 16

The Greatest Tearjerkers of All-Time
Movie Title/Year and Brief Tearjerker Scene Description

Little Women (1933)


The reassuring words of dying Beth March (Jean Parker) to her older sister Jo (Katharine Hepburn): "I'm not afraid anymore! I'm learning that I don't lose you, that you'll be more to me than ever, and NOTHING can part us, though it seems to. Oh, Jo! I think I'll be homesick for you - even in heaven"; and Jo's written ode to her sister titled "My Beth": ("Oh my sister, passing from me / Out of human care and strife / Leave me, as a gift those virtues / Which have beautified your life / By that deep and solemn river / Where your willing feet now stand"); and Beth's last words: "I think I can sleep now. Oh look, Jo. My birds. They got back in time") - at the moment of her death when the birds fly off from the window sill.

The Lives of Others (2006, Germ.) (aka Das Leben der Anderen)

The scene in which beautiful actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck) - the devoted lover of successful Socialist playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) cleansed herself in the bathtub/shower of the filth (both physically and emotionally) after a forced sexual encounter with Cultural Department head Minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) in the backseat of his limousine, in exchange for prescription drugs and protection; also the heart-breaking scene in which a distressed Christa-Maria committed suicide by running in front of a truck after she believed that she had betrayed Dreyman by revealing the location of his incriminating red-ribboned typewriter that he had used to author an anonymous article (ironically about suicide in East Germany) for West German magazine Der Spiegel - made more tragic by the fact that sympathetic "guardian angel" secret police Stasi survelliance agent Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) had just before secretly removed the typewriter from under the apartment's doorsill to protect her and Dreyman - and the scene of Georg's anguish over her bloody death in the street; also the scene in which a demoted Wiesler quietly walked out of his dead-end mail-steaming job nearly 5 years later when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989; and the final sequence in which Georg discovered that Wielser had protected him when he read the declassified surveillance transcripts on himself, and discovered a thumbprint smudge of red ink (from the red-ribboned typewriter) next to his official notation HGW XX/7; then, he located Wiesler (now a newspaper deliveryman) but decided not to introduce himself to the humbled man; and the final scene two years later when Wiesler saw a bookstore poster advertising a new book written by Dreyman titled "Sonata For a Good Man" and its dedication: "HGW XX/7 gewidmet, in Dankbarkeit. (Dedicated to HGW XX/7, in Gratitude)", and the film's final line: Wiesler's subdued, double-entendre reply to the cashier's question if he'd like the book he was purchasing gift-wrapped: "No, it's for me."

Longtime Companion (1990)


The famous closing "Fire Island fantasy" in which the three surviving friends Willy (Campbell Scott), Alan/Fuzzy (Stephen Caffrey) and Lisa (Mary-Louise Parker) strolled on an empty Fire Island beach where Willy wistfully mused: "I just want to be around when they find a cure"; also the heart-breaking fantasy of the joyous reunion/party of the three survivors and their dead loved ones (in the fantasy, all of the dead reverted back to their healthy selves for a few moments before cutting back to the threesome on the beach alone).

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The farewell finale, in which weary and damaged hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), after succumbing to the One Ring's evil influence atop Mount Doom (where he destroyed the Ring) left Middle-Earth with his uncle Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), who was reaching death from old age; he was also accompanied in the goodbye scene by wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who bid farewell to the rest of the Fellowship (Frodo's three Hobbit friends), and then told Frodo: "It is time, Frodo", before departing with him for the Grey Havens (the elves' Undying Lands); the scene was highlighted by Frodo's explanation to his best friend and companion Sam Gamgee (Sean Austin) about why he was leaving: "We set out to save the Shire, Sam. And it has been saved. But not for me"; Sam begged: "You don't mean that! You can't leave!"; Frodo presented Sam with his handwritten book of The Lord of the Rings story: "The last pages are for you, Sam"; after hugging Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), he kissed Sam on the forehead, then boarded the vessel and gave one final look back; afterwards, Sam returned home to his Shire family as he remembered what Frodo had written him: (voice-over) "My dear Sam: you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do. Your part in this story will go on."

Love, Actually (2003)


The Christmas morning scene in this sentimental tearjerker in which Karen (Emma Thompson) received a Joni Mitchell CD for Christmas from her straying husband Harry (Alan Rickman), instead of the expensive necklace she discovered in his pocket -- and realized tearfully as she listened to Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" that he was having an affair with his seductive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch). After weeping silently, she forced herself to put on a happy face when she returned from her bedroom to rejoin her family in the living room.

Love Story (1970)


The scene in which Radcliffe music student Jennifer Cavalleri (Ali McGraw) made the famous statement to WASP Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal): "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Also, the scene in which she was discovered to be terminally ill ("very sick") while she was being medically tested for fertility and pregnancy ("She's dying"). And then her lengthy deathbed conversation with Oliver at the Mount Sinai Hospital in a tear-inducing closing. She told him: "It doesn't hurt, Ollie, really it doesn't. It's like falling off a cliff in slow-motion, you know. Only after a while, you wish you'd hit the ground already, you know." He stated he fell off a cliff when he met her. Then, she tried to bring up his spirits: "Now you've gotta stop being sick...that guilty look on your face, it's sick. Would you stop blaming yourself, you god-damn stupid preppy. It's nobody's fault. It's not your fault. That's the only thing I'm gonna ask you. Otherwise, I know you're gonna be OK. (pause) Screw Paris!...Screw Paris and music and all that stuff you thought you stole from me. I don't care, don't you believe that? (He shook his head no) Then get the hell out of here. I don't want you at my god-damn deathbed." He finally admitted: "I believe you. I really do." She responded with a last request: "That's better. Would you please do something for me, Ollie? (He kissed her hand) Would you please hold me? (He half-heartedly hugged her) No, I mean really hold me. Next to me." He reclined next to her on the bed. Afterwards, in the hallway, Oliver spoke to Jenny's father Philip (John Marley), who said with a choked-up voice: "I wish I hadn't promised Jenny to be strong for you." As he left the hospital, he ran into his father Oliver Barrett III (Ray Milland), who asked: "Why didn't you tell me? I made a couple of calls, and as soon as I found out, I jumped right in the car. Oliver, I want to help." His son simply replied: "Jenny's dead." When his father began to reply: "I'm sorry...", Oliver interrupted him and quoted his late wife's earlier remark, when referring to their past misunderstandings: "Love, love means never having to say you're sorry" - the last line of film dialogue. For the remaining three minutes in the touching finale, Oliver walked across the street to snow-covered Central Park as the poignant, award-winning "Love Story" theme music built up and played and he contemplated what life would have been like with Jenny, while sitting on a bench. The camera pulled away from him, shot from behind, before the closing credits.

Magnificent Obsession (1954)


The scene in which reckless and wealthy playboy Dr. Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) promised Helen (Jane Wyman), the blinded widow of Dr. Wayne Phillips, that he would look after her; and the scene in which Helen woke up from her successful operation and told him: "it doesn't hurt as much".

Man on the Moon (1999)

The excruciating scenes in which abrasive comedian and practical joker Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) (and his lounge-singer alter ego Tony Clifton) tried to cure his lung cancer with various quackery and miracle remedies, such as New Age crystals, Philippine Islands faith healers, etc.; and the poignant final scene - a costumed recreation of Tony Clifton's comeback concert appearance a year after Kaufman's death, in which Kaufman and writing partner and friend Bob Zmuda's (Paul Giamatti) "Tony Clifton" character defiantly sang together: "I Will Survive" as Zmuda also looked on! - while music group R.E.M.'s tribute to Kaufman's "Man on the Moon" played.

Manhattan (1979)

The heartbreaking scene when 42 year-old Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) broke up with his 17 year-old girlfriend Tracy (Mariel Hemingway): ("Now I don't feel so good") in a malt shop with Tracy's tearful rejection of his attempts to get her to stop crying; also the scene of Isaac stretched out on a couch recounting all the things that he genuinely loved (his jazz, acting, and sports heroes, and Tracy's face): "Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, there are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile, uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Willie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face..."; and then their romantically poignant and touching final scene when the young lover consoles a fearful Isaac after he has rushed to her place - but she is leaving for London for six months: ("Six months isn't so long. Everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people"), concluding with the final shot of Isaac's face and its wry, resigned smiling expression (a farewell version of The Tramp's (Charlie Chaplin) expression in City Lights (1931)) followed by a reprise of the opening montage featuring the Manhattan skyline from dawn to dusk to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

The Marrying Kind (1952)

The tragic family picnic scene in which Joey (Christopher Olsen), the six-year old son of bickering couple Florrie (Judy Holliday) and Chet (Aldo Ray), accidentally drowned in a park pond while an oblivious Florence was singing “How I Love the Kisses of Dolores” on a ukelele to her husband.

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20
Part 21 | Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30

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