Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 2

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

Applause (1929)

In this film's heartbreaking ending, fading and "washed-up" burlesque star Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), the ailing, self-sacrificing mother of convent-bred 17 year-old daughter April Darling (Joan Peers), suicidally poisoned herself and slowly died in her dressing room, as April vowed to take her mother's place by forcing herself to go out and dance sordid burlesque in front of leering, middle-aged men (and defiantly vowed to give the crowd their 'money's worth': "I'll show them"), after telling her mother: "Nothing matters now but you, Mommy. We'll always have each other. Nothing is ever going to separate us again."

August Rush (2007)

The overly-sentimental, feel-good fantasy story of a young orphaned boy and 11-year old child musical prodigy named August Rush/Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore), who ran away to NYC to find his long-lost birth parents ("The music - I thought if I could play it, they would know I was alive and fine me"); after miraculously receiving a scholarship to Julliard School of Music, he was invited to conduct the New York Philharmonic at its summer concert series in Central Park with his own Rhapsody in C Major, but was taken away by the street-performing, Fagin-like Wizard (Robin Williams) at the last moment; in a series of coincidences, he was able to rush back to the concert stage in a tuxedo where he led the orchestra -- and was reunited with his long-lost musically-gifted parents Lyla Novacek and Louis Connelly (Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) [Note: they had conceived him during a one-night stand, but were separated afterwards and the baby was given up for adoption]; in the concluding scene, the parent-couple found themselves reunited in the audience (where they held hands), and turned toward and were drawn to the stage where Evan conducted - knowing that they had all found each other as the music reached a crescendo.

Awakenings (1990)

Leonard Lowe's (Robert De Niro) "awakening" from a sleeping sickness of 30 years following an epidemic of encephalitis - after receiving dosages of the Parkinson's Disease experimental drug L-Dopa, and his first meeting with his mother (Ruth Nelson) since his recovery; and Leonard's glowing smile at taciturn neurologist Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) from his bed when the other catatonic patients were also awakened - followed by Leonard's re-discovery of the world, zest for light and delight in simple things (i.e., brushing his teeth) - and his slow heart-breaking relapse back into catatonia.

Bambi (1942)


The heartbreaking scene in which young fawn Bambi (voice of Bobby Stewart) was with his mother (voice of Paula Winslow) in the snowy meadow, grazing on some exposed green plants. Suddenly, she sensed a human presence -- and warned: "Bambi. Quick! The thicket!" There were gunshots as they both raced away. She encouraged: "Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don't look back. Keep running! Keep running!" As Bambi ran and ducked behind a snowbank - and made it to the protective thicket, there was a fateful gunshot. Bambi turned and exclaimed while panting: "We made it! We made it, Mother! We...", but his Mother was nowhere in sight. Bambi emerged, asking and calling out: "Mother. Mother! Mother, where are you?!" He fruitlessly searched for her during a raging snowstorm, not knowing she had been killed by a human hunter. After not finding her and hearing no response, the young fawn began to sob, and then gasped at the imposing sight of his stag father, the Great Prince of the Forest, who stated: "Your mother can't be with you anymore." A tear formed in Bambi's eye as he looked up, and was told: "Come. My son." He followed, but looked back one last time in the direction of where his mother had been.

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

The tearjerking relationship between two ball players during a baseball season: mentally-slow catcher Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro), who was diagnosed with incurable Hodgkin's Disease, and his protective best friend and star pitcher Henry "Author" Wiggen (Michael Moriarty); the poignant performance of "Streets of Laredo (The Cowboy's Lament)" by cowboy team-mate Piney Woods (Tim Ligon) about a dying cowboy's funeral wishes ("...Oh, bang the drum slowly and play the fife lowly / Play the dead march as you carry me along..."); the final good-bye between Henry and Bruce after the season ended -- as Bruce bid farewell to his friend: ("Thank for everything Author. Thanks. And I'll be back in the spring. I'll be in shape then...don't forget to send me a scorecard from the Series") - and the very next scene of Bruce's funeral (which none of his team-mates attended) with Henry's narrated last lines: ("...He wasn't a bad fella, no worse than most, and probably better than some -- and not a bad ballplayer neither, when they gave him a chance, when they laid off him long enough. From here on in, I rag on nobody.")

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

The downbeat and sad ending, in which Dark Knight Batman/Bruce Wayne's (voice of Kevin Conroy) true love and ex-fiancee Andrea Beaumont (voice of Dana Delany), the daughter of a wealthy lawyer with ties to the mob - who was surprisingly revealed to be the murderous and vengeful Phantasm - decided against a future life with Bruce, and Bruce's mourning of his loss to consoling loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (voice of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr): ("I don't think she wanted to be saved, sir. Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I've always feared you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in and I thank heaven for that. But Andrea fell into that pit years ago, and no one, not even you, could have pulled her back"), and Bruce's discovery of Andrea's shiny pendant, which he clutched tearfully -- and the following scene that revealed a troubled and melancholy Andrea standing alone on a moonlit cruise ship deck - when a tipsy partygoer asked her if she wanted to be alone, she sighed: "I am."

*batteries not included (1987)

The scene in which tough Hispanic gang leader Carlos (Michael Carmine) -- whom silver-haired severe Alzheimer's patient Faye Riley (Jessica Tandy) mistakenly thought was her deceased son Bobby, had a change of allegiance and rescued Faye from a fire he had been hired to deliberately set in her apartment complex, with Faye looking at news clippings of her son's death; and the complex, heart-breaking, non-formulaic scene in which Faye's patient and clear-headed husband Frank (Hume Cronyn) attempted to cheer her up in the hospital by presenting Carlos as Bobby --- Faye, who was distraught over the departure of her alien mechanical life-form friends, sobbed: "That's not Bobby" - finally acknowledging her son's death over 40 years earlier, and at the same time dashing Carlos' hopes of redemption - he dumped the flowers he brought to give her in a trash can as he silently left, in this bizarre sci-fi fantasy.

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996)

The sorrowful, downbeat conclusion (or epitaph) in which a teary-eyed and regretful Orson Welles commented on his professional struggle to finance and make films after Citizen Kane (1941), and how he should have quit the movies: "I have wasted the greater part of my life looking for money and trying to get along, trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paint-box, which is a movie. And I've spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with making a movie. It's about two percent movie-making and ninety-eight percent hustling. It's no way to spend a life."

Beaches (1988)


The scene in which daughter Victoria Cecilia Essex (Grace Johnston) found her uptight WASP single mother Hillary Whitney Essex (Barbara Hershey) collapsed on the bedroom floor when she was in the last stages of her terminal cardiac disease (viral cardiomyopathy); the hospital scene following in which Hillary asked her life-long best friend - brassy, Jewish, low-brow and spirited NY singer/entertainer C.C. Cecilia Bloom (Bette Midler) - to take her from the hospital to live out her last days at a Pacific Ocean beach house; the scene of their conversation while playing cards, when C.C. told Hillary: "Listen, I know everything there is to know about you and my memory is long. My memory is very, very long" - followed by Hillary's response to herself: "I'm counting on it"; Midler's rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" on the soundtrack as they watched a final sunset together - and ending with Hillary's funeral after her death.

Hillary's Final Days and Death

After Hillary's death, the tear-jerking scene of C.C. discussing the future with Hillary's teary-eyed daughter Victoria, inviting her to come live with her and admitting her selfishness: ("If you don't want to come with me, Victoria, I - I will understand. I'll understand. I mean, I don't know what kind of a mother I'd make. You wouldn't believe the things that go through my head sometimes. And I'm very selfish too. I don't know what she was thinking of when she picked me. Now that I don't want to do it, there's nothing in the world I want more than to be with you. You think about it"), and Victoria's request: "C.C.? if I go with you, can I bring my cat?" - with C.C.'s reply: "Of course you can bring your cat. You can bring any old thing you want" - the two consoled each other's grief with a strong embrace; and C.C.'s resumed performance at the Hollywood Bowl - singing an encore tribute song "The Glory of Love" to her friend, while wearing a wine-velvet gown: ("Ya gotta laugh a little, cry a little and til the clouds roll by a little / That's the story of, that's the glory of love...") with Victoria watching back-stage - afterwards, they walked off together, hand-in-hand, as C.C. told the young girl about first meeting Hillary in 1958 under the boardwalk on the beach at Atlantic City, NJ: ("I sang that song the day your mother and I met in Atlantic City. We were just about your age. Did you know that?...We met when I was under the boardwalk smoking cigarettes"). There was a concluding flashback (in color and then freeze-framed black and white) of 11 year-olds Hillary (Marcie Leeds) and C.C. (Mayim Bialik) having their pictures taken in a photo booth on the day they first met in Atlantic City on the boardwalk - as they promised always to write to each other - in voice-over ("Be sure to keep in touch, C.C., OK? Well sure, we're friends, aren't we?").

Before Sunrise (1995)

The concluding hours between two young tourists: American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy), after roaming around Vienna throughout the night, when they realized that they would have to part; the concluding heartbreaking scene was set in the train station when they hastily parted with a few final kisses and embraces: ("OK, I guess this is it, no?...Have a great life. Have fun with everything you're gonna do!"); they vowed to see each other again in exactly six months at the same location, and then boarded separate trains (and each reflected upon their time together as the film returned to the locations they had visited which were now empty) - to the sound of Bach's Andante from Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Viola

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Double amputee Homer Parrish's (Harold Russell) self-loathing homecoming with his family when his mother first notices her son's hooks/hands, and his speech to his fiancee Wilma Cameron (Cathy O'Donnell) later in the bedroom: ("Well, now you know, Wilma. Now you have an idea of what it is. I guess you don't know what to say. It's all right. Go on home. Go away like your family said"), and Wilma's refusal to abandon Homer - she vows devoted, steadfast love for Homer and that nothing has changed her love for him: ("I love you and I'm never going to leave you, never") as she wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him, before helping him to bed; after she leaves, Homer lies in bed, staring upward at the ceiling, with tears welling up and streaming down.

Beau Geste (1939)

The scene in which John Geste (Ray Milland) presented Lady Patricia (Heather Thatcher) with a letter from brother Beau (Gary Cooper), disclosing that her prized valuable gem - "The Blue Water" sapphire, had been sold years before and that Beau had stolen the substitute to save her the embarrassment of selling it - she read the letter aloud at the foot of the stairs: ("I was inside the suit of armor in the hall the day you sold the Blue Water to the Maharajah's agent and received an imitation to take its place. When the wire from Sir Hector came, I thought I could repay your devotion to us by giving Brandon Abbas its first robbery. So the lights went out and so did Beau. Lovingly, Beau Geste"); after reading the letter, she delivered a tearful last line of thanks: "Beau Geste? Gallant gesture. We didn't name him wrongly, did we?"

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1937)

In a touching and sentimental scene, womanizing radio host Buzz Fielding (Bob Hope) and ex-wife Cleo Fielding (Shirley Ross) serenaded each other with a duet of the Academy Award-winning Best Song Thanks For the Memory; they sang as they shared drinks, poignantly and slightly regretfully looking back on the good times they had experienced within their failed relationship; he began: "Thanks for the memory / Of rainy afternoons / Swinging Harlem tunes/ Motortrips and burning lips / And burning toast and prunes" and she joined in: "How lovely it was / Thanks for the memory / Of candlelight and wine / Castles on the Rhine / The Parthenon..." as they continued to alternate the lyrics; their singing ended wistfully, as they clinked their glasses together again and sang: "Hooray for us"; she asked, still singing: "Strictly entre nous, darling, how are you?" and he replied: "And how are all those little dreams that never did come true?"; she responded: "Awfully glad I met you", with his response: "Cheerio, toodle-oo" - she collapsed in tears in his arms when they finished -- (this was the song that would launch Hope's career and become his famous trademark or signature theme song).

Big Fish (2003)

A film filled with a series of dramatized fanciful stories, legends, myths, whimsical and magical autobiography - when estranged and doubting prodigal son Will (Billy Crudup as adult son) returned home to console and confront his tall tale-telling, dying cancer victim father Ed Bloom (Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor as a younger traveling salesman), including the scene of Ed transformed into a big catfish to swim away forever ("the biggest fish in the river gets that way by never being caught") -- a beautiful metaphoric death that eased him into his real death; in Ed’s dying moments, it was revealed what Ed had seen in the witch’s/Jenny (Helena Bonham Carter) glass eye – Ed died in the river (as the 'big fish' he always wanted to be) surrounded by all the people he had met on his far-flung adventures; the real-life versions of the people from Ed’s stories turned up to bid their final farewells and pay respects at his funeral, illustrating to Will that his father's tall tales were very close to reality

The Big Heat (1953)

There were at least two tearjerking scenes in director Fritz Lang's landmark bleak, film noir crime classic and violent melodrama: (1) the scene in which homicide Police Sergeant Dave Bannion's (Glenn Ford) pretty wife Katherine 'Katie' (Jocelyn Brando) was killed in a car-bombing intended for him, and (2) the retaliatory scene in which heroine Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame), the beautiful moll and kept-woman of sadistic, reflexive, cold-blooded Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) sought revenge with hot coffee, but was shot fatally twice in the back - Bannion sympathetically cradled her head with her mink coat while kneeling at her side, although she pulled it up to hide her disfigured face; she expressed peacefulness in her final words when she referred to Bannion's murdered wife: "I like her...I like her alot."

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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