Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 20

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

On the Waterfront (1954)

Dockworker and ex-boxer Terry Malloy's (Marlon Brando) regretful speech to his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) in the back seat of a taxi-cab: ("It wasn't him, Charley! It was you. You remember that night in the Garden, you came down to my dressing room and said: 'Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.' You remember that? 'This ain't your night!' My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors in the ball park - and whadda I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville....You was my brother, Charley. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me - just a little bit - so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money....You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it (pause) ...... It was you, Charley.")

Once Were Warriors (1994)

The realistic, brutal, difficult-to-watch domestic abuse scene in which Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) savagely beat (he punched her repeatedly, slammed her against the living room wall and mirror, kicked her, and threw her into the bedroom) and then raped (off-screen) his battered wife Beth (Rena Owen), as the four children, including 13 year-old writer Grace Heke (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell), huddled and cowered together in a bunk bed listening to the violence; and Grace's own rape by Jake's best friend "Uncle" Bully (Cliff Curtis) in her own bedroom (he excused himself by blaming her for turning him on) in the middle of the night - and the next morning her attempt to scrub herself clean in a bathtub, and her subsequent suicide, in Lee Tamahori's searing melodrama about domestic abuse and alcoholism set in the Maori community in New Zealand.

Ordinary People (1980)


The moving scene of suicidal, guilt-ridden high-school student Conrad "Con" Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) admitting his feelings about his older brother's accidental drowning (during a sailing trip) in his late-night therapy session with the psychiatrist Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch): ("What was the one thing wrong you did?", "I hung on") and the therapist's reassurance: "I am your friend, Count on it", and the climactic scene in which Conrad's compassionate and warm-hearted father Calvin (Donald Sutherland) admits his loss of love for his cold and icy wife Beth (Mary Tyler Moore): ("...I don't know who you are. I don't know what we've been playing at. So I was crying. Because I don't know if I love you any more. And I don't know what I'm going to do without that") and the closing scene before the credits in which Calvin reconnects with his son - with a hug.

Orphans of the Storm (1921)

The scene in which Henriette Girard (Lillian Gish) heard the voice of her blind, kidnapped half-sister Louise (Dorothy Gish) singing in the street below - but was unable to get to her from the balcony before she was arrested; and the tearful reunion scene between the two sisters (and the miraculous restoration of eyesight for Louise).

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

The final scene of the reading of a letter of one of the innocent victims lynched by a mob, Donald Martin (Dana Andrews) - read posthumously by Gil Carter (Henry Fonda): "I guess that's all I've got to say except - kiss the babies for me and God bless you..."

Paper Moon (1973)

The final tearjerking scene of young and precocious, orphaned 9 year-old Addie (Tatum O'Neal) being dropped off at her relative's place, and how she left her 'father' Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) a picture of herself in his car - of her sitting on a paper moon at a carnival - - so that she could be reunited again by film's end with him to continue swindling and grifting on the road.


Parenthood (1990)


The flashback memory in which emotionally-scarred Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) remembered his cold and distant 64 year-old father Frank (Jason Robards) abandoning him at a baseball game on his birthday, leaving the usher to watch over him; the reconciliation scene between Gil and Frank, when Frank gave him heartfelt advice: "There are no guarantees in being a parent. You cannot guarantee that you'll raise your children into perfect adults. You just go out there and do the best for your children"; and the tearjerking exchange between Frank and Cool (Alex Burrall) - the 8 year-old illegitimate black son of Frank's irresponsible "black sheep" gambling son Larry (Tom Hulce) after the child was abandoned: (Cool: "Is Daddy coming back?", Frank: "No")

Paris, Texas (1984)

The poignant bravura peep-show scene of an 8 minute long conversation (through microphones) with Travis' (Harry Dean Stanton) confession to estranged wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski): ("I knew these people. These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of adventure. And she liked that....") - and the moment that Travis turned his booth light off so that she could see him, and the overlapping or melting together of their images and then their separation; also the heartbreaking conclusion - when Travis returned his 8 year-old son Hunter (Hunter Carson) to Jane and then drove away.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)


It told of the agonizing, unsparing crucifixion death of "Jesus Nazareth/ King of the Jews" (James Caviezel) on the cross. He was first severely beaten, forced to carry part-way his own wooden cross to the hillside of Golgotha outside Jerusalem, and then was nailed to the cross to suffer and die.

Paths of Glory (1957)

The final tavern scene in which a captured blonde German girl (Susanne Christian in the credits), timid and with tears running down her cheeks, sang a German ballad for French soldiers - and the look on their faces as they first humiliated her, and then softened, listened empathically and understood her pain - the song evoked memories of their youth, their homes, and their loves in a world they might never see again; the scene ended with Commander Dax (Kirk Douglas) giving his weary men the 'short' rest that they were promised: "Well, give the men a few minutes more, Sergeant," as the sound of drums and military music playing the "Soldier Boy" song rose in volume and drowned out the sound of the folk song.

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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