Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 26

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

The Song of Bernadette (1943)

Bernadette Soubirous/Mary Bernard's (Jennifer Jones) death scene in which she experienced a final visitation from the Virgin Mary (Linda Darnell) who held out her arms, smiled, and said: "I love you!"

Sophie's Choice (1982)


The flashback scene of the excruciating, heart-rending 'choice' that Polish woman Sophie Zawistowska (Meryl Streep) had to make in a concentration camp with a Nazi officer. First, the officer told her that she was beautiful and he propositioned her: "I'd like to get you in bed." He then asked: "Are you a Polack?" She answered, trembling: "I am a Pole! I was born in Krakow. I am not a Jew. Neither are my children. They're not Jews. They are racially pure. I'm a Christian. I'm a devout Catholic." He slowly turned and asked a second time: "You're not a communist?...You're a believer," to which she affirmed: "Yes sir, I believe in Christ." Then, after obliquely referring to one of Christ's sayings, "Suffer the little children," he gave her a fateful choice: "You may keep one of your children." Sophie stuttered back: "I beg your pardon?" He repeated his order: "You may keep one of your chldren. The other one must go." She asked: "You mean, I have to choose?" He responded: "You're a Polack, not a Yid. That gives you a privilege. A choice." She affirmed three times: "I can't choose." He threatened: "Choose! Or I'll send them both over there. Make a choice!" She begged: "Don't make me choose! I can't!" Exasperated, he ordered: "Take both children away!" She made a heart-wrenching ultimate decision: "Take my little girl! Take my baby." As her screaming daughter was taken away, Sophie's face displayed agonizing pain.

Sounder (1972)


The scene in which racist guards wrecked young David Morgan's (Kevin Hooks) cake which he had wanted to bring to his jailed sharecropper father Nathan Lee Morgan (Paul Winfield) under the premise of searching for weapons (white visitors went unchecked); and David's and wife Rebecca's (Cicely Tyson) greeting of Nathan after he was released from prison work camp, and family dog Sounder's death when Nathan died of sickness and exhaustion after his release.

Soylent Green (1973)

Elderly Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson, who was dying during filming) experienced a poignant, painless and suicidal death in an euthanasia clinic amidst musical and visual montages of a peaceful green Earth, with his friend Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston, who shed real tears due to the real-life poignancy of the dying Robinson) in a nearby control room.

Before Sol died, he prodded Thorn to learn and then prove to everyone the major secret about Soylent Green:

Horrible. Simonson. Soylent. Listen to me, Thorn. Thorn, listen....You've got to prove it, Thorn. Go to the Exchange. Please, Thorn. You've got to prove it. Thorn. The Exchange.

Spartacus (1960)


After the quelling of the slave revolt, the moment when Spartacus was called forth by the Romans and all of the slaves cried out: "I'm Spartacus!"; and the duel to the death between Antoninus (Tony Curtis) and Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) when they were forced to fight against each other by Crassus (Laurence Olivier) - with Spartacus' killing of Antoninus to spare him from crucifixion (Antoninus' dying words: "I love you, Spartacus, as I love my own father" - Spartacus: "I love you, like my son that I'll never see. Go to sleep"); and the closing scene in which Varinia (Jean Simmons) held up their newborn son to a crucified Spartacus: "This is your son. He's free, Spartacus, free. He's free. He's free. He'll remember you, Spartacus, because I'll tell him. I'll tell him who his father was, and what he dreamed of." Forced to move along, she grasped his ankle for a few last words, begging him to die: "Oh, my love, my life. Please die, die. Please die, die my love. Oh, God, why can't you die?...(Looking back) Goodbye, my love, my life. Goodbye, good-bye."

Splendor in the Grass (1961)

The emotionally devastating sequence of Wilma Dean's ("Deanie") (Natalie Wood) steam bath (and her strict mother's (Audrey Christie) questioning about her being spoiled), the school scene of her interpretation of the "splendor in the grass" Wordsworth's poem, her rejected-love scene followed by her drowning suicide attempt, and the final sequence of her bittersweet reunion with Bud years later (who has since married an Italian waitress (Zohra Lampert)) while wearing a virginal white dress outfit and hat - and her recollection of the Wordsworth poem (in voice-over) and its meaning after being asked: "Do you think you still love him?"

Stage Door (1937)

The devastating scene of the suicide of depressed aspiring actress Kaye Hamilton (Andrea Leeds) - who had ascended the staircase while hearing imaginary applause before committing the deed; and rich/refined actress friend Terry Randall's (Katharine Hepburn) reaction: ("I've got to get out of here. I'm not going on...Why didn't someone tell me? I would have given up a thousand times rather than have this happen. I'm going to go out there and tell them I'm not going to go on. And I'm going to tell them why"), but then Terry's memorable on-stage tearful rendition of the "calla lilies are in bloom...": ("The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died...Have you gathered here to mourn, or are you here to bring me comfort?...") followed by her curtain call speech: ("...I'm not responsible for what happened on this stage tonight. The person you should be applauding died a few hours ago...")

Stand By Me (1986)


In this coming-of-age film mostly told in flashback, the nighttime conversation between two twelve year-old schoolboy buddies, as they sat in front of a tree close to their campfire: tough Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and quiet/studious Gordon "Gordie" Lachance (Wil Wheaton) regarding how Chris was always labeled a 'low-life' due to his family's 'black-sheep' reputation as criminals and alcoholics ("It's the way the people think of my family in this town. It's the way they think of me. I'm just one of those low-life Chambers kids...I just wish that I could go some place where nobody knows me. (sobbing) I guess I'm just a pussy, huh?") in their town of Castle Rock in Oregon, and how he was poorly treated by his abusive father: (Chris: "I know how your dad feels about you. He doesn't give a s--t about you! Denny was the one he cared about and don't try to tell me different")

A Star Is Born (1954)


The scene of singer Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester (Judy Garland) singing the first chorus of "Lose That Long Face" followed by her breakdown in the dressing room confessional scene with Oliver (Charles Bickford) - forcing her to go back on stage to sing the song again; and the unforgettable poignant ending and closing tribute line to her husband Norman (James Mason) (after he had committed suicide with a sunset swim-walk into the sea to "It's a New World") in front of a large audience as she proudly identified herself: "This is Mrs. Norman Maine".

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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