Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 30

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

West Side Story (1961)


The poignant, powerful duet of "Somewhere" between star-crossed lovers: Caucasian Tony (Richard Beymer) and Puerto Rican Maria (Natalie Wood), and the tragic death scene of Tony, with a grieving Maria's anguished ranting at gang members - accusing all of them for being responsible for Tony's senseless death, and lecturing them at how hate breeds more hate: ("...You all killed him!...Not with bullets and guns! With HATE! Well, I can kill too, because now I have hate!") - and then her touching farewell to Tony, as she fell to her knees, weeping, and tenderly kissed the lips of Tony one last time and expressed her love for him in Spanish, with: "Te adoro, Anton", in the musical update of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. The two gangs, confused, stunned, ashamed and sobered by the unnecessary triple killings, finally put aside their enmity. As some of the Jets struggled to bear Tony's body away, a few of the Sharks assisted them. Together, they solemnly carried him down the street, with Maria following.

Whale Rider (2002, NZ)


The scene in which young Maori girl Paikea (Keisha Castle-Hughes) gave her award-winning speech in school about her ancestors, crying profusely as she delivered it because her grandfather and Maori chief Koro (Rawiri Paratene) didn't show up; the mass beaching of whales and the desperate attempts by the Maori to keep them alive, and the mystical scene in which Paikea literally rode the back of the largest whale out to sea, having restored its will to live so it could unbeach itself: ("I wasn't afraid to die"); and Koro's acceptance of Paikea as a new Maori chief as she lay unconscious in a hospital bed; and the final shot of grandfather and granddaughter together at sea on the Maori long canoe, as she led the chant while wearing Koro's whale tooth necklace.

What Dreams May Come (1998)

The tragic early scene in which pediatrician Dr. Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) lost his two children Marie (Jessica Brooks Grant) and Ian (Josh Paddock) in an off-screen car crash, with his melancholy narration: "It was the last time Annie and I saw them alive" -- and the shot of his son Ian inside his coffin; and then four years later, the scene in which Chris, now also deceased and in the afterlife but lingering on Earth - after another multi-car crash in a tunnel - attended his own funeral and comforted his still-living wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra); also his attempts to force despondent Annie to acknowledge his continued existence (after whispering in her ear: "This is Chris. I still exist," he made her scrawl the words: "ISTILEXST" in her diary, and then later tried to contact her at his gravesite: "Don't worry, baby, I'm not leaving you alone. I'm not goin' anywhere") -- and her violent sobbing reactions, forcing Chris to reluctantly leave her and Earth and journey to the afterworld to prevent any more harm ("The reality is it's over when you stop wanting to hurt her"); also the scene of despairing Annie committing suicide, foreshadowed by the death of her purple-flowered tree in the 'heavenly' painting, and her journey to Hell ("You never see her. She's a suicide. Suicides go somewhere else...The real Hell is your life gone wrong"); also Chris' sentimental apology to Annie in Hell for all the things he couldn't give her ("I'll never buy you another meatball sub with extra sauce -- that was a big one! I'll never make you smile..."), and the tearjerking 'feel-good' Hollywood finale that reunited wife Annie with him and their two dead children in the heavenly afterlife ("Travel here is like everything else, it's in your mind. All you have to do is close your eyes if you know where you're going. Looks like we did"). After she vowed to Chris: "I want us to grow old together. Can we do that here? I want it all. As long as it's with you," they experienced a spiritual reawakening in the bodies of two young children by a lake ("When I was young, I met this beautiful girl by a lake").

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

The crowd-pleasing, tearjerking finale featuring Sally Albright's (Meg Ryan) moving mixture of frustration, longing, loving, wariness and desperation after Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) had professed his at-long-last love for her at a New Year's Eve party: ("You see. That is just like you, Harry. You say things like that, and you make it impossible for me to hate you, and I hate you, Harry. I really hate you. I hate you"), resulting in passionate kisses as they finally conquered their doubts over the budding romance born of an initially platonic friendship years earlier.

White Christmas (1954)

The Irving Berlin tribute songs, in the holiday show, to respected, popular and now-retired Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger) - a Vermont innkeeper, sung by his former soldiers: "What Can You Do With a General?" and "Geee! I Wish I Was Back in the Army."

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Martha's (Elizabeth Taylor) anguished reaction to the "death" of her fictional son ("NOOOOOOoooooooo!") and her plaintive, accusatory words to George (Richard Burton): ("There was no need. There was no need for this!...You didn't have to kill him!"); and the long, monosyllabic exchange between the two after their late-night guests Nick (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis) left their company: (..."It was time." "Was it?" "Yes." "I'm cold." "It's late."...), and Martha's admission when George sang "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" -- "I am, George...I am", to close out the film.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Dorothy Gale's bidding of farewell to all of her newfound friends in the Land of Oz: especially her sad goodbyes with the Tin Woodsman (Jack Haley): "Now I know I've got a heart, because it's breaking" and with the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) - highlighted by her final hugs and kisses reserved for him and her whispered sentiment: "I think I'll miss you most of all."

Wuthering Heights (1939)

The Gothic doomed romance between passionate and headstrong Cathy Linton (Merle Oberon) and brooding Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier); the tragically romantic death scene in Cathy's bedroom as Heathcliff was reunited with her and carried her to the window for one last look at the moors in the distance: ("Take me to the window. Let me look at the moors with you once more, my darling. Once more...") before she died in his arms; and the final image of the ghosts of Cathy and Heathcliff walking on Peniston Crag in the moorlands.

The Yearling (1946)


The scene, set in the late 1800s, in which 11 year-old Florida farm boy Jody (Claude Jarman, Jr.) realized that he must shoot his beloved, but crop-devouring orphaned pet fawn, named Flag, that he had earlier rescued - to put it out of its misery after being mortally wounded by his mother (Jane Wyman); also the scene of Pa Baxter (Gregory Peck) commenting on the boy's growing up after he had run off and returned home, describing Jody's coming-of-age: "He ain't a yearling no longer" followed by his mother going to Jody's bedside to gratefully hug him and comfort him; and the film's final fantasy scene in which Jody dreamed that he cavorted off with the deer as the music swelled, in director Clarence Brown's family drama and sensitive coming-of-age tale.

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

The stirringly patriotic finale when stove-pipe hatted young lawyer Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda), having just won a case to save two homesteader boys from the gallows, walked off toward a hill in a gathering rainstorm after saying: "No, I think I might go on a piece. Maybe to the top of that hill" - and the film's conclusion with a dissolve into a shot of the statue in the Lincoln Memorial with a chorus singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

The poignant scene in which teenaged Sherlock Holmes' (Nicholas Rowe) love interest Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward) blocked a bullet intended for him, with her dying exchange with him: (Elizabeth: "Don't be sad" Sherlock: "Someday, we'll be reunited, another world, much better world" Elizabeth: "I'll be waiting. And you'll be late, as always") ; after she passed away, Sherlock nuzzled her close to him as a teardrop ran down the bridge of his nose and he cried out: "Elizabeth, no... No!" -- marking, according to young John Watson (Alan Cox), the last time Holmes ever shed a tear; later, Holmes would declare he was transferring from the Academy: "There are too many memories here" - when Watson protested: "Holmes, you have your entire life ahead of you!", he calmly replied: "Then I'll spend it alone."

Z (1969, Fr.)

The poignant final scene of Costa-Gavras' masterpiece in which widowed wife Helene (Irene Papas) - after the assassination of her pacifistic husband - the Deputy (Yves Montand) of the opposition party in Greece, learned from one of her husband's followers that the right-wing assassins (military men including the general and the police chief who sanctioned the murder) had been exposed and arrested ("It's a real revolution, the government'll fall and extremists'll be wiped out") - she turned and looked out to sea, without triumph, but only with sadness and despondency

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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