Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

U - V - W

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

Umberto D. (1952, It.)


The melodramatic plight of pensioner Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti), whose slashed monthly pension caused his heartless landlady (Lina Gennari) to evict him to rent out his room to prostitutes and their johns; the close-knit, dependent relationship between Umberto and his faithful dog Flike and his touching relationship with caring young pregnant maid Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio); and the tearjerking, ambiguous ending in which Umberto, unable to give away his dog, contemplated suicide by stepping in front of a speeding train near a park while holding Flike -- the dog yelped, and squirmed away before Umberto could step in front of the train, and for the first time ran away in abject fear from his beloved master - after he finally coaxed Flike back to him by having the dog perform tricks with a pine cone, he played with the dog in a long shot as the film ended, despite having no place to stay and no income.

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

Martin's (Michael Murphy) tearful admission of having a year-long affair with another woman to wife Erica (Jill Clayburgh) - and Erica's response -- first stonily asking: "She a good lay?", then fleeing and vomiting into a trash can; and the scene in which Erica "erased" Martin's memory by removing all of his belongings and piling them into the living room.

Up (2009)

The emotionally deep, powerful and effective wordless 4-minute montage of 'married life' -- a man's entire relationship with his wife up until her death - in the person of two young kids who met and later married: balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (voice of Ed Asner) who worked in a zoo and adventurous, tomboyish Ellie (voice of Elie Docter). Theirs was a life journey of growing old, including buying and fixing up a dilapidated two-story home (soon threatened by encroaching city developers), painting their names (and leaving handprints) on their mailbox, taking frequent picnics to a hillside where they laid on their backs and observed cloud animal shapes, dreaming of having a family and setting up a nursery room but experiencing childlessness (miscarriage), his presentation of "My Adventure Book" to her with their mutual dream of going to Venezuela's Paradise Falls by saving spare coins for the journey (but they were never able to go, due to other obligations and debts), her tying of his necktie (numerous times to indicate the passage of time) as their hair greyed, his purchasing of tickets to Venezuela but the abrupt interruption of her failing health and death, and his expression of bereavement at her funeral before returning home alone - as the montage ended.

Walkabout (1971, UK/Australia)

The stunning mating dance (in his own native fashion) that the native aborigine boy (David Gulpilil) during his 'walkabout' performed for the civilized teenage girl (Jenny Agutter) - but that she ignored - with disastrous results when he committed suicide by hanging himself. However, she barely reacted to his death

WALL-E (2008)

In the final scene of Pixar's and Disney's animated science-fiction, odd-couple love story, a crushed and 'dead' WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class) (voice of Ben Burtt), the last lone garbage-compacting robot on Earth, was rebuilt by EVE (short for Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) (voice of Elissa Knight), a sleek, white-shelled probe droid-robot, who used WALL-E's own spare parts collection to reconstruct him, but he appeared to have lost his acquired sentience, personality and memories; she tried to stir his memory by placing a lightbulb and Rubik's Cube in his grasp and by playing his favorite Hello, Dolly! tape recording - with no luck. He turned and began his robotic task of trash-compacting. She tried to shake some sense into him, but it still didn't jog his memory - he stared back blankly. But then he remembered who EVE was after they clapsed 'hands' and she caused a small spark to occur when she touched his forehead - he came to life, focused his eyes on her, and they enjoyed a second longer kiss together

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

The scene of impoverished ballerina/prostitute Myra Lester's (Vivien Leigh) tragic end as she walked into oncoming traffic on the bridge, and Capt. Roy Cronin's (Robert Taylor) flashback memory years later on the bridge of her words in the film's final melodramatic moments: ("I loved you...I've never loved anyone else...I never shall") as the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" rose on the soundtrack and he fingered her good-luck charm.

Watership Down (1978)


The "Bright Eyes" sequence in which Fiver (voice of Richard Briers) found out that Hazel (voice of John Hurt) had been badly wounded by a shotgun, and chased the ghostly Black Rabbit (voice of Joss Ackland) to reach Hazel before the angel of death could claim him, as Art Garfunkel's melancholy song was played: ("How can the eyes that burn so brightly suddenly burn so pale?"); and the touching final scene in which the Black Rabbit appeared to an aged Hazel, requesting: "I've come to ask if you'd like to join my Owsla [police force]. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you'd like it. You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now" - and reassured Hazel who had looked back at the young rabbits cavorting in the warren: "You needn't worry about them. They'll be alright, and thousands like them. If you come along, I'll show you what I mean" -- followed by Hazel's quiet death, his spirit joining the Black Rabbit's.

Way Down East (1920)

The spiritually affecting, melodramatic performance of Lillian Gish as Anna Moore, including the scene of the young, innocent country girl's ecstatic reaction to a marriage proposal, soon followed by the scene in which her playboy "husband" Lennox Sanderson (Lowell Sherman) revealed that her marriage was only a mock ceremony; the sequence in which Anna baptized her sick, newborn baby just before it died in her arms; also the innocent love scene on the grass next to the river between Anna and David (Richard Barthelmess) - with the title card: "One heart for one heart, One soul for one soul, One love for one love, Even through Eternity" - but Anna was reluctant to fall in love with David when reminded of the ghosts of her past - she sadly cannot allow him to say such things, feeling unworthy of him due to her checkered past: "So she tells him he must never speak like this again"; and the classic casting-out scene in which she accused and denounced Sanderson before entering into a fierce blizzard; and the final sequence of her daring, last-minute rescue by David from floating ice floes that were perilously close to a precipitous waterfall.

The Way We Were (1973)


The on-and-off, star-crossed romance-marriage-divorce between two radical opposites: Jewish political activist Kate Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and WASP writer Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford), spanning from the 30s, through World War II to the McCarthy-era 1950's, and the tearjerking final scene in which they met accidentially in New York as she was handing out "Ban the Bomb" leaflets, to the strains of Streisand's performance of the title song (Oscar-winning music from Marvin Hamlisch - "Mem’ries, like the corners of my mind / Misty water-colored memories of the way we were") when she characteristically brushed the hair back on his brow.

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.

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
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