Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 7

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

The Deer Hunter (1978)


The final poignant and emotional scene at the breakfast wake in Welsh's Bar, of mourners following Nick's (Christopher Walken) death (while playing Russian Roulette in a Saigon back alley) after his body was brought home for the funeral - everyone was awkwardly silent, disillusioned, moody and overtaken by grief; as they prepared breakfast, the community of hardened survivors amidst the disfiguring tragedy of the failed war picked up the impromptu hummed tune of God Bless America and thereby comforted each other and healed each other's wounds by singing the words to the familiar and naively patriotic anthem - everyone joined in; at first, they were embarrassed, but then uplifted and renewed by the singing of the ritualistic song - they reverentially raised their beer mugs to Nick, as best friend Michael (Robert De Niro) toasted: "Here's to Nick," quietly understanding that he paid the ultimate price for his patriotism - their ordeal was over. The film ended and freeze-framed with their mugs in mid-air.

Defending Your Life (1991)

The scene in which yuppie Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks), in the temporary 'afterlife' of Judgment City following a fatal traffic accident, learned that he was returning to Earth to be reincarnated, knowing that his angelic newfound lover Julia (Meryl Streep) would "move on" to the next higher plane of existence without him.

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

The story of the Frank family hiding out in Nazi-occupied Holland, including young idealistic and innocent 13 year-old Anne (Millie Perkins) - in the opening scene, Anne's father Otto (Joseph Schildkraut), the only survivor, returns to the attic to retrieve Anne's diary, which provides the main body of the film through flashbacks and voice-over narration, with Anne's famous line of dialogue: "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart"; and the tragic ending in which they rejoiced that the war was almost over and then were found by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) (aka Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon)

In this awe-inspiring, yet tearjerking sad film about Elle French magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) who suffered a debilitating stroke at the age of 43 that left him with "locked-in" syndrome, he first saw himself in a mirror, thought to himself: "God, who's that? Me?" and then commented internally about his shock: "I look like I came out of a vat of formaldehyde. How awful!"; as he recovered but remained restricted, immobile and frustrated (comparing his mind to a diver in a bulky, imprisoning and restrictive deep-sea suit or outfit, his body shell), he often would be wheeled/carried out (seen externally) to watch his children (unaffected by his slumped over torso and twisted face) playing on the French coastline beach -- with his son wiping the saliva-drool from his lip; in one of the film's most affecting scenes, Jean-Do listened by speaker phone to his frail, forgetful, and estranged 92 year old father (Max von Sydow) - both were trapped in their lives in similar ways: ("It's impossible to talk like this. I forget everythng I want to say...I've had a thought about us. We're in the same boat. I'm stuck in this apartment, unable to use the stairs...You see, we're both locked in. You in your body, me in my apartment"); and the film ended with the final scene of Bauby's death just ten days after publication of his painstakingly-written book, the film's title

Doctor Zhivago (1965)


Two scenes:

(1) surgeon Dr. Yuri Zhivago's (Omar Sharif) final farewell to lover Lara Antipova (Julie Christie) to allow her to escape execution, with his memorable last gaze at her from a second story window, and

(2) the moving death of the aging surgeon when he sighted his old flame Lara walking down a crowded Russian street, and he chased after her - suffering a heart attack from the stress and effort as he fruitlessly tried to call out to her while waving, and a crowd surrounded his lifeless body in a long overhead shot.

Dodsworth (1936)

The scene in which retired US auto industrialist husband Sam Dodsworth (Oscar-nominated Walter Huston) departed on a train from his youth-obsessed and self-centered wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton) after she had told him she was demanding a divorce in order to get married to someone else - and his touching goodbye when he tells her: "Did I remember to tell you today that I adore you?"; and the confrontational scene on the cruise liner when Sam finally decided to leave his wife for good: ("I'm going back to doing things...Love has got to stop someplace short of suicide"), to return waving in the final scene to better-matched divorcee Edith Cortwright (Mary Astor) at her villa in Naples, Italy.

Don't Look Now (1973)

The early scene of the heart-breaking drowning death of John Baxter's (Donald Sutherland) daughter Christine (Sharon Williams) - wearing a tell-tale red raincoat - in a muddy fishpond outside his home in England.

Dreamgirls (2006)

Pregnant, spurned singer Effie Melody White's (Jennifer Hudson) show-stopping, powerful song "And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)" - first to her former group The Dreams, then to the unmoved, unknowing father Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) of her unborn child as she kissed and embraced him, and then her emotionally-sung declaration to the world on an empty stage.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

The sad, quiet death of long-time black maid Idella (Esther Rolle) watching the daytime soap The Edge of Night on TV while shucking peas; and the scene in which Jewish ex-schoolteacher Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), after having a mental dislocation, told her dedicated black ex-chauffeur Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman): "'re my best, really, you are," and took his hand in hers; and the final Thanksgiving scene in a nursing home in which an enfeebled 97 year-old Daisy was spoon-fed her Thanksgiving pie by Hoke.

The Duchess (2008)

The wrenching scenes in this exquisitely sad costume drama of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley), the witty, attractive, but unhappy Duchess of Devonshire, who was set up and then tragically trapped in an arranged marriage at age 17 with emotionally-distant and callous but regal and powerful Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) by her calculating mother (Charlotte Rampling) - and her gasping, astonished question she asked when told she was engaged: "He loves me?...I have only met him twice"; and how Georgiana (known as "G"), who was unable to bear male heirs (at first), turned a blind eye to her husband's illegitimate ("bastard") child Charlotte (that she raised as her own) and then after being aghast at her husband's open 'live-in' affair with her own friend/divorcee Lady Elizabeth 'Bess' Foster (Hayley Atwell) - accepting it, while she was not allowed, due to the double standard, to have her own extra-marital lover (open marriage) - with rising politician and childhood sweetheart Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), although she said: "It can make me happy"; however, after giving her husband a son, she engaged in an extended extra-marital affair with Charles, notably during a secret tryst at Bath without her husband, when she became pregnant again; in the film's most tearjerking scene after she gave birth away from the public eye in the countryside, she was forced to give up her infant daughter named Eliza to the Grey family on an open country road -- although she was able to frequently visit the girl (which Charles called his 'niece') in secret as she grew up; Georgiana was compelled to trade personal happiness for her three children (Little G, Harryo - or Harriet, and William) with the Duke, and in the film's conclusion, gave her blessing so Lady Bess Foster could become the second Duchess of Devonshire

Dumbo (1941)

The touching scene in which a lonely Dumbo visited his caged and shackled mother Mrs. Jumbo after she had attacked a bratty boy who was tormenting him because of his big ears -- and her comforting of the distressed young elephant by stroking him with her trunk extended from her large cage (and swinging him back and forth) during the song "Baby Mine" - accompanied by the many images of baby animals (monkeys, hyenas, hippos, ostriches, kangaroos, etc.) peacefully sleeping with their mothers.

Dying Young (1991)

The overwrought, tearjerking romance between dying, wealthy leukemia patient Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott) and his loving companion nurse Hilary O'Neil (Julia Roberts).

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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