Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Part 9

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

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

The doomed romance of World War I officer and ambulance driver Lt. Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) and British nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), who fell in love and produced a love child (while he was wounded and under her care in Milan) - with an impressive subjective camera close-up shot of her coming around his bed and kissing him after he first arrived in the hospital; later, correspondence to the front (the news of the child) was circumvented by Henry's jealous friend Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) - leading to the film's dramatic conclusion in which Catherine died in her hospital bed in a maternity ward in Switzerland after her baby died -- with Frederic by her side and professing his undying love ("I'll never stop loving you"); in her prolonged tearjerking death scene ("Oh darling, I'm going to die. Don't let me die! Take me in your arms! Hold me tight! Don't let me go...In life and in death, we'll never be parted...I believe it and I'm not afraid"), she expired in his arms - the moment coincided with bells ringing to declare the Armistice; after she died, he carried her in his arms to the window and affirmed: "Peace, peace" - as white doves flew into the air and the screen faded to black.

Father of the Bride (1950)

The many scenes of harrassed father Stanley Banks (Spencer Tracy) who faced daughter Kay's (Elizabeth Taylor) marriage with overbearing caterers, exorbitant costs and other nightmarish visions of what might go wrong, ending with the tearjerking scene of Kay's post-wedding phone call to lovingly say 'thank you' to her father.

Field of Dreams (1989)


The poignant scene of the powerful "they will come" speech by disillusioned and reclusive 60's author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) to Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) about the enduring impact of baseball on America: ("The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball...But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come"); and the scene in which young Archie "Moonlight" Graham (Frank Whaley) sacrificed his youth as a ball player by transforming into his older self Doc Graham (Burt Lancaster) to save Ray's daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffman) from choking to death on a piece of hot dog, as Ray realized: "Oh, my God -- you can't go back!"; and Doc's request: "Win one for me one day, will you boys?" as he walked past the other younger ballplayers who congratulated him before entering into the cornfield; also the famous tearjerking ending in which a stunned Ray realized that the Yankee catcher removing his equipment at home plate was his dead and estranged father John Kinsella (Dwier Brown): "It's my father-- ease his pain", their discussion together - and the final exchange between the two of them in the twilight: "For me, it's like a dream come true...Is this heaven?" -- "It's Iowa" -- "Iowa? I could have sworn it was heaven" -- "Is there a heaven?" -- "Oh yeah, it's the place dreams come true" -- "Maybe this is heaven" -- "Hey, Dad? Wanna have a catch?" -- "I'd like that" -- with the long shot of the two playing catch together on the ball diamond with the lights turned on, and an overhead shot of a stream of car headlights approaching from the distance.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

The touching scene in which lovers Capt. Gray Edwards (voice of Alec Baldwin) and scientist Aki Ross (voice of Ming-Na) were alone just after escaping New York City when Gray's entire crew was killed - Aki was so distraught at the loss of their friends that she couldn't speak, and Gray moaned: "I just wish...I could believe they're in a better place" - they embraced tightly in the zero gravity environment of their spaceship, kissed and made love, out of need and loneliness; later, a dying Gray, just before his sacrifice to save humanity, told her in a farewell as she begged him not to leave her: "You saved my life once, now I want you to save yourself...let me do this, Aki. Trust me...You've been trying to tell me death isn't the end. Don't back out on that I finally believe. I love you."

Finding Neverland (2004)

The scene of Scottish playwright Sir James Matthew Barrie (Johnny Depp) discussing widowed Sylvia Llewelyn Davies' (Kate Winslet) "pretending" not to be sick with her four young boys and her reluctance to accept her illness and coming death: (James: "They can see it, you know. You can't go on just pretending." Sylvia: "'Just pretending?'" You brought pretending into this family, James. You showed us we can change things by simply believing them to be different." James: "A lot of things, Sylvia, not everything." Sylvia: "But the things that matter. We've pretended for some time now that you're a part of this family, haven't we? You've come to mean so much to us all that now it doesn't matter if it's true. And even if it isn't true, even if that can never be... I need to go on pretending. Until the end. With you"); and the film's final poignant scene set on a park bench in which James consoled young Peter (Freddie Highmore) after his mother Sylvia died and how he encouraged the young lad to remember his mother with the transformative power of imagination: (Peter: "I thought she'd always be here." James: "So did I. But, in fact... she is. (He takes the play book) Because she's on every page of your imagination. You'll always have here there, always." Peter: "But why did she have to die?" James: "I don't know, boy. When I think of your mother, I will always remember how happy she looked sitting there in the parlor watching a play about her family. About her boys that never grew up. She went to Neverland. And you can visit her any time you like if you just go there yourself." Peter: "How?" James: By believing, Peter. Just believe." Peter (whispering) I can see her. (James hugs the boy. They both slowly faded away)

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

The film's most powerful sequence, a conciliatory apology. Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson) is viewed wheeling his dying, invalid, wheelchair-bound father Nicholas (William Challee) in the cold outdoors of Puget Sound, as the sun sets. At the shoreline, the choked up and emotional Bobby delivers a painful, one-sided, remorseful confession - his father is unable to respond due to his medical condition. He apologizes for his abandonment of his family and talent, for giving up on his responsibilities, and for not living up to his father's high ideals. Unable to explain his life's failings, he breaks down in tears mid-speech, and eventually apologizes:

I don't know if you'd be particularly interested in hearing anything about me, my life, I mean. Most of it doesn't add up to much that I could relate as a way of life that you'd approve of. I move around a lot. Not because I'm looking for anything, really, but - 'cause I'm getting away from things that get bad if I stay. Auspicious beginnings. You know what I mean?

I'm trying to imagine your, your half of this conversation...My feeling is, I don't know, that, uh, if you could talk, we probably wouldn't be talking. That's pretty much the way it got to be before I left. Are you all right? I don't know what to say.

Tita suggested that we try to - .I don't know. I think that she feels - I think that she feels that we've got some understanding to reach. She totally denies the fact that we were never that comfortable with one another to begin with. The best that I can do is apologize. We both know that I was never really that good at it, anyway.

He finally admits with sorrow: "I'm sorry it didn't work out." He slowly bows his head.

The Fly (1986)

The scene in which girlfriend/lover Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) felt hairs growing on the back of a slowly-degenerating Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) after he had teleported himself; a degenerating Seth's ear fell off in front of Veronica, and he clutched her in fear and whispered: "I'm scared. Help me. Please"; also Seth's "insect politics" speech in which he begged Veronica to leave and never return for her own safety: "I'm saying...I'll hurt you if you stay"; and the poignant, tearjerking concluding scene in which an anguished Brundlefly, having turned into a piteously deformed creature during a failed experiment to fuse with Veronica and their unborn child, wordlessly begged her to end his monstrous life with a shotgun, and Veronica's act of compliance - tearfully collapsing to her knees on the floor after the merciful deed was accomplished.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)

The conclusion in which ill-fated hero American mercenary Robert Jordan's (Gary Cooper) delivered his final soliloquy to blue-eyed, short-haired, blonde Maria (Ingrid Bergman) when he chose to be left behind to meet his certain death after he blew up a bridge and suffered a broken leg: "You go now, Maria...what I do now I do alone. I couldn't do it if you were here...There's no good-bye, Maria, because we're not apart" - smoky machine-gun fire and a bell tolled his fate in the dissolve ending.

Forever Young (1992)

The contrived bittersweet reunion scene ending in which test pilot Daniel McCormick (Mel Gibson), having been cryogenically frozen for over 50 years in a military warehouse, rapidly aged to his chronological age, woke up in the present when freed by two mischievous kids, and rejoined his childhood sweetheart Helen (Isabel Glasser) - and they walked off as an elderly couple together - their love conquers all.

Forrest Gump (1994)


The scene in which true love Jenny (Robin Wright) rejected idiot savant Forrest Gump's (Tom Hanks) request for marriage - and his reply: "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is" - and then his quiet sadness when she left him after making love to him that night: ("Forrest, I do love you"); and years later, the scene in which they met up again and she showed him her scrapbook of his running exploits and he met young Forrest, Jr. (Haley Joel Osment) for the first time and was told that he was the father of Jenny's very normal child: ("You're his daddy, Forrest") and her reassurance: ("You didn't do anything wrong") and his reply: ("He's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen"); and the scene of them happily watching Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie on TV together; and Forrest's moving eulogy-meditation for his newly-wed bride Jenny at her gravesite under a tree after she died of the AIDS virus: ("Mama always said dyin' was a part of life" and "I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floatin' around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happenin' at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there's anything you need, I won't be far away"); and the final image of a feather floating up into the sky at the school-bus stop.

42 Up! (1998)


The moving, troubling saga of Neil Hughes (Himself) throughout Michael Apted's series of documentaries following his life every seven years, from a charismatic 7 year-old boy from a wealthy family to his nervous breakdown at age 28 to homelessness at 35 - and his poignant recovery with a new close friend at 42. (He would end up as a successful politician at age 49 in 49 Up! (2005).)


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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