Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



P (continued)
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Performance (1970, UK)

In directors Donald Cammell's and Nicolas Roeg's (his directorial debut film) controversial (originally X-rated), dark, psychedelic and violent avante-garde psychological melodrama about the blurring of sexual identities, with multiple examples of experimental and innovative film-making (fast and jarring jump cuts, shifts in POV, forward and backward flashbacks, elliptical editing, visual tinting effects, montages, etc.); the gender-bending cult film was criticized as sleazy and worthless for its homoerotic violence, explicit sex and nudity when first released:

[Note: Co-director Cammell committed a gun-shot suicide in 1996 and documented it, copying the style used by one of the film's characters to carry out an execution, to 'transform' himself. Allegedly, Cammell remained conscious for 45 minutes, and even asked his wife as he looked in a mirror about an image of literary puzzle master Jorge Luis Borges: "Do you see the picture of Borges?" - it was also conclusively claimed that he died instantly.]

  • the opening disjointed and disorienting title credits sequence: views of a screeching Lockheed fighter jet in the air, a black Mercedes driving down a country highway, and two naked heterosexual bodies making love ("confirmed bachelor" Chas Devlin (James Fox) and cabaret nightclub singer Dana (Ann Sidney))
  • the character of macho, brutal, hot-tempered and sadistic East London gangster hit-man Chas Devlin, working under mobster boss Harry Flowers (Johnny Shannon); he became a fugitive on the run after a too-personalized, vengeful and murderous assault on Joey Maddocks (Anthony Valentine), when he shot him cowering under a sheet and proclaimed: "I am a bullet"
  • while waiting for a fraudulent passport to escape to the US, Chas' (now with the alias Johnny Dean) refuge in the townhouse residence of reclusive, mushroom and drug-using hippie, androgynous ex-rock star Turner (Mick Jagger in his debut film - technically!) (described later as "a man, male and female man") - an underground basement in a Notting Hill apartment, with his two girlfriends
  • the shared menage-a-trois bath scene between Turner and his two female 'free love' companions: his poly-sexual blonde junkie girlfriend Pherber (Anita Pallenberg), and her young, small-breasted French lover Lucy (Michelle Breton); later in the film while making love to Chas, she admitted that she was boyish - she had "small titties," was "a bit underdeveloped" and was "skinny like a little boy or something"
  • the film's most erotic scene: Pherber lay down on a bed while talking to London hit-man (or 'performer') gangster Chas and stroked/fondled her fur coat covering her otherwise naked crotch; at one point, she injected her bare bottom with what she claimed was Vitamin B-12 (although it was probably heroin)
  • Turner's thematic statement: "Nothing is truth. Everything is permitted"
  • in the scene of shifting sexual identities and the merging of personalities and sexual characteristics by the use of mirrors and costuming, Pherber and Turner cross-dressed Chas up in effeminate clothing (and an androgynous curly wig) to give him a "female feel"; she then asked: "Do you like my physique?...I've got two angles. One male and one female. Just like a triangle, see? Did you notice?... Did you never have a female feel?" as she asked the question, she mirror-reflected or super-imposed one of her breasts onto Chas' chest - causing Chas to lose his sense of manliness; he objected: "I feel like a man, a man all the time"; she replied while reflecting her face onto his: "That's awful. That's what's wrong with you, isn't it?...A man's man's world"; he claimed that he was "normal" and that nothing was wrong with him ("There's nothing wrong with me. I'm normal"); she laughed, and then reflected his face onto hers ("How do you think Turner feels like, huh?"), but he thought Turner was "weird" and that she was both "weird" and "kinky"; she asserted that Turner was "a man, male and female man"; he continued to negate what she was saying about him having a female side: "I said I'm not one of those....You're sick. You... You... You degenerate. You're perverted"
  • the pseudo-dream sequence of Turner's wielding of a flourescent light tube, as Chas watched, followed by Turner's raunchy music-video version of "Memo from Turner" while wearing a dapper business suit, performing before a group of subservient mobsters (who stripped naked), and adopting a merged persona of both himself and Chas
  • the film's deadly conclusion: suddenly, Chas was confronted by his fellow gangsters, who told him: "We've got to be off, Chas. Harry's waiting for you"; as Chas prepared to leave, he told Pherber and Turner in bed that he was leaving; Turner expressed a desire to join him: (Chas: "I've got to be off now..." Turner: "I might come with you then" Chas: "You don't know where I'm going, pal" Turner: "I do. (pause) I don't know" Chas: "Yeah, you do"); then, Chas took out his gun and shot Turner in the head, as Pherber screamed next to him
  • the dramatic bullet's-eye zoom-in shot as the fatal bullet penetrated and tunneled into Turner's brain; the bullet shattered a photograph of Jorge Luis Borges and then emerged into the outside street, where Chas was walking (first seen from a rear view) toward a parked car; after he had left a note for Pherber ("Gone to Persia - Chas"), he entered the back seat of the mob boss' white Rolls Royce, where he was greeted: "Hello, Chas"; as the car sped off, a zoom-in through the car window revealed that Chas had been stunningly "transformed" into his doppelganger - Turner

Chas Vengefully Murdering Joey

The Perils of Pauline (1914)

In the most famous suspense serial in film history (presented in 20 episodes):

  • the character of playful heiress Pauline Marvin (Pearl White) always in perilous situations as a 'damsel in distress' - i.e., tied to the railroad tracks on top of a trestle while a speeding train was rapidly approaching, abducted, or caught in a runaway hot-air balloon

Persona (1966, Swe.)

In Ingmar Bergman's psychological, dramatic thriller, a film-within-a-film about illness, insanity, personal identity and death; the abstract film told about two women who both experienced life-changing events involving motherhood, abortion and childbirth:

  • the strange and abstract opening sequence (montage) of very brief projected images, representing the birth-of-the-film-medium: the beginning of a film being projected, a segment of film leader (with a countdown of upside down numbers), a split-second shot of an erect penis, excerpts from a cartoon and a silent film reel, a child's hands, a tarantula, the cruel blood-letting slaughter of a sheep, nails pounded into hands during a crucifixion, a close-up of a wooden fence, a forest-tree scene (with snow), an iron spiked gate, a series of extreme close-ups of faces, feet and hands (of corpses?), and then the image of a boy who woke up next to the corpses in a hospital (or morgue), read Michail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, and caressed or reached out towards large blurry images of the film's two main characters
  • the caring of young 25 year-old nurse Sister Alma (Bibi Andersson) for well-known stage actress Mrs. Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann), who had been mute and semi-catatonic for three months, after a performance of Elektra; treatment would be conducted in the doctor's seaside cottage or summer vacation home; her condition was diagnosed by a Doctor (Margaretha Krook) who declared that the patient had deliberately decided to remain silent and immobile: ("The result is clear: She's perfectly healthy, both mentally and physically. And it's not a question of some hysterical reaction either")
  • the Doctor's later further insight about the reasons for Elisabet's muteness - because she was playing another more authentic role: "I understand that you're not speaking or moving, that you've turned this apathy into a fantastic set-up. I understand and admire you. I think you should play this part until it's played out, until it's no longer interesting. Then you can drop it, just as you eventually drop all your other roles"
  • Elisabet's disengaged muteness also seemed to deepen from viewing images of death and inhumanity: (i.e., the Buddhist monk self-immolation TV image from the Vietnam War era, and an image of the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust)
  • during the treatment at the summer cottage, Alma's self-therapeutic words to Elisabet about how no one ever listened to her before, and her growing affection and idolizing attachment to her famous patient: "Lots of people have told me I'm a good listener. Isn't that funny? No one's ever bothered to listen to me. Like you're doing now. You're really listening. I think you're the first person who's ever listened to me. It can't be all that interesting You could be reading a good book instead. How I'm going on! I hope I'm not irritating you? It feels so good to talk. It feels nice and warm. I've never felt like this in all my life. I always wanted a sister"
  • the sequence of a vivid confessional monologue, when Alma (who was engaged to fiancee Karl-Henrik at the time) described a private and secret sexual experience she had at the beach with friend Katarina when they were sunbathing in the nude: ("We lay there sunbathing beside one another, completely naked"); she told how two boys came up to them and Katrina encouraged one of the boys to have sex with her: ("She took him by the hand and helped him off with his jeans and shirt. Then suddenly, he was on top of her. She guided him in with her hands on his behind"); feeling left out, Alma also asked for sex too: ("Suddenly, I turned over and said, 'Aren't you coming over to me, too?' And Katarina said, 'Go to her now.' He pulled out of her and fell on top of me, completely hard. He grabbed my breast. It hurt so bad. I was ready somehow, and came almost at once. Can you believe it? I was about to say, 'Careful you don't get me pregnant' - when he suddenly came. I felt it like never before in my life, the way he sprayed his seed into me. He gripped my shoulders and arched backwards. I came over and over. Katarina lay on her side and watched and held him from behind. After he came, she took him in her arms and used his hand to make herself come. When she came, she screamed like a banshee. Then all three of us started laughing"; the second boy named Peter was also invited to participate: ("Katarina unbuttoned his pants and started to play with him. And when he came, she took him in her mouth. He bent down and kissed her back. She turned around, took his head in both hands and gave him her breast. The other boy got so excited, that he and I started all over again. It was just as good as before"); that evening, although she felt guilty, Alma had sex with Karl-Henrik after dinner ("Then we had sex. It's never been as good, before or since. Can you understand that?"); however, Alma became pregnant, was forced to abort the baby, and suffered a "guilty conscience"
  • the growing realization that the two women (often seen in doubled or overlapping profiles) were interchangeable and very much alike, but it was an increasingly harmful relationship and a destructive merged identification between the two, when Alma specifically stated: "Is it possible to be one and the same person at the very same time? I mean, two people?"; when Alma began crying, Elisabet comforted her; Alma continued: "...We're alike somehow. I think I could turn into you if I really tried. I mean inside. You could be me just like that, though your soul would be far too big. It would stick out everywhere!"
  • the scene of Alma's shocking discovery, when reading one of Elisabet's unsealed letters for delivery to her doctor, that Elisabet was feigning illness, and actually 'studying' her: (excerpt from the condescending letter: "It's a lot of fun studying her. Sometimes she cries over past sins - an orgy with a strange boy and a subsequent abortion. She complains that her notions about life fail to accord with her actions")
Alma Reading The Shocking Letter
"It's a lot of fun studying her"
The Film's Celluloid Strip Broke Apart, Jammed and Began to Burn
  • returning to the house, Alma was frustrated and furious (symbolically, the film's celluloid strip tore, broke apart, jammed and burned), and she accosted and denounced Elisabet directly, and insisted that she talk back: "You've hurt me badly. You've been laughing at me behind my back. I read the letter you wrote to the doctor...You got me to talk, to tell you things I've never told anyone. Then you go and pass it on. Great study material, eh?" - when Alma went to throw a pot of boiling water at Elisabet, she reacted and spoke for the first time, and Alma was shocked; later, Alma was still disburbed by Elisabet's silence: "There's no reaching someone like you. The doctor said you're mentally healthy, but I wonder if your madness isn't the worst kind. You act healthy, and the worst thing is, everyone believes you. Except me, because I know how rotten you are"; however, she also apologized for being so harsh, during a long tracking shot to the right as Alma ran after Elisabet: "Elisabet, forgive me. I'm behaving like an idiot. I don't know what got into me. I'm here to help you"
  • the (dream?) sequence of the visit of Mr. Vogler (Gunnar Björnstrand), Elisabet's blind husband, who mistook Alma for Elisabet - something that Elisabet actually encouraged, and they also slept together; during sex, Alma told him: "You're a wonderful lover. You know that," but then she detested herself: "I'm cold and rotten and indifferent. It's all just sham and lies"
  • in the film's conclusion - Alma spoke to Elisabet about the picture of her son that she had torn up at the hospital: ("What are you hiding under your hand?...It's the picture of your little boy. The one you tore up. We have to talk about this"); during the scene, the camera was on Elisabet's face as she listened to Alma (off-screen) narrating Elisabet's life story back to her; Elisabet had become pregnant, but fearing loss of her acting career, failed in two abortion attempts to rid herself of an unwanted and unloved son: (" tried several times to abort. But you failed. When you realized it was inevitable, you began to hate the baby and hoped it would be stillborn")
  • the repetition of the same previous scene, but this time with the camera on Alma's face
  • at the conclusion of the repeated scene, Alma feared that they had become too identified with one another, and asserted her identity as Alma: ("No! I'm not like you. I don't feel the same way you do. I'm Sister Alma. I'm only here to help you. I'm not Elisabet Vogler. You're Elisabet Vogler"); she realized that, unlike Elisabet, she had truly wanted a baby to love, and that she would never be like Elisabet
  • the striking image of their two faces was juxtaposed (or spliced together) to appear as one face (half of Alma's face, on the left, and Elisabet's half visage on the right)
  • in a hospital room, Alma persuaded Elisabet to say the word "nothing" - the film's final lines of dialogue:
    Alma: "Try and listen to me now. Repeat after me. Nothing... Nothing. No, nothing... "
    Elisabet: "Nothing."
    Alma: "That's it. That's good. That's how it should be."
  • in the concluding scene, the two packed up and only Alma was seen departing by bus from the cottage (there was a striking mirror-image dissolve of Elisabet touching Alma's head); as the film ended, the crew and director were seen filming their exit; there was a brief reprise of the prologue image of the boy touching large blurry images of the two women, before the film broke away from its projector sprockets and self-destructed - again

Doctor (Margaretha Krook)

Sister Alma (Bibi Andersson)

(l to r): Alma (Bibi Andersson) and Mrs. Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann)

Close-Ups During the Beach Monologue

With Mr. Vogel

Regarding Elisabet's Son

The Camera on Elisabet While Alma Spoke

Repeated Scene: The Camera on Alma While Alma Spoke

The Famous Shot of Juxtaposed Faces

"Repeat After Me. Nothing"

The Director and Film Equipment

Personal Best (1982)

In director/screenwriter Robert Towne's debut film about two female athletes training for the 1980 Olympics:

  • the physicality of the athletic, well-toned women
  • their frank dialogue in the locker room and steam room scenes
  • the honestly-depicted lesbian relationship between track star hurdler Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) and older pentathlete Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly), as Chris noted during intimacy: ("I've never had this done before")

The Petrified Forest (1936)

In director Archie Mayo's romantic crime drama:

  • the sad death scene at the finale when idealistic and disillusioned writer/world traveler Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) died in culturally-starved waitress Gabrielle (Gabby) Maple's (Bette Davis) arms after being shot by ruthless fugitive gangster Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) in a run-down Arizona desert cafe; she recited "...this is the end for which we twain are met"

Peyton Place (1957)

In director Mark Robson's sanitized, soap-opera adaptation of Grace Metalious' best-selling scandalous novel about small-town repression, incest, suicide, rape, homosexuality, adultery, abortion, and murder:

  • the opening credits and sequence with picture-postcard views of a New England town
  • the scene of aspiring writer Allison MacKenzie (Diane Varsi) - the teenaged, coming-of-age daughter of blonde and prudish single mother Constance MacKenzie (Oscar-nominated Lana Turner) - delivering her first kiss (in her 'secret place') to nerdy, shy and virginal Norman Page (Russ Tamblyn) on a large boulder on the hillside overlooking town
  • the scene of tormented, wrong-side-of-the-tracks Selena (Hope Lange) fighting off the advances of her drunken stepfather Lucas Cross (Arthur Kennedy) in their tarpaper shack and views of her straining hands holding onto the bedframe before the rape
  • the big Labor Day picnic sequence
  • the scene of Constance's revelation to her shocked daughter Allison that she was born out of wedlock
  • the climactic murder courtroom trial of Selena including Dr. Matthew Swain's (Lloyd Nolan) harsh and unapologetic confession-testimony as a witness for the defense: ("I assisted her (Selena) in a miscarriage - a miscarriage of Lucas Cross' baby")

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

In director Rupert Julian's gothic costumed horror film:

  • the image of the phantom (Lon Chaney) - "the man of a thousand faces," with a mask covering his acid-scarred face
  • his spooky haunting of the Paris Opera House
  • the scene of the dropping of a giant chandelier on the opera's audience
  • the Phantom's sudden Red Death appearance among the guests at the two-color Technicolor Bal Masque
  • the shocking scene of the Phantom's unmasking by abducted opera singer Christine Dace (Mary Philbin) who snuck up behind him and revealed the Phantom's skull-like, disfigured monster face

The Phenix City Story (1955)

In Phil Karlson's documentary-styled, taut and graphically-violent film noir - a muckracking crime docu-drama, based upon real-life events leading to the National Guard's martial law takeover of an organized crime-ridden Southern town in 1954:

  • the opening almost 15-minute newsreel preface of interviews by real-life reporter Clete Roberts of the actual principal characters, including Ed Strickland of the Birmingham News, other locals, and widow Mrs. Albert Patterson; reporter Roberts concluded his interviews, calling the fact-based story "an infamous and sordid chapter in American city politics"
  • the setting: Alabama's evil 'sin city' of Phenix City, centering on "The Poppy Club" known for corrupt card games, rigged gambling and slot machines, prostitution, murder, and other vices catering to soldiers from the nearby Fort Benning Army Base
  • the character of boss Rhett Tanner (Edward Andrews) and his brutish henchmen (e.g., Clem Wilson (John Larch)), seen in one revealing scene in the steam baths of the Phenix City Athletic Club
  • the sequence of the first murder - African-American Zeke Ward's (James Edwards) daughter was kidnapped on a bridge, and her body was thrown from a moving car headfirst (it was obviously a stiff, doll-like dummy) onto the front lawn of reforming State Attorney General nominee Albert L. Patterson (John McIntire) and his returning veteran-son John Patterson (Richard Kiley); a threatening note was pinned to her dress: "THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOUR KIDS TOO" - causing hysteria among the family; the police dispatcher matter-of-factly reported: "Somebody just threw a dead nigger kid out on Patterson's lawn. Go out and have a look"
  • the violence came to a climax after a young newspaper boy on his bicycle was deliberately hit, some beatings of local opponents, the murder of Fred Gage (Biff McGuire), and the gunning-down assassination of martyred crusader Albert Patterson in his car outside his law office (lethally wounded, he stumbled from the car and fell down on the street outside a store window with mannequins)
  • crusading lawyer John Patterson took up the courageous torch of justice, speaking to a gathered, frenzied crowd on the streets of Phenix City, and stepping in for his murdered father - he delivered a stirring motivational speech: "I'm glad to see some of you had the guts to come out here tonight and listen to me...Now I chose this place because I wanted you to face the cesspool that has given your city the name of Sin Town, U.S.A. I wanted you to smell the stench of it. On more than one election day, you could have cleaned it up by voting against the candidates that were sponsored by the mob. But you wouldn't take the trouble to vote. So now you can blame yourselves for gambling, prostitution, dope peddling, rape. Men, women and children murdered. Offices burned and homes bombed. And where does this happen? In some dictatorship across the sea? No. It's right here, in your town. In our Alabama, our America. Did I say your town? Well, that's a laugh. Phenix City is owned, body and soul by Tanner, Jenkins, Drew, and the rest of the mob. They hold the power of life and death over you and your families. Many of 'em are here tonight. There's Rhett Tanner, the big boss, right there. There's Jenkins, Clem Wilson and Rupe. They're here to find out who's against them. So now's your chance to speak out. And let them know where you stand. Or are we gonna wait till all of us are blown sky high?...Tell them. Tell them now. Tell them where you stand" - the mobsters glared at him and then turned away from a jeering, rabble-rousing crowd
  • in the film's ending, John Patterson was narrowly elected (by only a thousand votes) as the state's new Attorney General - and it was thought that after he would be sworn in, in January: "there will be so many indictments flying around, we'll think it's snowing"; after his victory, and with a bloodied, sweaty face and again speaking to a frenzied mob, Patterson announced that the militia was being sent in to establish martial law, occupy the town, and dismantle and destroy the Poppy Club's gambling equipment; he declared in the film's final lines: "The people of Alabama elected me attorney general in my father's place with two sacred duties to perform: To seek out and bring to justice the murderers of my father, and to keep the gambling hells of Phenix City firmly closed forever. With God's help, I shall not fail"

Philadelphia (1993)

In Hollywood's first major, big-budget feature film about AIDS - a landmark film by Jonathan Demme:

  • the characters of likeable, kind, forgiving, and non-threatening lawyer Andrew Beckett (Best Actor-winning Tom Hanks) who was afflicted with AIDS and became increasingly emaciated as the disease progressed, and his homophobic and judgmental ambulance-chasing lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington)
  • Miller's initial rejection of Beckett, and then his decision to represent him in a wrongful termination lawsuit against his prestigious ex-law firm (senior partner Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards) who had yelled out: "He brought AIDS into our offices - into our men's room!") after seeing how he was shunned in the New York Public Library (nervous librarian (Tracey Walter): "Sir, wouldn't you be more comfortable in a study room?" "No. Would it make you more comfortable?")
  • the scene of dying AIDS patient Andrew's powerfully transcendental, impassioned interpretation/translation of a Maria Callas opera aria "La Momma Morta" to Joe while speaking over the music and pulling his IV with him and ending with the words: "I am Love! I am Love!"
  • the scene in the beginning of the courtroom case when Joe presented an opening speech: ("Forget everything you've seen on television. There's not going to be any surprise, last minute witnesses..."), his forceful questioning of one of the law firm partners when he asked whether he was homosexual: "Are you a homo? Are you a queer? Are you a faggot? Are you a fruit? Are you gay, sir?"
  • and later, when the law firm's defense lawyer Belinda Conine (Mary Steenburgen) - after resorting to low-blow tactics -- muttered under her breath her distaste for the fraudulent case: "I hate this case" to her black partner
  • the hospital scene of Beckett with his long-term male lover Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas) after first bidding farewell to family and friends (Andrew's supportive mother Sarah (Joanne Woodward) whispered: "Goodnight, my angel, my sweet boy"), then alone when he turned down the lights, told Miguel: "Miguel, I'm ready," and then removed his own oxygen mask
  • the final scene during the reception held in the Beckett home following the funeral, mourners watched home movies of Andrew's younger days, to the tune of Neil Young's Philadelphia
  • the effective use of Bruce Springsteen's tear-jerking Oscar-winning song Streets of Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

In director George Cukor's sophisticated romantic comedy based on Philip Barry's Broadway play - a true classic!:

  • the very funny, extended opening argument prologue scene (without dialogue) in which ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) grabbed and palmed heiress and socialite Tracy Lord's (Katharine Hepburn) face and forcefully pushed her backwards into the doorway of a grand estate and to the floor (out of the frame), after she had broken one of his golf clubs into two pieces, and tossed him out of their home
  • the film's witty dialogue: ("The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges")
  • tabloid reporter-journalist Macaulay "Mike" Connor's (Oscar-winning James Stewart) drunk scene with Dexter, when Mike asserted: "Are you still in love with her?...I don't know, I-I can't understand how you can have been married to her and still know so little about her?...But when a girl is like Tracy, she's one in a million"
  • the champagne drinking and moonlight poolside swimming rendezvous scene between tipsy heiress/bride-to-be Tracy and Mike when he made a marriage proposal to her: "There's a magnificence in you, Tracy...A magnificence that comes out of your eyes and your voice and the way you stand there and the way you walk. You're lit from within, Tracy. You've got fires banked down in you. Hearth fires and holocausts...No, you're made out of flesh and blood. That's the blank, unholy surprise of it. Why, you're the golden girl, Tracy, full of life and warmth and delight. Well, what goes on? You've got tears in your eyes") - and then after some unexpected and melodramatic kissing, she exclaimed softly: "Golly", then took a breath and kissed him a second time - she stood in his arms, her cheek against his chest, overwhelmed and amazed at herself and starting to shake: "Golly Moses"
  • the surprise wedding finale when Tracy married former husband Dexter at the last minute - and the freeze-framed last image

The Piano (1993, NZ/Australia/Fr.)

In Jane Campion's haunting drama:

  • the exotic image of mute, stubborn, pale-skinned 19th century Scottish woman Ada McGrath (Oscar-winning Holly Hunter) playing her beloved piano on a New Zealand beach (brought there as part of her belongings, for an arranged marriage with farmer Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill)) as her daughter Fiona (Anna Paquin) danced and tattooed estate-manager George Baines (Harvey Keitel) watched
  • and later, erotic, intimate scenes of piano lessons (and bargained love-making) in Baines' house after he had bought her piano
  • and the climactic scene in which the piano plunged into the sea and the drowning Ada - her leg ensnared by the piano's rope, decided against suicide (while envisioning her own death) and chose to live (although she possibly expired and her rebirth was only a fantasy)

Pickpocket (1959, Fr.)

In writer/director Robert Bresson's influential and well-crafted crime drama, reportedly inspired by Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment, about a tall and dark, obsessed, and emotionally-empty pickpocket whose life was ruined by his compulsion to steal:

  • the film's opening title from the director: "The style of this film is not that of a thriller. Using image and sound, the filmmaker strives to express the nightmare of a young man whose weaknesses lead him to commit acts of theft for which nothing destined him. However, this adventure, and the strange paths it takes, brings together two souls that may otherwise never have met"
  • in the thrilling opening scene, a disembodied hand (with voice-over narration) was hand-writing the words of a letter, in French (translated), as he confessed: "I know those who've done these things usually keep quiet, and those who talk haven't done them. Yet I have done them"
  • the revealing letter continued, as the protagonist -- a disaffected, amoral petty Parisian thief named Michel (Martin LaSalle), who was still narrating, spoke about his next fateful crime at a horserace track; after watching who had cash at the betting window, he snuck up behind two money-laden targets watching the race and carefully began to unlatch a woman's purse before a brazen pickpocket attempt: "I had made my decision some days before, but would I have the nerve? I should have left. I was walking on air, with the world at my feet. A minute later I was caught" - after the successful purloining of a wad of cash from her purse, he confidently left the grounds' outer gates, but he was immediately apprehended by two undercover police for the crime, and driven in the backseat of a car to a police station; however, without evidence to arrest him, he was released
The Racetrack Theft
  • the great tautly-choreographed set-piece of a group of coordinated thefts, beginning at the ticket counter of the Gare de Lyon, where a line of pickpocket thieves targeted a well-dressed woman with a purse, who after she purchased her train ticket was tricked into putting a newspaper under her arm instead of her handbag; the assembly line of robbers passed her bag back to the end of the string of accomplices, where the last man emptied the purse of cash and deposited the bag in a trash container; the next victim was a man who was relieved of bills that were dangling from his wallet, and another man was deftly robbed of his inner coat pocket wallet; once on the train in the narrow corridor, the string of thieves continued to delicately pilfer wallets and money from more unsuspecting passengers - they were even able to replace an emptied wallet back into the inner coat pocket of the victim
  • his long-term, on-and-off again romantic relationship with devoted ingenue neighbor Jeanne (Marika Green), who sought to redeem him - in the film's conclusion, after he was humbled and jailed, she visited him (a long-awaited visit) and kissed his hand through the bars; he told her - the film's final line: "Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a strange path I had to take"

The Set-Piece of Coordinated Thefts

Pickup on South Street (1953)

In Sam Fuller's great action-packed, raw, hard-boiled crime-noir thriller:

  • the opening scene on a crowded New York subway during rush-hour, where tough-minded ex-con pickpocket Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) edged flirtatiously close to femme fatale prostitute Candy (Jean Peters) to make her his latest petty-theft robbery victim - he stole/fingered (symbolically filmed like a violating rape) sensitive government microfilm in an envelope (bound for Communist spies with her as the unsuspecting courier) from her purse as two other FBI agents conducting surveillance looked on helplessly - he didn't realize he had inadvertently obtained stolen US microfilm to be smuggled out of the country by Communist spies
  • after McCoy realized he had stolen microfilm, he hid it (knowing it would be worth alot in exchange) and then professed his innocence to the authorities who pressured him with patriotic appeals: "If you refuse to cooperate, you'll be as guilty as the traitors that gave Stalin the A-bomb"; he retorted: "Are you wavin' the flag at me?"
  • the sequence at Skip's run-down waterfront shack hideout where he found Candy searching his possessions; he punched her unconscious and then stole her money before reviving her; they developed a sweaty, rough and tumble, sado-masochistic love relationship when she offered herself for the prized microfilm; he described his first kiss with her: "You look for oil, sometimes you hit a gusher"
  • the character of embittered, elderly, world-weary, necktie-seller and information street peddler Moe Williams (Oscar-nominated Thelma Ritter), a stool-pigeon police informant, who had always wanted to make enough money to avoid being buried in Potter's Field; in her dingy rooming house, she told her Commie hitman-killer Joey (Richard Kiley), Candy's ex-shady boyfriend, that she wouldn't reveal Skip's whereabouts, and would face the consequences: "So I don't get to have the fancy funeral after all. Anyway, I tried. Look, Mister, I'm so tired you'd be doin' me a big favor if you'd blow my head off"; the camera panned to the left and a gunshot was heard - with the final image of her bedside Victrola's needle reaching the end of the 78 rpm record (the popular French tune "Mam'zelle")
  • in the subsequent scene, Skip reclaimed Moe's body from a tugboat (taking her in coffin # 11 to potter's field) in order to give her a proper burial ("I'm gonna bury her") - fulfilling her sole wish in life
  • the remarkable scene in which Candy (wearing a white robe with a hood) was brutally knocked around her apartment by Joey for not telling him Skip's address - breaking lamps, picture frames and tables - before she was shot and seriously wounded
  • the scene of Skip's hospital visit to see the bruised Candy, when he saw that Candy really loved him because she wouldn't tell Joey where he lived, and she also admitted: "I'm sorry I spoiled your big score. I know it sounds corny to you, but I'd rather have a live pickpocket than a dead traitor"
  • the thrillingly violent subway chase scene, when Skip retaliated against Joey - beat him mercilessly in the subway, then turned him over to authorities, and . resumed his relationship with Candy

Picnic (1955)

In Joshua Logan's widescreen version of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play:

  • the Kansas town's Labor Day picnic sequence
  • the incredible circling camera work (by James Wong Howe) during the sensual slow "mating" dance of sexy drifter Hal Carter (William Holden) and Madge Owens (Kim Novak) to "Moonglow" under colorful Japanese lanterns on a boat dock landing at night
  • the scene of aging schoolteacher Rosemary (Rosalind Russell) on the porch pathetically on her knees begging an overwhelmed Howard (Oscar-nominated Arthur O'Connell): "Please marry me, Howard"
  • the final scene of Carter kissing Madge goodbye as he professed his love ("Listen, baby. You're the only real thing I ever wanted. Ever! You're mine. I've gotta claim what's mine or I'll be nothin' as long as I live...You love me, you know it, you love me, you love me") and then jumped onto a passing freight train
  • the amazing helicopter shot of Madge's bus following Hal's freight train - both going in the same direction at the same speed

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Australia)

In Peter Weir's mystical, intriguing, and bewildering film about sexual repression:

  • the image of young schoolgirls in their prim and constrictive white dresses and stockings - on Valentine's Day in the year 1900 during the Victorian-Edwardian-era in Australia - preparing for an ill-fated journey with strict headmistress Mrs. Appleyard (Rachel Roberts) to Hanging Rock for a picnic
  • the exploration of four girls (including pretty and popular blonde Miranda (Anne Lambert)) among the outcroppings and phallic-shaped forbidden rock crevices as they stripped away their layers of clothing before mysteriously disappearing
  • the scream of lagging-behind Edith (Christine Schuler) when she witnessed something at the moment of the three other girls' disappearance
  • after the final concluding narration - the slow-motion return to the picnic scene with Miranda waving goodbye and the freeze-frame of her turning her head away from the camera - and the film's final fade-out

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

In writer-director Albert Lewin's black and white occult-horror fantasy drama based upon Oscar Wilde's story about a man's soul and its evil destiny:

  • the sudden and shocking final view of the hideously-aged painted portrait of Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) (occasionally shown in Technicolor) showing the ravages of sin and withered aging (while he remained young, vain and handsome)
  • in the last scene when Dorian stabbed the heart of his own image in the picture to release his awful visage, he collapsed to the floor and took on the hideous and deformed characteristics of the painting - as the painting reverted back to its original (while a swinging lamp cast ominous shadows)

Pillow Talk (1959)

In this fluffy 50's 'clean' sex comedy from director Michael Gordon (the first of three successful Day-Hudson romantic comedies):

  • the many shared party-line phone scenes, filmed with vertical and other split-screens, between carefree, philandering, bachelor playboyish neighbor and songwriter Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) (who pretended to be drawling Texan Rex Stetson to hide his real identity) and virginal interior designer career girl Jan Morrow (Oscar-nominated Doris Day)
  • their famed bathtub scene implying that they were in the same bathroom and playing footsie with each other - across screens
  • and his additional pretense, when he (as Brad) told Jan on the phone that he suspected that Rex was gay: ("Must I spell it out?...There are some men who just, uh, they're very devoted to their mothers, you know, the type that likes to collect cooking recipes or exchange bits of gossip") -- with the additional subtext of Hudson's real-life homosexuality -- but then she urged Rex to prove his manhood during their next date: ("Rex, don't you find me attractive?...Well, then, why haven't you ever?...All the times that we've been going out together, you've been a perfect gentleman...You have. And I appreciate it, really I do...But ...well, being such a perfect gentleman and all, it's not very flattering"); when he called their relationship a "friendship," she had to prove him wrong with a kiss: ("Is that all it is with us, a friendship?"); he responded: ("Ma'am, that's a direct question. l think it deserves a direct answer")

(alphabetical by film title)

Intro | Quiz | A1 | A2 | A3 | A4 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | B6 | B7 | C1 | C2 | C3 | C4 | C5 | D1 | D2 | D3 | D4 | E
F1 | F2 | F3 | F4 | G1 | G2 | G3 | G4 | H1 | H2 | H3 | I1 | I2 | I3 | J | K | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | M1 | M2 | M3
| M5 | M6 | N1 | N2 | N3 | O1 | O2 | P1 | P2 | P3 | P4 | P5Q | R1 | R2 | R3 | R4
S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S9 | T1 | T2 | T3 | T4 | T5 | U | V | W1 | W2 | W3 | W4 | YZ

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