Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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

Shock Corridor (1963)

In writer/director Samuel Fuller's raw B-movie, a psycho-drama with shocking, exploitative subject matter (xenophobia, racism, hate and violence), and using the setting of a madhouse as a harsh commentary upon Cold War America:

  • the pre-title credits quote from Euripides, 425 BC: "WHOM GOD WISHES TO DESTROY HE FIRST MAKES MAD"
  • the opening voice-over narration, seen as an iris opened onto the corridor ("The Street") of a mental hospital (extended at the end of the corridor by a matte painting): "My name is Johnny Barrett. I'm a reporter on the Daily Globe. This is my story as far as it went"
  • the ambitious and slightly crazy scheme of newspaper-tabloid reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) to pretend to be a madman, in order to solve a murder in an insane asylum, and win the Pulitzer Prize: ("Every man wants to get to the top of his profession. Mine is winning the Pulitzer Prize"); Barrett received approval from his publisher "Swanee" Swanson (Bill Zuckert) and psychiatrist Dr. Fong (Philip Ahn), and then had to convince his very reluctant stripper girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers) to pose as his 'sister' and claim that he had an incestuous interest in her in order to be committed; she thought his idea was insane: ("Johnny, you've got to be crazy to want to be committed to an insane asylum to solve a murder") and prophetically warned: "Their sickness is bound to rub off on you," but he assured her: "Those lunatics are not gonna get to me"
  • Cathy's spouted harsh statements about her profession as an exotic dancer, all to save money for their life together: "Johnny, I'm in love with a normal reporter holding down a normal job...Do you think I like singing in that sewer with a hot light on my navel? I'm doing it because it pays more than shorthand or clerking or typing...I'm saving money so we can have that normal life. That's all I want, but I'm scared...I'm scared this whole Jekyll-Hyde idea's going to make a psycho out of me"; when he became derogatory about her fears, and called her stripper joint a 'dive', she struck back defensively: "That dive is holy compared to your ideas of work. Hamlet was made for Freud, not you!"
  • the expressionistic scene of Cathy performing a provocative onstage striptease (before a backdrop of cheap tinsel hearts and an unseen audience that applauded off-screen when she concluded), with her face first completely covered by a feather boa, as she sang the ballad: "Someone to Love" (referring to Johnny); afterwards, she sat in front of her dressing room mirror (with a picture of Johnny in the corner), haunted by her earlier fears of Johnny's scheme
  • the scene of Barrett's initial emergency admission interview with the county hospital psychiatrist Dr. J. L. Menkin (Paul Dubov), when Johnny admitted his incestuous desire and an alleged attack on his 'sister' Cathy (and to play along, she had signed a formal complaint); he had to be physically restrained when he assaulted Menkin
  • after being admitted as possibly having "borderline psychosis," the hallucinatory scene of miniature naughty stripper Cathy performing a feather-boa dance on Johnny's shoulder and tickling his ear while he was sleeping; she acted enticingly: ("The drama critic on your paper said my Chablis-tinted hair is like a soft halo over wide-set inviting eyes. And my mouth, my mouth was a lush tunnel through which golden notes came....And my movements evoke the most inflammatory passions in all...I don't like being alone, Johnny, but you made me be alone, Johnny. And I have a right to find another Johnny"); he murmured back: ("My yen for you goes up and down like a fever chart"); in Cathy's second hallucinatory appearance, she assured him: "All of the men want me, Johnny, but I want you. And you - you want the Pulitzer Prize" (she again began singing "Somebody to Love")
  • the expressionistic, claustrophobic sets portraying the inside corridor of an insane asylum (symbolic of America), where Barrett was finally committed; he beamed: "I made it, I'm in!...And this long corridor is the magic highway to the Pulitzer Prize"
  • the scene of the attack of lurking females on Barrett when he became locked inside the nymphomaniac ward (one was singing "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean"); he was surrounded and then wrestled to the ground and injured - (earlier, one of the attendants had warned him: "I used to work in the female wing, but the nympho ward got too dangerous for me")
  • in order to investigate the unsolved butcher knife stabbing of Sloan that had occurred in the asylum's kitchen, the three interview scenes with crazed inmates (who witnessed the crime), in order for Barrett to decipher the murderer's identity - each represented a major problem in the post-war US - xenophobia, racism, and nuclear war: (1) deranged and bigoted Communist-hating, ex-GI Korean War veteran Stuart (James Best) who believed he was "Dixie"-loving, Civil War Confederate General Jeb Stuart (he had been captured as a POW and brainwashed by Korean communists, then returned, was dishonorably discharged from the US military, and ostracized), (2) another insane patient named Trent (Hari Rhodes) - a black civil rights pioneer (he had been the first Negro student to integrate into a Southern university: "a guinea pig in a classroom") who now crazily carried a sign: ("Integration And Democracy Don't Mix"), and believed he was the white supremacist, Grand Wizard founder of the Ku Klux Klan, and (3) guilt-ridden, brilliant American nuclear scientist-physicist Dr. Boden (Gene Evans), a Nobel Prize winner who helped build the atomic bomb (who regressed and believed he was an innocent six-year old boy, playing hide-and-seek and drawing with crayons); each of the interviews followed a pattern - a delusion, a dreamy hallucination in color (amateurish 16mm footage) - in two cases, and a very brief moment of sanity
  • the scene of black inmate Trent - believing that he was a white supremacist Klan leader with a white pillowcase hood - standing on a bench, and delivering an incendiary hate-filled, racist rant about returning America to Americans: "If Christ walked the streets of my hometown, he'd be horrified. You've never seen so many black people cluttering up our schools and buses and cafes and washrooms! I'm for pure Americanism! White supremacy! Listen to me, Americans. America for Americans. We got to throw rocks and hurl bombs. Black bombs for black foreigners. So they like hot music, do they? Well, we'll give them a crescendo they'll never forget. Burn that freedom bus. Burn those freedom riders! Burn any man who serves them at a lunch counter. Burn every dirty, nigger-lovin' pocketbook integrationist! Collect a lot of blackjacks and good long lengths of pipe. We'll show those rabble-rousers they can't breathe our white air, and go to school with our white children. We'll get some infallible liquid and pour it on 'em. We'll pour it on their homes and burn 'em. Pour it on their pickaninnies and set them on fire. Call out the members of the White Citizens Council. Call out the KKK! Yes, we'll sponsor the Africans north! Get rid of every black mother, son and daughter! America for Americans...Keep our schools white!...I'm against Catholics!...Against Jews!...Against niggers!...Against niggers!...Against niggers!...
  • at the end of his speech, Trent (with the pillow case with eye-slits on his head) fomented a chase after another black patient-inmate by pointing him out ("There's one! Let's get that black boy before he marries my daughter!"), and initiated a full-scale riot when the group joined in and attacked
  • the scene of Johnny's electro-shock therapy treatment - causing a jarring super-imposition of some of his memories (Cathy's dance, other inmates, Trent's speech, the nympho ward, etc.)
  • Dr. Boden revealed Sloan's knife-murderer to be the seemingly-friendly orderly-attendant Wilkes (Chuck Roberson) - identified by his white pants, who was "taking sexual advantage of feeble-minded women in the ladies' ward" - Wilkes murdered Sloan to silence him and prevent him from exposing his crime to the asylum's clinical psychiatrist Dr. L.G. Cristo (John Matthews); however, Barrett's head was so scrambled by the time of this prized knowledge (due to the electroshock therapy) that his recollection of who killed Sloan was fleeting; confined by a straitjacket, he screamed out: "Somebody do something about my head! Help my head! It hurts!"
  • the scene of Barrett actually becoming completely mad when he imagined an indoor electrical thunderstorm; trapped in the torrential rain flooding the corridor, he ran from closed door to closed door as the hard rain pelted him (he imagined a waterfall with torrents pouring down - in color) and lightning struck his body
  • in the film's final few moments, Barrett attacked Wilkes in the hydrotherapy room; their brutal fist-fight moved from the kitchen to the corridor, where Barrett extracted a confession: ("I killed Sloan") from the attendant by beating his head into the floor and threatening to pull off his ears
  • in the ending, the ultimate personal strain and madness suffered by Barrett made him truly insane and mute; Dr. Cristo reported his mental status to Cathy: "John is a catatonic schizophrenic. What a tragedy. An insane mute will win the Pulitzer Prize"; a desperately-devoted Cathy (who still asserted: "He is not insane!") attempted to pull Johnny's arms around her back to embrace her and respond, but he couldn't comply because he was brain-damaged; in a concluding tracking shot, he was seen as a full-time patient in the corridor, with a reminder of Euripides' quote from the opening

Shoot the Piano Player (1960, Fr.) (aka Tirez Sur le Pianiste)

In François Truffaut's improvisational, noirish crime-gangster drama with humor, an arthouse New Wave film with a mixing of genres - his second feature film:

  • in a lengthy flashback halfway through the film, a survey of the haunted past life of honky-tonk Parisian dive piano player Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour) as once-famous classical pianist prodigy Edouard Saroyan, and the tale of the ultimate suicide of his adulterous, cool blonde cafe waitress wife Therese (Nicole Berger)
  • in the flashback, Edouard was called for an audition with impresario Lars Schmeel (Claude Heymann) - and the view of his walk down a long corridor and a montage of increasingly closer and closer views of his finger fearful of ringing the doorbell - but then when the door opened, the camera unexpectedly tracked backward on an attractive female - an expressionless violinist auditioner who exited down the long hallway and out of the building, while Edouard's piano audition was heard on the soundtrack - presumably, she had been rejected and he was chosen
  • the scene of Therese's painful confession to husband Edouard that she slept with Schmeel to help him get ahead: ("You know how a spider works? It was like he'd cut me in two. As if my heart were one thing and my body another. It wasn't Theresa who went with him. Just her body, as if I wasn't there. I was with you"), but Edouard walked out on her, causing her to suicidally throw herself to her death on the pavement below from the apartment room balcony
  • Edouard's new existence and refuge as Charlie - although he was drawn back into seamy underworld gangster involvement through the exploits of his two brothers - double-crossing petty-crooks: Chico (Albert Rémy) and Richard (Jean-Jacques Asianian)
  • Chico's viewpoint of Charlie's occupation: "What's the idea? You look cute playing that battered old crate, when you should be playing a concert grand with people clamoring for encores...But look at him. A virtuoso playing this kind of trash" - Charlie responded: "I can't be in two places at once"
  • the performance of Italian waiter and chanteur (Boby Lapointe) with the bawdy song "Framboise" about his wife's breast enlargements - with sing-along lyrics to follow along on the screen: "Her measurements were meager, No wonder she was eager, To be adding extra padding at the Beauty Institute Ah! Ah! Ah! By the Loire are beauticians, Who can add to your bosom, Not surgical dangers in Angers, For old gents and pretty maids, Attributes are custom-made, But for those who can't rejuvenate, What a blight!, A blight on the Berry, That's fate, tit for tat, Seeing her new measurements, Added to my torments, Ogling her plunging neckline, I gave her the old line: Permit me to keep abreast, Of what's on your chest, She ran away like a stranger, so I quit..."
  • director Truffaut's various experimental cinematic flourishes, including a triple iris, sudden jump cuts and tone changes, kinetic and hand-held camera shots, split screen, etc.; in one famous, humorous, and totally-unexpected sequence, gangster Momo (Claude Mansard) vowed his honesty by swearing: "If I'm lying, may my mother drop dead this instant" - a cut was made to a dark room where an older woman fell over dead with her heels kicking up
  • Charlie's humorous and teasing relationship with his neighbor, lovely, dark-haired prostitute Clarisse (Michèle Mercier); when she climbed into bed with him - topless, he mentioned: "This is how it's done in the movies" and covered her bare breasts with the sheet; then, she mentioned she had gone to the movies: "I did go to the movies this afternoon. I saw Torpedoes in Alaska... It's a picture with John Wayne, to show that the Americans want peace"
  • Charlie's growing love for gorgeous, fresh-faced barmaid girlfriend Léna (Marie Dubois) - and the sequence of the two walking down a street, while Charlie nervously attempted to hold her hand, or put his arm around her waist (with close-ups of his hand and fingers) - he mused to himself, in voice-over: "It'll look odd if you don't talk. Say something, anything, or she'll think you're scared. She's no fool. She knows silence and romance go hand-in-hand. She's the quiet type. Not stuck-up - just serious. No cheap jokes for her. It'd take something really funny to make her laugh" - he made a grimacing face and she laughed, surprisingly
  • the sequence of Charlie's lethal fight after the betrayal of jealous bartender boss Plyne (Serge Davri) in conflict over Lena; Plyne complained: "I don't love Lena anymore. She used words unworthy of her. If she had a soul, she wouldn't have been so vulgar. She's a slut. A woman is pure, delicate, fragile. Woman is supreme. Woman is magic. Charlie boy, sorry for getting familiar...but Charlie boy, you're about to die"; when Charlie was placed in a strangling chokehold, he self-defensively stabbed Plyne in the back with a butcher knife, and then was forced to become a fugitive
  • the film's tragic conclusion in the snowy, icy Alps: the accidental gunning down death of Lena, caught in the cross-fire during a shootout between Charlie's brothers and two other relentless gangsters: Momo (Claude Mansard) and Ernest (Daniel Boulanger); her body slid down an icy slope before it came to rest
  • the film's closing line in its poignant ending, after Charlie had returned to his occupation (after being cleared of murder charges), he was introduced to a newly-hired barmaid by bar-worker Mammy (Catherine Lutz): "Charlie, meet the new barmaid. Charlie! The piano player!" - before he took the stage to again play the piano as the film concluded

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

In Ernst Lubitsch's brilliant, charming and sophisticated romantic comedy about mistaken identities, the story was portrayed by everyday people in a "shop around the corner" - the main characters were two feuding, lonely-hearts co-workers who were also pen pals in a love-hate relationship - [Note: it was remade by Hollywood as You've Got Mail (1998) with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan]:

  • the setting: a Budapest (Hungary) notions/gift and leather goods shop, named Matuschek and Company, owned by Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan), where head sales clerk: bookish, mild-mannered and bashful bachelor Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) was a long-time top employee
  • one of the products in the shop, stubbornly promoted by Matuschek, was a cigarette box selling for 4.25 that played the tune: "Ochi Tchornya"; desperate job-seeker Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) in her first scene, entered the store and proved her ability to sell by suggesting the product's use as a weight-controlling candy box to a female customer - and even negotiated for a higher price: ("Now, this little box makes you candy-conscious. That's what Matuschek and Company designed it for. Every time you open it, this tinkling little song is a message to you. 'Too much candy, now be careful'!"); for her clever selling skills, she was offered a job by Matuschek; Alfred offered his own downgraded assessment: "I think people who like to smoke candy and listen to cigarettes will love it"; for the remainder of the film, however, no other cigarette boxes were sold
  • the scenes of the constant dislike, arguments, insults and mutual bickering between the newly-hired shopgirl and Alfred; both were unaware that they were each other's anonymous, love-struck pen pals who were writing each other very literate correspondence; they were, on paper, romantically compatible and corresponded with affectionate "lonely-hearts" letters
  • one of Klara's letters, read outloud by Alfred, began with her joy at receiving his letter: "My heart was trembling as I walked into the post office, and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there. Oh, my Dear Friend"
  • the scene of Alfred's firing by his employer Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan) - wrongly suspected of having an affair with the owner's wife (never-seen)
  • in a memorable scene at Cafe Nizza that same night, unemployed Alfred was convinced by co-worker Pirovitch (Felix Bressart) to go ahead with his date with his pen pal sweetheart; Pirovitch had looked through the window and told Alfred that his date looked just like Klara Novak from the store and encouraged him to follow through; when Alfred entered, he didn't reveal his secret identity to her, and talked to her only as a co-worker; he suggested: "There are many things you don't know about me, Miss Novak. As a matter of fact, there might be a lot we don't know about each other. You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth"; she was less than interested: "Well, I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter which doesn't work"; he considered her answer a "mixture of poetry and meanness"
  • he remained in the cafe and sat down behind her, but she thought he was sabotaging her date: "Are you deliberately trying to spoil my evening? Why do you want to do me harm? Why do you hate me so?"; he proved her point when he told her: "You may have very beautiful thoughts, but you certainly hide them. As far as your actions are concerned, you're cold and snippy like an old maid, and you're gonna have a tough time getting a man to fall in love with you"
  • Kralik's redemption: the seducer of Matuschek's wife was revealed to be another employee, womanizing Ferencz Vadas (Joseph Schildkraut); now vindicated, forgiven, rehired, and given the task of firing Vadas, Alfred called him a "two-faced, double-crossin' two-timer"; he pushed Vadas into a pile of the cigarette boxes that collapsed onto the floor and began playing the tune in discordant ways; as a reference letter, Alfred recommended Vadas as a "stool pigeon, a trouble-maker, and a rat"
  • in the happy conclusion two weeks later on Christmas Eve, while Alfred and Klara were alone in the store, he told her that he had just recently met her mystery-man fiancee - a Mr. Mathias Popkin; he described him as overweight, balding, depressed, unemployed, and a plagiarist; then, he grabbed her and confided that he couldn't keep his secret any longer: "My dearest, sweetheart Klara, I can't stand it any longer. Please, take your key and open post office box 237 and take me out of my envelope and kiss me" - he placed a carnation on his lapel - she registered shock and amazement that he was her mystery pen-pal correspondent - her "Dear Friend"; she asked: "You? Dear Friend?"
  • Alfred asked if she was "disappointed" - she disclosed: "Psychologically, I'm very confused. But personally, I don't feel bad at all"; she reminded him how rude she had been in the Cafe on their first date, and that she had called him bow-legged; in the final words of the film, he affirmed: "Oh, well, but, and I was going to prove to you that I wasn't. I was going to go out to the street and pull up my trousers" - she asked: "Well, would you mind very much if I asked you to pull them up now?" - after raising his pants legs, she took one look - and then they hugged and kissed before the final fade-out

Short Cuts (1993)

In Robert Altman's naked depiction of desperate people in Southern California:

  • the exhilarating opening credits scene with images of noisy helicopters dumping insecticide onto Los Angeles neighborhoods to kill medflys - and in the film's conclusion, another disaster - an earthquake
  • the film's fluid interweaving and overlapping of the tragi-comic stories/lives of 22 characters in about ten separate episodic story-lines, including:
    - classical cello-playing musician Zoe Trainer (Lori Singer), the pretty blonde daughter of alcoholic cabaret jazz singer Tess Trainer (Annie Ross), both next-door neighbors to the Finnigans; Zoe committed suicide by carbon monoxide asphyxiation in her garage
    - three fishing buddies on a three-day fishing trip: out of work salesman Stuart Kane (Fred Ward) - who was married to clown-performer Claire Kane (Anne Archer) who entertained at childrens' parties, Gordon Johnson (Buck Henry), and Vern Miller (Huey Lewis); they stopped off at Doreen's restaurant for breakfast before leaving on their trip; they found a dead 23 year-old raped girl's body floating lifeless near their campsite and decided to postpone reporting the murder
    - hit-and-run waitress Doreen Piggot (Lily Tomlin) who was married to abusive drunk limousine driver Earl Piggot (Tom Waits), who hung out in the nightclub where Tess Trainer performed
    - mother Lois Kaiser (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who engaged in phone sex while diapering and feeding her baby, and was married to swimming pool cleaner Jerry Kaiser (Chris Penn) - who cleaned the pools of the Trainers and the Finnigans (and while on the phone spyed through a fence at skinny-dipping Zoe Trainer)
    - jealous surgeon-doctor Dr. Ralph Wyman (Matthew Modine) and redheaded faithless wife Marian Wyman (Julianne Moore - while naked from the waist down - confessing her infidelity to her husband as she blow-dried her dress with a hair-dryer); Dr. Wyman cared for a young boy (a hit-and-run victim)
    - painter's model and housewife Sherri Shepard (Madeleine Stowe), Marian's sister, who was married to philandering cop Gene Shepard (Tim Robbins) - he was having an affair with adulterous Betty Weathers (Frances McDormand), and at one point sexually-harrassed and taunted a female driver - Claire Kane in her clown makeup
    - TV commentator Howard Finnigan (Bruce Davison) and his wife Ann Finnigan (Andie MacDowell) whose son Casey - on his 8th birthday - was run down by an automobile and eventually died in the hospital
    - Howard's estranged father Paul (Jack Lemmon), who during a visit with his son at the hospital discussed past infidelities that led to their estrangement
    - Honey Piggot Bush (Lili Taylor), Doreen's daughter, who was married to Hollywood make-up artist Bill (Robert Downey Jr.), was friends with young phone-sex mother Lois Kaiser
    - sinister, disgruntled and lonely baker Andy Bitkower (Lyle Lovett), who baked a cake for Casey Finnigan's 8th birthday, who repeatedly made nasty and anonymous return phone calls about their unclaimed cake when he was abruptly hung up on by distressed father Howard Finnigan
    - ex-husband and helicopter pilot Stormy Weathers (Peter Gallagher) who, in an enraged state of mind, used a chain-saw to divide up community property in his ex-wife Betty Weathers' house

Short Term 12 (2013)

In writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton's drama about a foster-care home for troubled teens:

  • home resident Marcus' (Keith Stanfield) rap song: "So You Know What It's Like," that he said had "a lot of 'f--ks' in it" - he was almost 18 and about to leave the foster home, and would then be forced to fend for himself in the big world that had already treated him with abuse and indifference: ("It don't matter now, damn near 18. All the pretty pictures in my f--kin' head is faded. And when I think about that trick that raised me, I think about sick, because the bitch is crazy. F--k that bitch, nigga, f--k that pain. Your body's in a ditch inside this turned up brain. I mean, I can't see how you claim it, you being ma? Doctors snatched me out the snatch of pure evil with eagle claws. Ho ho ho, slut, f--k the way you want it. Got your young, dumb son pitching pigeons for money. I mean, it's colder than the bitch when it's sunny. Blows raining down on the glow. Got the nerve to tell me you love me? I said, again? Again? Sell it, again. Bitch, I'm 10. Let me go outside and function with friends. You say you ma? You mother? You the father-f--king queen? I say, all right, I love her so I flip it again. No, not this time, bitch, because I'm stronger than you. Not this time, bitch, swinging harder than you. No, not this time, bitch, you ain't leave me a choice. You just a body in a ditch in the brain of a boy. All f--ked up now, damn near 18. All the pictures in my past ain't never fading. I'm always wishing for something amazing, but when your life is s--t then it ain't no trading. So put me in your books, so you know what it's like to live a life not knowing what a normal life's like. Put a label on my head so you know what it's like to live a life not knowing what a normal life's like. Look into my eyes so you know what it's like. Look into my eyes so you know what it's like. Look into my eyes so you know what it's like to live a life not knowing what a normal life's like")

A Shot in the Dark (1964, UK/US)

In Blake Edwards' comedy:

  • the character of bumbling, linguistically-challenged French Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and his exasperated, long-suffering and bug-eyed Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who promised: ("Give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world!")
  • innumerable attempts to bed suspected murderess and French chambermaid Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer): ("I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone, and I suspect no one")
  • Clouseau's pronunciation of the word 'bomb' ("beumb"), and his elaborate chalkboard drawing of the crime scene: ("Facts, Hercule, facts! Nothing matters but the facts. Without them, the science of criminal investigation is nothing more than a guessing game")
  • Clouseau's setting his trenchcoat on fire after lighting a cigarette for Maria and pocketing the still-flaming cigarette lighter ("My coat is on fire!")
  • during one romantic encounter, an untimely and inopportune interruption and sneak attack from Clouseau's own judo-attacking, karate-chopping expert-aide and Chinese manservant Kato (Burt Kwouk), who specialized in surprise attacks
  • during Clouseau's questioning of Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders), the Parisian owner of the palace where the murder was committed, during his struggle with the game of billiards using an upturned curved cue stick, and his duel with an uncooperative cue rack
  • the visit of Clouseau to find Maria at Camp Sunshine - a nudist resort, where he found a dead corpse ("Dead Dudu"), and their unclothed drive through the crowded streets of Paris
  • Dreyfus' nervous breakdown about Clouseau's inept investigation in the office of his psychoanalyst: ("He released her again, and he's taking her out to dinner. Every paper in Paris has the story, including the Christian Science Monitor; and he gave them the story. You see, he claims he's protecting her lover, and the best way to force him into the open is to make him jealous. Jealous! That nincompoop, that megalomaniac. He's setting the science of criminal investigation back a thousand years, and I can't do anything about it...What if he's right?...I'm finished. Washed up. Sanity and reason become things of the past. Madness reigns...Relax? Don't you think l want to relax? Don't you think l'd give my arm for a good night's sleep? I haven't closed my eyes in three days. I've only eaten a chicken leg and some clear broth since Wednesday. I'm cracking up. I'm coming apart at the seams. Look at my eye. I used to have a perfectly good eye. Two eyes, l mean. No, Doctor, there is no hope. There is no hope unless l can get rid of Clouseau. I must get rid of Clouseau")

Show Boat (1936)

In director James Whale's 1936 version of the musical drama [Note: the film was remade as the colorful Show Boat (1951) by director George Sidney with a toned-down version of "Ol' Man River" sung by Joe (William Warfield)]:

  • the classic scene of the singing of the immortal song "Ol' Man River" by black stevedore Joe (Paul Robeson), filmed with a sweeping 270 degree camera pan around him and accompanied by an expressionistic montage
  • the poignant, solo performance of "Bill" by Julie (Helen Morgan)

Showgirls (1995)

In director Paul Verhoeven's (teamed up again with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas) big-budget, exploitative, misogynistic, guilty-pleasure, show-biz related adult film - a sexploitation drama that flopped at the box office; it was the first attempt of Hollywood to mass market a studio film with an NC-17 rating (since the failure of Caligula (1979)), yet it failed miserably, but it was one of the most notorious films of the 90s, later finding an audience among cult film-goers (although it reportedly destroyed the career of star Elizabeth Berkley, earlier noted for her role in the late 80s TV show Saved By the Bell).

It had lots of controversial content - and was loaded with very frequent nudity, sexuality, notorious dialogue, and campy sleaze in a drama about the sex industry - an uncensored look at the backstage show-biz world of Las Vegas strip clubs and shows:

  • the unintentionally cheesy acting and dialogue, and rampant nudity (almost boring)
  • the scene of Al Torres (Robert Davi), manager of the topless, pole-clinging dancers at the Cheetah, detailing requirements for a lap dance to new girl Penny (Rena Riffel): "Fifty bucks a pop, you take 'em in the back. Touch and go. They touch, they go. You can touch them. They cannot touch you...Now if they come, that's okay. If they take it out and come all over you, call the bouncer, unless he gives you a big tip. If he gives you a big tip, it's okay. You got that?...lf you want to last longer than a week, you give me a blow job. First l get you used to the money, then l make you swallow"
  • the sequences of naked dancing at two contrasting locales in Las Vegas - the low-class Cheetah and the higher-class hotel shows and headliner dancers at the Stardust
  • the love-hate relationship and rivalry between bi-sexual "Goddess" headliner Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon) at the Stardust Hotel and aspiring Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) and their unbelievable dialogue and discussion about their breasts: (Cristal: "You've got nice tits. I like nice tits." Nomi: "I like having nice tits")
  • the bare-breasted "Chorus Line" showgirl audition sequence, with Tony Moss' (Alan Rachins) introduction of himself: ("Okay, ladies. I'm Tony Moss. I produce this show. Some of you have probably heard that I'm a prick - I am a prick. I got one interest here, and that's the show. I don't care whether you live or die. I want to see ya dance and I want to see ya smile. I can't use you if you can't smile, I can't use you if you can't show, I can't use you if you can't sell"), his threat to one of the losing contestants: ("Come back when you've f--ked some of this baby fat off. See ya!"), and his insulting comment to Nomi: ("You got something wrong with your nipples?...I'm erect. Why aren't you erect?")
  • Nomi's extended lap dance sequence offered by Cristal to her boyfriend for $500, the Stardust Hotel's talent director Zack Carey (Kyle MacLachlan)
  • and her orgasmic thrashing sex romp in the pool with Zack

Shrek (2001)

In the first winner of the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, a biting satire of classic Disney animated films by DreamWorks/PDI's revisionist fairy tale:

  • the opening Sleeping Beauty (1959) reference (through the use of a stylized storybook), and many other fairy tale references and one-liners
  • the character of surly, sarcastic, wisecracking, Scottish-accented green, smelly but affable ogre Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) in his swamp home, bathing in mud, brushing his teeth with caterpillar goo, and using the outhouse
  • Shrek's love/hate relationship with the faithful, talkative, wisecracking, annoying tag-a-long sidekick Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy)
  • Shrek's rescue of the pouty, fiercely independent Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) on a mission to save her from the Dragon for the nefarious, narcissistic midget Lord Farquaad (voice of John Lithgow) - who had banished fairy tale characters into exile, and tortured the Gingerbread Man on a cookie sheet
  • Donkey's romance with the female fire-breathing Dragon
  • the scene of a mechanical Information Booth featuring a spoof of Disney's sugary It's a Small World (It's a Perfect Place) with vaguely sarcastic wooden puppets, tiny welcome dolls
  • the unlikely romance between Shrek and Fiona, who initially rejected him for being an ogre
  • the revelation of the plot twist: Fiona was a maiden by day, and an ogre by night
  • the climax in which the forced marriage between Fiona and Farquaad was interrupted by the dragon, and Donkey's quip after Lord Farquaad was eaten by the dragon: "Celebrity marriages! They never last, do they?"
  • the sharing of their true love's first kiss when Shrek kissed Fiona to free her from her enchantment -- resulting in a glorious explosion of light, shattering the church's stained glass windows
  • in another twist, Fiona remained an ogre permanently -- love's true form
  • also the celebratory party finale in which Donkey and the other fairy tale characters sang The Monkees' "I'm a Believer"

Shrek 2 (2004)

In the popular blockbuster sequel:

  • the pre-opening credits sequence in which effeminate, narcissistic Prince Charming (voice of Rupert Everett) stormed the Dragon's castle tower believing that he was rescuing Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) - but found the Big Bad Wolf (dressed in grandmother's clothing), reading Pork Illustrated
  • the opening credits sequence highlighting Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and Fiona's honeymoon, with dozens of rapid-fire cultural and filmic references (from From Here to Eternity (1953) to The Little Mermaid (1989) to The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and visual gags -- all heard to the tune of the Counting Crows' Oscar-nominated song "Accidentally in Love"
  • the "Are we there yet?" scene with an extremely impatient Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) voicing his boredom in an onion carriage during their journey to Far, Far Away (the Hollywood/Beverly Hills-inspired town with Farbucks and Old Knavery, and other similar stores)
  • the stunned reaction of the crowd to ogres Shrek and Fiona -- punctuated by a distracted dove crashing into the castle wall
  • the Meet the Parents (2000)-inspired strained dinner party with Fiona's shocked royal parents King Harold (voice of John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (voice of Julie Andrews)
  • the plotting Fairy Godmother (voice of Jennifer Saunders) singing the "Fairy Godmother Song" to newlywed Fiona - a bouncy parody of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  • the Fairy Godmother's scheme to kill Shrek and marry Fiona to her rich son Prince Charming
  • the memorable, swashbuckling, Spanish-accented, Zorro-like Puss In Boots assassin (voice of Antonio Banderas): ("Pray for mercy from Puss-in-Boots!")
  • also, the scene of a TV show called KNIGHTS - a parody of the TV show COPS - culminating with Puss In Boots caught possessing an illegal narcotic - catnip
  • Shrek's drinking of a Happily Ever After Potion that turned him into a hunky man (and transformed Donkey into a white stallion to his personal delight - "I'm trotting!") -- as well as Fiona changing back to her original human form
  • the Academy Awards red-carpet parody, complete with Joan Rivers (as Herself)
  • Fairy Godmother's fantastic The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)-inspired, cabaret-style rendition of "Holding Out For a Hero"
  • the giant Gingerbread man character of Mongo (named after Alex Karras' character from Blazing Saddles (1974) and inspired by Ghostbusters (1984))
  • Donkey and Puss In Boots' concluding celebratory rendition of "Livin' La Vida Loca" (with Puss' homage to the chair water-dousing from Flashdance (1983))

Sicario (2015)

In Denis Villeneuve's taut crime action-thriller about efforts to stop drug trafficking and drug wars in Mexico:

  • the opening bravura sequence of a heavily-armed kidnap-response SWAT team converging on a suburban house in Chandler, Arizona (near Phoenix) - and bursting into the living room with a tank - and then the gruesome discovery of dozens of decomposing bodies (with plastic bags cinched tight over their heads) mummified within the home's walls
  • the scene of a heavily-armed US convoy going into Mexico to pick up a major player in the Mexican drug trade, to transport him back across the US border for questioning; aerial shots and tight POV shots captured the speeding convoy of black Chevy Tahoe trucks through the narrow streets of Juarez
  • the tense border crossing shoot-out scene at Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, on the crowded, grid-locked highway leading to the Bridge of the Americas, when principled FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and a group of US Marshals and Delta Force soldiers were involved in an operation to extradite a leading Sonora drug cartel member, Guillermo Diaz (Edgar Arreola) back into the US; the attempted ambush by other cartel members in numerous other cars to rescue the prisoner failed when they were killed; as Kate watched the bloody slaughter, she asked herself: "What the f--k are we doing?" and she heard: "This is going to be on the front page of every newspaper in America"

Sideways (2004)

In director Alexander Payne's insightful comedy adapted from Rex Pickett's novel:

  • the Santa Ynez Valley wine country soul-searching road-trip of two middle-aged characters:
    - depressed and failed novel writer, San Diego English teacher and wine enthusiast Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti)
    - ex-soap star lothario Jack (Thomas Haden Church) and about-to-be-married
  • their encounters with Hitching Post waitress Maya (Virginia Madsen) and single mother Stephanie (Sandra Oh)
  • the scene of shared wine passion in which Miles explained to Maya how he viewed himself as a pinot noir: ("It's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early...Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression") and her extolling of wine for its evolving nature: ("...I like how wine continues to evolve. Like, if I opened a bottle of wine today, it would taste different than if I'd opened it on any other day. Because a bottle of wine is actually alive and it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks like your '61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline. Hmm. And it tastes so f--king good")
  • the hilarious scene of Miles' retrieval of Jack's wallet in the bedroom of his latest conquest - a married woman: ("My friend was the one balling your wife")
  • the last lines of the film - Maya's answering machine message: ("Don't give up, Miles. Keep writing. I hope you're well. Bye") listened to by Miles - followed by the poignant shot of Miles -- after having driven back to the Valley -- knocking on Maya's door

The Sign of the Cross (1932)

In director Cecil B. DeMille's spectacular, pre-censorship epic:

  • the display of Rome's sins and depravities (homosexuality, orgies, nudity, and murder) in multiple ways and memorable scenes
  • debauched Emperor Nero's (Charles Laughton in his first American film) wicked mistress Empress Poppaea (Claudette Colbert) bathing unabashedly in asses’ milk
  • the attempted corruptive seduction scene of virginal, blonde Christian Mercia (Elissa Landi) by Ancaria (Joyzelle Joyner) with a lesbian-tinged dance of the "Naked Moon" that visibly aroused its audience
  • the scenes of semi-naked women condemned to slaughter in the Arena while Nero watched distractedly from the side, including:
    - one rope-stretched screaming female victim awaiting hissing crocodiles
    - and another flower-garlanded-tied nude female Christian martyr awaiting death in a Roman arena from a devouring silverback gorilla

Signs (2002)

In M. Night Shyamalan's scary horror film about alien visitation:

  • the awesome opening scene of ex-Bucks County Pennsylvania "father" and emotionally-wounded widower Rev. Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) awakening to find his two dazed children Morgan and Bo (Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin) in their cornfield looking at huge crop circles, with Morgan's thought: "I think God did it"
  • the scene around the dinner table with Graham's anger about prayer ("I am not wasting one more minute of my life on prayer") followed by the family's hug
  • Graham's speech about two kinds of reactions to an experience: ("See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky?")
  • the scene of CNN news footage from a Brazilian children's birthday party, showing home video footage of a brief shot of a green alien walking past an alley, with horrified younger brother Merrill Hess' (Joaquin Phoenix) urgent warning shouted at the TV to the birthday party children: "Move children!! Vaminos!!"
  • the scene of the blocked kitchen pantry in neighbor Ray Reddy's (director Shyamalan) house, where Graham discovered a trapped giant alien - when he bent down, knelt, and tried to look under the pantry door (using the reflection of a shiny, large butcher knife). On a second attempt, the alien grabbed at him. He used the knife to cut off two protruding fingers on the alien's clawed hand reaching out from the underside of the closed door - causing the trapped creature to let out a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream.
  • Bo's calmly-delivered line in the dark basement: "There's a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?"
  • the final climax when a tall greenish, gas-expelling alien broke into the Hess household and put the weak and asthmatic Morgan at risk - but was killed by dousings with glasses of water (acting like acid on the alien), and swings of Merrill's baseball bat! ("Swing away, Merrill. Merrill... swing away")

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

In Jonathan Demme's Best Picture winning film:

  • the tense scene of FBI trainee agent Clarice Starling's (Oscar-winning Jodie Foster) walk along a row of underground Baltimore prison cells (and her abuse by prisoner Miggs (Stuart Rudin))
  • her first meeting with the chilling, repellent, super-intelligent, cold-eyed and intriguing Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins) - who stood there with his head tilted and then requested that she come "Clos-er" to show her credentials
  • the serial killer Lecter's famous lines: "Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have, instead of a view" - "You use Evian skin cream and sometimes you wear L'air du Temps - but not today" - "You're so-o ambitious, aren't you? You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube..."
  • the infamous description given by Lecter about his refined taste in cruelty - with the sound effect of sifting through his teeth: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi-an-ti" - fpt-fpt-fpt''
  • the many scenes of their intense, seductive discussions-interrogations at his jail cell - including her confession about failing to rescue a lamb from the slaughter - as the camera moved in for intense close-ups
  • the scene in which Lecter lunged at Sgt. Pembry (Alex Coleman) with bloody, face-eating cannibalism, then savagely beat Sgt. Boyle (Charles Napier) to death with a police riot baton, and relaxed afterwards to Bach's Goldberg Variations
  • the image of Lecter's muzzled restraint with a face mask
  • Clarice's entry into the home of the serial killer Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb (Ted Levine) and stalking from Bill's POV with night-goggles
  • Lecter's curtain-closing phone call to Clarice with his final words about literally dining 'with' Dr. Chilton - and his disguised stroll wearing a Panama hat into a crowded Caribbean town's street: ("I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner")

Silver Lode (1954)

In director Allan Dwan's taut and suspenseful, Technicolored psychological low-budget western - a 'guilt-by-suspicion' allegorical film masking as a criticism of the McCarthy era (and close in theme to High Noon (1952)):

  • set during a July 4th celebration in a frontier town of Silver Lode - the character of respected wealthy rancher/citizen and town sheriff Dan Ballard (John Payne) (a reformed, ex-outlaw), who had his Fourth of July wedding to wealthy and pretty fiancee Rose Evans (Lizabeth Scott) interrupted by the ominous arrival of four men from the town of Discovery, California; the group of deputies, led by accusatory and vengeful blonde Fred McCarty (Dan Duryea) (the name was a clear reference to Sen. Joseph McCarthy), claimed they were US marshals on a manhunt with a warrant to arrest him for the murder of Ned's brother and the robbery of $20,000 a few years earlier
  • the fickle townsfolk began to express disloyalty as wrongly-accused Ballard stalled the proceedings to track down evidence to clear his name and prove his innocence; the only two townspeople left that believed persecuted Ballard were Rose and his brazen ex-mistress/saloon dancer-singer Dolly (Dolores Moran) in a bright purple dress
  • the film's masterful tracking shot that followed Ballard running across town and down Main Street (ironically through 4th of July "Independence Day" decorations, and at one point along a white picket fence) to find sanctuary in the town's church
  • the tense scene in the telegraph office, after Dolly and Rose had persuaded telegrapher Paul Herbert (Frank Sully) to send a message to receive a verification and confirmation of McCarty's identity, although transmissions failed - it appeared to be down (deliberately cut by McCarty); then, Ballard's bride-to-be forced Herbert to forge a phony telegram response (due to sabotage of the wires) showing that McCarty's credentials had been falsified: ("McCarty not what he represents himself to be. Wanted for murder and cattle rustling. Dan Ballard innocent of charge") - to exonerate Ballard and proclaim his innocence
  • simultaneously, the climactic confrontational showdown scene high up in the church belltower - when the cornered, defenseless and wounded Ballard was hiding on one side of the 'liberty' bell, while evil, gun-shooting antagonist McCarty was firing at him from the other side; miraculously Ballard was saved ("an act of God") -- literally, when McCarty's own bullet ricocheted off the giant swinging church bell, and he was struck in the heart by his own deflected bullet
  • the concluding sequence - the reprieved and saved Ballard angrily told the townsfolk: "You're sorry. A moment ago, you wanted to kill me, and you forced me to kill, to defend myself, to save my own life. You wouldn't believe me. You wouldn't believe what I said. A man's life can hang in the balance on a piece of paper. And you're sorry!"
  • the epilogue: the eventual truthful clearing of Ballard's name and confirmation of innocence, with the receipt of a real telegram: ("Fred McCarty wanted. Murder and Rustling. US Marshal on way to Silver Lode"); Dolly exclaimed "Hallelujah!" and ran from the office with the news - seen in a stationary shot through the Telegraph Office's window as she raced far into the distance down Main Street

Sin City (2005)

In director Robert Rodriguez' violent (cannibalism, dismemberment, mutilation, castration and more!), bloody and stylistic noirish monochromatic (with splashes of color) representation of Frank Miller's graphic novels:

  • the overlapping, cross-cut hard-boiled stories set in dark and rain-slick Basin City
  • the opening of a doomed, red dress-wearing dame standing on a terrace high above the cold, teeming city - to be kissed and killed by The Man (Josh Hartnett)
  • the first tale of disgraced, heart-failing cop John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saving young girl Nancy (later growing up to be exotic dancer Jessica Alba) from depraved pedophile Yellow Bastard (Nick Stahl)
  • the sensational character of tough ex-con, Frankenstein-like street fighter Marv (Mickey Rourke) seeking revenge against psycho-serial killer Kevin (Elijah Wood) for the death of blonde hooker Goldie (Jaime King)

Since You Went Away (1944)

In director John Cromwell's family war drama - based on Margaret Buell Wilder's bestselling novel:

  • the beautifully filmed, heart-rending parting scene at the train station, filmed from the point of view of the departing soldier William Smollett (Robert Walker) leaving on the moving train
  • the view of his girlfriend Jane (Jennifer Jones) running alongside the train and dodging large structural supports, as she cried out: "I love you darling!"

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

In Gene Kelly's and Stanley Donen's and MGM's classic film musical - a perfect example of an organic, 'integrated musical' in which the story's characters naturally expressed their emotions in the midst of their lives, with song and dance replacing the dialogue:

  • the three stars in the opening credits dancing in bold yellow raincoats and singing the title song "Singin' in the Rain"
  • the shrill, nasal-voiced silent star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen)
  • Cosmo Brown's (Donald O'Connor) acrobatic musical number "Make 'Em Laugh"
  • silent film hero Don Lockwood's (Gene Kelly) and ingenue Kathy Selden's (Debbie Reynolds) fabulous love duet/dance "You Were Meant For Me" on an empty sound stage
  • Lina's disastrous attempts to speak into a concealed microphone
  • the theatre preview of The Dueling Cavalier when the sound went out of synch
  • the marvelously upbeat production number "Good Morning"
  • Don's unforgettable, classic, joyous, lovestruck rain dance scene in a downpour by passing by shop windows, splashing through puddles, and standing on a streetlamp; he was in love and exuberantly singing the title song "Singin' in the Rain" with his trusty umbrella; it included the policeman's quizzical look after Don tipped his hat
  • the long "Broadway Melody Ballet" with guest dance artist Cyd Charisse
  • the final sequence revealing Kathy's voice substituting for Lina's and Don from the stage shouting "Stop that girl" and expressing his love to her back on stage
  • and afterwards, their hugging in front of a billboard announcing their new starring roles

(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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