Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



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

Starship Troopers (1997)

In director Paul Verhoeven's science-fiction film:

  • the brutal, training process by drill instructor Zim (Clancy Brown) - one beefy recruit had his arm broken and another had his hand impaled by a knife
  • the infamous uni-sex shower scene with male and female soldiers (Dina Meyer) sharing the same open shower stalls
  • the large-scale, visceral, extremely gory battle scenes between humans and mobilized giant alien bugs shown in a swarm
  • the surprising, deeply satirical ending in which the entire film was revealed as a gung-ho recruitment ad for the futuristic military (2001)

In Jehane Noujaim's and Chris Hegedus' fascinating cautionary documentary tale about the collapse:

  • the odyssey of's co-founders Tom Herman and Kaleil Isaza Tuzman in their meteoric rise to a $50M company with over 200 employees (with no real product) in 1999, to its failure and dissolution due to company excesses and ego
  • the contrast between their friendship and the painful scenes in which Kaleil barred Tom from entering the building

State Fair (1945) (aka It Happened One Summer)

In this Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II's filmed musical by co-directors Jose Ferrer and Walter Lang:

  • the show-stopping opening number "Our State Fair", sung after the opening title credits, (with each verse rotated through and sung by members of the Frake family, in a fake farm setting): "Our State Fair is a great State Fair..."
  • the lovely, long curly-haired, teen-aged ingenue Margy Frake's (Jeanne Crain) longings for love, and the scene of her packing in her bedroom for the fair - performing the Best Song Oscar-winning "It Might As Well Be Spring"
  • her first meeting with suave, fast-talking newspaper reporter Pat Gilbert (Dana Andrews)
  • the oft-repeated "It's a Grand Night for Singing" - a lilting love song, first sung on stage by a band, and then passed from one couple to another at the Iowa fairgrounds - on the merry-go-round and on other carnival rides
  • their subsequent three-day romance

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

In director Charles "Chuck" Riesner's silent-era slapstick comedy:

  • the comical sequence in which Steamboat Bill Jr. (Buster Keaton) tried on hats and his personality changed into a new character with each one
  • the tremendous special effects of a destructive tornado/cyclone
  • the spectacular, beautifully-choreographed, extremely dangerous stunt of the front of a two-story house falling forward - its second floor window opening was perfectly positioned to fall over bewildered young Bill standing in front of the building

Steel Magnolias (1989)

In Herbert Ross' tearjerking romantic comedy:

  • the death scene of diabetic daughter Shelby Eatenton Latcherie (Julia Roberts)
  • the graveyard scene around the casket in which grieving, strong-willed and feisty mother M'Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) reacted to her daughter's death - raging and despairing angrily: ("I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I'm so mad, I don't know what to do! I wanna know why! I wanna know WHY Shelby's life is over! I wanna know how that baby will ever know how wonderful his mother was. Will he EVER know what she went through for him? Oh, God, I wanna know whyyyy! Whhhyyyyy?! Lord, I wish I could understand. No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way. I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first. I don't think I can take this. I don't think I can take this. I just wanna hit somebody til they feel as bad as I do! I JUST WANNA HIT SOMETHING! I WANNA HIT IT HARD!")
  • Clairee's (Olympia Dukakis) offer of Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) as a punching bag: ("Here, hit this! Go ahead, M'Lynn. Slap her!")

Stella Dallas (1937)

In King Vidor's classic tearjerker:

  • the touching, famous sequence of Stella (Barbara Stanwyck) and her daughter Laurel (or "Lollie") (Anne Shirley) waiting at her unattended birthday party - removing plates as regrets were received until they were the only ones
  • the train berth scene in which her caring teenaged daughter came down to "cuddle" with her mother who had overheard criticisms (about being "a common looking creature for a mother")
  • a gauche Stella's self-sacrificing renunciation scene with Helen Morrison (Barbara O'Neil) in which she suggested giving up her daughter for a better life
  • the scene of Stella deliberately staging a vulgar appearance for her daughter in her showy, coarse and common style (reading a "LOVE" book, listening to loud music and smoking a cigarette)
  • the unforgettable final wedding scene and Stella's reactions as she was standing alone in the rain at the outer gate gazing lovingly and adoringly - with tears in her eyes (and biting a handkerchief in her mouth) - through the mansion's window at her daughter's high-society wedding
  • the ending in which the gathering crowd was told by a policeman to move along - and afterwards, Stella's joyful stride down the street as the film faded to black

The Stepford Wives (1975)

In Bryan Forbes' great and shocking cautionary feminist sci-fi/horror cult tale (an adaptation of Ira Levin's novel):

  • the scene of new Stepford, Connecticut suburban wives Joanna Eberhart and Bobbie Markowe (Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss) noting suspiciously that their seemingly-perfect neighbor housewives only cleaned house and bowed to their husband's needs
  • the garden party among the housewives and malfunctioning Carol's (Nanette Newman) quote: "I'll just die if I don't get this recipe!"
  • the scene of the failed consciousness-raising session/discussion as the wives extolled the virtues of Easy-On spray starch
  • Bobbie acting robotically in the kitchen while serving coffee to Joanna - being stabbed to test her humanity ("Do you bleed?") - and going berserk due to severed wiring (twirling and repeating monotonously): ("I was just going to give you coffee? How could you do a thing like that? I thought we were friends!")
  • the startling scene in which Joanna came face to face with her semi-complete, sunken dark-eyed robotic double
  • the image of the last haunting scene - all of the flowery-dress-wearing wives pushing their shopping carts in the supermarket

The Sting (1973)

In this Depression-Era period, Best Picture-winning crime/comedy from director George Roy Hill:

  • the ragtime music of Scott Joplin on the soundtrack, and the "Saturday Evening Post"-styled title cards
  • the introduction of con artist Henry Gondorff/Mr. Shaw (Paul Newman) to Johnny Hooker/Kelly (Robert Redford): "Glad to meet you, kid, you're a real horse's ass"
  • the tricky "sting" heist that they orchestrated on racketeer mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in the film's conclusion
  • the last lines of dialogue: (Henry: "You not gonna stick around for your share?" Hooker: "Nah. I'd only blow it")

The Straight Story (1999)

In director David Lynch's atypical drama:

  • the low-key reunion scene between 73 year-old Iowan widower Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth) - after a long 6-week ride across Iowa and into neighboring Wisconsin on his lawn mower/tractor - and his 75 year-old sick estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) on the front porch
  • the only exchange of dialogue between the brothers:
    Lyle: "Sit down, Alvin. (Did) you ride that thing all the way out here to see me?"
    Alvin: "I did, Lyle."

Strange Days (1995)

In director Kathryn Bigelow's dystopic tech-noir:

  • the opening exciting action sequence of an illicit 'playback clip' (a "snuff" clip called a 'blackjack') of a failed robbery attempt of a Chinese restaurant by masked criminals, with one of the robbers falling six stories from the side of a building and smashing into the sidewalk: ("It gets you pumpin' man's mundane and desperate existence is another man's Technicolor")
  • the clip was recorded (or "wired") directly from a head device called a 'squid' (short for Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) connecting into the cerebral cortex: ("It's pure and uncut, straight from the cerebral cortex")
  • the scene of late-1999 sleazy ex-vice squad cop and peddler of illegal software clips Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) ecstatically 'jacking in' to playback a clip of sexy ex-girlfriend Faith Justin (Juliette Lewis) filmed from a first-person perspective, as they roller-skated together in Venice, CA - and then in her apartment where she stripped and they had sex together (to the tune of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds")
  • aspiring singer Faith's harsh rejection of pining Nero at her club: ("You know one of the ways that movies are still better than playback? 'Cause the music comes up, there's credits, and you always know when it's over. IT'S OVER!")
  • another contraband snuff clip, watched to Nero's horror, in which the murderer forced the female prostitute/victim Iris (Brigitte Bako) to be 'jacked in' in order to experience her own brutal rape, strangulation and death
  • the scene of Lenny's exciting escape from two corrupt "loose-cannon" cops when his street-savvy friend - limousine chauffeur-security bodyguard Lornette "Macey" Mason (Angela Bassett), drove their gasoline-soaked burning limousine through a fence and off a pier into the harbor waters (and they made an underwater escape through the trunk)
  • the scene of the brutal assassination of outspoken militant black rapper Jeriko One (Glen Plummer) - shot execution-style by two corrupt, rogue LA cops Steckler and Engelman (Vincent D'Onofrio and William Fichtner) during a random traffic stop
  • the climactic arrival of the millennium's New Year's Eve high atop the downtown Bonaventura Hotel punctuated by Lenny's fight to-the-death against long-haired, menacing ex-cop turned PI Max Peltier (Tom Sizemore), Iris' killer, before Max fell to his death
  • the arrest and death of both cops on the street after the riotous crowd came to heroic Mace's rescue
  • the concluding clinch between Lenny and Mace as the New Year of 2000 began

Strangers On a Train (1951)

In Alfred Hitchcock's thriller - an adaptation from Patricia Highsmith's first novel about amoral murderers who 'traded' or 'exchanged' crimes:

  • the opening sequence introducing the duality of the two 'strangers on a train' with their distinctive contrasting shoes:

    - Bruno Antony (Robert Walker), a villainous psychotic homosexual
    - Guy Haines (Farley Granger), a pro tennis ace

  • the conversational scene of Bruno's hatched plan to "swap murders" - Bruno would kill Guy's wife (Guy wanted a divorce in order to marry Senator's daughter Anne Morton (Ruth Roman)), and in return, Guy would kill Bruno's tyrannical father; Bruno was very direct about human nature: "My theory is that everybody is a potentiaI murderer. Now didn't you ever feeI like you wanted to kill somebody?"; he then proposed his plan: "Two fellas meet accidentally, like you and me. No connection between them at all. Never saw each other before. Each one has somebody that he'd like to get rid of. So, they swap murders....Each fellow does the other fellow's murder. Then there's nothing to connect them. Each one has murdered a total stranger, like, you do my murder, I do yours...For example: your wife, my father. Crisscross"
  • the film's key object (or MacGuffin) - Guy's monogrammed cigarette lighter (a gift from Guy's girlfriend Anne to him, with the inscription "A to G" and a symbol of two criss-crossed tennis rackets) - Guy mistakenly left the lighter on the train during his hasty retreat
  • the many strikingly visual and auditory scenes in the amusement park stalking and murder sequences, including the foreshadowing scream in the river-cave tunnel just before the scene of Bruno's murder of Guy's stifling, vulgar and promiscuous wife Miriam (Laura Elliot) - the strangulation murder scene was reflected in Miriam's thick-lensed glasses that had fallen to the grass on "Magic Isle," while in the distant background, the amusement park's merry-go-round ironically played "And the Band Played On"
  • the famous scene during the playing of a tennis match, when Bruno in the stands was watching tennis star Guy straight ahead of him (on the sidelines) as all the others watched the game
  • the society cocktail party scene in Senator Morton's (Leo G. Carroll) house, when Bruno jokingly demonstrated how he could simply murder someone by strangulation and actually began to uncontrollably choke one of the elderly matron guests Mrs. Cunningtham (Norma Varden)
  • the cross-cutting between the scene of spectators watching a vigorous Forest Hills tennis match (Guy was attempting to win it quickly - he was literally playing against the clock, in order to stop Bruno from framing him and planting incriminating evidence against him on the amusement park's "Magic Isle" island, the location of Miriam's murder) and the scene of Bruno's frustrating struggle to retrieve the film's MacGuffin - Guy's cigarette lighter - that was accidentally dropped down a sewer drain grating
The MacGuffin - Guy's Cigarette Lighter in a Sewer Drain
  • in the finale set at the amusement park, the intense wrestling scene between Guy and Bruno aboard the revolving out-of-control carousel, after the merry-go-round operator was accidentally shot by police and fell on the controls; as Bruno died after being crushed by the wildly-spinning merry-go-round, his hand opened to reveal Guy's lighter - leading to Guy's exoneration
Struggle Aboard Merry-Go-Round
Bruno's Dead Hand Opening to Reveal Guy's Lighter

Shoe Introduction

Bruno: "Everybody is a Potential Murderer"

"Swap Murders...For example, your wife, my father. Crisscross"

Miriam on "Magic Isle

Miriam's Strangulation Murder Reflected in Her Thick Glass Lens

Bruno Looking Straight Ahead in Tennis Stands

Bruno's Choking Joke

Guy's Tense Tennis Match - Playing Against Clock

Straw Dogs (1971, US/UK)

In Sam Peckinpah's disturbing and provocative contemporary 'western' film that further ignited controversy over screen violence and sexual abuse of women in the early 70s (i.e., had she willingly encouraged the first rape?):

  • an unflinching and violent film that was poster-advertised with the image of broken glasses belonging to David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), a bookish, mild-mannered, pacifistic/aggressive American mathematician on sabbatical and living in a rural England town with his teasingly-seductive young British newlywed bride Amy (Susan George)
  • Amy allowing local laborers to ogle her half-naked through the window
  • the scene of local thugs (one of whom was an ex-boyfriend) assaulting Sumner's wife in a graphic double rape scene (while Sumner was sent away on a hunting expedition in the woods)
  • his cathartic eruption and escalation of bloody violence (scalding, clubbing, shotgun blasts, etc.) to protect his wife and home: ("This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house")

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

In director Elia Kazan's brilliant film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play:

  • the sexy and electrifying image of an animalistic, muscle-bound, beefy and inarticulate Stanley Kowalski (Oscar-nominated Marlon Brando) in a torn, sweaty T-shirt, on the street, bellowing and screaming up to his wife: "Hey Stell lahhhh..."
  • pregnant Stella's (Oscar-winning Kim Hunter) descent on the stairs when Stanley begged for forgiveness from her and they shared a close embrace - with his ear against her swollen body to hear their unborn child's heartbeat
  • the scene of faded Southern belle Blanche's (Oscar-winning Vivien Leigh) conversation with the newspaper boy
  • the vicious interplay and tension between Stanley and Blanche
  • the "I'm the King around here..." dinner scene
  • Mitch's (Oscar-winning Karl Malden) scene with Blanche holding her face up to a naked light bulb
  • Blanche exclaiming "No, not now!" as the black-shrouded woman selling flowers moved straight toward her incanting: "Flores para los muertos"
  • the final confrontation (rape scene) between Stanley and Blanche in the apartment
  • Blanche being led away to an asylum by an elderly gentleman with her farewell: "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers"

Stromboli (1950, It./US) (aka Stromboli, Terra Di Dio)

In Roberto Rossellini's moving, neo-realistic drama - in which the original, ambiguous and provocative ending was changed by RKO studios (and producer Howard Hughes) with added voice-over narration:

  • the depiction of tough life in the primitive and remote fishing village of the island of Stromboli (off the coast of Sicily), for newly-married, Baltic-born, Lithuanian Karin Bjiorsen (Ingrid Bergman) and fisherman husband Antonio (Mario Vitale), a Sicilian POW, after she had escaped with him (by marriage) from an Italian refugee internment camp; however, she was immediately dissatisfied with her shunned, uncomfortable life in his barren village with a black scorched landscape, and complained to Antonio: "I want to leave this island and go away, far away! Like all the others who lived here and were born here and went away, far away!... I can't live like this in this filth! This is no life for civilized people"
  • the extended riveting fishing sequence of Stromboli's men hauling in a massive catch of giant tuna
  • the scene of Karin's desperation about her intolerable life, told to a Priest (Renzo Cesana): "I can't take a life like this. Antonio is still a boy. Yes, I love him, but he doesn't understand how a woman like me feels....Can't he realize that I can't live here, and that he should take me away?...You can imagine how I feel here, Father, a stranger. These black rocks, this desolation, that, that 'terror.' This island drives me mad, Father. Won't you help us, please?"
  • the pregnant Karin's escape to get out of Stromboli and seek individual freedom - by treacherously walking on foot across a nearby volcanic mountain to the other side of the island - the volcano was beginning to erupt with hellish smoke and foul air; she collapsed from exhaustion and despair, and lost consciousness
  • the concluding scene after Karin regained consciousness - and her dialogue with herself and pleas and cries of help toward God - the film's final lines: "No, I can't go back. I can't. They are horrible. It was all horrible. They don't know what they're doing. I'm even worse. I'll save him. Oh, my innocent child. God, my God, help me! Give me the strength, the understanding, and the courage. (weeping) God, God, God, oh my God, merciful God. God, God, God!"; the last shots of the film were of the cleared morning sky (the volcano had seemingly subsided), and the return of swooping seabirds flying in the air
  • the film's ambiguous ending: did she return to Stromboli? did she continue on? did she perish? [Note: In the revised version, the voice-over narration explained that she returned to rejoin her husband.]

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

In director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's melodramatic and lurid adaptation of Tennessee Williams' 1958 play and Gore Vidal's screen adaptation (toned down due to allusions to homosexuality, cannibalism, pedophilia, and incest):

  • New Orleans debutante Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor), the institutionalized niece of rich widow Mrs. Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), walking across a catwalk in a mental asylum with male inmates reaching out for her legs
  • the impressionistic flashbacks in the concluding scene of Catherine's recounting of her day at the beach the previous summer in Spain, when her homosexual cousin Sebastian (unseen fully in the film) had bought her a white one-piece bathing suit that became transparent when wet - deliberately used to lure in males for his own pleasure
  • Catherine's climactic monologue and accounting of a surreal murder scene - a horrifying incident (cannibalistic homicide by ravenous Spanish youths) after Sebastian was chased up a steep set of streets to the ruins of an ancient stone temple, where he was ravaged by the young boys
  • the conclusion in which Mrs. Venable became delusional, while Catherine was cured and spared from being further institutionalized and lobotomized

(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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