Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments



Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Ugetsu Monogatari (1953, Jp.) (aka Tales of Ugetsu)

In Kenji Mizoguchi's beautifully-composed anti-war film and supernatural fantasy tale - a fable of misdirected love, based on two stories by the 18th century writer Akinari Ueda (often described as the Japanese Maupassant):

  • the film's story set in the late 16th century: restless, vain and ambitious potter and peasant farmer Genjuro (Masayuki Mori), living with his loving wife Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) and their young son Gen'ichi in a village hut - viewed in a lengthy right to left panning shot in the film's opening, as the camera came to rest on his family unit
  • Genjuro's neglectful departure from his home for the civil war - not for patriotic motivations, but to greedily find wealth by marketing his ceramic wares
  • the scene of Genjuro's first view of the bewitching, seductive, glamorous, ghostly, vengeful and threatening noblewoman-princess Lady Wakasa (Machiko Kyo) - "daughter of the late Lord Kutsuki" - and his trek following her to Kutsuki, her creepy castle-manor, where as he entered each room, candles were lit along the way
  • the sequence at a garden hot springs pool when Genjuro's spirit-lover/enchantress bathed Genjuro and told him: "You think I'm an enchantress, don't you? But you're mine now. From now on, you must devote your entire life to me"; he watched as she ran off, disrobed (off-screen), and joined him in the hot water; the camera stayed focused on him (to coyly avoid showing her nakedness), and moved along the ground to the left
  • the temporal ellipse, denoting the passage-of-time, as the camera moved further to the left, rippled and dissolved into a Zen rock garden - and then tilted upward again to a lakeside park where the couple was picnicking on the lawn in the sunshine; on the soundtrack, a female's voice sang: "Love has driven me mad" - Genjuro chased after Lady Wasaka and grabbed her: "Even if you are a ghost or enchantress, I'll never let you go. I never imagined such pleasures existed. This is exquisite! It's paradise!" - and they collapsed on the ground in each other's arms
  • Genjuro's eventual discovery that the mansion was only ruins - an illusory pile of burnt wood, and the princess was a long-dead ghost (who had died without knowing love)
  • in the film's conclusion, realizing his mistake, Genjuro returned home to his wife Miyagi, who was happy to see him; however, he awoke and realized that he was only dreaming - his wife was only a phantom - earlier she had been stabbed and murdered by a soldier in the war; at her grave, he asked: "Why did you have to die, Miyagi?"; Miyagi's long-suffering and patient spirit (in voice-over) assured Genjuro, as the camera slowly pulled back: "I did not die. I am at your side. Your delusion has come to an end. You are again your true self, in the place where you belong. Your work is waiting"; she continued to encourage his pottery work: "You've finally become the man I had hoped for, but alas, I am no longer among the living. I suppose such is the way of the world"

Umberto D. (1952, It.)

In Vittorio De Sica's classic Italian New Wave tearjerker:

  • the melodramatic plight of elderly retired pensioner Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti), whose slashed monthly pension caused his heartless and tyrannical landlady (Lina Gennari) to evict him to rent out his room to prostitutes and their johns
  • the close-knit, dependent relationship between Umberto and his faithful dog Flike
  • Umberto's touching relationship with caring young pregnant house-maid Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio) - with the transcendent scene of her morning routine in the kitchen making coffee
  • the tearjerking, ambiguous ending in which Umberto, unable to give away his dog, contemplated suicide by stepping in front of a speeding train near a park while holding Flike -- the dog yelped and squirmed away before Umberto could step in front of the train, and for the first time, ran away in abject fear from his beloved master
  • Umberto coaxing the forgiving Flike back to him by having the dog perform tricks with a pine cone
  • the sequence of playing with his dog in a long shot as the film ended, despite having no place to stay and no income

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

In Philip Kaufman's erotic adaptation of Czech novelist Milan Kundera's novel:

  • the love triangle between libertine Czech doctor Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) (known for his ultra-suave seduction line: "Take off your clothes") and his naive wife Tereza (Juliette Binoche) and bowler-hat wearing free-spirited mistress/painter Sabina (Lena Olin)
  • the choreographed scene of an uninhibited nude photographic romp between Tereza and Sabina

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

In writer/director Preston Sturges' dark and cynical domestic black comedy:

  • all three fantasy scenarios (to the music of Rossini, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky) of the proposed way to deal with his allegedly unfaithful, younger and pretty American wife Daphne (Linda Darnell), as self-assured but jealous orchestra conductor/husband Sir Alfred de Carter (Rex Harrison) conducted a symphony
  • the slapstick scene of the disastrous, real-murder preparations using Sir Alfred's first fantasy-day dreaming plan, especially with a complex home recording machine
  • the final scene of the couple's reconciliation when Sir Alfred at last realized how deliriously silly he had been - he embraced and kissed his loving wife, who had never been unfaithful, and had no idea that he had been plotting against her - as he told her: "A thousand poets dreamed a thousand years. Then you were born, my love"

Unforgiven (1992)

In actor/director Clint Eastwood's Best Picture-winning revisionistic western:

  • the shooting in the outhouse, followed by the stark scene under a lone tree when widower and retired-reformed bounty hunter William Munny (Clint Eastwood) told the young Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett): "It's a hell of a thing, killin' a man. You take away all he's got an' all he's ever gonna have....We all have it comin', kid"
  • the final scene of retributive justice when Munny found his tortured and murdered friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and sought unglamorous revenge in the saloon of the frontier town of Big Whiskey against corrupt Sheriff 'Little Bill' Daggett (Oscar-winning Gene Hackman) ("I've killed women and children. I've killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you Little Bill, for what you did to Ned")

The Uninvited (1944)

In director Lewis Allen's mysterious and atmospheric 'old dark house' ghost story, his feature film debut:

  • the scenes of the sudden opening of French windows in a haunted gothic house on the Cornish seacoast
  • the appearance of the ghostly phantom at the top of the stairs
  • the seance

Union Pacific (1939)

In director Cecil B. DeMille's action-packed epic western:

  • the scenes of the spectacular train wreck/crash (into a toppling water tower downed by the Indians) during a milestone raid/attack on the moving train
  • the exciting follow-up scene of a second train with troops coming to the rescue
  • the celebratory scene as the golden spike of the first trans-continental railroad was driven into the last rail in 1869

The Unknown (1927)

  • the fickle character of Nanon (Joan Crawford), the daughter of circus owner Antonio Zanzi (Nick De Ruiz), who complained and confided in "armless" circus knife-throwing performer Alonzo the Armless (Lon Chaney) (actually a fugitive criminal on the run posing as armless) that she had a phobia about men - she disliked males who wanted to always touch her: "Alonzo, all my life men have tried to put their beastly hands on paw over me. I have grown so that I shrink with fear when any man even touches me"
  • to win her love, Alonzo actually submitted to extreme double-amputation arm surgery to please her; when he recovered and returned, he admitted to her: "I have lost some flesh"; but then to his shock and dismay, she announced her surprise wedding to suitor Malabar the Mighty (Norman Kerry), the circus strongman, and said that she had changed her mind, as her fiancee caressed her: "Remember how I used to be afraid of his hands? I am not any more. I love them now"
  • the scene of Alonzo's reaction with mad laughter and then unconsolable crying until his body shook and he collapsed, as Nanon downplayed the incident: "Alonzo is laughing at the way everything has happened" until she realized he was seriously hurt and pained; when he slightly recovered, he wiped his face with a handkerchief (held by his foot) and told her that his heart was broken: "It was just something in here that stung like the lash of a whip"
  • the climactic and tense sequence of Alonzo's insane revenge and sabotage against Malabar during his strong-man act (his arms appeared to be pulled in two different directions by horses, who were running on hidden conveyor belt treadmills); but the homicidal attempt went horribly wrong and Alonzo was stomped and killed by one of the horses as he went to save Nanon from harm; the epilogue read: "So...for Alonzo there was an end to Hate called Death...and for Nanon, an end to Hate...called Love"

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

In director/writer Paul Mazursky's serious and groundbreaking (but dated) feminist film:

  • the portrayal of the character of mid-30s wife/mother Erica Benton (Oscar-nominated Jill Clayburgh) who was suddenly dumped by husband Martin (Michael Murphy) for a much younger woman he met at Bloomingdale's - and her throwing-up reaction afterwards - accompanied by her obvious confusion, humiliation, and anger towards all men
  • the scene in which Erica "erased" Martin's memory by removing all of his belongings and piling them into the living room
  • the scene of her one-night stand with smooth, gold necklace-wearing co-worker and swinger Charlie (Cliff Gorman)
  • her more reciprocal relationship with handsome artist Saul (Alan Bates) who presented her with a painting
  • her final realization that she was in control of her own life as an unmarried and independent woman

The Untouchables (1987)

In director Brian De Palma's epic crime/gangster drama of the Prohibition era:

  • Treasury agent law enforcer Eliot Ness' (Kevin Costner) vow - to veteran Irish street cop James Malone (Oscar-winning Sean Connery) - to "get" notorious prohibition criminal Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) (who threatened: "I want this guy dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!")
  • Malone's wizened and repeated question and advice: ("What are you prepared to do?" - "You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!")
  • the violent board meeting featuring a raging Capone with a baseball bat; Capone brutally bashed in the brains of one of his unsuspecting cohorts with a baseball bat, hitting him four times from behind; the man slumped over dead onto the white tablecloth as blood drained from his head, and the camera pulled back in an overhead shot
  • the climactic shoot-out scene in Chicago's Union Station - an homage or tribute to the Odessa steps sequence in The Battleship Potemkin (1925), in which a baby carriage (with a baby inside) rolled down a long flight of stairs

Up (2009)

In Disney's/Pixar's exquisite life-affirming animation:

  • the emotionally deep, powerful and effective wordless 4-minute montage of 'married life' -- a man's entire relationship (of highs and lows) with his wife up until her death - in the person of two young kids who met and later married: balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (voice of Ed Asner) who worked in a zoo and adventurous, tomboyish Ellie (voice of Elie Docter)
  • their life journey of growing old, including buying and fixing up a dilapidated two-story home (soon threatened by encroaching city developers), painting their names (and leaving handprints) on their mailbox, taking frequent picnics to a hillside where they laid on their backs and observed cloud animal shapes, dreaming of having a family and setting up a nursery room but experiencing childlessness (miscarriage), his presentation of "My Adventure Book" to her with their mutual dream of going to Venezuela's Paradise Falls by saving spare coins for the journey (but they were never able to go, due to other obligations and debts), her tying of his necktie (numerous times to indicate the passage of time) as their hair greyed, his purchasing of tickets to Venezuela but the abrupt interruption of her failing health and death, and his expression of bereavement at her funeral before returning home alone - as the montage ended
  • the scene of Carl's soaring up in his helium-balloon lifted wooden home over the city
  • his slow-building camaraderie with chubby stowaway Wilderness Explorer scout Russell (voice of Jordan Nagai) as they sailed to South America

Up in the Air (2009)

In Jason Reitman's drama about a corporate hatchet-man with an itinerant, isolated lifestyle and little personal roots, during a time of economic crisis:

  • the opening title credits accompanied with airplane POV views of clouds
  • the many images of satellite or overhead images of various cities throughout the United States
  • the character of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), an aloof, high-flying corporate down-sizer and consultant for an HR company (Career Transition Counseling), introducing himself in voice-over when firing employee Steve (Zach Galifianakis) [Note: In the film, some were actual victims of recent layoffs.]: "Who the f--k am I? Poor Steve has worked here for seven years. He's never had a meeting with me before or passed me in the hall or told me a story in the break room. And that's because I don't work here. I work for another company that lends me out to pussies like Steve's boss who don't have the balls to sack their own employees. And in some cases, for good reason. Because, people do crazy s--t when they get fired"
  • the many scenes of Bingham's swift, highly-organized, systematic almost-choreographed packing of his carry-on suitcase for his cross-country travels, and his equally-efficient passage through the TSA checkpoint - he noted (in voice-over): "All the things you probably hate about traveling - the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi - are warm reminders that I'm home"
  • the three scenes of Ryan's delivery of motivational lectures on his keynote topic: "What's in Your Backpack?"; in the first iteration, he recommended stuffing all one's materialistic items into a backback - an escapist fantasy ("Imagine for a second that you're carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. You feel them? Now, I want you to pack it with all the stuff you have in your life..."); in the second, he switched to stuffing all of one's personal relations and people: ("Feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake, your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders? All those negotiations and arguments and secrets and compromises. You don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down? Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime. Star-crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We’re sharks"); and during his third presentation in Las Vegas, he left the stage when he realized that he no longer believed his own philosophy
  • the many reactions of terminated employees after receiving news that they were let go, no longer needed or employed, or fired - with hurt, bewilderment, anger, incomprehension, frustration, despair and confusion - and even thoughts of suicide
  • in a hotel bar, Bingham's acquaintance and instant bonding with a like-minded 34 year-old soul - Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a savvy nomadic traveler (his mirror image) always on the road who mutually claimed with Bingham that there were no strings attached; after sharing, comparing and boasting about club membership cards, the two ended up in Ryan's room for a night of screwing (Alex: "I liked how you burritoed me in the sofa cushions...Shame we didn't make it to the closet"); when Ryan suggested: "We gotta do this again" - they compared laptop schedules (side by side) for their next sexual rendezvous; shortly later, Alex told him: "Just think of me as yourself - only with a vagina"
Bingham's Bed-Mate: Alex (Vera Farmiga)
Meeting Alex in a Hotel Bar
Comparing Club
Membership Cards
On Laptops: Planning the Next Rendezvous
  • the home office scene when fast-rising, overly-ambitious, driven and humorless 23 year-old Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) coldly described how the termination process would transition from personal interactions to remote web-cams (known as GloCal video conferencing) to slash expenditures; Bingham was commissioned by his boss Craig Gregory to take Natalie on a typical road-trip of terminations to teach the inexperienced newbie the art of firing someone ("Show her the magic. Take her through the paces")
  • the scene of Bingham's artful "wake-up call" firing of Bob (J.K. Simmons), whose resume revealed Culinary Arts skills; Bingham asked: "How much did they first pay you to give up on your dreams?" and encouraged him to pursue his dreams in his career transition: "And when were you gonna stop and come back and do what makes you happy?... I see guys who work at the same company their entire lives, guys exactly like you. They clock in, they clock out and they never have a moment of happiness. You have an opportunity here, Bob. This is a rebirth. If not for you, do it for your children"
  • the scene of Natalie's lambasting of Ryan's solitary life-style and lack of commitment - what she termed "bulls--t philosophy" - "The isolation? The traveling? Is that supposed to be charming?...It's a cocoon of self-banishment....You have set up a way of life that basically makes it impossible for you to have any kind of human connection. And now, this woman comes along and somehow runs the gauntlet of your ridiculous 'life choice' and comes out on the other end smiling - just so you can call her casual? I need to grow up? You're a twelve year old"
  • the difficult scene of know-it-all Natalie losing her composure when firing an older distraught employee Mr. Samuels (Steve Eastin) via web-cam, although he was in the adjoining room, when she ended the discussion abruptly: "Mr. Samuels, that's all we can discuss now"
  • the scene of Ryan's (with Alex) attendance at his younger sister Julie's (Melanie Lynskey) wintry wedding in up-state Wisconsin, when on the day of the wedding, Ryan encouraged the down-on-his-luck groom Jim Miller (Danny McBride), a bearded real estate developer, who was threatening to back out, that he should go through with the wedding; as the two sat in a Sunday School room in the church with Jim holding The Velveteen Rabbit book, Jim asked: "What's the point?...I mean, what am I starting here?"; Ryan responded with direct honesty: "Jim, I'm not gonna lie. Marriage can be a pain in the ass. And you're kind of right - this all is just stuff that leads to your eventual demise...There's no point...I'm not normally the guy you would want to talk to about stuff like this. Now, if you think about it - your favorite memories, the most important moments in your life? Were you alone?... Life's better with company.... Everybody needs a co-pilot"
  • the sequence of Bingham's impulsive decision to leave his third lecture and fly to Chicago and visit Alex's home - he was shocked at the door when she opened it and he realized that she was married with children - later, she explained on the phone: "Look, I'm sorry I ruined your evening, but, I mean, you could have seriously screwed things up for me. That's, that's my family. That's my real life"; Bingham was stunned: "I thought I was a part of your real life"; she responded: "I thought we signed up for the same thing....I thought our relationship was perfectly clear. You are an escape. You're a break from our normal lives. You're a parenthesis" - he was flabbergasted: "I'm a parenthesis?"
  • the scene of Bingham personally receiving from the American Airlines Chief Pilot Maynard Finch (Sam Elliott) during a flight, a silver card marked "7" - for achieving the milestone of 10 million frequent flyer miles and Lifetime Exec Platinum status - the 7th and youngest ever to achieve the honor; when asked by the Chief Pilot: "So, where you from?", Bingham could only reply: "I'm from here"
  • in the ending, Bingham looked up at the gigantic airlines destination board, and then was sitting alone in his modest Omaha 'hotel room-like' apartment, staring out - with his voice-over: "Tonight, most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day and tonight they'll sleep. The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places. And one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip, passing over"

Corporate Down-Sizer Ryan Bingham
(George Clooney)

Reaction of Fired Employee Steve

Packing a Carry-On

Motivational Speech: "What's in Your Backpack?"

On the Road with Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick)

Bingham Encouraging Discouraged Bob to Go Back to Culinary Arts as a "Rebirth"

Natalie Lecturing Bingham on His Life's Philosophy

The Firing of Mr. Samuels via Web-Cam

Talking "Cold-Feet" Groom Jim Out of Backing Out

Alex at Her Chicago Home's Door

Alex: "That's my family. That's my real life"

Chief Pilot: "So where you from?" Ryan: "I'm from here"

Destinations Board

Sitting Alone in His Modest Apartment in Omaha

Urban Cowboy (1980)

In James Bridges' western romance:

  • the authentic western music (by the Charlie Daniels Band, Bob Seger, Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Rogers, and Linda Ronstadt) performed throughout the film
  • the character of cocky two-step dancer and studly Bud (John Travolta) in Houston's honky-tonk bar/dance hall Gilley's and his first meeting up with cute cowgirl Sissy (Debra Winger): ("You a real cowboy?")
  • their first dance together (with a Lone Star beer bottle in his back pocket)
  • the scene in which bull-riding ex-convict Wes (Scott Glenn) swallowed and chewed up a worm while drinking a bottle of tequila
  • the scene of Sissy's sexy, gyrating ride on the mechanical bull to inspire Bud's jealousy

The Usual Suspects (1995)

In director Bryan Singer's twisting, puzzling and complicated film-noirish thriller:

  • the scene of the police lineup of five tough and savvy criminals (the ones on all the film's posters, in an NYPD line-up hauled in after a Queens, NY truck hijacking)
  • the film's lengthy scene of limping, weaselly con man Roger "Verbal" Kint's (Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey) questioning by federal customs agent/officer Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri)
  • Kint's wily tale of the notorious, mysterious, devilish crime lord Keyser Soze's early life and his description of the first time he ever heard of Soze: ("The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist...and like that, he's gone. Underground")
  • the criminal mastermind's coldbloodness with Hungarian rivals followed by his disappearance: ("Nobody's ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night")
  • the resolution of the identity of the mythic Keyser Soze (Kevin Spacey himself) at the surprising conclusion - when Kint slowly lost his limp while walking away and when Kujan scanned the interrogation office's bulletin board, dropped his coffee mug (with the logo for Kobayashi Porcelain), and was stunned to realize that most of the names in Kint's fabricated, swindler story (about Kobayashi-Keyser Soze-Dean Keaton) appeared on the bulletin board behind the desk
  • the film's last line: Kint's voice-over, words that he had spoken earlier - (he blew on his fingers, as if to say 'Poof!'): "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, he's gone"

(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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