What's a Great Film Scene?

What is a 'Great Film Scene' or 'A Great and Defining Film Moment'?

Greatest Film Scenes: In the history of cinema, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of fabled, Greatest and Memorable Moments and Scenes from a wide range of films (composed of either a few seconds long, a short sequence, or a long extended scene). They are our memories of segments of films that have achieved a life of their own. They compel us to remember and 'relive' the moment, either with fondness or with fear. However, the defining film moments and iconic images don't always appear in the 'greatest films' of all time.


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z

Greatest Film Scenes
Tribute to the 100 Greatest Film Scenes (illustrated)
With detailed descriptions of the 100 selected scenes

Examples of Greatest Film Scenes: Do you Remember, Visualize, or Recall...?

  • Marilyn Monroe standing above a subway grating with her white dress blowing up in The Seven Year Itch
  • Charlie Chaplin tramping along
  • Clint Eastwoood's retort to a bank robber "...you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?" in Dirty Harry
  • the line: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind
  • the fog-shrouded airport scene at the conclusion of Casablanca
  • the bloody Omaha Beach landing in the opening half-hour of Saving Private Ryan
  • the screeching of violins before Marion Crane was stabbed to death in the shower scene in Psycho
  • Popeye Doyle in his car chasing a Manhattan subway in The French Connection
  • the underwater attack in the opening of Jaws
  • Humphrey Bogart taking leeches off his body after dragging The African Queen through the muck
  • Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" in The Wizard of Oz
  • Charlton Heston's sighting of the Statue of Liberty at the conclusion of Planet of the Apes
  • the bloody bursting of the alien creature from John Hurt's stomach in Alien
  • James Stewart's one-man filibuster on the floor of Congress in the finale of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

These are memorable, defining film moments and some of the all-time best scenes or images in motion pictures - a tribute to the stars and scenarios that have made an indelible imprint upon our memories - and can't be forgotten.

Additionally Recommended:

Defining or Great Film Moments/Scenes
Key Ingredients
Film Examples
A striking, cinematically-beautiful image

The Star Child in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) Outside the Doorway in The Searchers (1956)
A spectacular action (with large crowd) sequence

The SF Car Chase in Bullitt (1968)

The Thrilling Chariot Race in Ben-Hur (1959)
A well-designed, innovative opening (or title) sequence

The Underwater Attack on Skinny Dipping Chrissie in Jaws (1975)

The Opening Title Sequence in Vertigo (1958)
A plot twist

The Crop-Dusting Plane Attack in North by Northwest (1959)

"I see dead people" in The Sixth Sense (1999)
A memorable death scene

Col. Kurtz' Sacrificial Death in Apocalypse Now (1979)

The Nazi Face-Melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
A tear-inducing, emotional ending

Laura's Goodbye to Alec in Brief Encounter (1945)

The Heart-Breaking Airport Farewell in Casablanca (1942)
A brilliant special-effects technique

The destruction of the Death Star Battle Station in Star Wars (1977)

The T-Rex Attack in Jurassic Park (1993)
A surprising revelation, or unexpected shock

The Revelation of Dil's True Gender to IRA Freedom Fighter Fergus in The Crying Game (1992)

The Revelation of the Identity of Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects (1995)
A memorable song or dance

Film's Opening: "The Hills are Alive..." in The Sound of Music (1965)

"Singin' in the Rain" Number in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
A dramatic entrance, appearance or introduction

Sherif Ali's Lengthy Entrance in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

The Ringo Kid's Entrance in Stagecoach (1939)
A romantic scene

The Viewing of a Compilation of Censored Filmed Love Scenes and Kisses in Cinema Paradiso (1988, It./Fr.)

The Pottery Wheel Scene in Ghost (1990)
A sexually-charged, or infamous sex/nudity scene

The Steamy Seduction Sequence Between Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)

The Interrogation Scene in Basic Instinct (1992)
A memorable scene from a major box-office disaster or flop

The Opening Blue Danube Waltz in Heaven's Gate (1980)

Beverly's Silhouetted Kissing of Howard the Duck in Howard the Duck (1986)
An extended opening or closing sequence

The Opening Credits Sequence in Manhattan (1979)

The Closing Scene in The Godfather, Part II (1974)

A unique characterization

The Title Character in Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Robotic Droids R2D2 and C3PO in The Star Wars Trilogy (1977-1983)
A transcendental moment

The Appearance of the Mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Andy's Prison Escape in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
An influential film with many memorable scenes

The Doused-in-Water Stage Performance in Mawby's Bar in Flashdance (1983)

The CGI Liquid Molten Metal T-1000 Cyborg Villain in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
An unforgettable soliloquy/monologue

Travis Bickle's Scary "You're talkin' to me?..." Monologue in Taxi Driver (1976)

Monty Brogan's Profanity-Rich Bathroom Mirror Monologue in 25th Hour (2002)
An indelible quote, or choice lines of dialogue

Wav file

Rick's "Here's lookin' at you, kid" Airport Goodbye to Ilsa in Casablanca (1942)

On the Waterfront

Terry Malloy's "I coulda been a contender" speech in On the Waterfront (1954)
A beautifully edited film scene or sequence

End of Rocky's Triumphant Training Montage in Rocky (1976)

A Puzzling Thriller Told in Reverse in Memento (2000)
A shocking, heart-stopping, terrifying, horrific moment

The 'Dream' Shock at the End of Carrie (1976)

The Post-Apocalyptic Ending in Planet of the Apes (1968)
A comic scene

The Awkward Oscar Peterson Album Scene in Play It Again, Sam (1972)

The Cross-Dressing Walk on Train Platform in Some Like It Hot (1959)

A fan favorite, top scene or movie moment of all-time

Fantasy Scene of Phoebe Cates Opening Bikini Top in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

King Kong Atop the Empire State Building in King Kong (1933)
A memorable Bond moment

Dr. No
"Bond, James Bond," in Dr. No (1962)

Ursula Andress Emerging from Water as Honey Ryder in Dr. No (1962)
A slow-building, tense sequence

The 12-Noon Shootout in High Noon (1952)

Birds Assembling on a Jungle Jim in The Birds (1963)
A truly scary moment, revelation or sequence

The Shock Ending in Fatal Attraction (1987)

The Unexpected Chest Bursting in Alien (1979)
A spectacular, exhilarating disaster scene

The Sinking of the Luxury Liner in Titanic (1997)

The Plague of Locusts in The Good Earth (1937)

A memorable screen kiss

The Swirling Film Kisses in Vertigo (1958)

Holly and Paul's Embrace-Kiss in the Rain at the End of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

A controversial, shocking, or horrific scene

Eating Dog Poop in Pink Flamingos (1972)

The Butter Scene in Last Tango in Paris (1972)

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