Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

J - K

The Greatest Tearjerkers of All-Time
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Brief Tearjerker Scene Description

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

  • in an hallucinatory scene, lethally-wounded Vietnam veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) had a horrific experience in hell/purgatory where he was bluntly told by an Evil Doctor (Davidson Thomson) that he was dead ("You've been killed. Don't you remember?"). He was then visited by his ex-wife Sarah (Patricia Kalember) and their two sons while in the hospital, as he asserted to her: ("I'm not dead, I'm alive. I'm not dead"). She responded: "Oh, Jacob. I still love you, whatever it's worth," but their reconciliation was dashed when a sardonic disembodied voice taunted: "Dream on" - causing Jacob to break down in tears, as he realized that her appearance was only a wish-fulfilling fantasy while he was dying (as he pleaded: "Help me")
  • Jacob experienced the ongoing trial of being reconciled with the death of his young 6 year-old son Gabriel (uncredited Macauley Culkin) while he was in Vietnam, when he remembered /imagined Gabe's death by an automobile when the young boy was picking up baseball cards he had dropped in the middle of the street while walking his bicycle
  • the scenes of Jacob being thwarted by demons into seeing his son again - until the next-to-final scene (in his old apartment bathed in golden light) in which he finally accepted his own death. In the tearjerking climax, Jacob spotted his dead son Gabe, who was playing with a red music box (playing "Sonny Boy") on the stairs - the boy looked up and greeted him with: "Hi Dad!" As they hugged, Gabe reassured his father: "It's OK" - followed by Gabe telling him: "Come on, let's go up" - meaning their ascension up the staircase into the golden light.
  • Jacob's death on an operating table in Vietnam was then revealed, as an army doctor stated: ("He's gone. He looks kind of peaceful... He put up a hell of a fight, though")

The Jazz Singer (1927)

  • the moving reconciliation scene in which jazz singer Jack Robin (Al Jolson) met his estranged dying father Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) and later decided to sing "Kol Nidre" in his father's place in the synagogue

Jean de Florette (1986, Fr.)


  • the sad scenes leading up to the tragic death of hunchbacked prospective farmer Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu), who planned to generate a temporary income of 2000 francs by pawning his wife Aimee Cadoret's (then real-life wife Elisabeth Depardieu) heirloom emerald necklace - however, his plans were dashed when she admitted that she'd already pawned her necklace away for 100 francs a month earlier to pay their expenses ("I had no more money. You bought many things: books, tools, bran for the rabbits"), since it had fake emeralds, not real ones ("The emeralds were fake")
  • Jean's desperate delivery of a prayer to God for rain -- and when it did rain in a faraway place elsewhere, it caused him to scream at God and berate him in anger and anguish: ("Thank you, God. But it's raining over there! The rain is over there! I'm a hunchback! Have you forgotten that? Do you think it's easy? Isn't there anybody up there? There's nobody up there!")
  • the scene of Jean's death after a dynamite explosion he set off while trying to get water to feed his crops, when he rushed forward into the smoke and debris and fell into the dynamited hole - due to the deliberate blocking of a well spring by wealthy, covetous and cruel neighbor-landowner Cesar Souberyan (Yves Montand) who desired the property for himself for growing red carnations
  • Cesar's nephew Ugolin's (Daniel Auteuil) expression of grief-stricken guilt over his own duplicity (he had been pretending to be Jean's friend): "It's not me that's crying. It's my eyes," and Jean's daughter Manon (Ernestine Mazurowna) showing of tearful anger upon viewing the uncovered well by the greedy Cesar and Ugolin, and her seeking of revenge against the two co-conspirators in the sequel film

    [Note: The film was the first half of a two film series based on Marcel Pagnol's novel L'Eau des Collines, followed by Manon des Sources (1986, Fr.).]

Jeffrey (1995)

  • the off-screen death of HIV-positive, dim-witted Cats chorus member Darius (Bryan Batt) from a brain hemorrhage
  • the scene of middle-aged, flamboyant, quick-witted interior decorator Sterling (Patrick Stewart), Darius' lover, who gave a hostile reaction to scared and fearfully-celibate NY actor/waiter Jeffrey (Steven Weber) who was experiencing feelings of sadness and fear in the face of his own impending mortality: ("You know, Darius once said that you were the saddest person he ever knew...(he said that) because he was sick, because he had a fatal disease, and he was one million times happier than you"); Sterling replied: "You loved Darius, and look what happens. Do you want me to go through this - with Steve?"
  • Darius' apparition from the afterlife appeared in the hallway, to comfort Jeffrey: ("Jeffrey, guess what. It's the tunnel of light you're supposed to see right before you die....Jeffrey, I'm dead, you're not...Go dancing...hate AIDS, Jeffrey, not life...just think of AIDS like the guest that won't leave, the one we all hate, but you have to remember...Hey, it's still our party") - and the parting glance between Sterling and Darius, after which Darius added: "Be nice to Sterling." He also directed a great big smile toward Sterling

Jerry Maguire (1996)


  • cocky sports super agent Jerry Maguire's (Tom Cruise) admission of his love to his stunned wife Dorothy Boyd (Rene Zellweger) in front of her friends during a divorced womens' support group meeting in her own living room, stressing: ("I'm looking for my wife...If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that?...Our little project, our company had a very big night. A very, very big night, but it wasn't complete. It wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You complete me, and I just...."); Dorothy interrupted with tears: ("Aw, shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello. You had me at hello") - they embraced (viewed from outside the window)

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

  • the extreme long-shot of Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) leaving his doctor's office during his lunch hour, after finding out that he had an incurable terminal disease; Doctor Ellison (Robert Stack) counseled: ("You have some time left, Mr. Banks. You have some life left. My advice to you is: Live it well"); Joe was so lonely for contact that he bent down and embraced a Great Dane being walked outside the office - with Ray Charles' mournful rendition of "Old Man River" on the soundtrack; he straightened out a trampled single daisy that was growing out of a crack in the pavement
  • the astonishing fever-dream Joe hallucinated, while drifting on an ocean raft in the Southwest Pacific, of a gigantic full moon on the horizon to which he bowed and prayed: ("Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how big. Thank you. Thank you for my life")

Johnny Belinda (1948)

  • mute rape victim Belinda McDonald's (Jane Wyman) silent recitation of the Lord's Prayer in sign language at the bedside of her dead father Black (Charles Bickford)

The Joy Luck Club (1993)


  • the criss-crossing stories stretching over 30 years told by the "Joy Luck Club" (a mah-jongg group of four aging Chinese women in San Francisco) - Suyuan Woo (Kieu Chinh), Lindo Jong (Tsai Chin), Ying-Ying St. Clair (France Nuyen), and An-Mei Hsu (Lisa Lu) - about their lives in China and their coming to America and their relationships with their Chinese-American daughters
  • the hairdresser salon scene in which frustrated child chess prodigy Waverly Jong (Tamlyn Tomita) admitted to her passive-aggressive controlling mother Lindo how she never seemed satisfied with her: ("You don't know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look and I'm four years old again, crying myself to sleep. Because nothing I do, can ever, ever please you")
  • the scene in which abusive and demeaning husband Lin Xiao (Russell Wong) introduced and kissed his opera singer mistress (Grace Chang) in the presence of his wife Ying-Ying and their crying young baby son: ("This person is a whore, just like you"); Ying-Ying grabbed a piece of broken china and threatened him, although he ordered: ("Look at you! Disgusting! You make me sick! Clean up this mess! You hear me?"); soon after, the depressed Ying-Ying vengefully and semi-accidentally drowned her own baby son while washing him in order to end the connection between herself and her cruel and unfaithful husband Lin Xiao: ("He had taken from me my innocence, my youth, my heart, everything. So I took from him the only thing I could. My baby was so light in my arms because his little spirit had flown away. And with his, my spirit had also gone")
  • the scene of Ying-Ying's obedient daughter Lena (Lauren Tom) complaining to her dominating, miserly, bespectacled husband Harold (Michael Paul Chan) that their marriage was contentious, due to his continual making of financial lists and splitting things unfairly: ("Why do you have to be so goddamn fair? The way we account for everything. What we share, what we don't share. I'm sick of it. Adding things up, subtracting. Making it come out even when it's not. I'm sick of it....I--I just think that we need to change things. We need to think about what this marriage is based on, not this balance sheet")
  • the older and mentally-unstable Ying-Ying telling Lena to demand respect and tenderness from Harold, or leave him: ("Then tell him now. And leave this lopsided house. Do not come back until he gives you those things [i.e., respect, tenderness], with both hands open")
  • the concluding scene of half-sister June Woo's (Ming-Na Wen) arrival in China for a reunion with her long-lost twin sisters, telling them that their mother Suyuan Woo was dead: ("Mama's gone to heaven...Four months ago. I'm so sorry. She loved you very much. I'm your sister, June...I've come to take our mother's place. I've come to bring you her hopes"); June accepted her Chinese heritage with them, and the sisters gratefully replied and hugged June: ("Our sister, our family"); in voice-over, June narrated that she had finally found peace with her dead mother: ("It was enough for them and for me. Because really she was there and I'd finally done something for her. I'd found the best of myself, what she kept for all of us, her long-cherished wish")

Kes (1969, UK)


  • the senseless, cruel and vengeful murder of a baby kestrel (falcon) by older brother Jud (Freddie Fletcher) of tormented, bullied and abused working class protagonist Billy Casper (David Bradley); Jud had given Billy horse-betting money, but he spent it on food for himself and Kes - and then the horse won the race, and Jud felt cheated
  • afterwards, Billy frantically searched for Kes, retrieved the bird's body from a trash bin, confronted Jud, and then dug a grave and buried his beloved pet

The Kid (1921)


  • the heart-breaking scene of an emotional separation in which social workers of the County Orphan Asylum tried to take The Kid (Jackie Cooper) away from his de facto foster parent The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin); he outstretched his arms from the back of the truck toward the Tramp
  • the Tramp's run across the rooftops and jump into the vehicle to hug, kiss and rescue the Kid

The Killing Fields (1984, UK)


  • the tearful reactions over the plight of Cambodia (abandoned by the callous United States, and invaded by the vicious Khymer Rouge)
  • the close relationship between New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) and Cambodian assistant, friend and interpreter, Dith Pran (Dr. Haing S. Ngor); their separation when the Khymer Rouge took over Phnom Penh
  • the trials Dith underwent while a prisoner of the Khymer Rouge and his escape through "the killing fields"
  • the famous reunion scene on October 9th, 1979, with Schanberg's request for forgiveness: "(Do) You forgive me?", and Dith's memorable reply ("Nothing to forgive, Sydney. Nothing"), as John Lennon's "Imagine" played
  • the film's epilogue was provided in two title cards as the camera slowly panned to the left over the rooftops, and looked out over rice fields, followed by a still image of two refugee children (that changed from color to black and white): "Dith Pran returned with Sydney Schanberg to America to be reunited with his family. He now works as a photographer for The New York Times where Sydney Schanberg is a columnist. Cambodia's torment has not yet ended. The refugee camps on the Thai border are still crowded with the children of the killing fields."

Kings Row (1942)

  • the melodramatic scene of playboy Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) waking up, calling to Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan) and looking toward the foot of his bed to discover that both his legs had been amputated by a vindictive doctor following a railroad accident ("Where's the rest of me?")
  • the embrace between legless Drake and best friend/doctor Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) while Randy repeated over and over again at the door: ("Mary, Blessed Mother of God")
  • the final triumphant scene of Parris running off to meet his new 19 year-old love Elise Sandor (Kaaren Verne) as Erich Wolfgang Korngold's music swelled at the end

Kitty Foyle (1940)

  • the concluding scene in this 'women's picture' in which hard-working and self-reliant Philadelphia woman Kitty Foyle (Ginger Rogers) made her final decision before her mirror-reflection 'conscience': ("You're no longer a little girl, you're a grown woman now") with a snowglobe in her hand -- about her choice for marriage, either to (1) upper-crust philanderer and ex-husband Wyn Strafford VI (Dennis Morgan) who was on the dock ready to sail for South America, or to (2) struggling and idealistic Dr. Mark Eisen (James Craig) at the hospital - the scene provided an answer to the question
  • her note left with the doorman regarding her choice of life's path: ("...I'm going to be married tonight -- (to taxi driver: "St. Timothy's Hospital")) - and the astonished doorman's last line: ("Well, Judas Priest")

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


  • the scene in which separated dad Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) read a heartless letter from "Mommy" Joanna (Meryl Streep) to their young son Billy (Justin Henry): ("Mommy has gone away...Being your mommy was one thing, but there are other things too and this is what I have to do...I will always be your mommy and I will always love you. I just won't be your mommy in the house, but I'll be your mommy at the heart. And now I must go and be the person I have to be")
  • Ted's heart-felt defense plea on the courtroom witness stand at a child custody hearing, admitting that he wasn't a perfect parent, but pleading that his ex-wife Joanna should not take Billy: ("Billy has a home with me. I've made it the best I could. It's not perfect. I'm not a perfect parent. Sometimes I don't have enough patience 'cause I forget that he's a little kid. But I'm there. We get up in the morning and then we eat breakfast, and he talks to me and then we go to school. And at night, we have dinner together and we talk then and I read to him. And we built a life together and we love each other. If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. Joanna, don't do that, please. Don't do it twice to him.")

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A | B | B | C | C | D | D | E | F | F | G | G
H-I | J-K | L | L | M | M | N | O | P | P
Q-R | S | S | S | S | T | T | U-V-W | X-Z

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