Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


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

Doctor Zhivago (1965, US/UK)


  • surgeon Dr. Yuri Zhivago's (Omar Sharif) final farewell to lover Lara Antipova (Julie Christie) to allow her to escape execution, with his memorable last gaze at her from the ice castle's second story broken window
  • the moving death of the aging surgeon years later when he sighted his old flame Lara walking down a crowded Moscow street; he struggled to signal to her, then rushed to exit the streetcar, but the exertion, enormous stress and physical effort was too much for him as he chased after her. He suffered a fatal stroke, as he fruitlessly tried to call out to her while waving. He collapsed and died on the street after failing to get her attention. A crowd surrounded his lifeless body in a long overhead shot

Dodsworth (1936)

  • the scene at the Vienna train station in which retired US auto industrialist husband Sam Dodsworth (Oscar-nominated Walter Huston) departed from his youth-obsessed and self-centered wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton) after she had told him she was demanding a divorce in order to get married to someone else - and his touching goodbye when he tells her: ("Did I remember to tell you today that I adore you?")
  • and the confrontational scene on the cruise liner about to depart from Naples for the US when Sam finally decided to leave his wife for good: ("I'm going back to doing things...Love has got to stop someplace short of suicide"), to return waving in the final scene to better-matched divorcee Edith Cortwright (Mary Astor) at her villa in Naples, Italy

Don't Look Now (1973, UK/It.)

  • the early scene of the heart-breaking drowning death of John Baxter's (Donald Sutherland) daughter Christine (Sharon Williams) in a muddy fishpond outside his home in England - who was wearing a tell-tale red raincoat

Dreamgirls (2006)

  • pregnant, spurned singer Effie Melody White's (Jennifer Hudson) show-stopping, powerful song "And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)" - first to her former pop singing group The Dreams and its lead singer Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles), then to the unmoved, unknowing cheating father Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) of her unborn child as she kissed and embraced him, and then her emotionally-sung declaration to the world from an empty stage

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

  • the sad, quiet death of long-time black maid Idella (Esther Rolle) watching the daytime soap The Edge of Night on TV while shucking peas
  • the scene in which Jewish ex-schoolteacher Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), after having a mental dislocation, told her dedicated black ex-chauffeur Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman): "'re my best, really, you are," and took his hand in hers
  • the final Thanksgiving scene in a nursing home in which an enfeebled 97 year-old Daisy was spoon-fed her Thanksgiving pie by Hoke

The Duchess (2008, UK/US/It./Fr.)

  • the wrenching scenes in this exquisitely sad costume drama of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley) - the witty, attractive, but unhappy Duchess of Devonshire, who was set up and then tragically trapped in an arranged marriage at age 17 with emotionally-distant and callous but regal and powerful Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes) by her calculating mother (Charlotte Rampling) - and her gasping, astonished question she asked when told she was engaged: "He loves me?...I have only met him twice"
  • Georgiana (known as "G"), who was unable to bear male heirs (at first), turning a blind eye to her husband's illegitimate ("bastard") child Charlotte (that she raised as her own) and then after being aghast at her husband's open 'live-in' affair with her own friend/divorcee Lady Elizabeth 'Bess' Foster (Hayley Atwell) - accepting it, while she was not allowed, due to the double standard, to have her own extra-marital lover (open marriage) - with rising politician and childhood sweetheart Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), although she said: "It can make me happy"
  • after giving her husband a son, Georgiana's engagement in an extended extra-marital affair with Charles, notably during a secret tryst at Bath without her husband, when she became pregnant again
  • in the film's most tearjerking scene after she gave birth away from the public eye in the countryside, she was forced to give up her infant daughter named Eliza to the Grey family on an open country road -- although she was able to frequently visit the girl (which Charles called his 'niece') in secret as she grew up
  • Georgiana was compelled to trade personal happiness for her three children (Little G, Harryo - or Harriet, and William) with the Duke, and in the film's conclusion, gave her blessing so Lady Bess Foster could become the second Duchess of Devonshire

Dumbo (1941)

  • the touching scene in which a lonely Dumbo visited his caged and shackled mother Mrs. Jumbo after she had attacked a bratty boy who was tormenting him because of his big ears -- and her comforting of the distressed young elephant by stroking him with her trunk extended from her large cage (and swinging him back and forth) during the song "Baby Mine" - accompanied by the many images of baby animals (monkeys, hyenas, hippos, ostriches, kangaroos, etc.) peacefully sleeping with their mothers

Dying Young (1991)

  • the overwrought, tearjerking romance between dying, wealthy leukemia patient Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott) and his loving companion nurse Hilary O'Neil (Julia Roberts)

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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