Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Top 10 Movie Scenes of All Time: An Invitation I Could Not Resist

Frank, a fellow alum of my alma mater, Kalamazoo College, who is also a Facebook friend and interested in my Friday movie reviews, invited me to come up with "my top ten movie scenes, not necessarily from a top movie."

Well, Frank, thanks for the invitation.  I will RSVP by saying I accept, but it has actually turned into a challenge because right away I came up with almost 20, so paring my list down to the top 10 was indeed a challenge.

And "my top 10" is the catchphrase rather than "best," because this is indeed a subjective list and no doubt there will be controversy. Already Hubby and I have argued about whether I should include Jack Nicholson - the scene in the restaurant in "Five Easy Pieces" or "Here's Johnny" from "The Shining" or "You can't handle the truth!" from "A Few Good Men."

Sorry, Hubby, I have my favorites and you have yours.

So what makes a memorable movie scene?

It's one that speaks to us directly.  It moves us. It makes us cry.  It makes us laugh. It's quotable.  We can't get it out of our minds.

So here they are, not in any particular order, but with my usual cheeky, though trenchant (I hope), comments.

And I invite YOUR comments and what YOU think are the top movie scenes of all time.


1. Gone with the Wind (1939) - Frankly my dear...

I read "Gone with the Wind" when I was 12 and I was still reading the last few pages sitting in the theatre as the lights went down and the movie began.  It's difficult to believe there was a time that if you didn't see the movie in the theatre when it came to town, it was lost forever.  No VHS tapes, no DVDs, you couldn't even expect it to turn up on TV.  Must be why I became so obsessed about seeing movies! 

I had actually seen "Gone with the Wind" with my mother when I was five.  I believe it was my first movie memory.  That's when I decided I wanted to be an actress.  No, I hate to say, I didn't want to be an actress at five because I wanted to pursue my art.  I wanted to wear those gorgeous dresses Vivian Leigh wore. 

But seeing "Gone with the Wind" at five is one thing; seeing it at 12 is another thing altogether. I was hooked.  I already thought Clark Gable was a handsome god.  I remember watching the film in the theatre and at the beginning of the movie when we first catch sight of him at the bottom of the stairs, women in the audience literally swooned (and I am using "literally" correctly), well, I did anyway, and when he told Scarlett he didn't give a damn, no matter how much of a bitch Scarlett really was, I wanted them to be together.  I cried my eyes out and made up a happy ending in my mind.  She would think about it tomorrow and being the smart, crafty bitch that she was, SHE WOULD GET HIM BACK!

2. Citizen Kane (1941) - Marriage montage

"A marriage like any other marriage" is how Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotton) described Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) marriage.  Welles directed this film and captured the joy and desire of early marriage through its complete disassociation in a montage of less than four minutes. Brilliant.

"Citizen Kane" is one of my favorite films and is recognized for its many innovations. 

Can you believe "Citizen Kane" was nominated for Best Picture in 1942 and lost to "How Green Was My Valley?"  How green was my what?  Exactly.

3.  A Place in the Sun (1951)-
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift love scene

I believe Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived.  Here she is 18 and at the height of her beauty.  Montgomery Clift was also a handsome guy who lost his looks after a horrendous car accident, ironically on his way home from Elizabeth's house.  Her line in this scene "Tell mama" is a classic and the close-ups are about as "juicy" as you can get.


4. Dumbo (1941) and his mother

Dumbo's mother didn't like the idea of being separated from her baby so she made a fuss and you know what happens to circus elephants who make a fuss. She was separated from her baby and locked up.  Dumbo is briefly reunited with her.

OK.  I need a minute.

Thanks. I can't watch this without losing it. One of the great all-time mother-child moments.

5.  The Way We Were (1973) -
The last scene

Again, give me a minute. 

Katie (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell (Robert Redford) meet by chance some years after their divorce.  He is with a woman and Katie, now remarried, invites Hubbell and her to come for a drink, but he declines.  Their meeting again is bittersweet.  Hubbell seems content and Katie has remained true to her political causes. But there is a subtle acknowledgement that Hubbell will never have anyone in his life who believed in him as much as Katie did. When Katie brushes the hair out of his eyes, there is a fleeting memory of "the way they were." 

Ok, hand me a hanky please. This last scene in the film is a real tear-jerker, anyway, but add that iconic theme song and...give me another hanky!

6. Easy Rider (1969) - The Last Scene

It was Christmas break, senior year in college.  My roommate had invited me to spend Christmas with her and her family in Oregon.  I'm not sure I even knew that much about this film before seeing it, but we went to see it at the local theatre there.  I know that I let out a huge scream in the movie theatre and my popcorn went flying when the redneck shot Dennis Hopper. That film illustrated the huge gap between the youth culture and what had gone before and many of us Baby Boomers were never the same after (this film also brought Jack Nicholson to the forefront).

7. Taxi Driver (1976) - You Talkin' to me?

Many critics feel this film is one of the greatest films ever made. Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a unstable Vietnam War veteran who drives a taxi at night. Director Scorsese captures the grittiness of New York City at night and shows Bickles' unraveling in this short iconic scene. Ever since, how many of us have stood in front of the mirror saying "You talkin' to me?"  C'mon, you know you have.  Admit it.

8.  Psycho - The Shower Scene

This is when Hitchcock REALLY started scaring us! Taking a shower has never been the same since!  I have to lock the bathroom door when I take a shower and never take a shower when I am home alone.

9.  No Way Out (1987) - Limo Scene

This scene was so hot I couldn't even find it on YouTube. Suffice it to say...this is when I decided that Kevin Costner was going to be my next husband.

10. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972) -
Woody Allen as a sperm.

This movie is classic Woody humor. 

I couldn't decide between this scene or "The Fool and the Queen" where Woody plays a court jester in medieval times trying to bed the queen.  He gets impatient and says to her "Before you know it, the Renaissance will be here and we will all be painting."  For some reason, I thought that plus Woody in a jester costume shaking a little jester rattle that looked just like him, glasses and all, was so funny.  However, couldn't find that scene on YouTube so will go with this one, which is equally as funny.  A sperm in training with glasses?  How funny is that? 

OK, I know I already have 10 but after you see this clip, you will see that it sometimes has to go to 11.

11.  This is Spinal Tap (1982)-
it goes to 11.

I could have chosen any number of scenes from this hilarious pseudo-documentary about a rock band, but I can't tell you how many times Hubby and I say "it goes to 11," so I had to pick this one. 

If you haven't seen this film it's a must.  It nails the rock band ethos as well as the documentary film genre so well that I remember a couple of friends came home from the film saying they didn't like it.  They didn't think a rock band would really act like that.  They thought it was real!

It also started the whole Christopher Guest satire films ("Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show," etc.)

Well, if I had to pick ten (or if it goes to 11), those are my picks.  I am sure they are controversial and you have your own.  If so, share them here.  Let's get a discussion going!


Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday

for my review of the new movie 
"The Age of Adeline" 

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."


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