What is Your Fav Movie Scene of All Time?

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Crossposted at Daily Kos

If you’ve ever watched the American Masters program on PBS, Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, and the Blacklist: None Without Sin, you know well that the program deals with the relationship between the two Hollywood titans during and after the years of the Hollywood Blacklist, one of the most disgraceful periods in recent American political history.

Elia Kazan was the brilliant and controversial film director; Arthur Miller the superb playwright.  It was a complex relationship

Arthur Miller (left) and Elia Kazan

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One of Kazan’s defenders is Arthur Miller, much to the disappointment of many on the left.  Miller is one of the heroes of the McCarthy Era.  He defied the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1956, and refused, unlike Kazan, to name those whom he knew to be “fellow travelers.”  For this he was held in contempt of Congress, fined, and sentenced to jail time.

The late 1940’s and much of the 1950’s McCarthy Era was a tumultuous period for many directors, writers, actors, and others involved in the Hollywood film industry.  Imagined fears of pervasive Communist influence in American society made friends turn on friends.  Loyalties were discarded. Suspicions were aroused.  So it was in the case of these two former friends    

Cover to the 1947 Propaganda comic book “Is This Tomorrow?”

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The relationship between Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller and Oscar-winning director Elia Kazan went far beyond their professional association.  In addition to the fact that Kazan directed Miller’s earliest Broadway hits, All My Sons and Death of a Salesman, both men held many of the same political and ideological beliefs — and both were enamored of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe (whom Miller ultimately married). Their friendship came to an abrupt end in 1952, at the height of the so-called Communist witch hunt conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee…

Ultimately, Kazan  and Miller settled their differences, but though they would work together again, their close off-stage relationship had been permanently damaged.

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Whatever one thinks of Elia Kazan and his ‘snitching,’ there is no denying that he was a great director, having directed what one British magazine called the greatest five minutes in movie history.  When I lived in London in the mid-1990’s in grad school, Timeout magazine described the scene between Marlon Brando (Terry Malloy) and Rod Steiger (Charley ‘the Gent’ Malloy) in the back seat of a car in the movie On the Waterfront as the best ever in movie history.  

A 1954 movie about mob infiltration, violence, and union corruption — and if you’ve seen this great movie — you’ll remember these memorable lines from Brando

Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront

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Charlie: Look, kid, I – how much you weigh, son?  When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful.  You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.

Terry: It wasn’t him, Charley, it was you.  Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, “Kid, this ain’t your night.  We’re going for the price on Wilson.”  You remember that?  “This ain’t your night”!  My night!  I coulda taken Wilson apart!  So what happens?  He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get?  A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville!  You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit.  You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.

Charlie: Oh I had some bets down for you.  You saw some money.  

Terry: You don’t understand.  I coulda had class.  I coulda been a contender.  I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.  It was you, Charley.


Nominated for twelve awards, ‘On the Waterfront’ won eight Academy Awards including Best Actor (Brando), Best Picture (Sam Spiegel, Producer), Best Director (Kazan), and Best Supporting Actress (Eva Marie Saint).

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A couple of other great scenes from movies.  The first is from Lawrence of Arabia, the second from Casablanca  

Peter O’Toole and Anthony Quayle in Lawrence of Arabia (Go to about the 2:30 mark)

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Lawrence: We’ve taken Aqaba.

Brighton: Taken Aqaba?  Who has?

Lawrence: We have.  Our side in this war has.  The wogs have. We have…

Brighton: You mean the Turks have gone?

Lawrence: No, they’re still there but they’ve no boots.  Prisoners, sir.  We took them prisoners, the entire garrison.  No that’s not true. We killed some, too many really.  I’ll manage it better next time.  There’s been a lot of killing, one way or another.  Cross my heart and hope to die, it’s all perfectly true.

Brighton: It isn’t possible.

Lawrence: Yes it is.  I did it.


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Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergmann in Casablanca (go to the 1:05 mark) in this extended version disabled by request on YouTube

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Rick: Last night we said a great many things.  You said I was to do the thinking for both of us.  Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you’re getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.

Ilsa: But, Richard, no, I… I…

Rick: Now, you’ve got to listen to me!  You have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you stayed here?  Nine chances out of ten, we’d both wind up in a concentration camp.  Isn’t that true, Louie?

Captain Renault: I’m afraid Major Strasser would insist.

Ilsa: You’re saying this only to make me go.

Rick: I’m saying it because it’s true.  Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor.  You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going.  If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Ilsa: But what about us?

Rick: We’ll always have Paris.  We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca.  We got it back last night.

Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.

Rick: And you never will.  But I’ve got a job to do, too.  Where I’m going, you can’t follow.  What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of.  Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.  Someday you’ll understand that.  Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.


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I don’t pretend to be a sophisticated movie critic or reviewer.  Rather, I am, I suspect like many of you, a movie buff. The older the movie, the more interested I am in its history, how it came to be made, and the techniques used by the director.  To state that good acting is subjective is to state the obvious.  It isn’t something that there is unanimous agreement about but I think, as a US Supreme Court Justice once said about porography, you recognize it when you see it.

So, what are some great movie scenes that you are aware of?  I’ve listed a few off the top of my head from movies that I’ve seen and am impressed by.  And some from this list.  No list is going to be complete or perfect.  Neither is this one.  But, have your say.

Remember to take the diary poll too.

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I first wrote a version of this diary in 2006.

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

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  1. If you’ve never seen this great Australian movie, I’d highly recommend it.  This is the final scene from Breaker Morant

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    After a couple of days of meta diaries, we need a distraction.  Tips and the like here.  Thanks.  

    • TMC on April 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

    that everyone should know it by heart,

    • Edger on April 9, 2010 at 9:28 am


  2. to Felini’s “8 1/2”:

  3. Brody: What’s that?

    Quint: That’s a tattoo I had removed.

    Hooper: Don’t tell me let me guess. Mother!

    Brody: No Mr. Hooper, that the S.S. Indianapolis.

    Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?

    Brody: What happened?

    Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte… just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

    Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week.

    Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named “The Battle of Waterloo” and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces.

    You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist.

    Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us… he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again.

    So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.


  4. I was right there with Bogart, inside his skin, when he said those words. Yes, Paris, the shared ephemeral moment

    of perfection in lives that must ultimately return to dust.

    Strangely, this is one reason I’m so far left. Everybody should have a right to experience a deep, poetical, transcendent moment. To deny any  human being of this opportunity is to steal the soul of possibility, a cosmic injustice.

  5. I’m not gonna say since it’d be a spoiler, and I doubt anyone here has actually seen the movie, but the end is very poignant.  

  6. “The Sweet Smell of Success”…

      “The cat’s in the bag and the bag’s in the river, JJ.”

  7. however, I think this is one of the best dark comedy sequences ever, from the 1969 classic, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”…

  8. Victor Laszlo tells the band to play the Marseillaise, drowning out the Nazis.  I think I love Victor Laszlo more than Ilsa did.

  9. from the 1933 Marx Brothers classic, “Duck Soup”…

  10. Marx Brothers classic, “Duck Soup”…

  11. memorable movie scenes I’ve ever seen. The tale of “The Three Little Pigs” and Ed McMahon’s introduction of Johnny Carson would never seem quite the same after viewing this scene from “The Shining”…

    • Atticus on April 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  12. and great sequences above.

    i have a hard time choosing but, here goes:

    Blade Runner,

    love me some replicant/cyborg insight

    • jim p on April 11, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I know this is my favorite because late-night tv has shown this about 8 times in the last 3 months and I watch it to get to this part. I’ve never seen an actress do every single micro-action to perfection, except her for the entire movie.

    Actually, everyone was first rate for the whole film. But if future civilizations want to understand “Ancient Brooklyn” — she made the documentary.

    This is not an opinion. It’s a fact!

  13. however, the 2007 version of “Death at a Funeral” was hilarious, becoming even more so with each passing minute.

    Apparently a remake is to be released soon.

    Here is the trailer from the 2007 film…

  14. for which it would be almost impossible to choose a favorite scene. “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks was arguably his crowning achievement. The following might be one of maybe at least a dozen worthy candidates…

    Want to start an annual Halloween tradition?  Watching this film each year would be a great option.  

  15. That Terminator is out there.  It can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with.  It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear.  And it absolutely will not stop.  Ever.  Until you are dead.

    (Too bad California didn’t listen).

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