I got to thinking about movie endings the other day. I was watching George Roy Hill's A Little Romance again and noticing how my heart beats faster as it barrels towards its conclusion, even though I've seen it a hundred times. There's that race against time, that sublime romantic moment, and then that heartbreaking denouement that has me blubbering uncontrollably for about five minutes. Afterwards, I'm a mess. I have to swab my face and blow my nose. But I love it. Movies are meant to make us feel something, and this one does it for me without fail.
I find that there are a host of unforgettable endings that affect me, upon repeat viewings, the same way they did when I first experienced them. Of course, there are also some climaxes to fine movies that are not as emotionally powerful upon revisitation, but gain strength in other ways. They may seem more clever, or righteous, or perfectly timed. Whatever the reason, sometimes the mere thought of a film's final moments will make me want to watch the whole picture again, just so I can feel that jolting epiphany once more.
It's strange to think about, but endings to works of art--particularly to movies--are bizarre, because they're heavily unnatural. Characters, if they've been fully brought to life, seem as if they live on, just as we do (until we don't, that is). Unless a movie concludes with their protagonist's death--the only perfect ending--their existence doesn't have any real finality to it. If they're still alive in the final frames, our connection to vivid characters goes on because, goldangit, we can't learn what we really wanna know about them: namely, what happens to them after the credits roll (hence the often misused urge for sequels).
Me, I prefer a certain finality in my film endings, and that usually means something ugly happening to the main characters. I generally think movies get better the further their finales meander away from overjoyed, insincere conclusions imposed onto them by overanxious studios, meddling audience score cards, picky marketing focus groups, or the ancient Hayes' Code. For that reason, the 60s and 70s constituted the best era for great endings. That period between 1967 and 1982 falls right in between the studio era and the marketing era which we now frightfully find ourselves in. Filmmakers working in that renaissance did not feel themselves tied to the whims of those whose eyes were simply on the bottom line. Costs were kept down, so their movies didn't need to please everyone and, as a result, directors and writers could end their movies however they damn well pleased. (We have films like Easy Rider, The Wild Bunch, The Graduate, and Bonnie and Clyde to thank for that--all of them hits and all with uncompromisingly downbeat endings).
Unfortunately, we're now still suffering from a Reagan-era-related cultural notion that the happy ending is the more desirable option, despite the fact that the three biggest moneymakers of all time (Titanic, The Dark Knight and, when the returns are adjusted for inflation, Gone With The Wind) are not movies that climax with crowds slowly breaking out into hero-worshipping applause, or long-separated couples speeding back into each other's arms, or underdogs winning everything under the sun. I like a good happy ending, but only if it feels earned, and most upbeat movies fail to fulfill that requirement.
Furthermore, I hate it when I detect an audience member saying "I liked the movie, but it's too depressing" (like I heard a lady mutter at the end of Million Dollar Baby, which I feel has a sublimely glum finish). Look, the only truly depressing movie is a bad or boring one--one from which you wish you could get your time and money back. A sad ending often is more satisfying than a jubilant one, because we know that that's how life often is. One of the final lines of Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, which you can read below, totally sums up how I feel about life's events and the universe's indifference to our dramas, and the beauty in our ability to press on anyway. I suppose this is why I like a downbeat ending more than a happy one. We're ALWAYS prepared to experience joy, but despair is something we really need help getting through. Movies can provide this assistance.
Of course, I love an uplifting ending, too; we all need to escape harsh realities, and celebrate terrific victories every once in a while. In fact, in this article, I have separated endings into the following ten categories: My FAVORITES start the list off, then I go into CLASSIC endings, then UPLIFTING, SHOCKING, VIOLENT, FUN and SAD endings, before going into movies that conclude with GREAT DIALOGUE or GREAT SONGS. Finally, there's what I call the WHAT NOW ending. This is probably the most controversial way to conclude a movie, because it challenges the audience to look into their souls in order to concoct the ending that they believe is the correct one for the film. I love this sort of resolution, because it's clearly the most creative of the bunch. I wouldn't like every movie to end this way, but I really do enjoy it when a finale leaves me going "Whaaaaa? That's the end??? That's GREAT!!!"
Anyway, here's the list, which took a looooooooooong time for me to research and compile. I had to pay close attention to dialogue (which is rigorously transcribed here) and I also had to expand on the screenplays' descriptions. Of course, I advise all to be careful of what they read; if you're the type of person that hates to know how a movie winds up before you see it, I have tried in most cases to conceal what actually happens in each sequence, but my one-line synopses of some selections' final moments will let you know generally what to expect. However, I find that, if you stick to reading the endings of the movies you've seen (being careful to make notes of the ones you haven't seen), this compendium will reawaken your love for that movie, and might make you wanna give it another view. When I first read over this list, much to my surprise, I felt my eyes welling up perusing some of the dialogue and descriptions. I now think I shouldn't at all have been surprised by this reaction.
One final note: as a tribute to their work, I've chosen to highlight the contributions of these films' writers. So beside each title, you'll see their names instead of that of the director. Hell, the writers came up with these endings, in most cases, so they deserve the credit! And now...
MY 25 FAVORITE ENDINGS
1) The 400 Blows (Screenplay by Francois Truffaut)
A forgotten child, running at once from everything and nothing, reaches the edge of an ocean with nowhere left to go.
2) 2001: A Space Odyssey (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, based on the short story "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke)
“There before him, a glittering toy no Star-Child could resist, floated the planet Earth with all its peoples.” – Arthur C. Clarke
3) Crimes and Misdemeanors (Screenplay by Woody Allen)
Professor Levy (as a blind rabbi dances with his daughter at her wedding): We're all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly. Human happiness does not seem to be included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even try to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.
4) Breaking Away (Screenplay by Steve Tesich)
Cinema’s most exciting competition comes to its conclusion. “Bonjour, papa!”
5) It’s a Wonderful Life (Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern)
Zuzu Bailey (in her father’s arms): Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
George Bailey: That's right, that's right. (George looks to the heavens.) Attaboy, Clarence.
6) A Little Romance (Screenplay by Allen Owen, based on the novel E=MC2, Mon Amour by Patrick Cauvin)
Daniel: It may be a while before we see each other again.
Lauren: I know. By then we'll lose our lead. I'll come to Paris one day with a bunch of college friends...
Daniel: No. I don't want you to be like everybody else. I don’t want to be like everybody else. We're not now, and I hope we never will be. We are different—and I’m glad.
Lauren's dad (calling her to the car to take her away): Lauren! (Lauren motions to him to wait.)
Lauren: And we'll be exceptionally gifted and remain true to each other. We'll remember every detail--everything that's happened since we met. Okay? (Daniel nods.)
Daniel: Call me Bogey.
Lauren (putting her hand to her mouth in surprise): I forgot what I said.
Daniel: You said "Why?" And I said...
Lauren: "Because they belong together." (and they kiss. And as they finish, she looks up and sees Julius, who waves. She runs over and hugs him so hard, it knocks his hat off. Weeping, Lauren breaks away and runs back, quickly past Daniel, and into the waiting car, which Daniel then chases down--down, down, down--down the French boulevard.)
7) City Lights (Screenplay by Charlie Chaplin)
The Tramp: Can you see now?
A Blind Girl: Yes, I can see now.
(And with that, the Tramp smiles the smile of the ages.)
8) The Day of the Locust (Screenplay by Waldo Salt, based on the novella by Nathaniel West)
A Hollywood premiere erupts into pure chaos, with the sadly lonely and maniacal Homer Simpson at its center. Seriously, the most horrifying ending ever to a Hollywood motion picture.
9) O Lucky Man! (Screenplay by David Sherwin)
Lindsay Anderson (directing, to Mick): Now smile.
Mick Travis: I beg your pardon?
Lindsay: Just do it.
Mick: I'm afraid I can't smile without a reason.
Mick: What's there to smile about?
Lindsay: Just do it.
Lindsay: Don't ask why.
Mick: What's there to smile about?
(and WHOP! Lindsay hits Mick upside the head with the screenplay to the movie we are watching. And a smile begins.)
10) The New World (Screenplay by Terrence Malick)
As Wagner’s overture to Dies Rhingold plays, a great spirit passes into the void, to be reborn unto the earth that birthed her. The only ending that has ever made me weep out of joy over its sheer beauty.
11) Breaking the Waves (Screenplay by Lars Von Trier and Peter Asmussen)
Maybe the most stunning final shot ever. I won't even begin to give it away.
12) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Screenplay by William Goldman)
One final frozen glimpse of friendship.
13) Blow Out (Screenplay by Brian De Palma)
Jack Terry (sadly smoking a cigarette): It’s a good scream. Good scream. (The scream rings out again and Jack covers his ears in agony.)
14) Donnie Darko (Screenplay by Richard Kelly)
Donnie wins, and loses, in his race against time, and only one person senses something's up.
15) Midnight Cowboy (Screenplay by Waldo Salt)
A final bit of dignity for a friend who has lost so much of it.
16) Chilly Scenes of Winter (Screenplay by Joan Micklin Silver, based on the novel by Ann Beattie)
Now out of love, Charles tries to sprint his misery away.
17) Touch of Evil (Screenplay by Orson Welles, based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson)
Tanya: Isn't somebody gonna come and take him away?
Schwartz: Yeah, in just a few minutes. You really liked him, didn't you?
Tanya: The cop did... the one who killed him...he loved him.
Schwartz: Well, Hank was a great detective all right.
Tanya: And a lousy cop.
Schwartz: Is that all you have to say for him?
Tanya: He was...some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people? (she starts to walk away)
Schwartz: Goodbye, Tanya.
18) American Graffiti (Screenplay by George Lucas, Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck)
A plane carrying our hero flies into the blue sky, and we learn, through title cards, the fate of he and his friends.
19) Gimme Shelter
A rock star glares into the camera, frozen in the realization of the role he’s played in the violence.
20) All That Jazz (Screenplay by Robert Alan Authur and Bob Fosse)
The last number for a show biz wonder’s life, capped with one simple zip.
21) Umberto D. (Screenplay by Cesare Zavatinni)
An old man refinds his true love.
22) Unforgiven (Screenplay by David Webb Peoples)
The final title card, as William Munny visits a grave and then disappears into history: "Some years later, Mrs. Ansonia Feathers made the arduous journey to Hodgeman County to visit the last resting place of her only daughter. William Munny had long since disappeared with the children, some said to San Francisco where it was rumored he prospered in dry goods. And there was nothing on the marker to explain to Mrs. Feathers why her only daughter had married a known thief and murderer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition."
23) The Deer Hunter (Screenplay by Deric Washburn, from a story by Michael Cimino, Louis Garfinkle, Quinn Redeker, and Deric Washburn; song by Irving Berlin)
Group: God bless America / Land that I love / Stand beside her, and guide her / Thru the night with a light from above / From the mountains, to the prairies / To the oceans, white with foam / God bless America / My home sweet home / God bless America / My home sweet home.
Michael (raising his class for a toast): Here's to Nick...
Group (raising their glasses): To Nick
24) Shoot the Moon (Screenplay by Bo Goldman)
George Dunlap (holding his hand up for his ex-wife to grasp): Faith!
25) Limbo (Screenplay by John Sayles)
Arguably the most challenging ending ever, as it forces the viewer to choose which he or she is pessimist, optimist, or realist.
Psycho (Screenplay by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel by Robert Bloch)
Norma “Norman” Bates (voiceover, in police custody, as Norman stares at the camera): It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."
M (Screenplay by Thea Van Harbou and Fritz Lang)
Mob justice in action, and a plea for mercy.
Sunset Blvd. (Screenplay by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman Jr.)
Norma Desmond: All right, Mr DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Screenplay by Philip Kaufman and Laurence Kasdan, from a story by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg)
A powerful weapon and artifact, anonymously wheeled away into a warehouse full of who knows what?
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Screenplay by Sidney Buchman, from a story by Lewis R. Foster)
Jefferson Smith (looking around the senate floor, exhausted): You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me. Somebody… (and he faints, spilling the basket full of falsified letters on to the floor)
Gone With The Wind (Screenplay by Sidney Howard, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell)
Scarlett O’Hara: Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day.
Citizen Kane (Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles)
A once vital man’s secret childhood love goes up in flames, forever to remain a mystery.
Some Like It Hot (Screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, based on a story by Robert Thoeren and Michael Logan)
Jerry: Oh, you don't understand, Osgood! (removing his wig) Ehhhh... I'm a man.
Osgood: Oh, well…nobody’s perfect.
Dr. Strangelove (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George, based on George's novel Red Alert)
Dr. Strangelove (getting up from his wheelchair): Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!
Queen Christina (Screenplay by Salka Viertel, H.M. Harwood and S.N. Behrman, from a story by Salka Viertel and Margaret P. Levino)
On her boat, an exiled Christina stares blankly at the water's quiet horizon.
The Searchers (Screenplay by Frank S. Nugent, based on the novel by Alan LeMay)
Ethan Edwards is excluded from the home life he so desperately desires.
Casablanca (Screenplay by Philip G. and Julius J. Epstein and Howard J. Koch, based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison)
Rick: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
A Star is Born (1954) (Screenplay by Moss Hart, based on a screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson and William A. Wellman)
Esther Blodgett: Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.
E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Screenplay by Melissa Mathieson)
E.T. (pointing to Elliot’s heart): I’ll be right here.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Screenplay by John Huston, based on the novel by B. Traven)
The spoils of a job well done go blowing into the wind, adorned by astonished laughter.
The Godfather (Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, based on the novel by Mario Puzo)
As the door closes on Michael's curious wife, she sees--
Clemenza (kissing Michael's hand): Don Corleone...
The Godfather, Part II (Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo)
Michael Corleone is left alone in his garden to contemplate his most secret sin.
The Grapes of Wrath (Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson, based on the novel by John Steinbeck)
Tom Joad (saying farewell to his mother, who wonders where he's going): I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.
The Third Man (Screenplay by Grahame Greene)
Our hero is coldly but rightfully spurned by the woman he loves.
The Pride of the Yankees (Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Jo Swerling, based on a story by Paul Gallico)
Lou Gehrig (addressing the crowd amassed at his final game): People all say that I’ve had a bad break, but today—today I consider myself the luckiest man on the earth.
White Heat (Screenplay by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, based on a story by Virginia Kellogg)
Cody Jarrett: Made it, Ma! Top of the world!
THE UPLIFTING ENDING
The Shawshank Redemption (Screenplay by Frank Darabont, based on the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King)
Red: [narrating] I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel--a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope...
Sullivan’s Travels (Screenplay by Preston Sturges)
A popular artist realizes his worth.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Screenplay by Laurence Hauben and Bo Goldman, based on the novel by Ken Kesey)
Chief Bromden: (embracing McMurphy): I'm not goin' without you, Mac. I wouldn't leave you this way. You're coming with me.
Rocky (Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone)
Rocky: I love you. I love you.
Adrian: I love you. I love you!
Rocky (relieved): Yeah.
The Killing Fields (Screenplay by Bruce Robinson)
Sydney Schanberg: Do you forgive me?
Dith Pran: Nothing to forgive, Sydney. Nothing.
Napoleon (Screenplay by Abel Gance)
The once-small movie screen opens up to a widescreen triptych colored in the blue-white-and-red shades of the French flag, with the face of Napoleon Bonaparte as its bookends.
The Last Temptation of Christ (Screenplay by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantakis)
Jesus Christ (dying on the cross): It is accomplished!
Eraserhead (Screenplay by David Lynch)
Cosmic relief at last, in a supreme embrace for the beset-upon Henry.
Broadway Danny Rose (Screenplay by Woody Allen)
Two broken hearts are mended with realization and forgiveness, right in front of New York’s Carnagie Deli.
Kramer Vs. Kramer (Screenplay by Robert Benton, based on the novel by Avery Corman)
Joanna Kramer (fixing her hair): How do I look?
Ted Kramer: Terrific. (and Joanna smiles, staggered, as the elevator door closes)
The Front (Screenplay by Walter Bernstein)
Howard Prince: Fellas...I don't recognize the right of this committee to ask me these kind of questions. And furthermore, you can all go fuck yourselves. (and he exits, as everyone else freezes).
The Kid (1921) (Screenplay by Charlie Chaplin)
The embrace of life: a beautiful kiss between a tramp and a kid.
Paths of Glory (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson and Calder Willingham, based on the novel by Humphrey Dawes)
A frightened German girl sings, and her audience of French soldiers weeps in reply.
The Green Ray (Screenplay by Eric Rohmer)
This lonely woman, now with a new love, sees the infinite.
The Natural (Screenplay by Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry, based on the novel by Bernard Malamud)
Two outs and batter up.
THE "WHAT NOW?" ENDING
Taxi Driver (Screenplay by Paul Schrader)
Betsy: Travis, I'm... how much was it?
Travis Bickle (clearing the meter): So long.
(He lets Betsy out and drives off. And then suddenly Travis sees himself in the rear-view mirror, and is startled by his own reflection)
The Candidate (Screenplay by Jeremy Larner)
Bill McKay (upon hearing of his victory, to his campaign manager): What do we do now?
Blow Up (Screenplay by Michaelangelo Antonioni, Tonio Guerra and Edward Bond, from a short story by Julio Cortezar)
In a daze, a photographer, unsure of what he may or may not have have seen, witnesses a mimed tennis game.
The Killing (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Jim Thompson, based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White)
Fay: Johnny, you've got to run!
Johnny Clay: Eh, what's the difference?
The Birds (Screenplay by Evan Hunter, based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier)
The survivors carefully, slowly, make their way through a world newly controlled.
Night Moves (Screenplay by Alan Sharp)
The cause of all the trouble is revealed in all its glorious banality, with a lonely ocean as backdrop.
Lost in Translation (Screenplay by Sofia Coppola)
An aging movie star whispers inaudibly into the ear of a lovely young woman he may never encounter again.
Dazed and Confused (Screenplay by Richard Linklater)
The long, empty road stretches out, filled with fun and fear.
Mad Max (Screenplay by George Miller and James McLausland, from a story by Miller and Byron Kennedy)
A life destroyed, but yet so far to go.
Thanksgiving (Screenplay by Alex R. Johnson)
This quiet dinner and the realization that it’s better to be alone than to be with someone you dislike. http://www.youplusdallas.com/stories/thanksgiving-by-alex-r-johnson
The Graduate (Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, based on the novel by Charles Webb)
A new couple face an uncertain future from the back of a moving bus.
Two-Lane Blacktop (Screenplay by Rudy Wurlitzer and Will Corry)
The film burns: the ultimate end to cinematic existentialism.
A Clockwork Orange (Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess)
Alex DeLarge (narrating the image of his rollicking with a nude girl): I was cured, all right!
Five Easy Pieces (Screenplay by Adrien Joyce aka Carol Eastman)
A angry, cowardly life choice is quietly made.
The King of Comedy (Screenplay by Paul D. Zimmerman)
Annoucer (excitedly, as Rupert basks in the acclaim): Rupert Pupkin, ladies and gentlemen! Rupert Pupkin!
In The Bedroom (Screenplay by Todd Field and Rob Festinger, from the story "Killings" by Andre Dubus)
A wound healed, and another one opened. "Matt...you want coffee?"
THE SHOCKING ENDING
Seconds (Screenplay by Lewis John Carlino, from the novel by David Ely)
A newly-young man comes to a freakish and surly end.
Fail-Safe (Screenplay by Walter Bernstein, based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler)
Through a bombastic series of everyday shots, the last moments of a lively city are captured.
Targets (Screenplay by Peter Bogdanovich, from a story by Samuel Fuller, Polly Platt and Peter Bogdanovich)
Byron Orlock (dazed): Is that what I was afraid of?
Halloween (Screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill)
Laurie: It was the boogeyman, wasn’t it?
Dr. Sam Loomis: As a matter of fact, it was.
Kiss Me, Deadly (Screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides, from the novel by Mickey Spillane)
The cinema’s most confounding McGuffin causes untold destruction.
Freaks (Screenplay by Tod Robbins)
“Gooble gobble. One of us! One of us!”
Carrie (Screenplay by Brian De Palma, based on the novel by Stephen King)
The petrifying denouement to a young girl's nightmare.
The Beguiled (Screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan)
With black mushrooms, we find that, truly, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Screenplay by Richard Maibaum, from the novel by Ian Fleming)
The one unhappy ending for James Bond.
The Blair Witch Project (Screenplay by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez)
A figure looms in a corner, with piercing screams as background.
The Innocents (Screenplay by William Archibald, Truman Capote, and John Mortimer, based on the novel The Turn of the Screw by Henry James)
The horrified nanny, in shock, now prays.
Les Diaboliques (Screenplay by Jérôme Geronimi, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Frédéric Gredel, and René Masson, based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac)
Black Christmas (Screenplay by Roy Moore)
A ringing phone. An almost empty house.
Brazil (Screenplay by Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard)
Mr Helpmann: He's got away from us, Jack.
Jack Lint: 'Fraid you're right, Mr. Helpmann. He's gone.
THE VIOLENT ENDING
Network (Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky)
Narrator: This was the story of Howard Beale: The first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Screenplay by Richard Brooks, based on the novel by Judith Rossner)
A strobe light flickers out and a gory scene goes dark.
The Wild Bunch (Screenplay by Walon Green and Sam Peckinpah)
Bloodbath and redemption.
Cutter’s Way (Screenplay by Jeffrey Alan Fiskin, from the novel Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg)
A lazy cynic finally realizes the worth of his best friend’s fierce idealism.
Mulholland Dr. (Screenplay by David Lynch)
Blue Haired Lady: Silencio...
The Piano Teacher (Screenplay by Michael Haneke, based on the novel by Elfride Jelinek)
One final puncture to a hardened heart.
Bonnie and Clyde (Screenplay by Robert Benton and David Newman)
The bold and tragic couple meet their bloody demise.
There Will Be Blood (Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair)
Daniel Plainview (as the promised blood splays out over lane one of his personal bowling alley): I’m finished.
Easy Rider (Screenplay by Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Terry Southern)
The expected but somehow unthinkable happens. "We blew it."
Lolita (1962) (Screenplay by Vladamir Nabokov, based on his novel)
The end is the beginning.
Chinatown (Screenplay by Robert Towne)
Walsh: Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.
THE FUN ENDING
Pink Flamingos (Screenplay by John Waters)
The most vomit-inducing image in motion picture history.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Screenplay by Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam)
An ancient quest is interrupted by the modern world, with only the theater’s organ song bidding adieu to its patrons as score.
Blood Simple (Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen)
Abby: (defiantly, after shooting Visser) I'm not afraid of you, Marty.
Visser: (laughing, and dying) Well, ma'am...if I see him...I'll sure give him the message (and he laughs again, and watches, with horror, a single drop of water make his way towards him).
Head (Screenplay by Jack Nicholson)
A chaotic film folds in on itself, is boxed up, and then driven away.
The Palm Beach Story (Screenplay by Preston Sturges)
The absolutely insane double marriage.
North by Northwest (Screenplay by Ernest Lehman)
A final grip on life becomes the first grip on love.
Duck Amuck (Screenplay by Michael Maltese)
The source of Daffy's troubles is revealed. "Ain't I a stinka?"
The Blues Brothers (Screenplay by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis)
A sea of guns, and a prison concert, and they’re all better than ever!
Safety Last (Screenplay by Harold Lloyd, Hal Roach, Tim Whelan, Sam Taylor and H.M. Walker)
Hanging on the hands of time: the human condition in an image.
What’s Up, Doc? (Screenplay by Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Benton, David Newman, and Buck Henry)
Howard: Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
Judy: That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.
Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny (singing together in unison on the airplane screen): What’s…Up…Doc!!!!!
Porky Pig: Th- th- th- th- That’s all, folks!
Evil Dead (Screenplay by Sam Raimi)
The end comes surely and comically for Ash.
The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three (Screenplay by Peter Stone, based on the novel by John Godey)
Lt. Garber (after someone sneezes): Gezundheit.
The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly (Screenplay by Age & Scarpelli, Sergio Leone, and Luchiano Venchenzoni)
One gunshot and the end of a reluctant partnership.
GREAT FINAL DIALOGUE AND/OR NARRATION
Manhattan (Screenplay by Woody Allen)
Isaac: Hey, don’t be so mature, okay? I mean, six months is a long time. Six months. You know, you’re gonna be—you’re gonna be in-in-in-in the--…working in the theater there. You’ll be with actors and directors. You know, you’re--…you know, you go to rehearsal and-and you hang out with those people. You have lunch a lot. And, and (clearing his throat and frowning) …well, you know, attatchments form and--and, you know, I mean, you-you don’t wanna get into that kind of…I-I mean, you’ll change. You know, you’ll be-you’ll be…in six month’s you’ll be a completely different person.
Tracy: Well, don’t you want me to have that experience? I mean, a while ago you made a pretty convincing case.
Isaac: Yeah, of course I do, but you know, but you could…you know, you—I mean, I-I just don’t want that thing I like about you to change. (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue begins to play in the background)
Tracy: I’ve gotta make a plane.
Isaac: Oh, come on, you…come on…you don’t…you don’t have to go.
Tracy: Why couldn’t you have brought this up last week? (Isaac pushes back his glasses) Look, six months isn’t so long. Not everybody gets corrupted. (pause) You have to have a little faith in people…
(Isaac considers this, and he grins ever so slightly, as Gershwin's music swells...)
Field of Dreams (Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson, based on the novel by Ray Kinsella)
John Kinsella: Is this heaven?
Ray Kinsella: It's Iowa.
John: Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven. (He starts to walk away, but then...)
Ray: Is there a heaven?
John: Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true.
(Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch)
Ray: Maybe this is heaven.
John: What’s your name?
John: Well...good night, Ray.
Ray: Good night, John. (They shake hands and John begins to walk away again. But Ray HAS to stop) Hey...Dad? (And John turns, in recognition)
Ray (choked up): You wanna have a catch?
John (moved): I'd like that.
Barton Fink (Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen)
Girl on the Beach: It's a beautiful day.
Barton Fink: Huh?
Girl: I said it's a beautiful day.
Barton: Yes. It is.
Girl (regarding Barton’s wrapped box): What's in the box?
Barton: I don't know.
Girl: Isn't it yours?
Barton: I don't know. (pause) You're very beautiful. Are you in pictures?
Girl: Don't be silly.
(And she turns, shields her eyes, and looks out to the sea, where a seagull plunges into the ocean.)
The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford (Screenplay by Andrew Dominick, based on the novel by Ron Hansen)
Narrator: He was ashamed of his persiflage, his boasting, his pretensions of courage and ruthlessness. He was sorry about his cold-bloodedness, his dispassion, his inability to express what he now believed was the case--that he truly regretted killing Jesse, that he missed the man as much as anybody and wished his murder hadn't been necessary. Even as he circulated his saloon, he knew that the smiles disappeared when he passed by. He received so many menacing letters that he could not read them without any reaction except curiosity. He kept to his apartment all day, flipping over playing cards, looking at his destiny in every king and jack. (pause) Edward O'Kelly came up from Bachelor at one P.M. on the 8th. He had no grand scheme. No strategy. No agreement with higher authorities. Nothing but a vague longing for glory, and a generalized wish for revenge against Robert Ford. Edward O'Kelly would be ordered to serve a life sentence in the Colorado Penitentiary for second degree murder. Over seven thousand signatures would eventually be gathered in a petition asking for O'Kelly's release, and in 1902, Governor James B. Ullman would pardon the man. There would be no eulogies for Bob, no photographs of his body would be sold in sundries stores. No people would crowd the streets in the rain to see his funeral cortege, no biographies would be written about him, no children named after him, no one would ever pay twenty-five cents to stand in the rooms he grew up in. The shotgun would ignite, and Ella Mae would scream, but Robert Ford would only lay on the floor and look at the ceiling, the light going out of his eyes before he could find the right words.
You Can Count On Me (Screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan, based on his play)
Sammy: I feel like I'm never gonna see you again...!
Terry: Of course you will, Sammy. You never have to worry about that.
Sammy: Please don't go 'til you know where you're going. Please!
Terry: I do know where I'm going. I'm going to Worcester and I'm gonna try to see that girl. And then depending on what happens there, I thought I'd try to see if there's any work for me out west. And if there is, I'm gonna head out there for the summer and try to make some money. And if there isn't, I'll figure something else out. Maybe I'll stay around the East. I don't know... I really liked it in Alaska. It was really beautiful. You just --it made me feel good. And before things got so messed up, I was doin' pretty well out there. Seriously. But I couldn't stay here long, Sammy. I don't want to live here. But I'm gonna stay in touch. And I'll be back. 'Cause I want to see you and I want to see Rudy. I'll come home for Christmas. How about that? We'll have Christmas together. (Pause, as Sammy begins crying) Come on, Sammy. You can trust me... (Sammy shakes her head, tears falling) Come on, Sammy... Look at me... Look at me... (She looks at him.) Hey, Sammy... Remember when we were kids, remember what we always used to say to each other...? (Pause) Remember when we were kids?
Sammy: Of course I do! (And they hug each other, hard)
No Country For Old Men (Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy)
Loretta Bell: How'd you sleep?
Ed Tom Bell: I don't know. Had dreams.
Loretta: Well you got time for 'em now. Anythin' interesting?
Ed Tom: They always is to the party concerned.
Loretta: Ed Tom, I'll be polite.
Ed Tom: Alright then. Two of 'em. Both had my father in 'em. It's peculiar. I'm older now then he ever was by twenty years. So, in a sense, he's the younger man. Anyway, first one I don't remember too well, but it was about meeting him in town somewhere--he's gonna give me some money. I think I lost it. The second one--it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin' through the mountains at night. Goin' through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin'. Never said nothin' goin' by. He just rode on past...and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and, when he rode past, I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn, the way people used to do, and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And, in the dream, I knew that he was goin' on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.
Ordinary People (Screenplay by Alvin Sargent, based on the novel by Judith Guest)
Conrad Jarrett (coming outside after putting on his jacket): Dad?
Cal Jarrett (looking around): The yard looks smaller without leaves.
Conrad: Dad? What happened?
Cal: Your mother's going away for a while.
Conrad: Where? Why?
Cal: Back to Houston. Y'know...I don't know...
Conrad: Why? (Conrad shuffles) I know why. It's me, isn't it?
Conrad: Yeah, it is. It's my fault.
Cal (angry): Don't do that! Don't do that to yourself! Things happen in this world people don't always have the answers for, you know? (Cal sits down, guilty) I don't know what I'm yelling at you for.
Conrad: No. That's right. You oughta do that more often.
Cal: Oh, yeah?
Conrad: Yeah, yeah. Haul my ass a little, y' know? Get after me. (pause) The way you used to for him.
Cal: Oh, he needed it. You didn't. You were always so hard on yourself I never had the heart.
Conrad: Oh, dad, don't...
Cal: No. (sigh) No, it's the truth...I never worried about you...(under his breath)...ahh, I just wasn't listening...
Conrad: Well, I wasn't putting out many signals then. I don't think you could have done anything.
Cal: No, no...I should have...I should have got a handle on it somehow.
Conrad (after a moment): I used to figure you had a handle for everything. You knew it all. I know that wasn't fair, but you always made us feel everything would be all right. I've thought about that a lot lately. I really admire you for it.
Cal: Well, don't admire people too much. They'll disappoint you sometimes.
Conrad: I'm not disappointed. (pause) I love you.
Cal (he turns, and begins to cry, and embraces his son): I love you, too.
Pulp Fiction (Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery)
Jules Winnfield (letting Pumpkin take the money out of Jules' wallet): Wanna know what I'm buyin', Ringo?
Jules: Your life. I'm givin' you that money so I don't hafta kill your ass. You read the Bible?
Pumpkin: Not regularly.
Jules: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, it meant your ass. I never really questioned what it meant. I thought it was just a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before you popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. Now I'm thinkin': it could mean you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could be you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
GoodFellas (Screenplay by Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi, based on Pileggi's novel Wiseguys)
Henry Hill (narrating): Anything I wanted was a phone call away. Free cars. The keys to a dozen hideout flats all over the city. I'd bet twenty, thirty grand over a weekend and then I'd either blow the winnings in a week or go to the sharks to pay back the bookies. (Henry leaves the witness stand and speaks directly to the camera) Didn't matter. It didn't mean anything. When I was broke, I'd go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. (Narrating again; we're instantly seeing a faceless suburbia.) And now it's all over. And that's the hardest part. Today everything is different; there's no action... have to wait around like everyone else. Can't even get decent food - right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup.(Henry, in a robe, comes out of a small house, gets the paper and looks directly into the camera, stunned.) I'm an average nobody... get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.
Deliverance (Screenplay by James Dickey, based on his novel)
Sheriff Bullard: Before you go, buddy, let me ask you something. (He walks up to Ed's car) How come you all ended up with four life jackets?
Bobby (nervous): Didn't we have an extra one?
Ed: No. Drew wasn't wearin' his.
Sheriff Bullard: Well, how come he wasn't wearin' it?
Ed (assuredly): I don't know.
Sheriff Bullard (pause, and now slightly angry): Don't ever do nothin' like this again. Don't come back up here.
Bobby: You don't have to worry about that, Sheriff.
Sheriff Bullard (friendly again): I'd kinda like to see this town die peaceful.
Ed: I hope Deputy Queen finds his brother-in-law.
Sheriff Bullard: Aw, he'll come in drunk, probably.
The Verdict (Screenplay by David Mamet, based on the novel by Barry Reed)
Frank Galvin (depleted but with vigor, to the jury): You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, "Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true." And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead. We think of ourselves as victims...and we become victims. We become...we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book... not the lawyers... not the--a marble statue...or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are...they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, "Act as if ye had faith...and faith will be given to you." If. If we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts. (Frank gives up--it's all been said--and crumples down in his chair, exhausted.)
Raging Bull (Screenplay by Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader, based on the book by Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter and Peter Savage)
Jake LaMotta (to his image in the mirror): “I remember those cheers / They still ring in my ears / After years, they remain in my thoughts. / Go to one night / I took off my robe, and what'd I do? / I forgot to wear shorts. / I recall every fall / Every hook, every jab / The worst way a guy can get rid of his flab. / As you know, my life wasn't drab. / Though I'd much... Though I'd rather hear you cheer / When you delve... Though I'd rather hear you cheer / When I delve into Shakespeare / "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," I haven't had a winner in six months. [he lights a cigar] Though I'm no Olivier / I would much rather... And though I'm no Olivier / If he fought Sugar Ray / He would say / That the thing ain't the ring, it's the play. / So give me a... stage / Where this bull here can rage / And though I could fight / I'd much rather recite /... That's entertainment.” (Jake talks to his mirror image) Go get ‘em, champ. (He starts to punch the air) I’m da boss, I’m da boss, I’m da boss, I’m da boss... (punching the air) h-h-h-h-h-h-huh! I’m da boss, I’m da boss, I’m da boss, I’m da boss (punching again) h-h-h-h-h-h-huh!
Do The Right Thing (Screenplay by Spike Lee)
(Mookie kicks a can near to where Sal is sitting, outside of his decimated pizza parlor)
Sal: Whaddaya want?
Mookie: I want my money. I wanna get paid.
Sal: You don't work here no more.
Mookie: Sal, I want my money.
Sal: Your money couldn't begin to pay for the window you broke.
Mookie: Motherfuck the window. Radio Raheem is dead.
Sal (getting up, and angry): I know he's dead. I was here, you remember? He's dead because of his buddy. That cocksucker started all of this shit! He's responsible for that kid's death, and he wanted to close me, and you stood there like a fuck and you watched 'em burn me down!
Mookie: I watched it. I also watched the cops murder Radio Raheem. You're gonna get over with the insurance, anyway, Sal. You know the deal...
Sal: This ain't about money. I could give a fuck about money. You see this fuckin' place? I built this fuckin' place, with my bare fuckin' hands! Every light socket, every piece of tile...me, with these fuckin' hands! You know what the fuck that means?
Mookie: Yeah, it means pay me my motherfuckin' money. That's what it means, Sal.
Sal (immediately calm, reaching into his pocket): Okay. How much do I owe ya?
Mookie: My salary is 250. 250 a week...
(Sal counts out the money and, when it's done, balls each bill up and throws it at Mookie; the bills bounce off Mookie's chest)
Sal: One. Two. That's three. That's four. And that's five.
(Mookie bends down and picks up a couple of bills)
Sal: You got five hundred dollars. You're a rich fuckin' man! Are ya happy? Ya happy? He's got five hundred fuckin' dollars! (yelling to the neighborhood) He's a big man! He's a rich fuckin' man! He's never gonna have any more trouble! Not Mookie! He's fuckin' rich!
Mookie: Who the fuck you yellin' at?
Sal: You're a real fuckin' Rockefeller. You got your pay...
Mookie: Sal...(chiding)...my salary is 250 a week. (Mookie throws two bills, balled up, back at Sal) I owe you fifty bucks.
Sal: Keep it.
Mookie: You keep it. (this goes back and forth for a moment, before...)
Sal (calmer, not knowing what to say): I don't believe this shit.
Mookie: Believe it.
Sal: Are you sick?
Mookie (gently): I'm hot as a motherfucker. I'm alright, though...
Sal (softening, a friend now): Well, they say it's gonna get hotter today...(wondering)...Whaddaya gonna do with yourself?
Mookie: Make that money. Get paid. (finally, with respect) Sal, I gotta go see my son, if it's alright with you...(and he feels for Sal now, and Sal sees. And Mookie then picks up the money on the ground--the money that is rightfully his)
SIX CLOSING SONGS
Bugsy Malone (Screenplay by Alan Parker; music and lyrics by Paul Williams)
Piano man and group: We could've been anything that we wanted to be / And it's not too late to change / I'd be delighted to give it some thought / May-be you'll agree that we really ought / We could've been anything that we wanted to be / Yes, that decision was ours / It's been decided we're weaker divided / Let friendship double up our powers / We could've been anything that we wanted to be / And I'm not saying that we should / But if we try it, we'd learn to abide it / We could be the best at bein' good guys / You give a little love / And it all comes back to you / Da da da ra da da da / You know you gonna be remembered / For the things you say and do / Da da da ra da da da
Harold and Maude (Screenplay by Colin Higgins; music and lyrics by Cat Stevens)
Cat Stevens (singing over a montage of a hospital scene, intercut with Harold driving to a place not specified): Trouble / Oh trouble, set me free / I have seen your face / And it's too much, too much for me / Trouble / Oh trouble, can’t you see / You’re eating my heart away / And there’s nothing much left of me / I’ve drunk your wine / You have made your world mine / So won’t you be fair / So won’t you be fair / I don’t want no more of you / So won’t you be kind to me / Just let me go there / I have to go there / Trouble / Oh trouble move away / I have seen your face / And it’s too much for me today / Trouble / Oh trouble, can’t you see / You have made me a wreck / Now won’t you leave me in my misery / I’ve seen your eyes / And I can see death’s disguise / Hangin’ on me / Hangin’ on me / I’m beat, I’m torn / Shattered and tossed and worn / Too shocking to see / Too shocking to see / Trouble / Oh trouble, move from me / I have paid my debt / Now won’t you leave me in my misery / Trouble / Oh trouble, please be kind / I don’t want no fight / And I haven’t got a lot of time.
High Noon (Screenplay by Carl Foreman, from the short story "The Tin Star" by John W. Cunningham; music and lyrics by Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington)
Tex Ritter (singing): Do not forsake me, oh my darling / You made that promise as a bride / Do not forsake me, oh my darling / Although you're grieving / Don't think of leaving / Now that I need you by my side / Wait along / Wait along / Wait along / Wait along.
Duck Soup (Story, music and lyrics by Burt Kalmar and Harry Ruby, with additional dialogue by Arthur Sheekman and Nat Perrin)
Mrs. Teasdale (singing): Hail, Fredonia, land of the brave... (and she is pelted with tomatoes and rotten fruit)
Dark Star (Screenplay by John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon; song by John Carpenter [music] and Bill Taylor [lyrics])
A surf into oblivion and
Singer: Now the years pull us apart / I'm young and now you're old / But you're still in my heart / And the memory won't go cold / I dream of times and spaces / I left far behind / Where we spent our last few days / Benson's on my mind / Benson Arizona, blew warm wind through your hair / My body flies the galaxies, my heart longs to be there / Benson Arizona, the same stars in the sky / The days seemed so much kinder / When we watched them, you and I.
Electra Glide in Blue (Screenplay by Robert Boris, from a story by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig; song by James William Guercio)
Terry Katt: Tell me about the sun / Tell me about the rain / Tell me about the fields / Tell me about the plains / Will they come again? / I don't know / Will they ever come again? / I don't know / God above, is there not anything that we might do / To try to make this world of ours / A better place for me and you / Oh, tell me all about man / Tell me so I can understand / Tell me, somebody / All about wars / Please try and tell me / Just how much more / Oh, pray, it's not too late / Please, everybody, everybody, everybody / Pray it's not to late, it;s not to late / Oh, come on, oh come on / Come on / Say a prayer for us please / God bless America today / God bless America today
Places in the Heart (Screenplay by Robert Benton; song is traditional)
Choir (singing as each character, living and dead, passes a plate of tiny glasses of wine and drinks): And He walks with me / And He talks with me / And He tells me I am His own / And the joy we share as we tarry there / None other has ever known
THE SAD ENDING
Nights of Cabiria (Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiani, Tullio Pinelli, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, from the novel by Maria Molinari)
After heartbreak, our heroine slinks back into the only life she knows.
Ride The High Country (Screenplay by N.B. Stone Jr.)
A great cowboy gives one last glimpse to the countryside before laying down to die, with the landscape as his companion.
The Heiress (Screenplay by Augustus and Ruth Goetz, from their play based on the novel Washington Square by Henry James)
Catherine: Bolt the door, Maria.
Morris Townsend (banging on the door): Catherine!! Catherine!!
A Streetcar Named Desire (Screenplay by Tennessee Williams, based on his play)
Stanley Kowalski: Stella! Hey Stella!!!!!
Blue Collar (Screenplay by Paul and Leonard Schrader)
A violent swipe at the boss, from a worker who was once his friend.
The China Syndrome (Screenplay by Mike Grey, T.S. Cook and James Bridges)
Ted Spindler: People say Jack Godell was a loony. He wasn’t a loony. He was the sanest man I ever knew in my life.
Reds (Screenplay by Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths)
John Reed (embracing Louise Bryant): Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.
An American Werewolf in London (Screenplay by John Landis)
The only possible end to a romance that was short but special.
Repulsion (Screenplay by Gerald Brach and Roman Polanski)
Our heroine is led out, and the camera drifts over to see an old photograph, and a clue to it all.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Screenplay by Ernest Lehman, based on the play by Edward Albee)
George (singing softly): Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf? Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Martha (grasping George’s hand): I am, George. I am.
Seven (Screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker)
In the most nihilistic of any blockbuster movie’s endings:
William Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
Gallipoli (Screenplay by David Williamson, from a story by Peter Weir)
Robert Capa’s eternal wartime photograph comes to life, and fades away.
The Brown Bunny (Screenplay by Vincent Gallo)
A crippling heartbreak is finally laid to rest.
The Empire Strikes Back (Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett, based on story by George Lucas)
The saddest, most frustrating end to a major moneymaker, and the true beginning of a cultural phenomenon.
The Last Picture Show (Screenplay by Peter Bogdanovich and Larry McMurtry, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry)
A teenager’s final connection to his dying Texas hometown is cruelly, unthinkingly destroyed.
Brokeback Mountain (Screenplay by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, based on the short story by Annie Proulx)
The loving caress of a shirt.
Splendor in the Grass (Screenplay by William Inge)
Carolyn: Deanie? Do you think you still love him?
Wilma Dean (narrating, quoting William Wordsworth, as she stares into the distance, as her car drives away): No, nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass / Glory in the flower / We will grieve not / Rather find strength in what remains behind.
END NOTE: In May of 2010, Roger Ebert twittered about this article, and here is what I found he concisely said:
150 Great Movie Climaxes. An impressive selection, well done, lots of art and clips. http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2008_1...
As I later found, Mr. Ebert's Twitter received replies (8 responces and 54 retweets) from 62 distinct Twitter users. In addition to ebertchicago followers, it has been read by 11,921 second-level followers. This one little mention resulted in well over 7000 visits to FILMICABILITY, and to this article. I was astonished at finding this, and was unbelievably honored by the attention.
What an privilege it remains to have Mr. Ebert take the time to praise this piece, let alone read it! Thank you, Roger, for everything! You mean the world to me.