Best scenes in the best movies

I know we’ve had numerous threads about great scenes in movies before. I was watching The Godfather again and I had forgotton just how great the baptism scene was. There were a lot of great scenes (the diner with the Turk and the Captain, where Michael first meets Appolonia’s father, etc.) but the baptism scene with the music, editing and storytelling (the stories about the business going legit, asking Clemenza and Tessio to wait until after the baptism, Tom being out as consiglieri all makes sense now) is at a higher level. Any film school should show that one scene to their students as How to Make a Climatic Scene 101.

So taking a generally regarded great film (like top AFI or Oscar winner - not that art film you saw last week) full of great scenes, what would you pull out as the one that somehow makes all of the other scenes pale in comparison?

King of the Ants:

Sean wrapping the foam around his head voluntarily before getting clunked with the golf club again.

(it is a metaphor for so MANY things in life!)

So King of the Ants is typically regarded as one of the best films ever made? How did I miss it?

The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey’s foot straightening out as he walks away from the police station. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

The breakfast scene(s) from Citizen Kane. Either that, or the scene when Susan starts singing in the opera and the camera moves upwards to a pair of stagehands.

Singin’ in the Rain – the title dance sequence, of course.

“Are you not entertained?!”

The final shootout in Unforgiven.

The scene in Jurassic Park where they show the dinosaurs in full for the first time. Love that scene.

Also, the “Where are the horse and the rider?” scene from The Two Towers is probably my favorite from the whole LOTR film trilogy. It beautifully sums up all the suspense and despair in the lead-up to the seemingly hopeless battle at Helm’s Deep.

Indiana Jones, gunning down the swordsman.

Goodfellas - take your pick of three:

  1. the steady-cam shot when Henry and Karen enter the Copa

  2. introducing the characters (“Jimmy Two-times” et al)

  3. “I amuse you?”

Remarkable that one movie has three (or more) truly great scenes.

The “Danny Boy” scene from Miller’s Crossing.

  1. shinebox

More than once I’ve watched the entire movie just to see the last scene in Scent of a Woman.

Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch of the West
Butch and Sundance jump off a cliff
The rebel force blows up the Death Star
Rick tells Ilsa to get on the frigging plane already
Scarlett vows she’ll never be hungry again
Lucy gets drunk selling Vitameatavegamin–oh wait, that’s not a movie–nm
Bluto falls off a ladder watching nude coeds

**RealityChuck **beat me to the Singing in the Rain one. But thanks for the clip!

A scene that would be considered a great tracking shot in another movie but kind of gets lost next to the greatness of the Copa scene, but I still love it. Another Goodfellas scene that, to me is equally great is when the bodies start turning up with Layla playing - the kids looking into the Caddie, the body in the meat truck - brilliant.

On my initial read, my eyes misinterpreted this as ** The breakdance sequence from Citizen Kane**. Which would have been totally awesome.

I found the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ scene in A Clockwork Orange to be quite memorable as well.

While that is an iconic and much-imitated scene, I prefer the final scene, showing what the “top men” are doing with the Ark.

The vault opening scene in Die Hard (and no, I don’t care if AFI has included it in their pantheon of 100 Greatest whatever, it is a superlative and efficient action movie) is unforgettable.

T.E. Lawrence riding out of the desert with Gasim, who is ultimately fated to be executed by Lawrence to keep the peace in Lawrence of Arabia.

The scene of Anna, rejecting Holly Martins’ protection by dropping his overcoat in the cafe in The Third Man.

Roy Batty’s death-speech in Blade Runner: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t even believe…”

Bond’s opening repartee with Vesper on the train to Montenegro in Casino Royale, in which the latter essentially deconstructs the entire mythology of Bond as hero. “…young men who think nothing of sacrificing others for Queen and country; you know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches. Rolex?”


The dance of the rolls from The Gold Rush. Second choice – Chaplin serving dinner.
There ain’t no sanity clause.

Marion Crane takes a shower in Psycho.

The crop dusting scene from North by Northwest

Alex explaining to his Droogs precisely who is in charge, and why.