I posted a blog entry about this, which I urge you to read. And I'd love to hear about your faves. I'm not looking for movie quotations like "Make My Day," but moments of cinema action that seem to express more than the simple elements of the scene.

My favorite is the scene from Strangers on a Train, as we watch the gallery at the Forest Hills’ tennis match. Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony sits in the middle of the frame staring ahead while audience members on either side snap their heads back and forth in unison to the sound of the tennis ball offstage.

Humor and menace are combined in this special moment. By now, Hitchcock and Walker have schooled us in the significance of evil and embodied it in Bruno – egomaniacal, hubristic, determined. Cracked, in short, but hugely clever. In fact, we are watching our friends and neighbors go about their lives in Pavlovian terms while evil sits in judgment and focuses on its prey. Gives me a shiver every time

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If you haven't seen Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and want to, be warned--I'm revealing a bit of a spoiler here.

I just saw this movie and the scene that comes to mind is when Philip Seymour Hoffman reacts to his wife leaving him. Very restrained, but it expresses so much.
Loved that movie, Debbi
Great movie, isn't it?

I thought that particular scene was like a visual scream.
For me, it's the scene in Schindler's List, at the train tracks, when he is expressing his regret that he hadn't been able to do more, to save more Jews from the Nazis. He becomes quite emotional, picks up (I think) his party badge, and cries something to the effect of "I could have done more. Had I sold this, how many more could I have afforded to save?"

It's been years since I've seen the movie, so I can't describe the scene in too much detail, but I can tell you that when I saw the movie, in a theatre, you could hear the entire auditorium sobbing...
so true, Ken.
Hugely emotional scene.
Wiped me out, totally.
Staying on the topic of world War Two--just about every scene in the Pawnbroker affected me--especially when Saul the surivior of the Holocaust is sitting in the back yard at his sister-in-law's (many years later) when his fluffy young niece asks him why he's not a thrilled to go to Europe as she is.
He says something like, "the last time I was there, it smelled of death--"
sorry, I don't have the exact quote.
Never forgot that. or indeed the film, Shop on Main Street. A Czech film with subtitles also from the '60's.
Where this Christian Czech is sent to actually take over this elderly Jewish woman's little button shop--he knows this, but she is so elderly, he can't tell her the reason he's there--so she thinks he's only come to assist her in the running of the shop!
the scene I'll never forget is the one wherein this elderly woman suddenly realizes--what's happening--he's tried to explain to her gently at first, the terrible reality that exists--and she looks horrified. she only utters one word: PROGROM!
One word! and we all knew all that she knew, all that she had seen in her life. And all that she knew was going to happen in the present.
a profound film with a profound moment and the huge impact of that moment summarized in one word! remarkable.
Great discussion Paul!
Let me try to think of thrillers I've seen.
Agree about Strangers on a Train--and the tennis match, excellent!
You know me and noir! I'd have to say from Postman Always Rings Twice--
John Garfield has just gotten an eye full of Lana, in this man's restaurant.
The owner wants to hire him. There's a sign that says, MAN WANTED outside, that the owner picks up to discard. Garfield isn't sure until he sees Lana, but when he finds out that she's married to the owner, he rushes out to get the MAN WANTED SIGN and to put it up again, but the owner has set it alight!
You watch that sign burn (MAN WANTED) and you know it's highly symbolic. Like the flames of hell getting ready to consume a future soul! This poor sap's soul who wouldn't have worked there--only his lust was working overtime, and then fate took over and knocked him in the teeth! And you just KNOW!
I found that very effective--extremely so.
Hey Carole,
Ya know, I just saw Postman again last night on TCM (do you get that in the UK?) and I noticed that moment for the first time, even though I'm familiar with the movie. The humor of it struck me, but I missed the larger significance. Thanks for pointing it out.
so welcome!
yes, we get TCM.
they have it on a lot and I almost always watch it.
Yes, it is a great scene.
and just thought of another one--
when she first meets him she drops her lipstick and it rolls--
and then at the end, after the crash (sorry everybody), her hand comes out of the car, and the lipstick rolls out onto the ground. that's also affecting.
I remember the moment, and I remember jumping out of my seat. And BTW, I think that was a young Alan Arkin, wasn't it?

But what I was looking for were those striking moments that, on reflection, seem to embody a larger truth. Shoot, I hope that doesn't sound too freakin' pompous.
The one that came to my mind first was the Martin Sheen character falling to his death in The Departed. I thought at the time (and still do) that the reason the audience was so shocked (you could hear it in the quality of the silence) was because we saw not the character in the Scorsese film but President Bartlet from West Wing getting killed. The larger truth was the echo of a collective soul-shaking loss like the Kennedy assassination.
In Sophie's Choice, the scene on the train platform where Streep choses to turn he daughtet over to the Nazi.

The Third Man, the whole ending sequence - the sewer pipes, the scene where Welles nods his head giving Joseph Cotton the go ahead to kill him.
Oh yeah, the final shot of The Blair Witch Project, the kid kneeling in the corner because earlier in the film we learned that's exactly what the witch made you do before she killed you. Creeped me out them. Still does just thinking about it.


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