10 Classic Movie Scenes: Jordan’s Take
Great movies are defined by great scenes.
Some make us cheer, others cry, but all of them remain in our thoughts once the curtain has closed on the surrounding journey.
There are some that stand out above all others, such as the big reveals in The Empire Strikes Back and The Usual Suspects, Psycho’s ground-breaking shower murder and the Joker laying waste to a hospital in The Dark Knight, but below are 10 examples that mean more to me personally, helping to shape what I love about films and representing their respective titles with aplomb.
Happy reading and happy watching.
(please note, possible spoilers ahead)
For Eddie’s take on 10 Classic Movie Scenes click here.
10. Cool Hand Luke (1967) – Luke in mourning
Luke takes to his bunk with banjo in tow to sing through the pain of losing his gravely ill mother. The man who will not conform, and who refuses to treat his time in jail for a petty crime with much seriousness, finally shows vulnerability after a personal loss and is paid respect by his fellow prisoners from whom he has earned it.
9. Stand by Me (1986) – Train!
Rob Reiner’s 1986 adaptation of Stephen King’s novella is a wonderful film; a coming of age story that entrenched itself in the heart of a generation and speaks volumes for friendship and the adventurous nature of youth. Being stuck on a railway bridge while a train thunders down the track and running for your life is all part of growing up…
8. Don’t Look Now (1973) – Family tragedy (opening scene)
Nicolas Roeg translated the immense, palpable sense of grief so present in Daphne du Maurier’s story to screen in a devastating fashion, bluring the definitions of space and time and telling that some dramatic events leave a ripple that travels both backwards and forwards. This opening scene portrays that gut feeling of danger; that something isn’t right, in an importantly direct, and subsequently unrelentingly sad way. For my classic review of the film click here.
7. Road to Perdition (2002) – Revenge in the rain
Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) exacts revenge on mob boss and his former father figure John Rooney (Paul Newman, in one of his final film roles) in rain-drenched Chicago. Both men have suffered great loss in life, and this is a joyless moment for the characters, crafted with sincerity and surety and backed by a moving score.
6. Deliverance (1972) – Dueling Banjos
The second banjo scene on this list by coincidence only (I think…) is one of the most recognisable for all ’70’s cinema fans. It’s kind of funny and kind of sweet, until you watch the rest of the movie. Then, well, it’s not quite the same.
5. The Night of the Hunter (1955) – Escaping down the river
Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort is a fairy-tale about two lambs and a ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing, and this tender moment (a noticeable change in tone) is among the most memorable it offers. It reminds us that, while the issues of death and deception are ever present to them, John and Pearl are only children and need the surroundings of a steadily flowing river and the natural comfort it offers. For my classic review of the film click here.
4. The Thing (1982) – The ending
Paranoia reigns supreme in Carpenter’s finest hour, with Kurt Russell’s MacReady taking charge to identify his comrades from alien mutation in the hazardously cold Antarctic environment. In the end though, it might just be a futile task, as the station goes up in flames and so to any hope of definite resolution. This is one of the best, most suited ending scenes of all time.
3. Mulholland Drive (2001) – Club Silencio
More so than other other Lynch film, Mulholland Drive is as perplexing as it is mesmerizing, driven by a narrative that weaves in and out of possibility that at this pivotal moment transitions from dreamlike to nightmarish. Llorando by Rebekah del Rio is a performance impossible to forget.
2. Network (1976) – I’m as Mad as Hell
Network is a dissection of the cynical and shameful actions of the broadcast news media that feed on ratings and shock. In an incendiary and now infamous direct monologue, former anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) tells America exactly how he feels, and boy do we feel it too.
1. 12 Angry Men (1957) – Prejudice always obscures the truth
The odds are against Juror 8 as he pleads to give the accused a fair hearing, and the feeling of relief when others begin to listen to his case is a powerful one. He is a fair man surrounded by those more ignorant, but Reginald Rose’s writing is never unflattering to anyone, and is a screenplay that is quite possibly the best ever written.
Guilty Pleasure Scene – Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Everyone can be forgiven for liking these sorts of movies, can’t they? This would be a very short scene in normal time, but as it stands it is an exquisitely crafted piece of cinematic excellence woven with empathy and illumination. Or so some might say.