10 Classic Movie Scenes: Jordan’s Take

Mulholland Drive Silencio

Mulholland Drive comes to a powerful standstill once Silenco starts

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.

What are the movie scenes you count amongst the best of the best? We’d love to hear from you so drop us a line in the comments below!

8 responses to “10 Classic Movie Scenes: Jordan’s Take

  1. Okay, let me see what I can come up without duplicating any of the ones I mentioned in my comment on Eddy’s list.

    Jonathan saying goodbye to Moon Pie in “Rollerball”. (The original, of course.)

    Brick Top’s “Never trust a man who owns a pig farm” speech in “Snatch”.

    “Moses Supposes” in “Singing In The Rain”

    William Hurt breaking the sliding glass door in “Body Heat”

    The final scene from “Lone Star”. (“Forget the Alamo”)

    Ken Russel’s opening monologue in “Big Trouble In Little China”

  2. It’s a huge task to create a list of something so broad as movie scenes, but kudos on tackling this!

    I usually prefer to list out rankings concerning types of scenes, i.e. shootouts, fights, chases, etc. But that also leaves out great character focused scenes. Some of my all time favorites are:

    Tears in Rain – Blade Runner
    Mexican Standoff – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
    The Truck Chase – The Road Warrior
    T-Rex Attack – Jurassic Park
    Bank Shootout – Heat

    But that’s just a few.

    • Yeah absolutely. We’ve tackled smaller ones in the past, so this is just a way to celebrate scenes that work on a more general level.
      Some very good picks there!
      Cheers, Jordan

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