Friday, July 22, 2011

Greatest Scene ever committed to film?

A friend of mine and I have been debating this topic for 3 days and neither one of us is budging.  She says this scene, from Gone With The Wind, is the greatest scene (not movie) of all time:

Which to me, (No offense!) is a typical cop out as this movie is very publicly heralded as the best movie ever, and this is the most famous scene from it.  (Dont hate me for this, but I find it a little over-rated and it is not in my top 10).

My pick was the scene below of Fritz Lang's "M".  Not only is this the most intense performance you can find from Lorre (way to waste a great one, Hollywood) but I always argue with myself in my head  "you aren't supposed to pity this man, he's a child murderer!" The way Lorre uses facial expressions and posture, you can't help but have a little part of you want him to get away.

And then, as if I didn't have enough scenes to choose from, I asked the fine folks on my facebook and twitter pages what their favorite was (Feel free to follow me!  Click to your right), and they threw out some great ones my memory had omitted when i started this argument, and now Im just torn.

The great Gloria Swanson and Cecil B Demille together, the incredible portrayal of a woman who has completely lost it, and another intense scene from what I think is Swanson's greatest performance.

And yet another great scene from Grapes of Wrath when Joad realizes he's got to run.  I wish I couldve found the whole ending, including Ma's speech when they go to leave. That "we're the people" thing gets me every time.

Others peoples favorites were fromStreetcar, On The Waterfront, and theSnake Pit

Maybe this was a pointless debate to get into, there are just so many to choose from.   All of those are definitely in my top 10.  Including these:

Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Fredric March,  you don't get much better than this (this is my #1 with a bullet favorite movie) and March's breakdown here is hard to look away from.

And I couldn't do a list like this with out another favorite of mine,Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  The desperation Stewart gives off, the self-loathing outburst from Claude Rains, what a great scene.

Man, they really don't make em like they used to, huh.


  1. To me, the greatest scene ever is in Citizen Kane, as they sit at the breakfast table,you can see a marriage drift apart in only sixty seconds,with only looks, no dialogue. Brilliant film making.
    But I do agree, they don't make them like that any more.

  2. Thats one of my favorite movies too, Mike. I think it's just way too broad a subject without narrowing it down by genre. :)

  3. This is, as you note, an impossible task. Lucky for all us fans there are too many wonderful scenes on film to choose from. My heart aches at the thought of even picking one. BUT, of the few you list here, I did choose one. The fabulous Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond walking toward her final close-up. This scene is , after all, inherent in WHY I love the movies. It's the stuff that dreams are made of - whether on the cusp of sanity, so many love and live for those close-ups!

    But please, don't do this to me again! :-)

  4. I'm not sure, yet, about "the greatest scene" but, certainly in the Top 5 would be Elizabeth Taylor's "Snap!" monologue from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

  5. Thats a great one too, yeah I gave up on that venture, there are just too many amazing scenes, especially from the golden era :)