If you’re gonna write movies, ya gotta LOVE movies. Believe me, I love movies. There have been so many great moments over the years. Here are just a very few of my personal favorites (in no particular order):
Elmer Bernstein’s fabulous musical score accompanying Steve McQueen as he races his motorcycle across the lush German countryside in The Great Escape (1963).
Paul Newman’s amiable Butch Cassidy delivering a swift kick in the groin to massive Harvey Logan (Ted Cassidy) in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
Sundance (Redford) uttering to Butch (Newman), right after blowing a railroad car halfway to Kingdom Come: “Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?”
In the prelude to the best car chase ever put on celluloid, that fantastic shot in Bullitt where Steve McQueen’s Mustang suddenly appears in the bad guy’s rearview mirror.
In You Only Live Twice (1967), James Bond (Sean Connery) casually quipping after tossing his bad guy opponent into a pool of piranha fish: “Bon appetite.”
Butch and Sundance (Newman and Redford) on that cliff very, very high above a raging stream, and Newman suggests they jump to escape the encroaching posse – then an embarrassed Sundance bellows: “I can’t swim!” Then ol' Butch roars with laughter, and says, "Are you crazy? The fall'll probably kill ya!"
In Thunderball (1965), after James Bond (Sean Connery) sends a spear through a bad guy, effectively pinning the poor guy to a palm tree: “I think he got the point.”
In The Great Escape, when stone-faced Willie (Charles Bronson) confronts Hendley, the camp’s Scrounger (James Garner):
Willie: “Hendley, I need a pick. A big, heavy pick.”
Hendley: “Just one?”
Willie: “Two would be better.”
At the end of Father of the Bride II (1995), when Steve Martin cradles his newborn baby grandson in one arm and his newborn baby daughter in the other.
Butch and Sundance (Newman and Redford) surrounded by a very dangerous and persistent posse, and Butch considers their situation: “Well, the way I figure it, we can either fight or give. If we give, we go to jail. If we fight, they can stay right where they are and starve us out, or they could go for positions and shoots us. They might even get a rock slide started and get us that way. What else can they do?” With that, Sundance retorts: “They could surrender to us, but I wouldn’t count on that.”
The Monument Valley interlude from Electra Glide in Blue (1973) still gives me chills.
The ending of Electra Glide in Blue…is not something you’ll easily forget.
Speaking of endings, the final scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ain’t one you’ll forget, either.
In Le Femme Nikita (1990), when Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is in the restaurant…and she receives a very unexpected birthday present: a gun. Then she’s ordered to use it on the guy at a nearby table.
The exhilarating helicopter main title sequence from The Towering Inferno (1974). Great cinematography and a great John Williams score. (This happens to be my all-time favorite movie – and the movie that truly got me interested in becoming a filmmaker).
From Love Actually (2003), when Juliet (Keira Knightley) realizes the wedding video tape shot by Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is focused entirely on her…and she realizes he’s actually very much in love with her. Heartbreaking.
From Helpmates (1932), the Laurel and Hardy classic, as a soot-stained Stan stands amidst the burned out ruins of Ollie’s house, spraying water from a garden hose.
The final scene from the classic action flick The Mechanic, when Steve (Jan Michael Vincent) reads the note taped to the car’s rearview mirror – and we hear the voice-over of the late Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson): “Steve…if you read this, it means I didn’t make it back. It also means you’ve broken a filament controlling a thirteen second delay trigger. End of game. Bang, you’re dead.” And that’s when the car (and poor Steve) blows sky high.
The “luckiest man” speech given by Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper) at the end of Pride of the Yankees. Keep a hankie handy for that one, folks.
From the truly wonderful film The Sound of Music, when Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) sings “Edelweiss” to his children. Another hankie moment. Beautiful.
From Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)…the sword fight between King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and the Black Knight (John Cleese). I never laughed so hard in my life.
From Ghostbusters (1984), the giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (with his big ol’ smiling face) strolling down the street.
From Bowfinger (1999), when Jiff (Eddie Murphy) has to run across the very busy freeway lanes.
I think one of the funniest scenes ever put on film would have to be the Jon Lovitz/Adolph Hitler scene in The Rat Race (2001). (If you’ve watched the movie, you absolutely know what scene I’m referring to here.) It’s set up beautifully and executed perfectly. Funny, funny stuff.
In Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), when Walter (Robert Duvall) gives Frank (Richard Harris) a professional shave. Love, love, love this film.
The ultra-sexy chess scene between Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). Truly a classic.
The final shot from The Accidental Tourist (1988), when Macon (William Hurt) sees Muriel (Gena Davis) standing on the street corner, and for the first time, we see him smile.
In the final moment of True Grit (1969), when Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) bellows, “Well come see a fat old man sometime!” and he leaps his horse over the three-rail fence.
From the opening shots of The Omega Man (1971), as the theme from A Summer Place plays on his car stereo, Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) driving the empty streets of downtown Los Angeles.
From The Poseidon Adventure (1972), when doomed passenger (stuntman/actor Ernie Orsatti) does a backwards fall into the ceiling skylight.
The fiery end of Dan Bigelow (Robert Wagner) from The Towering Inferno. A tragic ballet…and one of the best stunt sequences ever put on film.
Speaking of stunt sequences, I think the final water tank flooding sequence from The Towering Inferno is one of the best action sequences put on film.
In Die Hard (1988) when John McClain (Bruce Willis) dangles outside the building at the end of a fire hose – but he pendulums out, fires several blasts from his gun, swings back to the building, smashes through the window, crashes onto the floor to safety. But he’s not safe. Nooo, the heavy coupling from the end of the fire hose is dragging him back out the window and a certain death. Just when all seems lost, he frees himself from the bindings of the hose. A nail-biter.
From Midnight Cowboy (1969), as that great theme from John Barry plays, Joe Buck (Jon Voight) holding his friend Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) on that final bus ride.
So there you have a handful of memorable moments from some of my favorite films. I’ll come up with more and post ‘em at a later date.
APRIL 2015 ANNOUNCEMENT: My debut novel, Luigi's Chinese Delicatessen, is now available in paperback from Amazon.com and Kindle e-book! (You're gonna love it cuz it's all about Hollywood and screenwriting!)