Reader Friday: Unforgettable Scenes

Alan Ladd in Shane

What’s one of your favorite scenes from a book or movie? Why does it work?

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21 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Unforgettable Scenes

  1. My favorite movies are Star Trek (the original) & the scenes too numerous to list. Suffice it to say they are scenes that deepen the characters to me and make them even more real, usually through scenes of humor or serious drama. I am not typically awed by special effects (in fact in recent years have been turned off by them because it seems that’s all movies are about now.). It’s the ordinary moments in extraordinary characters’ lives that grab me.

  2. The scene (in book & movie) of Danny Glick at his brother, Mark’s window in Salems’ Lot is quite memorable. There are many more scenes in the book itself which are just as memorable too, I believe.

    • And what’s so great about Spielberg’s direction is that we don’t see the shark until well over half way in. But we’re always scared it will strike again!

      • I saw Jaws in Reno when I was on a business trip. I was in the third seat in, left of the right aisle, sitting next to a guy who was seated next to his girlfriend or wife, who sat in the aisle seat.

        When the shark swims up for the first time, when Brody has his back turned to it, the guy on my right fans both arms out and yells “GEEZ!”

        He knocked my popcorn tub over, but knocked his girl’s large Coke all over the guy in front of her, onto the people across the aisle, the cup spilling ice and drink as it apparently tumbled end-over-end in the air to about the third or four seat in the row of seats behind us, across the aisle.

        The girl was humiliated. The guy? He was explaining in a loud voice why he had just done what he did.

        Me? I feared that a giant lynch mob might come after him.

  3. The photo attached to this post, from Shane, is mostly visual. Shane has been treated to a meal at the Starrett homestead. To show his gratitude (he does not SAY thank you, but rather gives it real heft) Shane goes out and starts chopping away at the stump Joe Starrett has been fighting for two years. Starrett joins him, and the two lay into that old stump until dark. When Starrett’s wife suggests “hitching up the team” to finish the job, Joe refuses. Nope, been fighting this stump for two years. If we use the team now, “this stump could say it beat us. Sometimes nothing will do but your own sweat and muscle.” Then he and Shane push and push until the stump rips out. (All of this observed by Starrett’s young son.)

    It’s a magnificent, pulse-pounding sequence, and a metaphor of what the two men must do to rid the valley of the bad men who wish to ignore the law and take over by force.

  4. The Pontecorvo film “Burn!” (1969), starring a young Marlon Brando, is unforgettable. Brando is sent to a small sugar island in the Caribbean to start a war. The burning of the island is amazing and the sound track is haunting. Highly recommended.

  5. Just about any 15 minutes of “Casablanca”. Although, Victor Laszlo leading the band still gets me every time.

    Most of “An American President”. The President asking Sidney out may be my favorite.

    The last 15 minutes of “Miracle.” Do you believe in miracles.

    I spend too much time watching movies.

  6. Just as “Jaws” scared people away from the beaches, “San Francisco” (1936 Clark Gable, Jeannette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy) terrified me enough that I never want to live in an area prone to earthquakes. I saw the film at a very impressionable age. There’s one scene where the earth opens and a man falls to his death, possibly one or two others do also. (I’d like to know how the movie-makers did that.) I think it affected me because it showed how an ordinary someone can be living their life, and a few moments later their life is gone. Pretty scary for a little kid to think about.

    I’m sure there are dozens of other scenes–less traumatic ones–that have affected me equally over the years, but that’s the first one that popped in my mind.

  7. I have to go with both Jim (Jaws) and Alan (Planet of the Apes) – on my list of killer scenes. And Laurie I’m glad I lived through an earthquake before ever seeing a cinema version of one or I’d never sleep a wink at night waiting for one to hit. But your point about the nature of fate is spot on.

  8. The end of the movie, “Zulu” with Michael Cain. The men have just beaten off a million Zulu warriors through the whole movie, then another gazillion more line the hilltops. The expressions on their faces are priceless. One of my favorite movies of all time.

    Also, just about any scene in “Silverado”.

  9. This one is very recent. Last week, I finished season 2 of “Outlander.” The episode where (spoiler alert) Claire loses her baby was gut-wrenching. The scene where she holds her stillborn daughter was one that will stay with me a long time. I can hardly imagine the pain a woman goes through in a situation like that, and how difficult it must’ve been for the actress, Caitriona Balfe, to film it, especially since it must’ve required multiple takes.

  10. One of my favorite scenes is from the movie Onegin. Ralph Fiennes plays Onegin, and Liv Tyler plays Tatyana. In the beginning of the movie, Tatyana writes Onegin a love letter confessing her feelings for him, and he rejects her. My favorite scene is at the end when he returns many years later after she is married to declare his love for her. Of course, she tells him she still loves him but sends him away.

  11. The Searchers. When John Wayne’s character stand in the doorway and walks away, THAT is powerful.

    • It was a great movie. The scene you talking about bookend the beginning and the end of the movie – powerful.

  12. One of my favorites is Major Dundee (Director’s Cut) when Dundee reveals during a binge that he was sent West as punishment for being a drunk.

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