Favorite Movie Moments Part 2
Since this is part 2, be sure to read part one.
- Favorite Movie Moments Part 1
I countdown my favorite moments to grace the silver screen.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade “Indiana, let it go.” One of the reasons Last Crusade is my favorite in the Indiana Jones franchise is the family dynamic between Indiana and his father, Henry. After greed gets the best of Ilsa Schneider, the temple begins to collapse. When the grail falls through the cracks, Ilsa goes after it. Indiana tries to rescue her, but she can’t take her eyes off the prize and it costs her in the end. Soon, Indiana finds himself in the same predicament. This time, Henry Sr. has to hold on. Despite seeing Ilsa suffer the same fate, Indiana still tries to reach for the grail. It is interesting to see the normally levelheaded Indiana Jones fall victim to greed and desire. It just shows the power of the grail. Then, after a full movie of being tortured by nickname “Junior,” Henry Sr. finally addresses his son as “Indiana,” telling him “let it go.” It is a very touching moment. Henry Sr. is finally showing his son respect and Indiana realizes what truly matters.
Jurassic Park – The T-Rex Escapes: Although it has become one of my favorite movies, I did not watch Jurassic Park a lot as a kid. Why? Because it really scared me! If there is one scene that epitomizes both the excitement and danger of the escaped dinosaurs, this is it. Before the T-rex even appears, the audience knows something big is on its way as tremors appear in the water. Although the snivelling lawyer is the first person to buy the farm at the hands (or rather mouth) of the T-rex, the mighty dinosaur does not play favorites. Spielberg is known for his use of music. And this film is no exception as it features a great score from John Williams. However, the absence of music in this scene definitely adds to the terror as we mainly hear the frantic yells of the heroes and the massive roar of the T-rex.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail – The Tail of Sir Lancelot: I almost feel like I am cheating by including this segment since it plays out more like a mini-movie compared to just a scene. It does have its own plot. A prince is being forced to marry a girl he does not want to so his father can inherit her father’s land. In an attempt to escape, he writes a note that Sir Lancelot intercepts. Believing it to be from a princess, Lancelot violently storms the castle – only to discover his princess is actually a prince. The reason I adore this scene so much is because the humor comes from so many sources and where do I even begin? The prince is funny in what a milquetoast he is. The father has a hilarious speech about building his castle. His attempt to give the guards instructions is a truly hilarious dialogue exchange. When Lancelot storms the castle, there is a clever bit of editing. Lancelot’s rampage on the castle is pretty funny in a very morbid sort of way as Lancelot runs around sparing nobody – not even flowers! I could go on and about why I love this scene, but I would just be giving a blow-by-blow recount of everything that happens. And this is something that deserves to be seen.
The Producers – Springtime for Hitler: He picked the wrong play, the wrong cast, the wrong director. Where did he go right? The whole movie builds up to Byalistock and Bloom’s intentionally disastrous production and when we finally see it, the play does not disappoint. The opening song number just completely fawns over the most hated man in history replete with dancers dressed as storm troopers dancing in formation of a swastika. The reaction of the audience just tells the whole story as they sit with their mouths agape in stunned silence – except Kenneth Mars who looks pleased as punch. Of course, the stunned silence changes to laughter as LSD takes the stage as Hitler. The idea of Hitler being portrayed as a beatnik is pretty funny. Although I absolutely loved the 2005 remake, one of my issues with that movie is that compared to the original, the Springtime for Hitler segment felt shortchanged. Oh yeah, the song number was hilarious, but we got to see more of the show in the original. Also, LSD was not in the remake. Then again, jokes about beatniks might seem a tad dated nowadays… and Dick Shawn totally owned that character. Maybe I should just look at the glass as half full in that we have two great movies – even if they both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Pulp Fiction – The Watch Speech: In a movie that is somewhat boisterous and over-the-top, there is something to be sad about the fact that one of my favorite scenes is one of the quieter moments. Christopher Walken arrives to young Butch and relates the story of how the watch went through several generations of Coolidge men to arrive to young Butch. The story is actually pretty sweeping as we learn of how Butch’s great grandfather wore the watch during the first World War and how Butch’s grandfather gave the watch to a total a stranger who still went out of his way to make sure he kept a dead man’s final wish. Then the story shifts gears a bit as Walken discusses the… um… less-than-savory way he and Butch’s father kept the watch safe when they were in a Vietnam prison camp. I really like the way Walken delivers the lines: Very solemn and serious during the first part and a little more casual as he explains what happened in Vietnam. It almost feels like a key change in music. The scene works on many levels. It foreshadows the trouble Butch is going to have with the watch – as it seems every Coolidge man (except Butch’s great grandfather) has had bad luck with that watch while explaining why Butch desired the watch so badly. The scene has a pretty funny payoff. And it is a pretty good story – told by a great actor.
Saving Private Ryan – Storming Normandy: First impressions are important in a movie. It is the time when filmmakers have to grab the attention of the audience and make them want more. There have been many great film intros, and many of them have been done by one Mr. Steven Spielberg: Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course: Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg knows how to set up the tone as the sequence merely starts out with the characters sitting silently on the boat. Nobody says anything, but just by their faces tell the story. Many of these soldiers know they are not going to make it… and a lot of them do not. The door opens and the shooting begins. What makes this scene so memorable is its intensity. According to sources such as IMDB, Spielberg did not storyboard this sequence. Yet he was still complemented on his spot on depiction of the Normandy invasion. I said before that some moments make us cheer, and others can make us cry. This is a great example of giving us a firsthand experience of what our brave soldiers went through on that fateful day.
There Will Be Blood – I Drink Your Milkshake: This could be considered a spoiler, but , I think most people know how it goes by now. This scene epitomizes what is so great about Daniel Day-Lewis’s Oscar-winning performance. Like the rest of the movie, he bounces between quiet and boisterous without missing a beat. Eli comes to Plainview and asks him for money. Plainview makes Eli renounce his faith for the deal and Plainview reveals that he was just toying with him. Why? Because he can! He then goes into the infamous line which, for better or worse, everyone knows by now. In a very morbid and dark way, the scene is quite humorous. And it only becomes more outrageous when Plainview beats Eli to death with a bowling pin. Why? I reiterate: Because he can. He then pronounces “I’m finished” and the movie ends. I once stressed that movies need falling action, but this is one of the rare movies to successfully pull off just ending. It feels less like an anticlimax, more ending the sentence with an exclamation point.
Tommy Boy – Tommy’s Desktop Demo – Sales are hard. Salespeople are slammed with “No” after “no” after “no.” And then there is that one bright spot, where it appears one might hear a "yes". When it appears that David Spade is going to bore the client to death with technical specs he does not understand, Chris Farley steps in and gives a visual demonstration of the difference between Callahan break-pads and “the other guy’s” brake pads. Obviously, Tommy’s brake pads are safe. However, the other brake pads will cause cars to crash and fall off cliffs, thus causing damage and fires that are so gruesome the EMTs that arrive will be stammered at what a mess it is. Naturally, this demonstration involves destroying the man’s toy car and setting it on fire. Chris Farley completely owns this scene. He obviously has a lot of fun, completely hamming it up and making this disaster seem as over-the-top as possible. However, David Spade deserves credit for his reactions. It is amazing how he sells this scene with his facial expressions without saying one word of dialogue (and obviously holding back laughter).
Toy Story 2 – You Got a Friend in Me: Even though I absolutely love Toy Story 3 (It was my favorite movie from 2010 and one of my favorite movies), I think it is a shame the way people seem to prefer the somewhat heavy sentimentality and ignore this very understated scene. In fact, when people think of emotional scenes from Toy Story 2, the “When She Loved Me” sequence seems to come to mind. But this is the one that sticks with me the most. The scene is very simple. After telling his friends that he would rather go to the toy museum in Japan, Woody watches himself from Woody’s Roundup singing “You Got a Friend in Me.” And Woody realizes something. He truly cares about Andy. This is a defining moment for Woody. Yeah, he may have his moments of selfishness. But in the end, he does the right thing.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Eddie Goes to Toon Town: As a kid, I was fanatical about cartoons. One of the appeals of this movie is that it was the first time I saw humans meeting cartoons. And it remains the most memorable. For most of the movie, Eddie is relatively safe in his world - even if he is surrounded by cartoon characters. But that is just a normal day at the office for Eddie Valiant. But in an attempt to find the killer, Eddie must venture into Toon Town. Although, Eddie had been there before, but up to this point, the audience had only seen brief glimpses and heard descriptions. As Eddie drives into this topsy-turvey world, he looks nervous. The music swells. And we transition to bright colors and cheerful music. Though we do see why Valiant was a little nervous. Now that he is in the world of the cartoons, he has to play by their rules. Droopy gives him a wild ride on an elevator, Tweety gives him the drop on a flagpole and a Jessica clone chases him. But Eddie knows a few tricks of his own – including how to evade the Jessica clone. This scene also features one of the most iconic meetings in cartoon history: Bugs Bunny meets Mickey Mouse. As a kid, I never truly understood just how momentous this meeting truly was. I was a huge Bugs Bunny fan as a kid, so I thought seeing him was cool. But now that I grasp the legacy of both characters (and know a lot more about copyright law) I understand what a big deal their meeting is.
Young Frankenstein – Puttin’ on the Ritz: What can I say about Young Frankenstein? It is one of the funniest movies ever made. I watch it every Halloween, and it is my favorite Mel Brooks film. This is one of those scenes that is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Dr. Frankenstein is demonstrating that he finally has his creation under control. He shows off that the creature can speak and walk. Frankenstein, however, decides to cap off this demonstration with a tap dancing number. The scene is delightful with a brilliant throwback it is to dance numbers from classic movies. Gene Wilder is not exactly the world’s greatest singer, but I think that adds to the charm of the scene – especially when it is punctuated by Peter Boyle’s less-than-articulated “Puttin’ on the Ritz!” I also love a lot of the little moments such as Frankenstein’s playful poke at the monster’s jaw.
And so concludes my list of favorite movie moments. As always, feel free to share yours.
- My Favorite TV Moments Part 1
The first half of my countdown of favorite TV moments
- My Favorite TV Moments Part 2
Part 2 of my countdown.
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