20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (3 of 4)
IsleofCinema and BoxingUweBoll have teamed up to bring you The TOP 20 CLOSING SCENES in film, as selected by our writers. We continue our countdown with part 3 – numbers 10-6:
[by Louis Doerge]
Being that the foundation for Quentin Tarantino’s critical success certainly doesn’t stem from his ability to create great romances, it seems odd that the ending to Jackie Brown is (what I consider to be) one of the most romantic and bittersweet scenes in motion picture history. Throughout the film we’ve been subjected to scenes featuring flight-attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) and bail-bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) falling for each other while trying to pull a heist on gun-dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). The film’s final moments consist of these two middle-aged, would be companions performing brilliantly, managing to pine for one another and simultaneously recognize that theirs is a relationship that won’t work. They kiss briefly, only to be interrupted by a phone call. While Max struggles to feign interest in his business call, he watches Jackie leave out his front door, then promptly requests his client call him back in thirty minutes. Given how strong-willed, calm and collected he’s been for the entire film, there’s something to be said for Max suddenly needing a moment – even if it is just a half-hour. Tarantino’s closing shot features Jackie driving away, lip syncing the words to Bobby Womack‘s “Across 110th Street“. Like Forster, Grier’s sadness is incredibly tacit, exposing a soft side that Tarantino hasn’t expressed since.
[by Sean Carnegie]
After fostering the meteoric rise of simple-minded Chance (Peter Sellers) amongst Washington DC’s political elite, banker and power-broker Ben Rand (Melvyn Douglas) finally succumbs to his battle with anemia. As his coffin is carried to his crypt by his kingmaker friends, they discuss in whispered tones the forthcoming presidential election and which candidate they should throw their support behind in hopes maintaining their political clout. The unanimous conclusion is Chance. Ever disinterested in their machinations – or the funeral itself for that matter – Chance wanders away through the forest. He comes upon a lake and, seeing something on the far side that strikes his fancy, miraculously walks toward it on the water’s surface. This parting shot beautifully captures the perfect, unadulterated innocence of a man who lives beyond the institutions of guile, malice or simple reason. He is, in every way, above the scheming and back room dealing that have become synonymous with American politics and, as such, unwittingly stumbled into the unlikely role of Idiot-Savant Messiah. As he walks across the calm waters you can’t help but feel a twinge of anxiety at the possibility of this sweet, nonthreatening man-child being swept up into a malicious and destructive world of which he has little to no understanding. The scene becomes even more bittersweet when you realize that this was Seller’s penultimate on-screen performance – and that he, like Chance, was walking steadily toward his destiny. Life is, indeed, a state of mind.
[by David Micevic]
Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now remains one of the most mesmerizing of all horror films because the majority of its terror emanates from within rather than manifesting as an external danger. It’s the story of a couple, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), tortured by the accidental drowning of their daughter. As they travel through Venice, John encounters a mysterious figure in a red raincoat—the same red raincoat his daughter was wearing when she died. Meanwhile, a blind seer tells Laura that she has spoken with her daughter, and conveys her sense of peace and tranquility in the afterlife. As Laura begins to accept her daughter’s death, John hunts relentlessly for her ghostly apparition among a swirling backdrop of mounting eroticism and tension. All this boils over into the movie’s startling conclusion, in which John confronts what he believes to be his daughter’s ghost, cornering it in an abandoned structure. The moment when the figure turns to reveal its ghastly true form remains stunningly horrifying not because it embodies the tired old “gotcha” moment synonymous with horror films, but because it marks the inevitable end result to an impossible obsession. The monstrous figure John stares down could be just about anything, it need not be a tangible threat (although, from a narrative perspective, it most certainly is), but rather the sad realization that those who cannot let go of the past face nothing but hardship and disappointment… which unfortunately for John Baxter also includes death.
[by David Micevic]
Has there ever been a more iconic movie image than Major Kong riding a plummeting atomic bomb as if it were a bucking bronco, appropriately waving his Stetson wildly in the air? This single act of destruction, colored in broad comic strokes, sets in motion the entire famous ending sequence to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; an ending that takes its bizarre fascination with mankind’s annihilation and subverts it with satirical, incisive humor that lessens what objectively should be viewed as an immensely dreadful occurrence. The scene is loaded with off-kilter jokes: Nazi-defector Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers in one of three roles) lays out a post-apocalyptic contingency plan involving subterranean dwellings and a ten-women-to-every-man breeding plan that appeals to the libidinous General Turgidson (George C. Scott); the Americans start planning in advance for another arms race with the Soviets even as the world crumbles around them. To top it all off, the whole thing ends with a throwaway gag in which the wheelchair-bound Strangelove rises to his feet and declares “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!” before the film launches into its legendary closing sequence of nuclear bombs detonating across the globe; all set to Vera Lynn’s soothing “We’ll Meet Again.” Often mimicked, rarely surpassed; given the lasting influence of this single scene and its morbid juxtaposition of destruction and comedy, it’s hard to imagine that initially Dr. Strangelove was intended to be a drama. Lucky for us, Kubrick knew better.
[by Nick Burd]
Heralded by some as the first psychoanalytic thriller, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho starts out as a simple tale of workplace embezzlement and turns into an analysis of a man who has lost his grip on reality to a degree that is both wildly dangerous and slightly comical. Even the few people out there who haven’t seen the film are familiar with the basics of the plot: a cross-dressing hotel manager keeps his mother’s dead body around the house and butchers one of his guests in the shower. While cultural familiarity and changing taboos may have forever lessened the film’s punch, many at the time labeled it an indulgent festival of gore and sex. Censors at the time were shocked by the opening scene which featured Janet Leigh in a bra, and the sound of Marion Crane, (Leigh’s tragic character) flushing the toilet caused quite a stir as well. So imagine how audiences felt at the end of the film when Marion’s sister Lila (played by Vera Miles) makes that grizzly discovery in Norman Bates’ basement. Now multiply that by a wild-eyed, dragged-up Anthony Perkins bursting in with a butcher knife. Needless to say, Psycho was unlike anything that came before it. But for all its campiness, the picture still manages to hold a firm, terrifying grip on the cultural consciousness. While its influence can be seen everywhere, from De Palma’s Dressed to Kill to Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs, there’s nothing quite as creepy Norman Bates thinking in his mother’s voice that he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
[admin. note: almost made it through an entire post without an ‘embedding disabled’ link. But alas, it was not meant to be.]
Hope you’ve enjoyed parts 1, 2 and now 3. Be sure to tune in next week when we bring you the Finale to the Finales countdown post: part 4! And be sure to check out Boxing Uwe Boll for the countdown of the top 20 film openings!