Search in every book or dictionary ever published: I dare you to find words able to describe the magic of cinema. Since the late 1800s, this universal pastime has thrilled millions, encouraged wishes, destroyed hopes and encompassed all kinds of dreams. Seeing something so realistically depicted on the screen makes us feel as though that magic world is real, as if we can be anything and everything we want. Since our childhood, the characters inspire us, change us, incite us to find something inside ourselves that we never even knew we had. I have a rather nice story myself, involving my classic movie debut and the influence Katharine Hepburn had in my life, but this will be for another time. Now, I will talk about my favorite scenes in movies. Why do I love them? Why do they touch me? Feel free to leave comments in the comment box and to talk yourself about your favorite scenes. I'm curious to hear everyone!
Btw, pretty much all of these contain spoilers. My bad.
Overall plot: Audrey Hepburn is picked up off a bookstore where she works and told by Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson that she would make a great model. Hepburn, unaware of her beauty and grace, is appalled by the statement. Astaire, in song, explains why her funny features are exactly what he's looking for.
A few lines: "I love your funny face, your sunny, funny face. For you're a cutie with more than beauty, you've got a lot of personality for me. You fill the air with smiles, for miles and miles and miles. Though you're no Mona Lisa, for worlds I'd not replace your sunny, funny face."
Why I love it: This was one of the first classic movies I've ever seen, because I liked Audrey Hepburn way before I saw any other classic movies with any other actors. Hence, this was the first time I was ever introduced to Fred Astaire. At the time, I'm afraid I had no idea who Ginger Rogers was, and I remember being wonderstruck by his dancing skills. Little did I know that this scrawny guy with a magic smile was considered by many the best dancer in the 20th Century. I am such a fan of Fred's today because the simple sight of him puts a gigantic smile on my face. This scene reflects perfectly why that is. He makes everything look so easy, so relaxed, as if dance was born with him and he was just doing what came naturally. His voice also shakes the ground with its clarity and perfect pitch. What I also adore about this scene is that Audrey, one of my favorite actresses and at the time, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, looks so amazed by Fred. Audrey was so humble, so down-to-earth, and it shows in her eyes on this scene. The song is incredibly catchy and sweet.
19. "And if it's half of what we felt... It's everything." - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Overall plot: After agreeing to let his WASP daughter marry a black man, Spencer Tracy justifies his decision by saying their love is the most important thing and that he understands so because of the love he himself felt for Katharine Hepburn. He stresses, however, the difficulties the two will face in a society with morals so primitive as to not accept interracial marriage.
A few lines: "I admit that I hadn't considered it, hadn't even thought about it, but I know exactly how he feels about her and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that your son feels for my daughter that I didn't feel for Christina. Old, yes. Burnt out, certainly. But I can tell you the memories are still there. Clear, intact, indestructible. And they'll be there if I live to be 110. Where John made his mistake, I think, was attaching so much importance to what her mother and I think. Because in the final analysis it doesn't matter a damn what we think. The only thing that matters is how they feel, and how much they feel. And if it's half of what we felt, it's everything. As for you two and the problems you're going to have, they seem always unimaginable. But, you'll have no problem with me."
Why I love it: This movie is, I believe, the best acting the Spence+Kate duo ever delivered. It was so raw, so filled with emotion due to Spencer's real life illness. It was not on the script that Katharine should start crying, but she did because the speech being spoken by Spencer applied so much to their real life romance. The memories are still there, still clear, still intact, indestructible. The monologue itself is concrete poetry and, when added to Spencer's flawless delivery, makes for one of the most moving scenes in the history of film.
18. "Don't rain on my parade!" - Funny Girl (1968) - Barbra Streisand
Overall plot: Barbra Streisand wants to leave an artistic tour on which she is taking part in order to run after her lost love. After being discouraged by her boss and her colleagues, she lets them know they don't have a right to jeopardize her happiness, to rain on her parade. As she runs, she sings how she is doing what's right for her, she'll take the consequences and no one should interfere.
A few lines: "Don't tell me not to fly, I simply got to, if someone takes a spill, it's me and not you! Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade? I'll march my band out, I'll beat my drums, and if I'm fanned out, your turn at that, sir. At least I didn't fake it, hat, sir. I guess I didn't make it! But whether I'm the rose of sheer perfection, a freckle on the nose of life's complexion, the cinder or the shiny apple of its eye, I gotta fly once! I gotta try once! Only can die once, right, sir?"
Why I love it: It was then when I fell in love with Barbra Streisand's voice. I already had a very good outlook on this song, since Lea Michelle, who I consider to be one of the most annoying human beings who ever set foot on planet Earth (sue me), was not able to make it sound bad. So, with that in mind, I got my hands on Funny Girl. Barbra caught my heart instantly with her voice that, no matter how powerful and distinctive, is one impossible to her tired of. I can hear her sing a high note for minutes on end and my ears don't hurt. I consider her one of the top 5 musical artists in the 20th Century, along with Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Julie Andrews and this scene played no small part in my decision.
17. "We'll skip all the ifs." - Dark Passage (1947) - Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
Overall plot: Humphrey Bogart, after being charged and sentenced with a crime he didn't commit, runs away from prison. In his runs, he meets and falls in love with Lauren Bacall. When he is ready to board a ship to South America, he gives his teary-eyed lover instructions on how to find him. She finally is able to join him in Peru and they rekindle their beautiful romance.
A few lines: "Bacall: You didn't just call me to tell me about Madge. There's something else you want me to know.Bogie: I never could fool you, could I? I'm just beginning to realize it's better to have something to look forward to. Can you get a map of South America? (...)
Bogie: Now, listen. I won't write. We've got to wait, we've got to give it plenty of time. Maybe they'll get a lead on you, maybe they'll keep an eye on you for a while.
Bacall: I'll be careful. Go on.
Bogie: Meanwhile, if God's good to me and I manage to make it down there, I'll be waiting for you. There's a little cafe right on the bay. If you can see your way clear... Listen to all these ifs.
Bacall: We'll skip all the ifs. I get the idea and that's all I need. Now hang up on me. Just like that. Hang up, darling."
Why I love it: I don't have to say that when it comes to love scenes, Bogie and Bacall have never acted. All the emotions are real. On this picture, they had just gotten married and were experiencing a time of great joy in their lives. The part on the phone is a great throwback to the time of Bogie's courtship of Bacall. He used to call her and say beautiful things, and she, a teenager at the time, would cry all night listening to him. The part I really adore about this scene, however, is when they finally meet in Peru (pictured above), because the first time I saw it, a gorgeous image was conjured in my head: Mr. Bogart, young, healthy and lovely, waiting for Ms. Bacall in heaven after over six decades of separation. And when Lauren finally gets there, she, too, will be young and lovely, ready to dance the night away with the love of her life. This scene reflects perfectly what I imagined, down to their facial expressions.
16. "You wanna know what made me fall in love with you?" - The Long Long Trailer (1953) - Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Overall plot: Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball are a recently married couple, but, because Desi's work takes him around so much, Lucille suggests they buy a trailer and make home there, so that his trips won't mean separation for the two. In this scene, they are talking over a candlelit dinner - the trailer is stuck in a place with no electricity - and Lucille decides to confide in her husband on how she fell in love with him.
A few lines: "Ball: Nicky, you wanna know what made me fall in love with you?Arnaz: It wasn't the way I drive a trailer? My velvety eyes? My elegant nose?
Ball: No, it was the first time I ever saw you. It was at the celebration of the opening of the new freeway, remember? We were all at the beach, you never looked at me. You were being very gay making a pass at some girl. Suddenly I noticed that one of the buttons was off the front of your shirt. And I just wanted to cry I felt so sorry for you. I thought of you living all alone in hotel rooms and boarding houses in strange cities, with no one to sew your buttons on. Right then I made up my mind that I was going to marry you. I was going to marry you and take care of you."
Why I love it: I'm a part of the 99% of the world who first heard of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on I Love Lucy and immediately associated them with comedic roles. In such a brilliantly hilarious show, the two main stars' romance gets sidetracked in favor of comedy. This scene, however, moved me. You can see it in their eyes that the love they shared was real and eternal. You can see how much Lucy loves working with her husband and how fascinated he is with her skills. I spent the entire scene looking into their eyes, because they said everything.
15. "Play it, Sam" - Casablanca (1942) - Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Dooley Wilson
Overall plot: Star-crossed lovers Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman meet again in Casablanca. Ingrid, arriving in Humphrey's piano bar, asks the musician to play the song they felt represented their love: "As time goes by." Bogie arrives and angrily tells the piano player never to play that song again. That's when he sees his long lost love sitting on a table next to him.
A few lines: "Bergman: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.Wilson: I don't know what you mean, Ms. Ilsa.
Bergman: Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'.
Wilson: I'm afraid I can't remember it, Ms. Ilsa. I'm a little rusty.
Bergman: I'll hum it for you.
Wilson: You must remember this: A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things apply as time goes by. And when two lovers woo, they still say I love you, on that you can rely, no matter what the future brings, as time goes by.
Bogart: Sam, I thought I told you never to play-"
Why I love it: Both the actors in this film are in my Top 5 best performers of all time and I believe this was one of their finer performances. This scene, I think, is the best in the film because of their acting. The faces they make when they see each other again, you can feel their emotion as if it was happening to you. These two had so much chemistry that Bogie's wife Mayo suspected that they were having an affair off-screen! (Which they weren't.) All that combined with this beautiful song makes for one of the most moving scenes in cinema history.
14. "All this time, we could've been friends?" - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) - Bette Davis and Joan Crawford
Overall plot: Two rival sisters with years of mistreating each other are down at the beach. Bette Davis has almost starved her sister Joan Crawford, and as she feels death approaching, she thinks it's time to make some confessions.
A few lines: "Crawford: Jane, I'm dying. There's no time. You must listen. I made you waste your whole life thinking you crippled me.
Davis: Please stop.
Crawford: You didn't do it, Jane. I did it myself. I crippled myself. You weren't driving that night. You weren't driving, you were too drunk. I wouldn't let you drive. I made you go open the gates, I watched you get out of the car. You'd been so cruel to me at that party, imitating me, making people laugh at me. I watched you get out of the car. I wanted to run you down, crush you, but you saw the car coming. I hit the gates, I snapped my spine.
Davis: You mean, all this time, we could've been friends?
Crawford: You were frightened and ran away. I managed to crawl out of the car up to the gates. When they found me, they assumed it was your fault. You were so drunk and confused! You- you didn't know any better! You weren't ugly then. I made you that way. I even did that.
Davis: There's a place up there that sells thing. Do you like ice cream? I'll get you some."
Why I love it: Talk about a plot twist! We'll never know how much of this scene was fueled by their real life feud, but their acting is one of the best I've ever seen. Joan Crawford is striking - call me crazy, but I think she looks absolutely gorgeous, despite everything, in this movie - and her acting is compelling. Bette Davis behaves and talks in a childish way and it's so convincing! This scene points to the relationship between the actresses: a lifelong fight, but all the while permeated with a great respect for each other. It is said that they only made up very near Joan's death. And, all this time, they could've been friends.
13. "Heaven, I'm in heaven" - Top Hat (1935) - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Overall plot: Fred Astaire is a world-famous dancer who accidentally wakes up a girl when demonstrating his tap dancing steps. They begin a flirtation and later a romance.
Some lines: "Heaven, I'm in heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek. Heaven, I'm in heaven. And the cares that hung around me through the week seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek. Well, I'd love to climb a mountain and to reach the highest peak but it wouldn't thrill me half as much as dancing cheek to cheek."
Why I love it: This scene converges the best of the performing arts. The singing is breathtaking, the dancing is dazzling, the acting is flawless. This is one of my favorite songs ever because of its beautiful lyrics and sweet melody. Fred and Ginger have amazing chemistry. I can't describe it in words, one has to watch the scene and see what it makes one feel to really understand what I mean.
12. "Look at her, look at her hard!" - Adam's Rib (1949) - Katharine Hepburn
Overall plot: Katharine Hepburn is a feminist lawyer who is out to defend a woman accused of shooting her husband, who neglected and sidetracked her in favor of lovers and drinking.
A few lines: "Law, like men is composed by two parts. Just as man is body and soul, so is the law, letter and spirit. The law says "thou shalt not kill" and yet men have killed and proved a reason and been set free. Self-defense, defense of others, of wife, of children and home. If a thief breaks into your house and you shoot him, the law will not deal harshly with you and nor indeed should it. So here you are asked to judge not whether these acts were committed but to what extent they were justified. Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I request that you join me in a revealing experiment. I ask you all to direct your attention to the defendant Mrs. Attinger! Now keep looking at her, keep watching! Listen carefully and look at her, look at her hard! Now, imagine her a man! Go on, now, use your imaginations! (...) Now, there you have it! Judge it so! An unwritten law stands back of a man who fights to defend his home. Apply this same law to this maltreated wife and neglected woman. We ask you no more. Equality."
Why I love it: Y'all know me, y'all know I love a good ol' feminist speech. And when it comes out of Katharine Hepburn's lips, it's the whole package. Katharine really believed in those ideals and she admired the character she was playing. It showed in her acting. She was already insanely talented, but playing characters like Amanda Bonner were her specialty. In this scene, she outdoes herself, giving an emphatic and enthusiastic speech. By the end, she is out of breath.
11. "I don't know how to kiss" - For Whom The Bell Tolls (1943) - Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper
Overall plot: During the Spanish civil war, Ingrid Bergman, a young girl ravaged by the enemy soldiers, tells her life story to Gary Cooper, an American soldier. After confiding in him, she admits she has never kissed a man before.A few lines: "I don't know how to kiss or I would kiss you. Where do the noses go? I always wondered where the noses would go. They're not in the way, are they? I always thought they would be in the way. Look, I can do it myself! Am I doing it wrong?"
Why I love it: I saw Ingrid in this after seeing her in Casablanca and Notorious, so by then I was already an enormous fan of hers. Her acting is flawless in this scene, I believed every word of it. Gary's acting also surprised me because it touched me very deeply. All in all, it's a very sweet scene, with almost childish dialogue, but somehow delivered in a very adult manner. I've always felt Ingrid's face transmitted a sort of maturity to me and I never thought I could believe she has never kissed a man after seeing her kiss Cary Grant like that on Notorious (haha), but this scene surprised me. It never fails to put a smile on my face.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and my favorite movie scene ever!
P.S. I know I promised that post on Bogie and Bacall ages ago. Here's an update: It's the next one!