10 favourite movie moments

Usually when I think of a movie, there’s always a scene that comes to mind and brings back how I felt; even if I don’t remember the rest of the movie, that scene is enough to bring it all rushing back. A joke, an action scene, a kiss… there are so many great moments, but here’s a quick list of my favourites. I wonder how many would be on yours? 😉

10) Steve McQueen’s vault for the Swiss border
The Great Escape
One of the best WWII dramas, the whole motorcycle chase, the final jump and Elmer Bernstein’s score always stand out for me. It’s probably Steve McQueen’s greatest performance and the image of McQueen on the motorcycle is indelible.

9) The chariot race
Ben-Hur
When you think of epics you can’t go past Ben-Hur. I always found it a little too long, but the chariot race is one of the most spectacular and thrilling sequences ever filmed. And Miklos Rozsa’s score is stunning.

8) The construction site
Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting
is one of my favourite movies; it’s such a realistic portrayal of friendship between two young men, and this scene (where Chuckie says he hopes one day he’ll knock on Will’s door and he won’t be there) sums up the whole film for me.

7) The farewell scene
Casablanca
One of the great love stories mainly because of the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman, this is the scene most people remember best. The foggy atmosphere, the plane in the background, “We’ll always have Paris”… even if you think the film’s slightly overrated, this scene is a classic.

6) Indy shoots the swordsman
Raiders of the Lost Ark
I still think Raiders is the best adventure film that’s been made, mainly because of the balance of action, character and humour. This scene has all three and it’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen – all the more so because it wasn’t scripted.

5) Somewhere Over The Rainbow
The Wizard of Oz
Still one of the best children’s films of all time, I love the song and Judy Garland’s voice. It’s just a quintessential scene, and all the more amazing that it is when you think the song was almost cut because it slowed the pace of the film.

4) The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In my view LOTR is the greatest trilogy ever filmed and Gandalf’s fall into the abyss looks like it’s come straight out of the books. It’s a beautiful scene, particularly in the moments after when we see the loss on the faces of the other characters.

3) Darth Vader reveals he is Luke’s father
The Empire Strikes Back
The best of the Star Wars films, the first time you hear Vader’s revelation it just overpowers the rest of the film. Of course it’s actually quite obvious, but I was stunned at the time and watched Return of the Jedi the next day to see if it was true; I can’t imagine having to wait three years to find out.

2) The shower scene
Psycho
If the shower scene in Psycho isn’t the most iconic scene in cinema history, I’m not sure what is. Bates’ murder of Marion Crane is masterfully done by Hitchcock; with little gore, it’s the build-up that’s so scary, set to Bernard Herrmann’s violin-screeches.

1) The Normandy landings
Saving Private Ryan
The D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan is wrenching and incredibly difficult to watch; it’s brutal and hellish, but it’s one of the most emotional, affecting scenes I’ve ever seen and it’s the scene that, more than any other, brings back the whole film for me. To say it’s my favourite scene is probably wrong (it would be the shower scene in Psycho), but it’s the scene that stays with me more than any other, so it has to be #1.

Have you heard the Wilhelm Scream?

I found this video through Net@Nite, one of my favourite podcasts, though I had heard about the scream before. If you don’t know what the Wilhelm Scream is, it’s a distinctive scream that’s been used in Hollywood movies for over 50 years. For studios it’s easier (and cheaper) to recycle the stock scream than to pay voice extras to record new sound effects; it’s become something of an in-joke among sound designers and lots of movie fans try to keep track of where it’s been used. The current count is at over 130 films!

The list in the video only goes up to about 1999 and I know a few more since then; the Wilhelm Scream features in both LOTR: The Two Towers and The Return of the King, as well as King Kong, Sin City, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Hellboy. It’s been used prodigiously by Ben Burtt and Skywalker Sound as well, so it’s also in the other Star Wars prequels. Whether it will be in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or not will be interesting – Burtt has said he’s not going to use it as much now it’s so recognised, but it’s in the other Indy movies so he might go out with one last bang… or scream.

It’s just a fun piece of trivia, but I like it because it shows not so much a lack of originality as a respect for Hollywood’s past; it’s keeping some of the history alive 50 years later and in this digital age, that’s a nice touch. So have a listen the next time you play a DVD; chances are you might be listening to a little piece of movie history. 😉