100 Great Movie Moments by Roger Ebert

For the centennial of cinema, Roger Ebert published a list of his 100 great moments from the movies on April 23rd, 1995. The list is in no particular order but if I had to choose Orson Welle’s memorable appearance in The Third Man wouldn’t be far from the top and it’s great to see Fassbinder’s brilliant Fear Eats The Soul get a mention. The descriptions come from Ebert’s website.

  • Clark Gable in “Gone With the Wind”: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
  • Buster Keaton standing perfectly still while the wall of a house falls over upon him; he is saved by standing exactly in the location of an open window, in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”
  • Charlie Chaplin being recognised by the blind girl in “City Lights.”
  • The computer Hal 9000 reading lips, in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
  • The singing of “La Marseillaise” in “Casablanca.”
  • Snow White kissing Bashful & Dopey on the head in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
  • John Wayne putting the reins in his mouth in “True Grit” and galloping across the mountain meadow, weapons in both hands.
  • Jimmy Stewart in “Vertigo,” approaching Kim Novak across the room, realizing she embodies all of his obsessions – better than he knows.
  • The early film experiment [by Eadweard Muybridge] proving that horses do sometimes have all four hoofs off the ground.
  • Gene Kelly singin’ in the rain in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
  • Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta discuss what they call Quarter Pounders in France, in “Pulp Fiction.”
  • The Man in the Moon getting a cannon shell in his eye, in the Georges Melies film “A Voyage to the Moon.”
  • Pauline (Pearl White) in peril, tied to the railroad tracks, from the 1914 serial, “The Perils of Pauline.”
  • A boy running joyously to greet his returning father, in “Sounder.”
  • Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock face in “Safety Last.”
  • Orson Welles smiling enigmatically in the doorway in “The Third Man.”
  • An angel looking down sadly over Berlin, in Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire.”
  • The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination: Over and over again, a moment frozen in time.
  • A homesick North African (Moroccan) man named Ali, sadly telling a barmaid Barbara (posing in a doorway) that what he really wants is not sex but couscous, in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.”
  • The Road Runner, suspended in air.
  • Zero Mostel throwing a cup of cold coffee at the hysterical Gene Wilder in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” and Wilder screaming: “I’m still hysterical! Plus, now I’m wet!”
  • An old man all alone in his home, faced with the death of his wife and the indifference of his children, in Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story.”
  • “Smoking.” Robert Mitchum’s response, holding up his cigarette, when Kirk Douglas offers him a smoke in “Out of the Past.”
  • Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg wading in the fountain in “La Dolce Vita.”
  • The moment in Akira Kurosawa’s “High and Low” (aka Heaven and Hell, or Tengoku to jigoku) when millionaire Mr. Gondo discovers that it is not his son Jun who has been kidnapped, but his chauffeur Mr. Aiko’s son Shinichi – and then the eyes of the two fathers meet.
  • The distant sight of people appearing over the horizon at the end of “Schindler’s List.”
  • R2D2 and C3PO in “Star Wars.”
  • E.T. and friend riding their bicycle across the face of the moon, in “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”
  • Marlon Brando’s screaming “Stella!” in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
  • Hannibal Lecter smiling at Clarice in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
  • “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” The first words heard in the first talkie, “The Jazz Singer,” said by Al Jolson.
  • Jack Nicholson trying to order a chicken salad sandwich in “Five Easy Pieces.”
  • “Nobody’s perfect”: Joe E. Brown’s last line in “Some Like It Hot,” explaining why he plans to marry Jack Lemmon even though he is a man.
  • “Rosebud” in “Citizen Kane.”
  • The shooting party in Renoir’s “Rules of the Game.”
  • The haunted eyes of Antoine Doinel, Truffaut’s autobiographical hero, in the freeze frame that ends “The 400 Blows.”
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo flipping a cigarette into his mouth in Godard’s “Breathless.”
  • The casting (and installation) of the great bell in Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev.”
  • “What have you done to its eyes?” Dialogue by Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.”
  • Moses parting the Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments.”
  • An old man found dead in a child’s swing, his mission completed, at the end of Kurosawa’s “Ikiru.”
  • The haunted eyes of the actress Maria Falconetti in Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”
  • The children watching the train pass by in Ray’s “Pather Panchali.”
  • The baby carriage bouncing down the steps in Eisenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin.”
  • “Are you lookin’ at me?” Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver.”
  • “My father made them an offer they couldn’t refuse”: Al Pacino in “The Godfather.”
  • The mysterious body in the photographs in Antonioni’s “Blow-Up.”
  • “One word, Benjamin: plastics.” From “The Graduate.”
  • A man dying in the desert in von Stroheim’s “Greed.”
  • Eva Marie Saint clinging to Cary Grant’s hand on Mount Rushmore in “North by Northwest.”

  • Astaire and Rogers dancing. [“Swing Time”, or “Top Hat”]
  • “There ain’t no sanity clause!” Chico to Groucho in “A Night at the Opera.”
  • “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” Sidney Poitier in Norman Jewison’s “In the Heat of the Night.”
  • The sadness of the separated newly-wed lovers (including the vision of the distraught husband Jean imagining his wife Juliette in her bridal gown reflected in the water), in Jean Vigo’s “L’Atalante.
  • The vast expanse of desert, and then tiny figures appearing, in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
  • Jack Nicholson on the back of the motorcycle, wearing a football helmet, in “Easy Rider.”
  • The geometrical choreography of the Busby Berkeley girls. [“Golddiggers of 1933”, “Footlight Parade”]
  • The peacock spreading its tail feathers in the snow, in Fellini’s “Amarcord.”
  • Robert Mitchum in “The Night of the Hunter,” with “LOVE” tattooed on the knuckles of one hand, and “HATE” on the other.
  • Joan Baez singing “Joe Hill” in “Woodstock.”
  • Robert De Niro’s transformation from sleek boxer to paunchy nightclub owner in “Raging Bull.”
  • Bette Davis: “Fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a bumpy night!” in “All About Eve.”
  • “There’s a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick!” Woody Allen in “Annie Hall.”
  • The chariot race in “Ben-Hur.”
  • Barbara Harris singing “It Don’t Worry Me” to calm a panicked crowd in Robert Altman’s “Nashville.”
  • The game of Russian roulette in “The Deer Hunter.”
  • Chase scenes:”The French Connection”
    “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
  • The shadow of the bottle hidden in the light fixture, in “The Lost Weekend.”
  • “I coulda been a contender.” Brando in “On the Waterfront.”
  • George C. Scott’s speech about the enemy in “Patton”: “We’re gonna go through him like crap through a goose.”
  • Rocky Balboa running up the steps and throwing his hands into the air, with all of Philadelphia at his feet, in “Rocky.”
  • Debra Winger saying goodbye to her children in “Terms of Endearment.”
  • The montage of the kissing scenes in “Cinema Paradiso.”
  • The dinner guests who find they somehow cannot leave, in Bunuel’s “The Exterminating Angel.”
  • A knight plays chess with Death, in Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal.”
  • The savage zeal of the Klansmen in Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation.”
  • The problem of Hulot forgetting to close the seaside hotel’s front door, allowing a tornadic wind to create havoc with a series of small but amusing annoyances, in Jacques Tati’s “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.”
  • “I am big! It’s the pictures that got small!” Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”
  • “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz.”
  • An overhead shot beginning with an entrance hall, and ending with a closeup of a key in Ingrid Bergman’s hand, in Hitchcock’s “Notorious.”
  • “Nicely packed that kid…There’s not much meat on ‘er, but what’s there is cherce.” Spencer Tracy about Katharine Hepburn in “Pat and Mike.”
  • The day’s outing of the mental patients in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
  • “I always look well when I’m near death.” Greta Garbo to Parisian friend in “Camille.”
  • “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express.”
  • “I’m walkin’ here!” Dustin Hoffman in “Midnight Cowboy.”
  • W. C. Fields flinching as a prop man hurls handfuls of fake snow into his face (after he utters the running gag line: “It ain’t a fit night out for man or beast!”) and opens the door, in “The Fatal Glass of Beer.”
  • “Any time you got nothin’ to do and lots of time to do it, come up.” Mae West in “My Little Chickadee.”
  • “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” James Cagney in “White Heat.”
  • Richard Burton reacting when Elizabeth Taylor reveals their “secret” in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
  • Henry Fonda getting his hair cut in “My Darling Clementine.”
  • “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” Alfonso Bedoya to Humphrey Bogart in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
  • “There’s your dog. Your dog’s dead. But where’s the thing that made it move? It had to be something, didn’t it?” Line from Errol Morris’ “Gates of Heaven.”
  • “Don’t touch the suit!” Burt Lancaster in “Atlantic City.”
  • Gena Rowlands arrives at John Cassavetes’ house with a taxicab full of adopted animals, in “Love Streams.”
  • “I want to live again. I want to live again. I want to live again. Please God, let me live again.” Jimmy Stewart to the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
  • Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr embrace on the beach in “From Here to Eternity.”
  • Mookie throws the trash can through the window of Sal’s Pizzeria, in “Do the Right Thing.”
  • “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” dialogue by Robert Duvall, in “Apocalypse Now.”
  • “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.” Katharine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in “The African Queen.”
  • “Mother of mercy. Is this the end of Rico?” Edward G. Robinson in “Little Caesar.”

The Great Movies (book, kindle)
The Great Movies II (book, kindle)
The Great Movies III (book, kindle)
The Great Movies IV (book)
Roger Ebert’s Four-Star Reviews 1967-2007 (book, kindle)
Life Itself: A Memoir (book, kindle, audiobook, audio CD)
Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert: Second Edition (book)




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