Monday, August 13, 2018

Great Movie Endings

We turned in to the last few minutes of a movie with a great ending, and, not knowing what came before, were captivated.  That led to a discussion of other perfect movie endings.

Spencer Tracy's speech in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was TBG's first choice; I went to Scarlett leaning against her front door in Gone With the Wind.  TBG's choice is a more moral one, but mine is wrapped up in a memory that's sweeter than Miss O'Hara ever thought of being:  FAMBB and I, high school kids thrilled with the adventure of a day in New York City, watching a revival of the movie from the balcony of a grand old movie palace on Broadway.  The movie has not aged well for me, but the memory grows more potent with time.

Music Man's parade of 76 trombones through the streets of River City makes us smile and sing along and stays with us in a way that Hello, Dolly just doesn't.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it's the fact that we also carry around in our heads the sound of Grandpaw singing along with Robert Preston.

The clanking of swords and TBG's favorite last line - May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, Sire! - ends 1938's Robin Hood.  The closing of those over-sized castle doors is the perfect backdrop for The End....because all excellent movies have those words in the last frame.

Films where kids bring the grown-ups together and take credit at the end - Sleepless in Seattle and High Society and Parent Trap came immediately to mind - get extra points for cuteness.  Self-satisfied 10 year olds are, by definition, adorable.

Casablanca owns airport finales and Rudy owns football fields. Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald take the prize for riding off into the sunset in Naughty Marietta.  Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid wins for gun battles and heroic deaths, The Shape of Water for undersea transformations.

The list excludes movies with a coda, like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The penultimate scene is amazing; the last scene is anti-climactic.  Hitchcock is, as usual, confounding; I excluded North By Northwest because the last scene is on the train, but TBG argues that it's all blended together from their hands grasping on Mount Rushmore.  He may have a point.

To Have and Have Not has a fantastic last shot, but the wonderfulness does not last long enough to be included on on the list.  Surprises - Charade and Psycho - are more pointed and so may be included, despite their brevity.

Those are the rules.  What would you add?


  1. I'm a fan of westerns (no surprise there) and one of the great endings is Red River with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. They had just had a fight and are sitting in the dust, watching Clift's love interest walk off, mad at them both.
    Thomas Dunson: When we get back to the ranch, I want you to change the brand. It'll be like this: The Red River D, and we'll add an M to it. You don't mind that, do you?
    Matt Garth : No.
    Thomas Dunson : You earned it.

    It's a better ending than the serialization on which it was based. I liked Borden Chase as a western author, and he did the screenplay for this movie. His serialization didn't have as good an ending as he gave the movie :)

    1. I do like Red River, but all those cows, those cows, those cows forever and ever crossing the river makes it almost impossible for me to watch it. Seems it’s a rare example of the movie out-shining the book.

    2. Funny on the cows as I live with them, love movies with them in it, and constantly photograph any I see on vacation lol

  2. Sound of Music! I was 15 or 16 when it came out and I first saw it which probably explains why it's my favorite movie. Every time it's on TV I pop it in my DVD to watch it again. I just love to see the family climbing that mountain!

  3. Great topic on movie endings. Needed internet help and, of those i researched, I submit the following:
    1. Godfather ending with Michael lying to Kay about killing Fredo and then being annointed by the mob kissing his ring as the door closes
    2. Shawshank Redemption: two friends meeting on the bench having their freedom
    3. One flew over the Cukoos Nest Will killing McMurphy who was a vegetable knowing that is what he would have wanted
    4. Dr. Strangelove with the explosions representing the world powers and leaders ejaculating
    5. La La Land: a happy ending that does not have the lovers together but reaching their individual goals
    6. The Graduate: the looks on their faces on the bus when they realize that they have no idea what the hell they just did

  4. As I just told you on your couch, great choices!

  5. I happily remember going into NYC to see Gone With the Wind, and feeling “edgy” posting “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” in our locker. Also weeping at Camelot another time❤️. Thanks for stirring the memory pot. I finally signed up for a gmail so I could respond­čśÄ.
    Congratulations to all upon the arrival of the new little Prince.

    1. How lovely to see your voice in The BUrrow, FAMBB! We wept harder over Guinevere and Arthur than Scarlett and Rhett, didn’t
      T we?


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