WE NEVER remember full days, we only remember moments…and the same can be said for movies. Great Movies (like great days) are made up of great moments. They might only last for a second but we’ll remember them forever.
Sometimes they’re the work of the screenwriter, sometimes the director, sometimes the actor, sometimes the score composer, maybe even the editor. Sometimes it’s all of these combined. Great movies are movies that have moments we can not EVER imagine not seeing again.
Here are MY PERSONAL top ten Movie ‘Moments’
At 10: BLADERUNNER – “Like Tears in Rain”.
I worked with Rutger Hauer on a movie in 2004. During our time together we spoke about this iconic moment in Film History. What some people don’t realize is that the speech was written as such:
ROY BATTY: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time…Time to die.
Rutger is a very instinctual actor and before the closing gambit “Time to die” he threw in the now iconic line
“like tears in rain….”
This one single line or ‘Moment’ made him a movie legend!
PS: Check out Harrison Ford’s face. It says, “That’s not in the script”. A perfect example of how the best acting is re-acting.
At 9: ENTER THE DRAGON – “Outside”
It’s just one word “Outside”, but’s it’s the implication of the word. The Inner monologue that accompanies it and the expression and outlet of utter rage that follows it.
O’Hara, (the killer of Lee’s sister) calls upon Lee to remind him that he “Must attend the morning ritual I uniform”. In a feat of pure strength and balance, Lee turns on a sixpence whilst holding his kicking leg at 90 degree’s and whilst managing to stay as still as a man on two feet, utters the line with such cool contempt. This (despite being brilliant in itself) is not the ‘Moment’ for me however. The ‘Moment’ comes when O’Hara exits. Lee turns back to favour the camera, slowly bring down his kicking leg and then with revenge etched into his eyes performs what is quite frankly the fastest punching combination ever captured on camera, together with the cat like wail that has become so synonymous with Lee.
At 8: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE -“The Cat Screech”
When Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski meets Vivian Leigh’s Blanche Dubois in this amazing scene from Elia Kazan’s Streetcar Named Desire. Two of the greatest actors the World ever produced went toe to toe. Brando and Kazan where like two pea’s in a pod. Kazan allowed Brando to just ‘be’. What we have as a consequence is a scene that demonstrates one of the finest examples ever of true screen acting.
It’s what Brando Doesn’t say that makes it so watchable. His sex appeal roars from the screen. My ‘Moment’ however arrives at 1min:54 seconds into this clip when Brando mimics a Cat’s Screech before chewing on his lower lip, spinning 180 degree’s on his heels and heading off in search of his ‘Little Woman”. Job done. ‘Scene Stolen’.
At 7: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS – “Get three coffins ready”
When I was considering this top ten. The name Clint Eastwood cropped up more than most. To be honest I could have made a top ten just made up of Eastwood moments (and almost did).
Many people say Steve McQueen is the ‘King Of Movie Cool’ but as much as I love McQueen, I would have to give that accolade to Eastwood. After all, he is the man who coined my favourite screen acting philosophy “Don’t just DO something…STAND THERE!”
In this scene from the first of the Spaghetti Western Trilogy, the Man With No Name is heading for a Gun Fight. The scene is three minutes long, but The ‘Moment’ happens in the first 20 seconds. So confidant is he of the outcome, he pre-orders the bandits coffins with the old mumbling undertaker. Classic Clint
At 6: ENTER THE DRAGON “Boards Don’t Hit Back”
It is the morning after the scene at Number 9 (“Outside”) and Bruce Lee is drawn in a tournament fight against his sister’s killer O’Hara.
With dignity and Grace, Lee approaches his opponent and after bowing to the tournament’s organizer Mr. Hann, then turns to O’Hara (and despite his inner hatred) bows before his adversary.
O’Hara, lacking such grace merely holds up a wooden board and smashes it in two with his fist. Without batting an eye lid, Lee just looks to O’Hara and says…Well see for yourself…
At 5: ALIENS – “Get away from her you Bitch”
The Alien Franchise is my favourite Action/Horror franchise. James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece is (to some) an improvement on the original. Whilst I think it’s a great film and one of the better sequels, it is a very different movie to Scott’s ‘stiller thriller’.
Cameron and the scriptwriters took Sigourney weavers reluctant hero from the first movie and turned her into the all action hero she is in this (and to me THE greatest female action hero ever).
Rather like Chief Brody having a personal reason to kill the shark. Ripley now has an affinity with the Alien. The Queen. They think alike and in this amazing scene they even feel alike.
The great Hollywood acting coach Ivanna Chubbuck taught me to make everything personal. She said Everything is really about relationships. Whether it be The Two Lovers of Verona or a Starship Trooper and an Alien on the Planet Nebulosa. As an audience we want to see a connection, and we want the hero’s objectives to be universal and organic. Things we ALL have felt and feel. Love, validation and belonging.
What Cameron, Weaver and the writers did here, was to take an organic emotion that ALL females of ALL species have, that of ‘Maternal Instincts’. The overwhelming desire to protect their offspring. THAT is why I love ‘This Moment’ so much…
At 4: THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY -“The Stand Off”
Eastwood again, this time in the Third of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western Trilogy. It is the perfect blend of Direction, cinematography, music scoring, editing and acting coming together in perfect harmony.
This is the scene that gave the World The Mexican Stand Off. A scene (and style) that has been mimicked in hundreds of movies since, (perhaps most notably by Quentin Tarantino) and was even homage’d in my latest film HARD BOILED SWEETS.
Only Sergio Leone can grip an audience for 5 minutes with extreme close ups of three actors staring at each other. Using Cut aways of three very different guns, three very different stances, three very different levels of stress and anticipation. A three-way showdown meant the actors could look to the right, back to the left and back to the right again, which they do using only their eyes. The classic waist high shot from just ‘behind’ the actor looking forward is another stunning set up.
So, what is the ‘Moment’ in this scene?
It’s the moment when, having written the name of the Grave that hides the loot on the back of a rock, Eastwood places it on the ground. Just as it hits the ground Leone ‘zooms in quickly’ with the camera and Morricone’s masterful score kicks in. (32 seconds into the clip).
At 3: JAWS “Smile You Son Of A….”
Jaws is my favourite movie of all time. And Roy Scheiders performance as Police Chief Brody is my favourite ever movie performance (controversial to some). So it, and he had to make my top ten.
Jaws Is the film that really introduced the World to a genius film maker, who at aged just 29 placed three of the best actors together on a boat called The Orca.
Some people say the worse parts of JAWS are the parts in which we see the Shark, and I ‘almost agree’ with this. The genius of Jaws for me, is the creation of immense unrivalled suspense with merely the use of John Williams ‘genius’ three key score and Quint’s three yellow barrels! The one moment in which the shark appears that ‘does’ work however, is when it bows out with a bang.
Roy Scheider has made his way onto the mast of the sinking ORCA with only a rifle for company. He presumes his two fishing companions to be dead. Spielberg places a shooting star in the background (or was that God’s work I still don’t know), as the creature heads for Brody chewing on a gas cylinder that he had managed to throw into it’s mouth in the previous scene.
Now here’s the special part for me. Nobody really questions WHY chief Brody is so afraid of the water. His back-story is private. His reasons for killing the fish personal. As an actor I like to think if I were playing that role, this would be revenge. For something that had happened to me as a young boy (perhaps my best friend was killed by a Shark and I just stood there unable to help him?).
With this in mind, I don’t need to tell you what the ‘Moment’ is in this scene. Brodie takes several pop shots at the shark…then just at the very last moment he pauses and says with such hatred and determination…
“Smile you son of a…”
At 2: FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE – “The Musical Watch”
This is quite possibly my favourite SCENE in movie history. In fact if this top ten was SCENES and not MOMENTS, this would have been my number one.
My favourite scene in film history can best be described by a fan that left a comment beneath this very YOU tube clip. I could not really put it any better so I will just repeat them word for word. They wrote:
Expressions are so underrated in movies. Col. Mortimer’s hatred and contempt for The Indian and his utter frustration at his gun being out of reach is clearly conveyed in his eyes. The Indian’s arrogance and delight at his foe’s plight twinkles in his eyes as he smiles. Clint Eastwood’s character showcases all the contempt that the audience has for this villain not only for what he has done, but for trying to fight an unfair fight and so he evens up the odds. All of this is conveyed without a single word needed.
So what is the ‘Moment’ from this clip?
Just as The Indian’s pocket watch is about to finish its chime cycle (signaling the cue to draw their weapons and Mortimer’s death ), a second chime can be heard. Clint Eastwoods hand rises into a legendary Leone wide shot, revealing Col. Mortimer’s stolen watch in close up.
(1 minute 8 seconds into the clip).
And so my countdown ends. Do please feel free to write YOUR personal favourite movie moments in the comments box below this post. Or tweet me them personally @scotwilliams.
So, what’s at Number One you say? Well at Number ONE I have….
At 1: JAWS – “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”
My favourite moment in Film History is the moment that the 14 ft shark they THINK they’re hunting, becomes THAT 40 ft shark and the goalposts move, the bar is raised, the playing field becomes VERY uneven.
Spielberg and Scheider don’t over-react. Instead Scheider’s Brody bolts upright and backs into the relative ‘safety’ of the wooden bridge inside the Orca and without taking his eyes off the ocean for one single second, or even taking the burning cigarette from his lips, he utters what HAS to be the greatest Movie ad-lib of all time.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”
That’s right. You heard me correctly. I have ended my list as I began it, with an AD-LIB. What people don’t realize is that here (Much like Rutger Hauer’s improvised line “Like Tears In Rain”). Scheider brings a line out of the moment that helped towards his now legendary status.
Once again, if we study the other guy, we see that Robert Shaw’s reaction is so natural, because he is ‘listening’ to his co-star and (if you’ll pardon the pun) has placed HIS boat on Scheider’s Ocean.
Whatever Scheider’s does therefore determines what Shaw’s boat does; and that is as good as acting can ever be.
This moment of movie magic came to Roy Scheider ‘In The Moment’ (as we actors like to call it) and that is why is it MY FAVOURITE MOVIE MOMENT EVER (SO FAR!!)