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To Those About to Die, We Salute You!


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Ever since Eddie G. died in "Little Caesar" I've been enjoying watching death scenes in films. Don't call it morbid glee, since we all know they aren't really dying so this enjoyment of mine is acceptable in polite society. I will say seeing Robinson ask the immortal question, "Is this the end of Rico" did sharpen my critical attitudes about what constitutes a great movie death scene.
 

Now there are overly melodramatic death scenes in films, but also comic ones too. All can be considered being up for attention here. Due to the legend of the supposed deathbed statement, "Dying is easy, comedy is harder" or whatever has been quoted, we all know that for some actors, maybe they would prefer to be dying in a film. And often, I have seen performances where I hope the character will depart for Elysian Fields sooner rather than later. Whether it was Edmund Gwenn or Edward Keane or someone we've never heard of, the quote lives on, and inspires such take-offs as Art Buchwald's "Dying is easy. Parking is hard."

I love to watch actors expire on screen and have a morbid curiosity on how well they are doing it, so I watch their chest to see if they are really trying to stop breathing in and out, and I check their eyelids just to see if they don't flutter and look for other signs of their attention to detail. The luckiest actors have death scenes like the Wicked Witch of the West in TWOO, who gets to die by just collapsing into a puddle while yelling out "I'm melting!!!!" Lucky girl.

I do appreciate the fine death scene in "Bonnie and Clyde" and think it is well done. A more difficult potential death scene is Scott Carey's in "The Incredible Shrinking Man" because one wonders, how small can he get and still be alive? We never get to see him die, just end up outside the basement window, glad to be rid of that agressive spider fighting him. I will say the spider's death throes were wonderful though, when he got the, I think sewing pin maybe, thrust up into his girth and then there was a lot of creepy aftermath which was impressive. It is hard to make a spider perform a death scene well I would think so kudos to that director, Jack Arnold.
 

Well, we laugh at death since thanatopsis gets the last laugh, and films prove that over and over. If you have a favorite death scene, that you admire due to the actor's prowess or you are just glad to see this actor dead under any circumstances, please share with us.

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I do hope you are planning a thread about births and rebirths, which can cover characters like Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger who come back from death with relative ease.

It's only fair we look at the opposite end of this, CG. :) 

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5 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I do hope you are planning a thread about births and rebirths, which can cover characters like Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger who come back from death with relative ease.

It's only fair we look at the opposite end of this, CG. :) 

Yikes, you are opening up a whole can of worms, TB!

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Flashiest farewell: Roy Scheider in All That Jazz. While seemingly sedadated, he went out in his mind in a giant burst of musical -theatre showsmanship culminating with a song called "Bye-Bye Life" and getting to wish all the women in his life farwell before going to meet Jessica Lange's graceful angel of death.

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Beyond the Forest has a great death scene!  I will warn here of a spoiler alert (!) for those who've yet to catch this Davis classic.  

Film critic Bosley Crowther dismissed the film upon its release, writing,

To be sure, the script by Lenore Coffee offers little for her to do but run through the usual banalities of an infidelity yarn ... For those who have not been embarrassed by pretensions in a fairly long time, let us recommend the climax of this incredibly artificial film—the final scene in which the lady, apparently burning up with a bad case of peritonitis, drags herself out of bed, pulls herself to her mirror, smears make-up on her face and gets dressed in disheveled finery to stagger forth toward the railroad tracks and death. With the clashing refrain of 'Chicago' beating in her head, she pays for her selfish sins and follies. Quite an experience, we'd say ... Not to be coy about it, we can see no 'Oscars' in the offing for this film.[5]

beyond.jpg

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7 hours ago, TomJH said:

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*CAGNEY is thje King of Cinematic Death Scenes  PUBLIC ENEMY, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, ROARING TWENTIES_(those stairs he died on as Eddie Bartlett also used in LITTLE CAESAR & are still standing at the best tour of all now that MGM has been destroyed at the Warner Bros. VIP Tour) & of course WHITE HEAT!!!

Only Hollywood death scenes I personally rate a wee bit higher are KONG of course  & *TRACY'S as MANUEL in 1937's CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

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1 hour ago, darrylfxanax said:

Beyond the Forest has a great death scene!  I will warn here of a spoiler alert (!) for those who've yet to catch this Davis classic.  

Film critic Bosley Crowther dismissed the film upon its release, writing,

To be sure, the script by Lenore Coffee offers little for her to do but run through the usual banalities of an infidelity yarn ... For those who have not been embarrassed by pretensions in a fairly long time, let us recommend the climax of this incredibly artificial film—the final scene in which the lady, apparently burning up with a bad case of peritonitis, drags herself out of bed, pulls herself to her mirror, smears make-up on her face and gets dressed in disheveled finery to stagger forth toward the railroad tracks and death. With the clashing refrain of 'Chicago' beating in her head, she pays for her selfish sins and follies. Quite an experience, we'd say ... Not to be coy about it, we can see no 'Oscars' in the offing for this film.[5]

beyond.jpg

Where does one find a copy of this film?

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12 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Where does one find a copy of this film?

I'm not sure, TopBilled.  I've got a VHS copy from a Cinemax broadcast, probably from the early 80's.  Then, about six months ago, while shopping at a local thrift store, I happened upon a homemade DVD for 1.00!  I've never seen a "proper" copy offered for sale.  I know it's mentioned often when posters discuss films they'd really like to see.  It must be a "rights issue".

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2 minutes ago, darrylfxanax said:

I'm not sure, TopBilled.  I've got a VHS copy from a Cinemax broadcast, probably from the early 80's.  Then, about six months ago, while shopping at a local thrift store, I happened upon a homemade DVD for 1.00!  I've never seen a "proper" copy offered for sale.  I know it's mentioned often when posters discuss films they'd really like to see.  It must be a "rights issue".

Lucky you. I want the name of the thrift store!

I think the film is most definitely tied up in rights limbo, which is unfortunate.

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Ronald Colman in A Double Life

This is a surprisingly realistic low key death scene, with Colman, having stabbed himself,  making conversation. He dies in mid sentence with his eyes still open as his face is suddenly stilled. It's a film full of melodrama but there is none of that here.

 

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Don't know why exactly, but the following two final death scenes by the lead actor in a war movie have always stuck with me more than any others in this particular genre, and ever since the first time I watched these films as a teenager back in the late-'60s on broadcast television:

Steve McQueen in 1962's Hell is for Heroes

William Holden in 1954's The Bridges at Toko-Ri

(...hmmm, ya know and come to think of it, maybe the very reason these HAVE stayed with me all these years is because they ARE the lead actors in these films, and "everybody knows" the lead actor is always supposed to survive in these kind'a movies, huh) ;) 

 

 

 

 

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