News

Pondering some of the great movie endings of all time

Deke Farrow
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

A Streetcar Named Desire

There's just no overstating the importance of a great ending to an otherwise great -- or even just decent -- movie. We've all walked out of the theater or shut off the DVD player after a clunker closing, wishing we could have our money back -- better yet, our time.

Sometimes, it's an ending that radically departs from that of the beloved book it's based on, like Stanley Kubrick's take on Stephen King's "The Shining." Sometimes -- and this is mostly in the mediocre movies -- it's a scene that's entirely unimaginative and/or simply sets up a possible sequel. (Hello, every horror flick since "Halloween" that has refused to let its villain just die already. You've really gutted the gotcha moment.)

On the other hand, we've all watched movies after which we almost demand that our friends rush out to see so that we can talk about how awesome the ending was, without spoiling it for anyone. That was me after "The Usual Suspects," Bryan Singer's 1995 crime drama.

Who is mysterious criminal mastermind Keyser Soze? We learn the answer after U.S. Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) releases small-time crook "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) after an interrogation, only to realize moments later that Kint has fed him one heck of a tall tale, playing off names and words on the bulletin board behind Kujan. Meanwhile, we see hunched and hobbled Kint undergo a dramatic transformation -- flexing his seemingly lame hand, straightening his crooked gait -- as he walks to a waiting car. I got chills.

So, as we start out the new year, let's look back at some great closing lines and scenes to favorite films. Some are literally last moments, some are memorable goodbyes. All should bring back fun movie memories:

"I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner." -- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." -- Back to the Future (1985)

The titular fugitives drive over a cliff to their deaths rather than surrender. -- Thelma & Louise (1991)

"Adriaaaaan" -- Rocky (1976)

"Shane. Shane! Come back. Bye, Shane!" -- Shane (1953)

"Hey, Stella!" -- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." -- Gone With the Wind (1939)

The crated Ark of the Covenant is unceremoniously wheeled into a government warehouse -- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Princess Leia awards medals to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca (but the real cliffhanger scene is Darth Vader tumbling out of control in his damaged TIE fighter). -- Star Wars (1977)

"All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up." -- Sunset Boulevard (1950)

"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." -- Casablanca (1942)

The return of Capt. Barbossa. "So, tell me, what's become of my ship." -- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006)

"Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast." -- King Kong, 1933

"And, oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home." -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dr. Malcolm Crowe realizes he's dead. -- The Sixth Sense (1999)

Oh, my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was ... We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell! -- Planet of the Apes (1968)

"And we'll go on forever, Pa, `cause we're the people" -- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." -- Love Story (1970)

"What do we do now?" -- The Candidate (1972)

"This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings." -- Network (1976)

"Mom, the newslady's turning into a werewolf." Newswoman Karen White caps her report revealing a community of werewolves by tearfully turning into one herself -- the only way to make people believe. -- The Howling (1981)

"One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires." -- The Lost Boys (1987)

"This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off." -- Alien (1979)

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez

Music

Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.