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)

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