10 Perfect Cinematic Moments – Part II

AFistfulOfMomentsI LOVE Andrew of A Fistful of Films’s blogathon idea so much that I invited my pal Kevin G. aka Jack Deth to join in on the fun!


Greetings all and sundry!

Having been given an oblique invitation to participate in such an intriguing concept days ago from our hostess, Ruth. I would be remiss if I did not open long ago forgotten vault doors and peer within. Searching for that moment that make a film’s tale complete. Its raison d’etre. Establishing or unearthing a character. Or the adventure’s well hidden “McGuffin” before shocked and suddenly interested eyes.

To that end. Please allow me a few moments to rummage around. Make a few discoveries and bring those to well deserved attention an light with…

A Fistful Of Moments Blogathon!

Having chosen the nice round number or ten. My choices will be in increasing range, strength power, or “Throw Weight”, From least to most powerful or memorable.

#10 – Opening Sequence. Strangers On A Train (1951)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Classic Hitchcock being Htchcock. Playfully setting up the audience with the juxtapositions of randomness, perhaps fate. And opposites attracting. As depicted so well with Robert Walker and his Bruno Anthony’s rather snazzy, foppish, two toned Fleur di Lis wingtip shoes. With what could also be built up heels. Opposite Farley Granger and his, we imagine; tennis playing Guy Haines’ less well cared for and comfortable brown Broughams.

Creating a mysterious opening gambit in what will prove to be less than “a beautiful friendship,”!

#9 – Kilvinsky’s Law. The New Centurions (1972)

Director: Richard Fleischer

This scene sets up “Grand Old Man”, George C. Scott’s twenty year Uniform Patrolman Kilvinsky to a T. And offers sound advice with his wise words regarding Police intervention and “interfacing” with the public. Words leaned through hard knocks and the disadvantage shared by those whose trade is inserting themselves where they are often needed, but rarely wanted.

Especially when offered against Stacy Keach’s fresh from the Academy, rookie Roy Fehler. Who may not be ready for the reality of the street.

#8 – “Fire One!” The Bedford Incident (1965)

Director: James B. Harris

This is why bright and shiny new, scared to death of Captain graduates of the Naval Academy (James MacArthur. ‘Hawaii Five-O’) should never be allowed on a ship’s bridge. Let alone shiny, large numbered buttons!

Sub hunting is a specialized art and filled with volumes of unwritten rules both sides obey. Which is why each ASW ship has a Russian speaker to signal intentions. Verbally coax the enemy sub to the surface. And keep “Incidents” like this from ever happening.

Though, those rules are thrown away by Captain Finlander (Richard Widmark) in quest of recognition and perhaps, promotion in bringing another sub to the surface within Territorial Waters. Creating a cautionary tale from one of Stanley Kubrick’s more notable alums.

#7 -“Sherry Baby!” The Killing (1956)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

This is the scene where languorous, conniving Femme Fatale Sherry Peatty starts to see and gently apply pressure to the hairline cracks in her husband, George and his four “friends” plan to make a lot of money. Quickly! While allowing “The Grand Master of Sapdom” (Elisha Cook Jr.) to quietly, uncertainly flounder about and do what he does best!

A great piece of subtle cinema in a tale that is all too familiar with violence and irony.

#6 -“Little Birds”: Black Hawk Down (2001)

Director: Ridley Scott

This is what happens when Army Rangers have to clean up a previous controversial U.N. rocket attack and mess. And those Rangers are denied the use of AC-130 “Specter” gunships, Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles already in country and ready to respond. By then Under Secretary of State, Morton Halperin. For fear of “upsetting the locals”.

A powerful scene that brutally depicts the awesome marriage of firepower with modern technology!

#5 – “This Chess Thing”: Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993)

Director: Steven Zallian

This scene pulls the film’s tale together relatively early on. For Joe Mantegna’s sports writer, Fred Waitzken was originally skeptical of his young son, Josh’s talents. Though, with watching Josh play against all comers and making strong “Father & Son” time with out off state tournaments. Mr. Mantegan’s Fred is righteously entitle to “Go Full Mamet” on the unsuspecting teacher, Laura Linney!

#4 – Tango: Scent Of A Woman (1992)

Director: Martin Brest

This scene proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Al Pacino’s Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade is the smoothest, coolest man in any room! While also showing Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) the patient ease in gaining trust and winning people over by opening up senses to surroundings and beyond. Not an easy task for the uninitiated.

It’s interesting watching Donna’s (Gabrielle Anwar) apprehensions at first on the dance floor smooth out as the Tango ends.And her facial responses to Michael (David Lansbury) proving himself to be a rude and utter jerk. And that Donna may not be the best chooser of men, after all.

#3 – “Duty”: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Director: Steven Spielberg

A neat little scene that delivers glances at the cast’s characters. With the discussion being held in almost a classroom manner. Are there better, more action and suspense filled scenes? Certainly. But, this one works for me in character introduction. Defining the mission and setting up the next series of scenes!

#2 My Post. My Call. A Tie With Orson Welles!

#2B -Opening Sequence. Touch of Evil (1958)

Director: Orson Welles

Still one of the best tracking shots in cinema! Made even better by the removal of title, credit and cast throughout.Also one of the most efficient uses of “Making the fist scene the most interesting” and in this case, telling. Serious Skullduggery is afoot with the placement of the bomb in couple’s convertible. With the next obvious questions being, “Who placed it?” and “Why?”

An exceptional three and three quarters minutes of film. That should have gone another half minute longer to introduce Orson Welles’ corpulent, crooked Police Captain Hank Quinlan.

#2A -Harry Lime’s Entrance. The Third Man (1949)

Director: Carol Reed

Quite possibly, the best, most clever and efficient entrance in film. With only a pair of shoes peeking beneath deep alcove shadows and betrayed by Harry’s Calico cat. And even more with the echo of retreating, running footsteps. But, it is those few seconds when we see Harry’s face and smile where a very large piece of the puzzle of Harry Lime is revealed in a stream of light!

#1 Minnesota Fats. The Hustler (1961)

10 Perfect Cinematic Moments – Part II http://wp.me/pxXPC-9C7  Thanks to my loyal contributor Kevin aka Jack Deth! @fististhoughts

There’s a reason why I chose this film long ago as my first guest post and critique for Ruth and this site. And this clip, though brief lays out Paul Newman and his “Fast Eddie” Felson’s immediate future in no uncertain terms. There’s no disagreement that Jackie Gleason, rarely known for drama delivers with amazing calm and confidence as “Minnesota Fats” as he sees shots invisible to others as he waltzes around the pool table!


Check out Ted & my Top 20 Perfect Cinematic Moments

Agree? Disagree? Have A Personal Choice? The Floor Is Open For Discussion! 

30 thoughts on “10 Perfect Cinematic Moments – Part II

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Three Rows:

      Thanks very much!

      I was tempted earlier and mentioned three of these moments to Ruth last week. And added some extra time and gray matter for the other scenes and moments that have hung on, been pivotal and meant something to me in the realm of tale telling and yarn spinning.

      It’s also kind of cool that the ratio came out to about 50/50 with B&W and color!

  1. What a great list, Kevin! Of your choices, hands down, The Hustler wins. I also loved Touch of Evil and The Third Man. Bully for you for selecting the Tango dance starring Al Pacino. I loved it! Stangers on a Train–love the shoes!

    1. jackdeth72

      Thanks very much, Cindy!

      All parts of ‘The Hustler’ have rocked out loud since the first time I watched it decades ago. I wanted a scene that captured and expanded upon everything that makes it great, Mood, atmosphere, characters. The works!

      ‘Touch of Evil’ and ‘The Third Man’ were givens for all those items listed above. The Tango scene in ‘Scent of A Woman’ is all about silent revelation and Gabrielle Anwar’s Donna reacting and acting flawlessly to Al Pacino’s incredibly smooth lead. While the opening of ‘Strangers On A Train’ is just Hitchcock pulling the audience’s string with playful aplomb!

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Jay:

      Alfred Hitchcock had to make the list. And his opening sequence in ‘Strangers On A Train’ is a masterpiece of quickly revealed clues about its two main characters. Executed in a way that I and countless others would never have thought of! While the master chuckles quietly to himself.

      I looked for the scene with Bruno popping the kid’s balloon at the carnival, but couldn’t find it anywhere, Another character revealing and very telling few seconds!

    1. jackdeth72

      Greetings, Irene!

      Thank you, very much.

      Hitchcock is a proven master with the reputation of delivering more than anyone expects. And those films where the director plays his audience like a violin are always better for the effort. ‘Strangers On A Train’ is no exception. And perhaps his greatest, most subtle effort!

      His opening scene of ‘North By Northwest’ would be a close second.

      Thanks again for dropping by and adding to the discussion. I hope to see you do so more often.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Josh:

      Thanks much!

      I like to highlight and celebrate effort, excellence and execution when I see it. And my top three (#2s and #1) have the bar set very high, indeed!

      I also wanted to focus on slinky Marie Windsor’s ease in being the Femme Fatale opposite milquetoast Elisha Cook Jr. Instead of “The boys getting together to scheme”.

      While for opening sequences, Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers On A Train” is very hard to beat!

  2. Some fantastic cinematic moments, Kevin. Naturally, I’m especially fond of Orson Welles stellar “B” movie, TOUCH OF EVIL. That opening sequence, using our own Venice Beach here in L.A. for Tijuana, is a great one of staging and camera work. So memorable, as are the rest of yours. Well done, my friend.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Michael:

      Great catch and comment!

      There’s another story beneath Mr. Welles’ ‘Touch Of Evil’. Welles chose Venice Beach to be away from the suits and money men of the Hollywood’s studios. Preferring to film key scenes at night to heighten the secrecy.

      Can’t argue with Venice’s well worn, far from broken look and feel of a Mexican border town. Almost devoid of tall buildings, which aided in the Classic continuous tracking shot.

      Oh, and the cast pretty much rocks out loud in level and close up, “Chinese Angle” shots!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Brittani:

      That brief scene about “Duty” caught my attention the first time I saw the film on the big screen. Something that could easily have wound up on the Cutting Room floor, but didn’t. Offering a brief glace at the thumbnail sketches the cast owns. And offering a decent amount of fleshing out before the action begins.

  3. Love this, and thanks Jack for participating! And thanks Ruth for inviting him to!

    Love that the list is so varied and that there are so many films here that no one else mentioned!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Andrew:

      You’re more than welcome!

      I rarely back down from a challenge or ignore an invitation. Nor was I looking for one when I commented earlier of Ruth and Ted’s picks. Though, I was intrigued because your idea turned out to be such a fun idea full of varied opinions. And it’s turning out quite nicely.

      Very pleased with all the love headed towards ‘Strangers On A Train’. ‘Scent Of A Woman’ and ‘The Third Man’. Also looking forward to Michael’s choices next week!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Ted:

      Great looking, avatat!

      I didn’t know that the ratio of old B&W and newer color selection would about pan out about evenly. I’m glad liked ‘Black Hawk Down;. The first well executed “modern war film”. That clip proves that “There’s not a lot of ‘surrender.’ in Somali fighters. And the deck was stacked against the Rangers.

      While the scenes from ‘Scent Of A Woman’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ are very descriptive in subtle ways, And make the films better for their inclusion!

  4. Paul S

    Nice selections Kevin, as often we share a few favourites, especially Marie Windsor and Elisha Cook in The Killing.
    I recently watched The Outfit for the first time and was delighted to see them both make cameo appearances, along with several other greats of the film noir genre.
    If I was to make a similar list I’d probably mention the ending of Two-Lane Blacktop. The image of the celluloid burning up in the projector is one of the purest cinematic moments imaginable.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Paul:

      Great catch on ‘The Outfit’!

      I’d forgotten about the Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr.and Tim Carey in ‘The Outfit’. John Flynn does a lot with a small budget and “bare bones” approach in creating one of best Donald E. Westlake based Neo Noirs of the 1970s. And finding small, almost cameo roles for these three lift the film even higher,

      As Mr. Flynn had done for Paul Schrader’s first foray into writing with ‘Rolling Thunder’. where William Devane and a just starting out Tommy Lee Jones excel in a taut across the Texas border into Mexico revenge flick!

      Great suggestion with ‘Two Lane Blacktop’!

  5. Great list, Jack. These are all great moments. My only quibble is I may have put Harry Lime’s entrance from THE THIRD MAN in the #1 spot. Possibly the greatest entrance ever.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome. Paula:

      I will gladly take a “quibble” from one whose opinions I admire so much. There’s little doubt that the entrance of Harry Lime is very possibly the best and most well executed in film. Though, it’s a coup that I would expect from Mr. Welles directing himself. Not Carol Reed. Which raises the film even higher in my estimation.

      I wanted the #1 Spot to go to a film which I believe is the embodiment of mood, setting and B&W down and out atmosphere with ‘The Hustler’. If not just for Mr. Rossen directing Geoege C. Scott and a just being established, Paul Newman. It’s Jackie Gleason’s “Minnesota Fats” who walks away from every scene.

      1. You’re very kind, Jack. You definitely have a point…THE HUSTLER excels at placing the audience in a shady milieu and Gleason committed grand theft in the picture 😉

        1. jackdeth72

          Hi, Paula:

          Thanks again.

          My “quibble” with the clip from ‘The Hustler’ is that it should have picked up with Eddie and “Fats” lagging for break. Eddie wins and gently breaks. His cue ball barely touches the racked balls.

          Smiling smugly, Eddie says “I didn’t leave you much.”. To which “Fats” looks up from the rack and replies “You left enough”. And starts sweeping the table. Those extra ten seconds would have added so much more!

    1. jackdeth72

      Thanks very much, Dan!

      Assembling the choices was a lot of fun. Arranging them. Only slightly less so. My only wish is that a few ran just a bit longer. I’m glad you enjoyed it and am terribly pleased with how well it’s turned out.


    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, snapcracklewatch!

      Thanks very much for perusing and adding to the conversation.

      The opening of ‘Strangers On A Train’ rated very highly the first time I saw it years ago as a kid. Such a clever, far from obvious way to introduce characters before a word is spoken.

      While the fluid, noisy tracking shot beginning ‘Touch of Evil’ excels in setting a mysterious, dangerous plot among less than pristine surroundings. While obliquely introducing characters without a wasted frame.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Pingback: Movie Review – Eyes Wide Shut |

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