Great Moments in Movies and Shows

From cartoons to live action, big screen to small, shorts to features, silent era to present day, here are some of my favorite screen moments, sung and unsung, in chronological order.

NOTE: This list will be updated periodically.
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1.
The Kid (1921)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy. (68 mins.)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
“ The Kid (Jackie Coogan) reaches out desperately for The Tramp (Charles Chaplin) from the back of a truck as the social workers take him away. ” - J. Spurlin
 
2.
Felix Gets His Fill (1925 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Felix, hungry and looking for a meal, hears that food is plentiful down south, and decides to check it out...
Director: Otto Messmer
“ In a moment both bizarre and poignant, a grateful Felix the Cat returns the cottony hair, eyebrows and beard to the old black man he stole them from. ” - J. Spurlin
 
3.
The Gold Rush (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more. (95 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
“ The Little Tramp (Charles Chaplin) makes the best of his meal: boiled shoe leather, even offering a bent nail to Big Jim (Mack Swain) as if it were a wishbone they could break. ~ In a dream, the Tramp entertains his guests by making ballerina feet out of a pair of rolls. ~ Georgia (Georgia Hale) sees all the party decorations and realizes how callous she has been. ~ The Tramp blames the tilting house on dyspepsia. ” - J. Spurlin
 
4.
The General (1926)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines. (67 mins.)
“ The excitement of the train chase does not prevent Annabelle (Marion Mack) from taking out a broom to sweep the dusty floor of the engine. An exasperated Johnnie (Buster Keaton) tells her to keep throwing wood into the fire. She takes a small stick and daintily puts it in. Johnnie sarcastically hands her a sliver, and she puts that in, too. Then Johnnie grabs her and half-throttles her before kissing her instead. ” - J. Spurlin
 
5.
Animal Crackers (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Mayhem and zaniness ensue when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famed African explorer Captain Spaulding. (97 mins.)
Director: Victor Heerman
“ During the "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" number, Groucho asks with sublime irrelevance: "Did someone call me schnorrer?" ” - J. Spurlin
 
6.
M (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. (117 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ Hans (Peter Lorre) looks in the mirror at the back of his coat and sees the letter "M" written in chalk. ” - J. Spurlin
 
7.
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
“ The onetime blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) realizes who her secret benefactor really is. ” - J. Spurlin
 
8.
Birthday Blues (1932 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Dickie throws a birthday party to try to raise money to buy his mother a birthday present. (20 mins.)
Director: Robert McGowan
“ This "Our Gang" short contains what are perhaps the two most memorable moments in the series. Spanky (George McFarland) suggests to his brother Dickie (Dickie Moore) that they buy their mother a shotgun for her birthday. Dickie asks what would she do with a gun. Spanky replies, "Shoot papa!" ~ The pulsating cake in the oven makes its indescribable "Wee-OWWW!" sound. ” - J. Spurlin
 
9.
King Kong (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition. (100 mins.)
“ Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), giving Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) a screen test, provokes her into screaming bloody murder at some giant unseen thing. Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot grabs the captain's arm and asks, "What's he think she's really gonna see?" ~ Kong reaches through a window in a high-rise building, picks a woman out of her bed and then callously throws her down into the street when he realizes she's not Ann. ~ Kong, on top of the Empire State Building, gently sets down Ann and pets her, resigned to his fate. ” - J. Spurlin
 
10.
Duck Soup (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale. (68 mins.)
Director: Leo McCarey
“ Harpo's tattoo of a doghouse proves to have a real dog inside it. ” - J. Spurlin
 
11.
Hi'-Neighbor! (1934 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The gang decides to build their own fire engine. (17 mins.)
Director: Gus Meins
“ The camera pans along the gang's makeshift fire truck—an absurd, poignant monstrosity—showing it from the point of view of Wally's appalled sweetheart. ” - J. Spurlin
 
12.
Top Hat (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An American dancer comes to Britain and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer. (101 mins.)
Director: Mark Sandrich
“ Fred Astaire sings "Cheek to Cheek" to Ginger Rogers, telling her that he is in heaven. And so are we, especially when they start dancing. ” - J. Spurlin
 
13.
Way Out West (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Stan and Ollie are charged with delivering the deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector... (64 mins.)
Director: James W. Horne
“ As The Avalon Boys sing "At the Ball, That's All," Laurel and Hardy break into an impromptu soft-shoe dance, kicking off my pick for the all-time greatest movie scene. ” - J. Spurlin
 
14.
Pinocchio (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. (88 mins.)
“ Lampwick begins turning into a donkey as Pinocchio blames the strange sight on his cigar. ” - J. Spurlin
 
15.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. (100 mins.)
Director: John Huston
“ Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) walks over to his desk, turns around, slaps his hands together and laughs in contempt at Iva (Gladys George). ~ Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) tells Sam that he likes talking to a man who likes to talk. ~ Sam, after his calculated outburst against Gutman, is alone when he drops the act and notices with wry amusement that his hand is shaking. ~ Sam tells Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) that when he's slapped, he'll take it and like it. ~ Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.), with tears in his eyes, realizes what Sam and the rest are about to do to him. ~ Brigid (Mary Astor) laughs with nervous terror, desperately hoping that Sam is only kidding when he tells her what he is going to do. ” - J. Spurlin
 
16.
Dumbo (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential. (64 mins.)
“ The laughing hyenas laugh in their sleep during the "Baby Mine" number. ~ In the "Pink Elephants" sequence, the belly dancer dissolves as her belly turns into an giant eyeball. ~ During the circus climax, Timothy convinces Dumbo at the last second that he can fly without his magic feather. ~ During the reprise of "When I See an Elephant Fly," Dumbo flies into his mother's trunk and hugs her with his giant ears. ” - J. Spurlin
 
17.
The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (1946 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Daffy Duck has a dream in which he is Duck Twacy, a detective forced to fight an army of grotesque villians. (8 mins.)
Director: Robert Clampett
Stars: Mel Blanc
“ With absurd overconfidence, Daffy Duck declares to the pack of monstrous villains: "You're all under arrest!" before all of them roar in furious contempt. ” - J. Spurlin
 
18.
The Third Man (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime. (104 mins.)
Director: Carol Reed
“ A shaft of light suddenly reveals Harry Lime (Orson Welles) standing in the doorway, as Anton Karas's jaunty zither score greets him, in what may be the most thrilling moment in the movies. ” - J. Spurlin
 
19.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. (92 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
“ Most memorable moment: Gort suddenly appears at the entrance of the spacecraft to the sound of Bernard Herrmann's eerie theremin music. Most exciting: Herrmann's music explodes into panic when the guards suddenly realize that Klaatu (Michael Rennie) has escaped. Most magical: Bobby (Billy Gray) silently follows the strange new boarder, who winds up at the spaceship. ” - J. Spurlin
 
20.
The Thing from Another World (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost. (87 mins.)
Director: Christian Nyby
“ Something is buried in the ice. The scientists and military men stand on the outline and discover that it's shaped like a giant saucer. ” - J. Spurlin
 
21.
Glen or Glenda (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  
A psychiatrist tells two stories: one of a transvestite (Glen or Glenda), the other of a pseudohermaphrodite (Alan or Anne). (65 mins.)
“ In Ed Wood's sublimely awful docudrama about transvestism, an irrelevant shot of stampeding buffalo dissolves into Bela Lugosi crying, "Pull the string! Pull the string!" You figure it out. ” - J. Spurlin
 
22.
Rear Window (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. (112 mins.)
“ Jeff (James Stewart) and Stella (Thelma Ritter) watch helplessly from the opposite building as Lars (Raymond Burr) returns to his apartment, which an oblivious Lisa (Grace Kelly) continues to search. ” - J. Spurlin
 
23.
That's My Mommy (1955 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When a duck hatches from the egg underneath Tom, he is convinced he is his mother. Tom thinks that he would like to eat the newborn duck, but Jerry shows him the truth while saving him from being eaten. (6 mins.)
Stars: Red Coffey
“ The little duck realizes that his "mommy" (Tom the cat) wants to eat him and sadly resigns himself to it. "If my nice momma wants a duck dinner, my nice momma's gonna have a duck dinner." Happily, Tom has a change of heart. This absurd and shamelessly manipulative scene gets me every time. ” - J. Spurlin
 
24.
What's Opera, Doc? (1957 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Elmer Fudd is again hunting rabbits - only this time it's an opera. Wagner's Siegfried with Elmer as the titular hero and Bugs as Brunnhilde. They sing, they dance, they eat the scenery. (7 mins.)
Director: Chuck Jones
“ Elmer Fudd weeps over his tragic mistake as Bugs Bunny offers cold comfort to us in the audience. ” - J. Spurlin
 
25.
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.0/10 X  
Aliens resurrect dead humans as zombies and vampires to stop humanity from creating the Solaranite (a sort of sun-driven bomb). (79 mins.)
“ The condescending space alien, Eros (Dudley Manlove), petulantly complains, "You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!" ” - J. Spurlin
 
26.
Vertigo (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)
“ Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) sees Judy (Kim Novak) bathed in green light as she enters the room fully transformed into Madeleine. ” - J. Spurlin
 
27.
North by Northwest (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. (136 mins.)
“ The sinister crop-dusting plan hits an oil truck as Bernard Herrmann's music explodes into a frenzy. ” - J. Spurlin
 
28.
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV Series)
Episode: A World of Difference (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A businessman sitting in his office inexplicably finds that he is on a production set and in a world where he is a movie star. Uninterested in the newfound fame, he fights to get back to his home and family. (51 mins.)
“ Arthur Curtis (Howard Duff) hears "cut," looks to the direction of the voice and sees that one of the walls of his office is missing and a movie crew is staring at him. His office has suddenly become a movie set, and Arthur Curtis has just entered... the Twilight Zone. ” - J. Spurlin
 
29.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
“ Bernard Herrmann's music screeches in horror as "mother" rips back the shower curtain. ” - J. Spurlin
 
30.
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV Series)
Episode: Living Doll (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A frustrated father does battle with his stepdaughter's talking doll, whose vocabulary includes such phrases as "I hate you" and "I'm going to kill you". (51 mins.)
“ Erich (Telly Savalas) answers the phone and hears, "My name is Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you." ” - J. Spurlin
 
31.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life. (137 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ Rosemary (Mia Farrow) sees her baby for the first time as Krzysztof Komeda's music lets us know just how shocking the sight is for her. ” - J. Spurlin
 
32.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these flesh eating monsters. (96 mins.)
“ Johnny (Russell Streiner): "They're coming to get you, Barbara." Little does he or Barbara (Judith O'Dea) know that the "man" lumbering near them in the graveyard really is coming to get them. ” - J. Spurlin
 
33.
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: A Stitch in Crime (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A surgeon has an ingenious plan for murdering his partner in a research project, but a nurse catches onto the scheme. (100 mins.)
“ Columbo (Peter Falk) uses the murder weapon to crack open his hard-boiled egg. ~ The final shot (which I won't reveal here) provides for the most terrific Columbo ending of all. ” - J. Spurlin
 
34.
A Performance of Macbeth (1979 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Macbeth is a daring member of the Scottish military who receives a revelation from three menacing sorceresses... (145 mins.)
Director: Philip Casson
“ In the midst of her sleepwalking trance, Lady Macbeth (Judi Dench in the best on-screen performance of this great role) gives out the deepest, blackest cry of despair. ” - J. Spurlin
 
35.
Fawlty Towers (1975 TV Series)
Episode: Communication Problems (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
When Mrs. Richards, a demanding woman who is hard of hearing, checks into the hotel, Basil, Sybil and... (30 mins.)
“ After Mrs. Richards (Joan Sanderson) bangs her head, Basil (John Cleese) picks a bit of something off the floor and asks, "Is this a piece of your brain?" ” - J. Spurlin
 
36.
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. (131 mins.)
“ Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) hop on a speeder bike to chase down a scout trooper in what gets my vote for the all-time greatest action scene. ” - J. Spurlin
 
37.
The Dead Zone (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A man awakens from a coma to discover he has a psychic ability. (103 mins.)
“ Johnny (Christopher Walken) breaks a vase with his cane and screams: "The ice is gonna break!" ” - J. Spurlin
 
38.
Basic Instinct (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A violent, suspended police detective investigates a brutal murder, in which a manipulative and seductive woman could be involved. (127 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
“ Famous for the wrong reason, the interrogation scene is a masterly piece of filmmaking from director Paul Verhoeven and his team. The best moment: the camera suddenly races up to Catherine (Sharon Stone) as she repeats the alibi Beth (Jeanne Tripplehorn) predicted she would make. ” - J. Spurlin