The 40 all time greatest film endings

Some of the greatest film endings are the dynamic ones. Some are the best in the "switch" or "trick" ending department. Some are best in showing characters make revelations. And some are just simply magnificent. Here are, what I consider, the top 40.
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1.
D.O.A. (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Frank Bigelow, told he's been poisoned and has only a few days to live, tries to find out who killed him and why. (83 mins.)
Director: Rudolph Maté
“ Edmond O'Brien was one of the great actors. Throughout this film, he had a roving eye, but must have set a record for the number of times he mentioned the name "Paula". When the luminous poison finally takes effect, the music matches the tone to perfection, as Paula will finally learn what took place. We don't have to see her reaction. We know it best by not being shown ” - drystyx
 
2.
Ride the High Country (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An ex-union soldier is hired to transport gold from a mining community through dangerous territory. But what he doesn't realize is that his partner and old friend is plotting to double-cross him. (94 mins.)
Director: Sam Peckinpah
“ Simply the greatest gunfight scene in film History, with apologies to fans of "The Tin Star". When Randolph and Joel face off against Anderson, Oates, and Drury, the zooms are epic, the directing magnificent, and the final death scene moving as an epic hero fades into the mountain backdrop. ” - drystyx
 
3.
Bataan (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Japan has just invaded the Phillipines and the US Army attempts a desperate defence. Thirteen men are... (114 mins.)
Director: Tay Garnett
“ The last three battle to the end, through the sneaky attacks of the enemy, with Robert Taylor finishing off behind his machine gun to the end, as he never quits. ” - drystyx
 
4.
The Princess and the Pirate (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Princess Margaret is travelling incognito to elope with her true love instead of marrying the man her father has betrothed her to... (94 mins.)
Director: David Butler
“ All throughout, Hope manages this film on his own, but does he get the girl? Or does some other rascal? ” - drystyx
 
5.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A newly engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. (100 mins.)
Director: Jim Sharman
“ It ends with one of the most moving songs ever, with the final line of the criminologist ending our story. ” - drystyx
 
6.
Play Dirty (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
During the Desert War in North Africa, a group of British commandos disguised in Italian soldiers must travel behind enemy lines and destroy a vital Nazi oil depot. (118 mins.)
Director: Andre De Toth
“ Whatever else you may think about this war film, you have to admit the ending is one of the biggest surprises ever. ” - drystyx
 
7.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. (95 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ I was never a fan of this movie, but even I have to admit one of the most iconic images ever is Slim Pickens riding the bomb at the end. ” - drystyx
 
8.
Jungle Fighters (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
In 1942, a group of British soldiers is sent on a mission in the Malaysian jungle and gets lost into the Japanese controlled zone. (110 mins.)
Director: Leslie Norman
“ Hands down, undeniably the most ironic ending ever, as each character meets an ironic fate in this classic war film. ” - drystyx
 
9.
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves. (207 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ The entire final battle is stirring, and it culminates with the final blow, and the three survivors leaving the farmers. ” - drystyx
 
10.
Soylent Green (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a big company CEO. (97 mins.)
“ Another film I am not a fan of, but again, I have to admit the final scene is iconic, as Heston declares what Soylent Green is. ” - drystyx
 
11.
Antarctica (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Two Japanese scientists, Ushioda and Ochi, develop a bond with their sled dogs while on an expedition in Antarctica... (143 mins.)
“ The rousing music helps the mood in this directorial triumph about sled dogs left behind in Antarctica. ” - drystyx
 
12.
The Last Hunt (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Set in the early 1880s, this is the story of one of the last buffalo hunts in the Northwest. Sandy McKinzie is tired of hunting buffalo... (108 mins.)
Director: Richard Brooks
“ One of the few action films ever made where the hero actually never kills a person during the movie. How he escapes the sadist is thoroughly believable and iconoclastic. ” - drystyx
 
13.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. (201 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
“ Frodo's last smile to the camera, and the return to the status quo of the shire, which Sam will live out. ” - drystyx
 
14.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Set during the Korean War, a Navy fighter pilot must come to terms with with his own ambivalence towards the war and the fear of having to bomb a set of highly defended bridges. The ending of this grim war drama is all tension. (102 mins.)
Director: Mark Robson
“ A humiliating end for our heroes, in the mud of a ditch. And the resolution between the two officers afterwards. ” - drystyx
 
15.
Von Ryan's Express (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An American POW leads a group of mainly British prisoners to escape from the Germans in WWII. (117 mins.)
Director: Mark Robson
“ Sinatra's character deals with the inhumanities as best he can, and the end is dynamic as he runs toward the train for a final escape. ” - drystyx
 
16.
First Spaceship on Venus (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  
When an alien artifact discovered on Earth is found to have come from Venus, an international team of astronauts embarks to investigate its origins. (93 mins.)
Director: Kurt Maetzig
“ The greatest depiction of the panic and chaos of disaster in Space. One of the most poignant endings ever. ” - drystyx
 
17.
Room Service (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A penniless theatrical producer must outwit the hotel efficiency expert trying to evict him from his room, while securing a backer for his new play. (78 mins.)
“ The funniest film ever made, the best of the Marx Brothers, and it ends with a bang, not a whimper ” - drystyx
 
18.
Hair (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Claude leaves the family ranch in Oklahoma for New York where he is rapidly indoctrinated into the youth subculture and subsequently drafted. (121 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ Truly an amazing film adaptation of the play. The final song medley and scene is epic. ” - drystyx
 
19.
Moonraker (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
James Bond investigates the mid-air theft of a space shuttle and discovers a plot to commit global genocide. (126 mins.)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
“ Okay, so not the best 007 film, but a 007 film has to end with a witticism, and this time it's Q who gets it, an epic line. ” - drystyx
 
20.
Charade (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust? (113 mins.)
Director: Stanley Donen
“ The final witty scene with Cary and Audrey is epic and iconic. ” - drystyx
 
21.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. (136 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
“ Keeping as close to the book as one can do in Hollywood, it ends with the final disillusionment of war ” - drystyx
 
22.
The Searchers (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe. (119 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ The Duke's Ethan character is one of the most evil characters ever in film, and his final scene could soften the hardest heart ” - drystyx
 
23.
Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
During the Civil War, a Southern civilian is about to be hanged for attempting to sabotage a railway bridge. When the execution takes place from the bridge, the rope breaks and he begins his escape toward home. (28 mins.)
Director: Robert Enrico
“ There are horse races and there is the Kentucky derby. There are shockers, and there is Owl Creek Bridge ” - drystyx
 
24.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When Scott Carey begins to shrink because of exposure to a combination of radiation and insecticide, medical science is powerless to help him. (81 mins.)
Director: Jack Arnold
“ Somewhat an allegory, and somehat science fiction, it ends with no resolution, but a continuation into existence. ” - drystyx
 
25.
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 the remain safe from these flesh eating monsters. (96 mins.)
“ Dark humor puts a huge stamp on the end of this cult classic. ” - drystyx
 
26.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice. (129 mins.)
Director: Robert Mulligan
“ Poignant ending that would not be acceptable today. A greater era. ” - drystyx
 
27.
Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The idyllic life of Tarzan and Jane is challenged by men on safari who come seeking ivory, and come seeking Jane as well. (104 mins.)
Director: Cedric Gibbons
“ The climactic lion scene brings out the best in everybody, as we see the last stand of one of the most three dimensional villains ever ” - drystyx
 
28.
Five Deadly Venoms (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A dying teacher instructs his final student to check on the activities of five former pupils, each of... (97 mins.)
Director: Cheh Chang
“ Although the sixth student is trained to be able to defeat any of the first five ones who turned to evil, only if he is aligned with one of the five, it is the three who conitnue in evil who turn on each other in the final duel to defeat themselves. ” - drystyx
 
29.
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.)
“ James Mason remains cool to the end, Landau sadistic to the end, and then the famous sublime image to finish it. ” - drystyx
 
30.
Shane (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act. (118 mins.)
Director: George Stevens
“ Many hints to unanswered questions, but in the end Shane decides he has lived too long, and vanishes into the wilds. ” - drystyx
 
31.
Macon County Line (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A vengeful Southern sheriff is out for blood after his wife is brutally killed by a pair of drifters... (89 mins.)
Director: Richard Compton
“ An ending that would be shocking, even today. ” - drystyx
 
32.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An oppressed Mexican peasant village assembles seven gunfighters to help defend their homes. (128 mins.)
Director: John Sturges
“ When you do a remake of classic, and stay reasonably true to it, your ending will be classic like this, too. ” - drystyx
 
33.
Easy Rider (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Two counterculture bikers travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of America. (95 mins.)
Director: Dennis Hopper
“ I'm not a fan of this cult classic, but the ending is perfect for the mood of the movie. ” - drystyx
 
34.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it. (161 mins.)
Director: David Lean
“ Madness. ” - drystyx
 
35.
It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A homeless New Yorker moves into a mansion and along the way he gathers friends to live in the house with him. Before he knows it, he is living with the actual home owners. (116 mins.)
Director: Roy Del Ruth
“ The ending can bring a tear to anyone's eye, as our likable bum reaches even the sternest heart. ” - drystyx
 
36.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients. (133 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ What always moved me was the way that Nicholson's character didn't blame the boy for squealing, knowing the boy was a slave to an evil woman. ” - drystyx
 
37.
The Tin Star (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A cynical former sheriff turned bounty hunter helps a young, recently appointed acting sheriff with his advice, his experience and his gun. (93 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
“ The final confrontation with Perkins and Brand is a directorial triumph. ” - drystyx
 
38.
The Black Castle (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Man investigates the disappearance of two of his friends who were the guests of a sinister Austrian count. (82 mins.)
Director: Nathan Juran
“ The king of "darkest before the dawn" films, the ultimate adventure film, ends with the darkness looking unbeatable before the Dawn. ” - drystyx
 
39.
Flesh+Blood (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord who decides not to pay them by kidnapping the betrothed of the noble's son... (128 mins.)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
“ Great character throughout, and the end leaves you wondering what kind of rulers the young pair will be, and what the other survivors will do. ” - drystyx
 
40.
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
An innocent cowboy convicted with three robbers, travels with them to get a share of their hidden loot. (73 mins.)
Director: Fred F. Sears
“ The king of "switch" or "trick" endings in this Western about ex convicts looking for hidden loot. ” - drystyx