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Small Scenes: Big Memories

John W. Pinkerton


Do you remember the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Indiana Jones was confronted by a scimitar wielding giant? Jones surprised us all when he drew his pistol and shot the fellow dead without so much as a “howdy do”  Jones acted as though he just didn't have the time for chitchat.

That's one of the small scenes in movies which have stuck in my old brain.

Apocalypse Now was a great movie.  The memorable little snippet of this movie involved Jay “Chef” Hick
(Frederic Forrest) who is a saucier as a civilian gets permission to leave the boat on the river in Cambodia to “get me some mangoes.”  As he moves through the shadows of the night in the jungle, a tiger suddenly growls and jumps out of the darkness.  I was so surprised that I kicked the seat in front of me.   When he gets back to the boat, he repeats over and over, “Never get out of the boat”: words to live by.

The creepiest scene ever in a movie was the dining scene in Hannibal.  Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins)
and Clarice (Julieanne Moore) are seated at a dining table with Krenler (Ray Liotta) for his last meal which consists of a portion of his brain from which Hannibal has removed its skull covering.   I had to turn away from the screen.

Jaws was a movie I didn't particularly enjoy, but the
scene in which the size of the shark becomes apparent to Roy Sneider's character when he commented, “We're going to need a bigger boat.”

I'm a great fan of Jack Nicholson and the crazier he acts, the better I like
him.  The scene in The Shining in which he breaks through the bathroom door with an ax in pursuit of his wife, sticks his head in, and in his best crazy Jack way says, “Here's Johnny,” is a personal favorite.

In No Country for Old Men Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) flips a coin to determine whether or not he
will kill a store clerk.  It illustrated the pure amoral evil of the character.  That was a little disturbing.

In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the chief bandit
(Alfonso Bedoya) reponds when asked if he has a badge, “Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!”  I'm not sure whether or not it was supposed to be funny, but it was.
The closing scene of Chinatown grabbed me.   The
police open fire as Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) is driving away with her daughter, killing Evelyn. Cross (John Huston) clutches the daughter and leads her away.  Lawrence Walsh, one of Cross' associates, tells Jake (Jack Nicholson), "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." It left one with a sense of hopelessness.

The closing scene of Dr. Strangelove:  or How I Learned
Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was a series of images of atomic bombs exploding around the world as the results of the doomsday machine.  The genius of the scene was the accompanying music, “We'll Meet Again.”  I was a senior at LSU at the time and I'm still impressed.

I seldom watch a movie more than once (I pay attention the first time.), but these few scenes I'd be glad to see repeatedly.