Here are my picks for five of the saddest movie scenes ever.
5. Steel Magnolias (1989) – This story of southern women who meet in the local beauty shop for a good gossip has its share of laughs and tears. The heaviest tear-inducing drama occurs in the cemetery, after M’Lynn (Sally Field) buries her daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts). Field’s character breaks down and goes off on a rampage about the incredibly painful loss, bringing buckets of tears to my eyes. Thankfully, a surprising bit of comedy at the end of the scene had me laughing again.
4. Brian’s Song (1970) – The made for TV movie about real life pro footballers Brian Piccalo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) is a must see for all tear jerker fans. The scene in the locker room where Williams’ addresses his fellow teammates about Piccolo’s cancer has him breaking down, and I soon follow. At the end of the movie, his speech after accepting the George S. Halas Award for Courage in Piccalo’s honor had me reaching for the tissues again.
3. Field of Dreams (1989) – The best of the three Kevin Costner’s baseball movies gets me choked up every time. The famous ending finds Ray (Costner) making peace with his long-dead father and uttering the words, “Hey, Dad? Wanna have a catch?” Just try not to cry at that one. It’s impossible. Even men admit to shedding a tear during this emotional scene.
2. Terms of Endearment (1983) – A dying mother saying farewell to her young sons – it doesn’t get any sadder than that. When Debra Winger’s plays this out in the movie, it is so incredibly gut wrenching. Adding to the drama are the acting skills of Huckleberry Fox, who plays her youngest son. How anyone can keep from bawling their eyes out when they see his little face covered in tears is beyond me.
1. Imitation of Life (1959) – The story of two single mothers (one black and one white played by Juanita Moore and Lana Turner) raising their daughters (one white, and the other appears white and pretends that she is played by Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner) is drama at its finest. Not only is the story politically poignant and ahead of its time considering it was based on a novel from the 1920s, but it has several emotional scenes that nearly kill me every time I watch. Two of the more serious crying scenes occur when the teenaged daughter leaves home after she shuns her mother and the family’s black roots, and gets a job in the entertainment industry as a white chorus girl. Realizing she is sick her mother tracks her down and asks that she be allowed to hold her just “once more…like you were still my baby”. Later, at her funeral the daughter returns wracked by guilt and sobs uncontrollably at her mother’s casket. This is hard core crying with actual shoulder action involved!
On Friday, we’ll take a look at the happier side of this list — my selection for the five most hilarious scenes in movies.