May 21, 2004

McCabe wants to know

What is your favorite "movie death"?

The first thing that came to my mind was Bonnie and Clyde. I will think more upon it.


-- Al Pacino's death in Scarface, too, is pretty classic - although he was such an unpleasant (albeit riveting) character that I pretty much thought he got what he deserved.

Strangely enough, I was sad when Bonnie and Clyde died. Which, I think, is the whole point of the movie. You are implicated, somehow, in how these people were revered and lionized.

Anyway - I was CRUSHED the first time I saw that film, years ago - and the moviemaking of their dying is superb. Truly.

Bonnie and Clyde was the first time slo-mo had been used in a violent scene (which now, of course, you see in every single action movie ever freakin' made) - but Arthur Penn was the first one to do it - and it was highly controversial. I suppose slow-mo violent scenes are STILL controversial - but Bonnie and Clyde started it.

Little known trivia fact for ya.

Posted by sheila

Ohhh great question! Which requires a lot of thought. I'll be back.

Posted by: michele at May 21, 2004 03:49 PM

Sherilyn Fenn in Wild at Heart was one of the creepiest.

Posted by: Emily at May 21, 2004 03:50 PM

That scene is completely terrifying, Emily, you're right. Unforgettable

Posted by: red at May 21, 2004 03:51 PM

The end of The Wild Bunch. Hands down.

Posted by: Dan at May 21, 2004 03:54 PM

Sonny in The Godfather, alt. (1) Fredo in the Godfather (so alone, pitiful), alt. (2) Kirk Douglas character in Paths of Glory, alt. (3) Brian Piccolo in Brians Song. Wow, that's two for Jimmy Caan.

Posted by: michael at May 21, 2004 03:58 PM

Poor Fredo.

And yeah - Sonny's was a greatly filmed death scene. Terrifying and inevitable.

Posted by: red at May 21, 2004 04:01 PM

Captain Ahab in "Moby Dick," the shark exploding in Jaws II," Roy Scheider (also) exploding through Amy Irving's sheer will power directed at him in "The Fury."

Posted by: Bud at May 21, 2004 04:02 PM

Edward G. Robinson's "Little Caesar" in "Public Enemy"

Slim Pickin goes down a'hollering in "Dr. Strangelove"

Gene Simmons getting his head blown of in "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

BTW michael, I don't think Kirk Douglas buys it in "Paths of Glory." The executions of the three French soldiers, however, was truly memorable.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 21, 2004 04:20 PM

Okay, I'll give two answers in two different categories:

MOVIE DEATH THAT BROUGHT ME TO TEARS: The death of Capt Spock in STAR TREK II. The reason? I grew up with these characters! It was like a member of the family dying.

SCARIEST MOVIE DEATH: I'm sure this one was impacted by the age when I first saw it -- the death of the Wicked Witch in THE WIZARD OF OZ. For some reason, it still gives me goosebumps when I see it (probably just connecting with my past). As my mother can attest, when I first saw it (I was, maybe, nine years old), I ran from the room!

Posted by: The Aceman at May 21, 2004 04:21 PM

The scene in Thunderball where the assassin cuts the pilot's air hose.

To Live and Die in L.A., when the sleazy lawyer punk who swindled the bad guy meets his demise. That scene is so cold.

Blade Runner, when Zhora takes off crashing through the plate-glass windows and Deckard shoots her to pieces.

For pathos, Harold and Maude.

Posted by: dipnut at May 21, 2004 04:53 PM

Dear Sheila:

Definitely Tony Curtis in "Spartacus" -- "...he'll come back, and he'll be millions!..."



Posted by: Will at May 21, 2004 05:59 PM

Heather Chandler saying "Corn Nuts" right before crashing through the glass table in Heathers.

Posted by: jess at May 21, 2004 06:01 PM

Ummm... How about the shower-slasher scene in Psycho?

Posted by: Bernard at May 21, 2004 06:08 PM

So I did all that thinking only to come back and find that someone already said Sonny in The Godfather.

Posted by: michele at May 21, 2004 06:11 PM

Good call on Heathers.

Posted by: Emily at May 21, 2004 06:26 PM

Butch and Sundance!

Posted by: Noggie at May 21, 2004 07:14 PM

And Thelma and Louise. - Hmmm, do I detect a trend? Perhaps I like them to perish in pairs...

Posted by: Noggie at May 21, 2004 07:16 PM

Ooo - before I forget. Kevin Spacey as Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential.

"Rollo Tomasi".

Posted by: Emily at May 21, 2004 07:23 PM

James Mason walking into the ocean at the end of A Star is him and also Joan Crawford dying on the beach at the end of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane..these two came to mind.

Posted by: Mitchell at May 21, 2004 07:32 PM

West Side Story- Tony gets shot, and Maria is cradling him in her arms. When the gang comes to carry him away, Maria growls, "DON'T-you-touch-him...." in such a way that it makes my heart ache even typing this. That movie literally changed my life. I walked around, numb, for days. I, at the age of 10, had never read Romeo and Juliet, so this movie really was so new and fresh to me. I have two other movies that changed my life also. That would be a great post, Sheila.

Posted by: Beth at May 21, 2004 09:10 PM

I still go with (stagey as it may be) Cyrano's death (Jose Ferrer, accept no substitutes). Second place goes to Spock. Most obscure goes to Rawhide's death in Buckaroo Banzai (Rawhide was Clancy Brown, and it may have been the last--who knows, perhaps the only--time he played a good guy that I can recall).

Posted by: Ken Hall at May 21, 2004 09:15 PM

Ok...since most of the ones that first come to mind have already been listed, how about Martin Sheen in "The Execution of Private Slovik"? I'm working off an old memory here but I do remember being absolutely riveted and repulsed at the same time by the lead-in and the actual death. Maybe it was my youth at the time but it seemed so real. Shocked the hell out of me.

Posted by: Dave E. at May 21, 2004 09:51 PM

Joe Pesci in "Casino";
Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas";
Robert DeNiro in "Cape Fear;"
Niedermeyer's horse in "Animal House."

Posted by: Ed at May 21, 2004 09:55 PM

Niedermeyer's horse in "Animal House."


Disagree with me, it's because you're all worthless and weak! Drop and give me twenty!

Posted by: Emily at May 21, 2004 10:09 PM

The Medic: Saving Private Ryan
Everybody in Saving Private Ryan.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 21, 2004 10:30 PM

"It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes."

What's memorable about this is that the death itself occurs offstage, and yet EVERYONE remembers it.

Posted by: Dave J at May 21, 2004 11:15 PM

Movie death: Michael Keaton in "My Life." Second place: Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge."

Literary death: Tied between Owen Meaney, from "A Prayer for Owen Meaney" by John Irving and Morpheus, the Dream King, in Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" series, after an incredible discussion with his sister, who happens to be Death herself. Second place: Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

Posted by: Big Dan at May 22, 2004 12:09 AM

Movie death: Michael Keaton in "My Life." Second place: Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge."

Literary death: Tied between Owen Meaney, from "A Prayer for Owen Meaney" by John Irving and Morpheus, the Dream King, in Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" series, after an incredible discussion with his sister, who happens to be Death herself. Second place: Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

Posted by: Big Dan at May 22, 2004 12:09 AM

Also Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of "Scream" was a hum-dinger.

Posted by: Big Dan at May 22, 2004 12:11 AM

Most memorable to me is when Brad Pitt got hit by the van at the begining of "Meet Joe Black"

Posted by: Dannysgirl at May 22, 2004 12:52 AM

And The Alexandra Awards For Best Deaths Go To:

Best Black and White Diva Death: (Tie)

BETTE DAVIS, in "Dark Victory"
Also winning for the longest recorded death on film. She dies for 16 minutes. And brilliantly.

GRETA GARBO, in "Camille"
Even when riddled with consumption, La Garbo continues to stun. Never in her career was she ever awarded The Oscar.

Best Manly Black and White Death:

JAMES CAGNEY in "Angels With Dirty Faces"
The Guy of all Guys croaks, and no Guy can resist a tear. It's gorgeously acted.

Best Monster Death:

KING KONG, in "King Kong". (The original). C'mon, am I the only one who thought that stuffed monkey was real?

Most Dignified Death:

KATHERINE HEPBURN, in "Mary Queen of Scots"
Historically inane, and filled with ludicrous dialgue, Hepburn still manages to pull off the ole 'I'll-die-with-my-boots-on-no-matter-what' attitude, and dies with dignitiy.She almost makes us believe what this movie pawns off as the truth. Clue phone for "Troy".

Best Diva Death in Color: (Tie)

BETTE MIDLER, in "The Rose"
She was ROBBED! ROBBED I tell you!

Although we never see her do it, her death haunts that picture like no other because of her bravaura performance throughout.

Best Manly Death in Color: (Tie)

ROBERT REDFORD, PAUL NEWMAN, "Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid"
As they run head first into a blaze of bullets, I felt sorry and sad for the two outlaws, and desperately wanted to be Katherine Ross.

Again, we don't see him die, but we think of him for the rest of the film. Remember when he puts the cowboy hat on, and remarks to Dudley Moore: "If I begin to die, please take this off. This is NOT how I wish to be remembered."

Best Horror/Suspense Death: (Tie)

SHELLY WINTERS in "Poseiden Adventure"
She was nominated for an Academy Award for this performance, and it's really the only one that stands up to this day. He heart attack in the water, and the giving of her swimming medal to good ole Jack Albertson stuck with me for me entire life. "Tell our grandson I love him." Mhm. Yup. That's right.

Plucked back out of obscurity and newly sober, Barrymore took a small, nothing role, in a small, nothing film hoping for a little exposure. What she did was change horror movies as we know them. No "name" character EVER gets killed, and certanily not that close to the beginning. It was shocking, and fantastcially acted by her. Remember the gurgling calls to her mother as she lay bleeding only feet from her?

Best Death Over All in Show Biz:

If you haven't seen this, I won't tell you why it wins the Grand Death Prize. How about Nancy Walker 'screaming' for help from the kitchen? Rent it, and bring plenty of things to keep all parts of you as dry as you possibly can.

Thanks Sheila. That was fun. Hope I didn't ramble too much.

Posted by: Alex at May 22, 2004 03:39 AM

Jesus, Alex. Can you be more brilliant? You should write a book about movie deaths. I didn't know half of that shit. Bette Davis dies for 16 minutes?>

Posted by: red at May 22, 2004 09:46 AM

1. Chen Jeh (Bruce Lee) in 'The Chinese Connection'. He ran toward the guns screaming. It freeze-frames, and there are gunshots. When I was about...10, I believed somehow he lived through it, and killed all the gunmen because his death wasn't shown. That was when my disbelief was strong. Nowadays, I know better.

2. Spike Speigel in the last episode of 'Cowboy Bebop' I know..not a hollywood creation, but damned good. He finally defeats his nemesis, stumbles down a staircase after defeating the would-be crimelord. The henchmen, all armed to the teeth, are too amazed at his courage to shoot. He stumbles down the steps, looks one of the guys in the eye, points his finger at him (which would be our POV) and says,


One of the more amusing characters in the series, one you didn't want to see die, goes out in the only way he could, and he even hits you with a parting joke before he does.

3. Mickey Rourke in the 80's recreation of 'The Desperate Hours'. He's surrounded by feds...there are choppers all over the place...his chest is glowing red, COVERED with laser targets, there must have been 30 red dots on his chest. Command begs him to put down the weapon one last time...he doesn't.

Rourke's character is RIDDLED with gunshots.

Posted by: wutzizname at May 22, 2004 11:05 AM

Jeez, I feel hopelessly inadequate following Alex...

After pondering for a while, I think I'm going to go with Warren Beatty's demise in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. It's one of my all-time favorite dramatic films - you feel such a complex mix of emotions, about the individual characters but also about the changes that inevitably came to the American West.
Movie directors as a species just don't get much better than Robert Altman.

Posted by: MikeR at May 22, 2004 02:34 PM

A couple of memorable ones come to mind:

1) Patrick Swayze's murderer/friend in "Ghost" - is impaled on the window glass, then dragged off to Hell..

2) Yoda, "The Empire Strikes Back" ("There"), fade to nothingness.

3) Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan", simply because Hanks is such an everyman, seeing his character die onscreen was like watching Hanks himself die - very wrenching and awkward (did he die in Philadelphia Story? I haven't seen that one)

4) Riply's swan dive in Alien3.

5) And can we forget, the explosive weed-and-feeding of the Audrey II in "Little Shop of Horrors"? ("Oh.....shit!" *BOOOM*)

Posted by: Barry at May 22, 2004 11:18 PM

Most affecting: the two Russian Roulette scenes in the Deer Hunter--the early one because I didn't know what was going to happen, the later one because I did. Still makes me shake to think about them.

Posted by: jackstraw at May 23, 2004 12:09 AM

Jackstraw -

that scene makes me shiver just to think of it, too.

Posted by: red at May 23, 2004 02:13 PM

Alex, I'm sorry but you're wrong. "What she did was change horror movies as we know them. No "name" character EVER gets killed, and certanily not that close to the beginning." Although certainly rare, that was far from the first. A little film called "Psycho" was the first to do that. Janet Leigh was already a star (if not a huge one) and generally well-liked. The shower scene is about halfway into the movie. Here's where it gets interesting.

At the time, normal movie-going behavior was to just pop into a movie whenever. People would enter a movie in the middle and start watching. Hitchcock was worried they would enter during the middle of Psycho and completely miss Janet Leigh, the star, and feel ripped off. So he made the theater owners comply with the ad campaign that said "No One ... BUT NO ONE ... Will Be Admitted To The Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance Of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho". So not only did Psycho change horror movies as we know them, it also changed the way the public went to see movies.

Posted by: dorkafork at May 23, 2004 03:43 PM


"a little film called Psycho"

Er ... what do you want to bet Alex has seen that film? I appreciate your comment - just think your tone was kind of obnoxious.

Posted by: red at May 23, 2004 06:49 PM

Not that this has anything to do with movies, even the movie Bonnie and Clyde, but one of the lawmen that was involved in the ambush of those two retired down the road from us, was a member of our church. An ordinary little old man, dressed in the fashion of the early fifties, a lot more formal than today, never went anywhere without his .45 Colt Automatic. The Mayor ordered the Police Chief to make him stop carrying his gun, the Police Chief told the Mayor to do it himself as he was fond of living. The Mayor fired the whole police force, all three of them, tried to hire some new 'lawmen', cronies of his, the townspeople took over city hall and the police station and wouldn't let the new guys or Mayor in. Eventually it all got sorted out, the old cops got their jobs back, the Mayor gave up the job because the town quit doing any business with him until he did and the little old man carried his .45 as long as he lived, dying peacefully in his sleep at age 92.
BTW, Clyde was dumber than a box of rocks and Bonnie was as homely as a mud fence.
What's this got to do with anything? I dunno.

Posted by: Peter at May 23, 2004 07:31 PM

Can't beleive no one mentioned this one:


Another note, it's not a movie and I haven't seen it, but the comic-book guy from the Simpsons (aka "The Android" to his fans, no one knows his real name): says in one of my all-time0favorite episodes as he's being encased in quick-drying epoxy;
"Must... assume... best death-pose ever...
...Lorne Greene... from Battlestar... Galactica!"

- C

Posted by: Chris at May 23, 2004 07:33 PM

I apologize completely for the tone. That wasn't what I intended, and I am sorry.

Posted by: dorkafork at May 23, 2004 07:52 PM

Barry- Yes, Tom Hanks dies in Phi elphia. That is one of the three movies that changed my life. You must watch it for the final scene ( the one with the home movies). Amazing.

Posted by: Beth at May 23, 2004 10:30 PM

Don't know what happened to my spastic fingers- that was supposed to say "Philadelphia". Guess I should get some sleep!!!!

Posted by: Beth at May 23, 2004 10:32 PM

I'm with Emily on Kevin Spacey's death in L.A. Confidential. "Rollo Tomasi" is probably the best "last words of a dying character" ever.

Posted by: Rob at May 23, 2004 11:23 PM

Chris, great catch on Gallipoli!

"What are your legs?"

"Springs--steel springs."

"What are they going to do?"

"They're going to hurl me down the track."

And Mel Gibson getting the message delivered just a little too late....wonderful movie.

Posted by: Ken Hall at May 24, 2004 08:58 AM


Great story!!

You write: Clyde was dumber than a box of rocks and Bonnie was as homely as a mud fence.

Ah yes, but of such prosaic details myths and legends are not made! Neither are romantic sweeping movies. :)

Posted by: red at May 24, 2004 10:45 AM

Since Craig Parker is such a Hotty Hotass, I think I'd also have to add Haldir in The Two Towers.

Posted by: Emily at May 24, 2004 12:33 PM

I'm surprised no one's already mentioned Sean Connery's death in "The Untouchables." Anyone?

Posted by: Thinkloi at May 24, 2004 12:52 PM

Ah yes, that was quite a good death scene. Isn't opera playing? And he's crawling across the floor of his apartment? is that right?

Posted by: red at May 24, 2004 12:54 PM

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. completely people complete to underestimate that A ingenuity make common of fools. when foolproof trying design was something the mistake to

Posted by: valtrex information at February 9, 2005 10:49 PM