Famous ones: Alida Valli walking past Joseph Cotten in THE THIRD MAN, Paul Muni whispering “I Steal” from I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG. Another memorable one is the extraordinary finale to the Louise Brooks film PRIX DE BEAUTE where her screen image is singing a song in the background while her beautiful corpse lies in the foreground.
It’s so hard to say, as there are so many. I can say my favorite ending as of recent is “There Will Be Blood.”
Anthony Quinn on the beach in La Strada hit me like a ton of bricks…
The pyre of The Wicker Man kind of makes one gape…
2001: A Space Odyssey, obviously.
Breaking the Waves was devastating, up until the final shot of the goddamn ‘bells in heaven.’ I like to think Von Trier is extremely talented but prone to bouts of madness.
Oh, and the woooonderfully satisfying denouement that The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover built to.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Two- Lane Blacktop
La Dolce Vita
“Shane, come back”
It might not be my favorite (I’m not about to devote a ton of time to thinking about which ending is REALLY my favorite), but one of them is “The Fallen Idol”. The little boy pleading and pleading with the police to listen to him because he is finally going to tell the truth. A brilliant ending to a fierce little movie.
I think "the ringing bells with its tower built in middle of seeming nowhere on the sea " is as sublime, mystical a vision as it gets in Trier’s only masterpiece of a movie. You really see how indebted to Dreyer that Trier is—he even directed Dreyer’s screenplay of Medea—what more can I say! Thanks, Bobby.
The titular character’s collapse in Cobra Verde.
Tout Va Bien – I love the vision of a possible revolution against an invisible enemy. The grocery store scene was orgasmic.
L’enfant – Two people crying and holding each other.
Dead or Alive – It’s the only ending worth calling an ending
My Life as a Dog – just thinking about the last shot is moving in itself
Malcolm X – The pseudo montage at the ending always gets to me
So many …
Au Revoir, Les Enfants, Manhattan, Bonnie and Clyde, The 400 Blows, The Bicycle Thief …
The one I say still has such a great impact even after all these years and imitations …
Planet of the Apes
- SPOILERS obviously -
Morocco Josef von Sternberg, 1930
Marlene Dietrich following Gary Cooper into the desert (without any music – just the wind is howling)
Kiss Me Deadly Robert Aldrich, 1955
A perfect ending with the exploding hut (notice how David Lynch ripped it off in Lost Highway)
Alexis Zorbas Mihalis Kakogiannis, 1964
The dance of the two men at the end is just pure magic. “DID YOU SAY – DANCE?!”
Aguirre, Wrath of God Werner Herzog, 1972
Klaus Kinski standing on the sinking raft talking to himself “I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?”
I Only Want You to Love Me Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976
The freeze frames at the end when Peter is asked if he enjoys living.
Stranger Than Paradise Jim Jarmusch, 1984
John Lurie taking off on that plane and Eddie replying: “Oh Willy, I had a bad feeling. What the hell are you gonna do in Budapest?”
Vive L’Amour Ming-liang Tsai, 1994
The woman sitting alone on a park bench smoking and crying.
(Spoiler here).I love the ending to McCabe & Mrs Miller: the snow, the howling wind, Julie Christie’s eyes, and Leonard Cohen sings as Beatty meets his maker
Dancer in the Dark
All of those mentioned already are great examples. I’ll just add a little variety 6 pak.
Blast of Silence, 1961
Frankie Bono trying to escape his pursuers only to die sprawling in the freezing mud.
The beginning of this movie is pretty good too.
All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930
Reaching for a butterfly.
kitty, kitty, kitty
Dead of Night, 1945
Is it the ending or just the beginning?
King Kong, 1933
It was beauty that killed the beast.
Don’t Look Now, 1973
Beware the dwarf! Truly unforgettable!
There are soooooo many!
btw, my father has toe nails like that. what does it mean?
Damn! Grey Daises already said Vive L’Amour.
Well, other than that I would have to say:
A Man Escaped
The 400 Blows. He finally gets to see the coast, and the freeze frame on the face is classic.
More Recent, Darren Aronofosky’s The Wrestler. Come on, he had to have died, right?
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso by miles. I also love the ending to Once.
The 400 Blows. Antoine Doinel/Jean-Pierre Léaud looking straight into our eyes, and practically growing right in front of us.
Godfather Part II
Just from the RAM of my current mind.
Two by Boorman
Point Blank. Marvin’s gaze, Keenan Wynn taunting him to come out..
Hope And Glory. The bombed school building and the happiness of the children.
Taste of Cherry
All time Favorite-
A Nous La Liberte
When I saw it re-released in the 80’s in a theatre, the whole theatre did a collective GASP at the end, when it simply ended with Stewart looking down over the edge of the tower. (Spoilers.) I think people were spooked by the nun, the fact Novak went over the edge, and then how THE END appeared at Stewart stood looking down. It was a bit unsettling that it didn’t go elsewhere to resolve things, or to find out what happens to Stewart – but it was perfect that it didn’t.
Three Colours: Rouge. (Spoilers again.) The reason it sticks with me is for several reasons: upon seeing how all the characters are on the ferry. But it was also the fact that only a few days before seeing this movie, there was a major ferry disaster in the Baltic Sea, so the situation was still something that resonated. Also, it was just so artistically brilliant how Irene Jacob stood in that final profile shot.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre: after all the hardships and disappointments of the two remaining main characters, Walter Huston’s laugh, how Tim Holt joins in, though initially reluctant, with the laughter of his friend (along with the Mexicans, who don’t even know why they’re laughing, really), and how they eventually part ways for their separate destinies. With Max Steiner’s fantastic score, pure brilliance. Makes me wanna watch it again, just thinking of it.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That final frozen moment, the sound of gunfire, and a finality to almost make you weep.
Im gona say…Sunshine (visually arresting) Seven and Doubt
either “A.I.” or “There Will be Blood”.
VIDEODROME: still my favorite case for the potential of beginning AND wrapping production without a finished script.
Bakshi’s WIZARDS: He had the guts to radically invert the fundamentals of Joseph Campbell’s archetypal hero theories…the same week of release, no less, as STAR WARS which would forever doom Hollywood scripting to hero’s-quest formulaics.
DEEP RED: ending basically in the midst of its final, goriest set-piece, its as if the movie itself is so bored by the lack of anyone left to kill that it would rather just quit than go through the motions of any hackneyed dramatic resolution. The end.
HEAT: Any movie that manages to end so simply and yet be awesome after a full 2 and a half hours of building awesomeness gets points in my book.
THE BIRDS: the local professor who moderated a Q&A at the screening I went to said something along the lines of, “…But now that this make-shift ‘nuclear family’ has dealt with and honestly faced ‘the return of the repressed’, I think we can ALL agree that they’re somehow better off.” Nope. They’re fucked. Doomed. Seriously, the fact that the Hollywood system produced and the American audiences EVER (much less 30 years ago) willingly accepted anything as nihilistic or/AND as bizarrely stylized as THE BIRDS blows my mind every time I see it.
Strange. Nobody has mentioned “Au hasard Balthazar”… For me, that is the strongest, saddest ending ever.