Scenes I Love: The Beginning of The Fifth Chapter of Inglourious Basterds

This is, without a doubt, one of the best sequences that Quentin Tarantino has ever directed.  Along with the perfect visuals of Shoshanna getting ready for the premiere, Tarantino makes perfect use of Theme From Cat People, reinventing the song from a somewhat silly horror theme to an anthem of revolution and revenge.

Scenes That I Love: The Match-to-Desert Cut In Lawrence of Arabia

The great British director David Lean was born 115 years ago today.

In honor of his films and his legacy, here is a scene that I love from Lawrence of Arabia.  In this scene, Peter O’Toole blowing out a flame transports us straight to a sunrise in the desert.  Though Lean started out his career directing small-scale but emotionally rich films like Brief Encounter and Great Expectations, he ultimately became best-known for directing historical epics and cinematic spectacles.  This scene shows us why.  Even to this day, it seems as if any epic film is destined to be compared to the work of David Lean.

Scenes That I Love: George Smiley Confronts Bill Haydon In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Today is Gary Oldman’s 65th birthday and, in honor of the occasion, here’s a scene from one of my favorite Oldman films, 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

In this scene, British intelligence officer George Smiley (Gary Oldman) confronts his colleague and Russian mole Bill Haydon (Colin Firth).  This scene is a masterclass of good acting, put on by both Firth and Oldman.  As Haydon tries to justify his behavior, Smiley listens with deceptive calmness.  When I first saw this film, Oldman suddenly raising his voice made the entire audience jump.

Scenes That I Love: Kurt Russell Kicks Elvis

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to one of our favorite actors, Kurt Russell!

Here’s Kurt, at the age of 11, making his film debut and kicking Elvis Presley in 1963’s It Happened At The World’s Fair!  Reportedly, they had to do fifteen takes of this scene so Kurt got to kick Elvis a lot.

Later, of course, Kurt Russell would become one of the first actors to play Elvis when he starred in John Carpenter’s 1979 film of the same name.  Carpenter was so impressed with Russell’s performance that he went on to cast Kurt in Escape From New York and The Thing.  Kurt would also go on to provide the voice of Elvis in the 1994 Best Picture winner, Forrest Gump.

Scenes That I Love: Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Rises

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 90th birthday to Sir Michael Caine.

With 177 acting credits listed on the imdb, Michael Caine has been working regularly since 1956.  (Though he actually made his acting debut, at the age of 10, in a made-for-TV movie in 1946).  There are many great Michael Caine performances and scenes to choose from but, for today, I decided to go for a scene from 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.  Caine was 79 when he played Alfred in this film and he showed that, after decades of work, he hadn’t lost a step as a performer.  As well, he also showed his ability to take a character who could have been ridiculous — the loyal butler of a superhero — and instead make him surprisingly poignant.

Scenes That I Love: Luca Brasi Is Just Happy To Be At The Wedding

97 years ago, on this date, Lenny Montana was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Montana started out as a boxer and a wrestler.  He eventually ended up working as a bouncer and a bodyguard for the leadership of the Colombo Crime Family.  However, Montana achieved his immortality as a result of veteran tough guy actor Timothy Carey turning down the role of Luca Brasi in The Godfather.  Brasi was the Corleone Family’s most feared enforcer and Carey, who had made a career out of playing psychos, was one of the most feared men in Hollywood, one who was rumored to have pulled a gun on more than a few directors.  (For the record, Stanley Kubrick loved him.)  When Carey turned down the role in favor of doing a television series, Francis Ford Coppola offered the role to Lenny Montana.  Montana may not have had Carey’s screen acting experience but he brought real-life authenticity to the role.  When Michael says that Luca Brasi is a “very scary man,” one look at Lenny Montana confirms it.  Unfailingly loyal to the family and willing to do anything for the Don, Luca Brasi represents the Family’s strength.  When Luca Brasi is killed, you know that the old era of the Corleones is ending as well.  Without Luca, the Corleones are in deep trouble.

My favorite Luca Brasi scene comes at the beginning of the film.  Surprised to be invited to Connie’s wedding, Luca wants to thank the Don personally.  Nervous about acting opposite Marlon Brando, Montana flubbed his lines.  The scene, with the flub, was kept in the film and it served to humanize both Luca and Don Corleone.  (The Don’s smile was due to the fact that Marlon Brando was having trouble not laughing.)  It’s a nice little scene, one that reminds us that even gangsters are human.

Scenes That I Love: Chuck Norris Saves America In Invasion U.S.A.

Today, Chuck Norris celebrates his 83rd birthday and it only feels appropriate that today’s scene that I love should come from one of his greatest films.  From 1985’s Invasion U.S.A., watch as Chuck Norris saves America from Richard Lynch!

Scenes I Love: Ronn Moss Blows Up An Assassin in Hard Ticket To Hawaii

Today, we celebrate the birthday of actor and musician, Ronn Moss!

In honor of this day, I was going to share a few scenes of Ronn as Ridge Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful but then it occurred to me that, as much as all good people love B&B, Hard Ticket to Hawaii is even better.  In today’s scene that I love, Ronn Moss not only blows up a skateboard assassin but the assassin’s sex doll as well.  No one messes with Ronn Moss, his driver, or the Molokai cops!

Scenes That I Love: The End of Mad Max

Mad Max (1979, dir by George Miller, DP: Dave Eggby)

Today the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to one of our favorite people, George Miller!  The doctor-turned-director began his cinematic career with 1979’s Mad Max and he’s gone on to become one of the most influential and important filmmakers out there.  In honor of George Miller’s birthday, today’s scene that I love is from his debut film.

In this scene, the once upstanding policeman, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), get his revenge on the last surviving member of Toecutter’s gang.  Instead of merely running Johnny the Boy over, he handcuffs Johnny to a car, uses the leaking gasoline and Johnny’s lighter to create a crude timebomb, and gives Johnny a hacksaw.  Johnny can either spend ten minutes cutting through the cuffs or five minutes cutting through his ankle.  Max drives off and barely notices the explosion behind him.  (It seems like it wouldn’t have made difference what Johnny cut through because that explosion came pretty quickly.)  Max’s cold expression and the dark road in front of him indicates that Max knows what the future holds for both himself and the rest of humanity.  In the scene, Max surrenders whatever traces of mercy that he had left within him.  Fortunately, he gets some of his humanity back in the next movie.

Scenes I Love: “Print The Legend” From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The legendary director John Ford was born 129 years ago today, in Maine.  As I sit here writing this, you can go see The Fabelmans, which ends with a scene in which a young Steven Spielberg (or Sammy Fabelman, whatever) meets John Ford (played by David Lynch).  The meeting is based on a meeting that a young Spielberg actually had with Ford shortly before Ford’s death in 1971.

However, long before John Ford met Steven Spielberg, he directed one of my favorite films, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Today’s scene that I love comes from the end of that 1962 film and it features a line that would become a classic.  “Print the legend.”  That was a line that Ford understood and I imagine it’s one that Spielberg eventually came to understand as well.