Scenes that I Love: The Final Scene of Twin Peaks: The Return


Happy birthday, David Lynch!

One of the things that makes David Lynch so special is that he’s willing to take risks and somehow, he always manages to get away with the type of things that would drive you crazy if any other director tried them. For instance, what other director could end an 18-hour film on a note of ominous and disturbing ambiguity and have viewers say, “That was perfect!”

That’s the talent of David Lynch.

Today’s scene that I love comes from Twin Peaks: The Return. Agent Cooper returns someone who might be Laura Palmer to her home in Twin Peaks. However, it appears that the Palmers have either left the house or perhaps they haven’t even moved in yet.

“What year is this?” Cooper asks.

In the night, someone says, “Laura?”

Laura screams.

I know there are some who says that we need a new season of Twin Peaks to explain all of this. I’m not sure that I agree, though I’d love to see everyone again. But, to be honest, I feel this is the perfect ending to Lynch’s American dream.

Scene That I Love: Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde


Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 81st birthday to the one and only Faye Dunaway.  In honor of this day, I want to share a scene that I love from 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde.

Now, Bonnie and Clyde was not Dunaway’s first film.  After appearing on Broadway, she was cast as a hippie kidnapped in a forgettable crime comedy called The Happening.  Otto Preminger, who could always spot talent even if he didn’t always seem to understand how to persuade that talent to work with him, put her under contract and featured her as the wife of John Phillip Law in his legendary flop, Hurry Sundown.  (Dunaway later said she had wanted to play the role of Michael Caine’s wife, a part that went to Jane Fonda and she never quite forgave Preminger for giving her a less interesting role.)  Dunaway reportedly did not get along with Preminger and didn’t care much for the films that he was planning on featuring her in.  One can imagine that she was happy when Warner Bros. bought her contract so that she could star opposite Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde.  

Despite the fact that the real-life Bonnie Parker was notably shorter and certainly nowhere as glamorous as as the actress who was selected to play, Faye Dunaway proved to be the perfect choice for the role.  Bonnie and Clyde proved to be a surprise hit and an Oscar contender.  It made Dunaway a star, a fashion icon, and it resulted in her first Oscar nomination.  Dunaway would go on to appear in such classic 70s films as Chinatown, The Towering Inferno, Three Days of the Concord, and Network before her unfortunate decision to star as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest would slow the momentum of her career.  Unfortunately, she would later become better known for having a difficult reputation and for engaging in some very public feuds, with the press often acting as if Dunaway was somehow uniquely eccentric in this regard.  (To Hollywood, Dunaway’s sin wasn’t that she fought as much as it was that she fought in public.)  Though Dunaway’s career has had its ups and downs, one cannot deny that when she was good, she was very, very good.  

In this scene, from Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie Parker (played by Faye Dunaway) writes a poem and tries to craft the future image of Bonnie and Clyde.  Though it has none of the violence that made Bonnie and Clyde such a controversial film in 1967, this is still an important scene.  (Actually, it’s more than one scene.)  Indeed, this scene is a turning point for the entire film, the moment that Bonnie and Clyde goes from being an occasionally comedic attack on the establishment to a fatalistic crime noir.  This is where Bonnie shows that, unlike Clyde, she knows that death is inescapable but she also knows that she and Clyde are destined to be legends.

(Of course, Dunaway and Beatty — two performers who one epitomized an era but only work occasionally nowadays — are already legends.)

Scene That I Love: Lee Van Cleef Meets Klaus Kinski in For A Few Dollars More


In 1925, on this very date, Lee Van Cleef was born in Somervillve, New Jersey.  In honor of what would have been Lee Van Cleef’s 97th birthday, here he is with Klaus Kinski and Clint Eastwood in For A Few Dollars More.

There’s not a lot of dialogue in this scene but when you had actors like Eastwood, Kinski, and Lee Van Cleef, you didn’t need a lot of dialogue to make an impression.

Scene That I Love: David Bowie Performs For Christane F.


Today would have been David Bowie’s 75th birthday.  Though it’s been six years since David Bowie passed, he remains an iconic cultural force.  He is missed, as both a musician and an actor.

In honor of the man’s birthday and his legacy as a performer, today’s scene that I love is from the 1981 German film, Christiane F.  Directed by Uli Edel and based on a true story, Christiane F. is the story of a 13 year-old drug addict.  It’s a powerful film, though perhaps not one to watch if you’re dealing with any sort of severe depression.  David Bowie both composed the film’s soundtrack and appeared in the film himself.

Here, he performs Station to Station while Christiane F. watches.  The scene perfectly captures not only Christiane F.’s fascination with Bowie but also Bowie’s charisma as a performer.  The scene was shot an actual concert that David Bowie performed in Berlin, though the shots of Christiane F. and her friends watching were filmed separately.

Scenes That I Love: Nicolas Cage in Wild At Heart


Today is Nicolas Cage’s birthday!

How old is Nicolas Cage today?  It doesn’t matter.  Nicolas Cage is timeless.  He has no age.  You could say that Nicolas Cage has always been there and will always be there.

On a more realistic note, you could say that Nicolas Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and that he started his film career as Nicolas Coppola.  (That was the name he used when he made his film debut with a small role in Fast Times At Ridgemont High.)  Not wanting people to assume that he only got work because of his family connections, Nic soon changed his last name to Cage in honor of Marvel’s Luke Cage.  Nicolas Cage has gone on to become one of the best-known actors in the world, an iconic figure of sorts.  When he’s good, Nicolas Cage is great.  When he’s appearing in a bad film, Nicolas Cage is often fascinating.  Cage may have a reputation for being an eccentric and for appearing in almost anything but often Cage’s brand of weirdness is just what is needed to elevate a film like Mandy or Pig from good to great.

In honor of his birthday, here are two scenes that I love from a very good film, David Lynch’s Wild At Heart.  Watch as Nicolas Cage explains the meaning of his snakeskin jacket.  Stick around to watch Nicolas Cage serenade Laura Dern with the world’s greatest Elvis impersonation.

Happy birthday, Nicolas Cage!

Scenes That I Love: The Robot Montage from George P. Cosmatos’s Cobra


On this date, in 1941, future director George Pan Cosmatos was born in Italy.  Cosmatos would go on to direct some of the most financially successfully (if critically lambasted) films of the 80s.  He’s also credited as being the director on Tombstone, though it’s generally agreed that Cosmatos largely deferred to Kurt Russell on that film.  (Cosmatos was a last minute replacement for the film’s original director.)

Other than Tombstone, Cosmatos is best-known for the films that he did with Sylvester Stallone.  And today’s scene that I love comes from the 1986 film, CobraCobra stars Stallone as a motorcycle-riding cop who never asks question when he can just shoot a big gun instead.  Stallone’s show-no-mercy attitude may upset his superiors but it turns out to be just what’s needed to take care of a murderous cult.  Now, Cobra may be a fairly dumb film but it does have one sequence that pretty much epitomizes an era.  If nothing else, George Pan Cosmatos deserves to be remembered for Cobra’s famous robot montage.  While Sylvester Stallone searches for the murders who are decimating his city, model Brigitte Nielsen poses with a bunch of life-size robots.

One reason why this sequence works is because it really does seem to come out of nowhere.  The film goes from Stallone promising to wipe out the bad guys to a bunch of adorable robots.  It’s all very 80s.  And we have George Pan Cosmatos to thank for it.

Here’s a scene that I love:

Scenes That I Love: The Ending of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America


(SPOILERS BELOW)

The final moments of Sergio Leone’s epic 1984 gangster film, Once Upon A Time in America, are filed with questions and mysteries.

In 1968, who did Noodles (played by Robert De Niro) see standing outside of Max’s mansion?  When the garbage truck pulled up, did the mysterious man get in the truck or was he thrown in by some unseen force?

Why, in 1968, did Noodles see a car from the 1920s, one that was full of people who appeared to be celebrating the end of prohibition?  Was the car really there, in 1968, or was it an element of Noodles’s past as a gangster suddenly popping into his mind?

When we then see a young Noodles in an opium den, are we flashing back to the 1920s?  Is Noodles remembering the past or is it possible that we’ve been in the 20s the whole time and all of the scenes set in 1968 were actually only a drug-induced dream?

Why, with men looking to kill him and all of his friends apparently dead, does Noodles suddenly smile at the end of the film?  Is that sudden smile a result of the drugs or is there something else going on?

Once Upon A Time In America was Sergio Leone’s final film.  It’s one that he spent decades trying to get made and, once it was finally produced, it was butchered and re-edited by a studio hacks who demanded that the film tell its story in a linear style.  Leone was reportedly heart-broken by how his film was treated.  Some have speculated that his disappointment may have even contributed to the heart attack that eventually killed him.  It was only after Leone passed that his version of Once Upon A Time In America became widely available in the U.S.  This enigmatic epic continues to spark debate.  One thing that can’t be denied is that it’s a brilliant film.

As today is Leone’s birthday, it only seems appropriate to share a scene that I love, the ending of Once Upon A Time In America.

Resolution Help From Monty Python’s Flying Circus


As the first day of 2022 comes to a close, now is a good time to stop, take a look back over the past 24 hours, and determine how many of your resolutions have already been broken.  Have you broken one or two of them?  How about all of them?  Or did you forget to make a resolution all together?

Well, don’t worry!  Seriously, New Year’s resolutions are the worst!  Every new year, people resolve to make changes and it rarely happens.  Instead, people almost immediately break their resolutions and then they spend the next 12 months feeling like a failure.  The amount of pressure that people put on themselves to try to change their lives for the better, it’s not fair, to be honest.  If you’ve already broken your resolution, don’t feel bad about it.  As long as your resolution wasn’t to stop doing something terrible and illegal, I forgive you if you’ve already totally failed to keep your promise to yourself.  Take some comfort in that.

(My own resolution for 2022 was to be nicer to my friends and stop putting so much pressure on myself.  I think that was last year’s resolution as well and we all know how well that went.  I think my most successful resolution was from 2004.  That was when I resolved to survive any serious car accidents that I got involved with and to go to college and I managed to keep both of those resolutions.  BOOM!)

We always hear that change is good but sometimes it isn’t.  And here to illustrate that point are John Cleese and Michael Palin from Monty Python’s Flying Circus!  Below is one of my favorite sketches from that famous show.  Palin is a chartered accountant who wants to be a lion tamer.  He has no experience but he does have his own hat!  Cleese shows him the error of his ways, including revealing that Palin has long been mistaking anteaters for lions.  Who hasn’t made the same mistake?

(I have to admit that my favorite Monty Python moments often involved Palin somehow getting on Cleese’s nerves.  Palin’s eagerness to please and his way with a deceptively passive statement was always the perfect foil for Cleese’s slightly more aggressive style of comedy.  Perhaps not coincidentally, I’ve read on numerous occasions that Cleese’s main motivation for getting involved with what would become Monty Python was so he could work with Michael Palin.)

My favorite line from this particular vignette: “Yes, yes, yes, I do follow, Mr Anchovy, but you see the snag is… if I now call Mr Chipperfield and say to him, ‘look here, I’ve got a forty-five-year-old chartered accountant with me who wants to become a lion tamer’, his first question is not going to be ‘does he have his own hat?'”

Think of this whenever you fear that you’re not living up to your resolutions!  After all, sometimes there’s more to changing one’s life than merely having the right hat (though, I imagine it does help).

Scene That I Love: A New Year In Cuba From The Godfather, Part II


Happy New Year!

Well, the clock has now struck midnight on the West Coast and that officially means that it is 2022 in the United States!  It’s a new year, which means that we have another chance to get things right or, at the very least, not repeat the mistakes of the previous year.

I’m looking forward to 2022 for a number of reasons.  We’ve got a lot planned here at Through the Shattered Lens.  So, what better way to start things off than by sharing a scene that I love from one of the greatest and most important films of all time, 1974’s The Godfather Part II?

The scene below takes place on New Year’s Eve.  The scene starts in 1958 and it ends in 1959.  Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and his brother Fredo (John Cazale) are in Havana at the invitation of Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg).  Roth know that Cuba could be a gold mine for the American mob but Michael, from the start, realizes that the country’s corrupt government is on the verge of collapse.  Tragically, it’s also in Havana that Michael realizes that Fredo betrayed him to his enemies.

On December 31st, 1958, as the corrupt and wealthy celebrate a new year in Havana, the communist rebels ride into the city.  While the President of Cuba prepares to announce that he will be fleeing the country, Michael confronts his brother and tells him that he knows the truth.  Later, as they both attempt to flee the country, Michael and Fredo see each other on the streets.  Fredo runs from Michael, refusing his offer to help.  Though Fredo would eventually return to the family, the film’s ending revealed Fredo’s first instinct was the correct one.

Much of the scene below is based on fact.  The Cuban government did fall on New Year’s Eve and Fidel Castro and his rebels did triumphantly ride into Havana on January 1st.  Before Castro came to power, the Mafia did have a major stake in Cuba and reportedly quite a few mobsters were in Havana when Castro took over.  Meyer Lansky (on whom the film’s Hyman Roth was based) was one of the many mob officials who were rumored to have caught the last flight off of the island.  Seeking to be the only mob boss in his country, Castro did force the Mafia out of Cuba, which led to an alliance between organized crime and the CIA to try to overthrow Castro.  At the time that The Godfather Part II was released, the details of the CIA and the Mafia’s attempts to assassinate Castro were just starting to be revealed to the public.  As powerful as the scene below is today, it probably resonated even more with audiences in 1974.  In 1974, this was all still recent history and it undoubtedly brought to mind the still-fresh national trauma of the assassination of the Kennedy brothers.

Beyond the historical significance of the scene below, it also features brilliant work from two actors who will forever be linked together, Al Pacino and the late John Cazale.  Cazale and Pacino first met while they were both working off-Broadway, years before Mario Puzo even started writing the novel that would become The Godfather.  They were close friends and, along with co-starring in The Godfather films, they also played bank-robbing partners in Dog Day Afternoon.  Tragically, John Cazale died of cancer at the age of 42.  He only appeared in five films, every one of which was nominated for Best Picture and one could argue that the Academy’s failure to nominate Cazale for either Dog Day Afternoon or Godfather Part II is one of the most unforgivable oversights in Oscar history.

That said, it’s a new year.  Save the arguing for later.  Here’s a scene that I love: