Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


The Greatest Tearjerkers of All-Time
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Brief Tearjerker Scene Description

Nashville (1975)

  • the concluding tragic and shocking sequence at a country music festival/political rally for candidate Walker at Nashville's Parthenon (with a billowing American flag serving as the mammoth backdrop for the concert), where popular country singer Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) sang a duet on stage with host Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson), titled "One, I Love You"
  • Barbara Jean also performed "My Idaho Home" (a wistful song about her mother and father); when she was finished, Haven circled around her with his arms in a Victory position (with one hand grasping a bouquet of white carnations for her) and nodded toward the appreciative applause for her song, and then presented the beloved, pure-spirited singer with the flowers
  • two gunshots rang out - Barbara Jean fell backwards mortally wounded (seen only at a distance), and Haven, who had selflessly tried to shield her, sprawled on top of her with a bloody gunshot wound in his upper right arm; after the arbitrary killing and panic broke out, Kenny (David Hayward) - the demented assassin in the crowd - was subdued by shocked onlookers, wrestled to the ground, and soon hauled off by state police
The Assassination of Barbara Jean On-Stage
  • Haven grabbed the microphone after the unexpected disaster and rallied the crowd to be calm by singing: "You all take it easy now. This isn't Dallas. It's Nashville. This is Nashville. You show 'em what we're made of. They can't do this here to us in Nashville. OK everybody, sing. Come on somebody, sing. You sing"
  • the dying Barbara Jean was quickly replaced with unknown performer Albuquerque (Barbara Harris) who calmed the crowd with "It Don't Worry Me"; the new star rose to the occasion and rallied the crowd with her stirring, healing anthem of passivity

Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) with Country Singer Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley): "One, I Love You"

Barbara Jean: "My Idaho Home"

Albuquerque (Barbara Harris): "It Don't Worry Me"

The Natural (1984)

  • in the opening sequence set on a farm in Nebraska, young and sports-gifted Roy Hobbs (Paul Sullivan Jr. as boy) was playing 'catch' with his elderly father Ed Hobbs (Alan Fudge); shortly later (during a dialogue-free sequence) while chopping wood outdoors, Mr. Hobbs suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack at the foot of the farm's large oak tree; when the tree was struck by lightning that evening during a storm, the tree trunk was split, and from the wood splinters, young Roy crafted a baseball bat, nicknamed and inscribed with the name "Wonderboy" (and a lightning flash symbol) - Roy's magical "Wonderboy" bat was reminiscent of Arthurian legend with a lightning bolt inscribed on it and carved out of a tree struck by lightning
  • the final (tacked-on) concluding scene (a book-end to the film's opening) of a redeemed ballplayer Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) finally reconciled and together on his ex-girlfriend Iris Gaines' (Glenn Close) Nebraska farm; she watched affectionately as he played catch with their 16 year old son Ted (a blonde carbon-copy of young Roy) in the golden warmth of the sun
Concluding Scene - Roy with Iris Watching, Playing Catch With His Own Son

Young Roy Pitching to His Father

At the Foot of Oak Tree, Roy's Father Died

Roy's Handcrafted "Wonderboy" Bat

The New World (2005)

  • the late scene of Native American ("natural") Princess Pocahontas/Rebecca (Q'orianka Kilcher), now married to loyal farmer-husband John Rolfe (Christian Bale), who was summoned to England to meet King James, when she experienced an uncomfortable reunion scene in the garden with her first love: regretful Jamestown explorer Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell), as they remembered their past: Smith: "Did I make a mistake in coming here?...Perhaps I'm out of order speaking with you this way, but I've thought of you often....You knew I had promise, didn't you?" Pocahontas answered: "Yes. Did you find your Indies, John? (pause) You shall" - he replied: "I may have sailed past them" - Smith responded that what they had in Virginia (the New World) in their past was not a dream but the real 'truth': "I thought it was a dream - what we knew in the forest. It's the only truth. It seems as if I was speaking to you for the first time"; she slightly bowed to him, turned, and sadly walked away
  • their reunion was followed by her expression of fully devoted love (and kiss) to her husband John Rolfe at the estate; she walked up to him and gave him an arm embrace; and then she asked: "Could we not go home?" and he responded: "As soon as possible"; she devotedly called him: "My husband" as she gave him a kiss, with a score enhanced by Mozart's concerto and a recurring prelude from Wagner's Das Rheingold
  • in the film's conclusion, she was running and playing hide-and-seek with her only child Thomas in a manicured English garden of the estate; but before returning to the New World with Rolfe, Pocahontas acquired pneumonia and died in bed (with her weeping husband next to her), on the 13th of April, 1616; in voice-over, and in death, Pocahontas closed her eyes and spoke to her mother: "Mother, now I know where you live"
  • Rolfe's words (in voice-over) described her death, as he read his letter addressed to their son Thomas about his deceased Native-American mother (aka Rebecca): "Dear Son, I write this so that someday in the future you might understand a circumstance which shall be but a far memory to you. Your dear mother, Rebecca, fell ill in our outward passage at Gravesend. She gently reminded me that all must die. 'Tis enough,' she said, that you, our child, should live"

Running and Playing in English Gardens with Son Thomas

(voice-over) "Mother, now I know where you live"

Rolfe Grieving at Pocahontas' (Rebecca's) Deathbed

Reunion of Captain John Smith with Pocahontas in England

Her Love For Husband John Rolfe

Nixon (1995)

  • the first appearance of heavy-drinking Nixon (Oscar-nominated Anthony Hopkins) alone in the White House one stormy night in late 1973 when visited by his Chief of Staff General Alexander Haig (Powers Boothe) with three reel-to-reel tapes for the taping system, when Nixon mused: "You know, Al, if Hoover were alive, these tapes would never have gotten out....We never got our side of the story out, Al. People have forgotten. Such violence. The tear gassing, the riots, burning the draft cards, the Black Panthers. We fixed it, Al, and they hate me for it. 'Cause it's Nixon. They always hated Nixon"
  • the triggering of the film's many flashbacks, including a recreation of the 1960 Presidential television debate between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy (Himself), when Nixon brashly bragged and sweated profusely on his upper lip; backstage, handlers worried: - Murray Chotiner (Fyvush Finkel): "Shoulda slapped a little makeup on him." H.R. Haldeman (James Woods): "Don't worry. It's not a beauty contest." Murray: "We'd better hope not"
  • the scene of President Nixon noisily playing "Happy Days Are Here Again" on the piano and calling his wife Pat (Oscar-nominated Joan Allen) a "cocksucker" when she complained about political life (and then she suggested a divorce) after he lost to incumbent Pat Brown in California during the gubernatorial race in 1962: ("It's over, Dick....I have always stood by you. I campaigned for you when I was pregnant. During Checkers, when Ike wanted you out, I told you to fight. This is different, Dick. You've changed. Life is tough and it is unfair and sometimes you forget that in your self-pity. You forget sometimes, Dick that I had a life before you - before California...You've changed. You've grown more bitter, like you're at war with the world. You weren't that way before. I'm 50 years old now, Dick. How many millions of miles have I traveled? How many millions of peoples' hands have I shaked that I just don't like? How many thank-you notes have I written? It's as if I, I don't know, just went to sleep a long time ago and missed the years between. I've had enough...I want a divorce...This isn't political, Dick. This is our life")
  • Nixon's press conference, when he promised to never run again after his defeat in 1962 - to prevent a divorce from Pat: ("But as I leave you, I-I want you to know. Just think what you're gonna be missing. You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore. Because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference")
  • another earlier turning point in 1952 when Nixon was about to be chosen VP on the Republican Presidential ticket with war hero General Dwight Eisenhower, and he was accused of hiding a secret slush fund; he went on national television to shamelessly and manipulatively plead his case to the nation -- the infamous "I am not a crook" speech -- he explained his modest financial history, and a gift from a Texas businessman - a little cocker spaniel dog that his six year-old daughter Tricia named Checkers: ("Everything I've earned, spent ... regardless of what they say about him, we're gonna keep him (the dog)"); the broadcast was later viewed on television by Pat: (Nixon: "Because people have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I've earned everything I have. She doesn't have a mink coat. She does have a respectable Republican cloth coat. And I always tell her that, uh, she'd look good in anything")
  • Nixon's pitiful speech to the nation in 1973 during the Watergate scandal, inter-cut with comments from Henry Kissinger (Paul Sorvino) and Alexander Haig (in parentheses) watching on TV, in which Nixon vowed that he was not a crook once again - in addition, Pat listened to the speech (while smoking in bed) - reflecting back on his similar "Checkers" speech from many years earlier: ("Good evening, my fellow Americans. Tonight I'm taking an action unprecedented in the history of this office. I had no knowledge of the cover-up till John Dean told me about it on March 21st, a year ago. (Oh, I think I'm going to throw up) payment to Hunt or anyone else be made. (He's completely lost touch with reality) I've made my mistakes but in all my years of public life, I have never profited (Can you imagine what this man would have been had he ever been loved?) I've earned every penny. In all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. (It's a tragedy because he had greatness in his grasp) I welcome this examination. (But he had the defects of his qualities). Now I made $250,000 from a book (They'll crucify him. Does anybody really care anymore?) which many of you were good enough to purchase (And what happens after?) ...every year. When I, in 1968, decided to become a candidate for the President, I decided to clean the decks and to put everything in real estate. So, that's where the money came from. That's all I own. That's what we have, and that's what we owe. Because people have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I've earned everything I have....She doesn't have a mink coat, but she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat. And I always tell her, uh, she'd look good in anything... There has never been any feathering of nests. Not in this administration. Now, let me just say this... And I want to say this to the television audience...")
  • the scene in which about-to-resign, sobbing President Nixon kneeled and prayed with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: ("The world needs you, Henry. You always saw the big picture. You were my equal in many ways. You're the only friend I got, Henry. Do you ever pray? You know, believe in a supreme being?...My mother used to pray a lot. It's been a long time since I really prayed. Let's pray, Henry. Let's pray a little. Just you and me. I hope this doesn't embarrass you, Henry....Don't be too proud, Henry. Never be too proud to go on your knees before God. God. How can a... How can a country come apart like this? What have I done wrong? I opened China. I made peace with Russia. I ended the war. I did what I thought was right. Ah... God, why do they hate me so? Is unbelievable. It is insane. Oh, M-Mom, I'm sorry. God, please forgive me, God. I really didn't mean it. I didn't know what to do. I don't know why this is happening to me. I can't believe...")
  • the scene of Nixon's poignant late-night conversation to a portrait of Kennedy in the hallway, with only his wife Pat: ("When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they ARE..."); then he confided in Pat: ("I'm so afraid. There's darkness out there. I could always see where I was going. But it's dark out there. God, I've always been afraid of the dark")
  • the sequence of Nixon's sweaty, final goodbye-farewell and impromptu late summer 1974 resignation speech after the Watergate disgrace, to his assembled White House staff, including a long tribute to his mother, before being taken away on Marine One from the White House lawn: ("...Nobody will ever write a book, probably, about my mother. Well, I guess all of you would say this about your mother. My mother was a saint....Yes, she will have no books written about her. But she was a saint. Now, however, we look to the future....And as I leave, that's an example I think all of us should remember. See, we think sometimes when, uh, things happen that don't go the right way, we think that when someone dear to us dies, or we lose an election or when we suffer defeat that all is ended. Not true. It's only a beginning, always, because the greatness comes, not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. Because only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. So I say to you on this occasion we leave, proud of the people who have stood by us and worked for us and served this government and this country. They want you to continue to serve in government if that is what you wish. Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then, you destroy yourself. And so we leave with high hopes and good spirits and with deep humility. And I say to each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you but always you will be in our hearts. And you'll be in our prayers. And only then will you find what we Quakers call 'peace at the center'")
1974 Farewell White House Speech: "My mother was a saint..."

1973: "We never got our side of the story out... They always hated Nixon"

1960: The Televised Presidential Debate During Campaign against JFK

1962: "Happy Days Are Here Again"

Pat Complaining to Dick in 1962: "I want a divorce"

1962: "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore"

1952 Checkers Speech: "Well, I am not a crook"

1973: "I had no knowledge of the cover-up..."

1974: Prayer with Henry Kissinger

Conversation with JFK's Portrait and Pat's Reassurance

The Notebook (2004)

  • a romantic story viewed over many years between two lovers was the subject of this intense tearjerker
  • after the war, young, privileged and pretty Southern debutante Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) visited earthy mill worker Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) one idyllic afternoon and went rowboating through a spectacular duck-filled setting, when she learned for the first time that he had written her 365 love letters (one each day for a year) - although her domineering mother had intercepted them and disapproved of his 'low-class' status; Noah professed his love on the dock during rain-soaked passionate kisses: "It wasn't over. It still isn't over!"
  • later, another emotional scene was the moment that Allie finally made a choice between Noah and her parent-approved fiancee Lon Hammond, Jr. (James Marsden) - and drove to the abandoned 200 year-old house in Seabrook Island, SC, which Noah had fixed up and restored (and was living in) - and built to her specifications, and moved in with him
  • frail heart patient Noah or "Duke" Calhoun (James Garner) often read to North Carolina nursing home patient Allie Hamilton/Calhoun (Gena Rowlands) from a "notebook" about two young lovers, titled: "The Story of Our Lives." It could be readily guessed and gradually revealed, the film's plot twist, that they were the lovers being referenced in the notebook. It was written by Allie as a present to Noah years earlier, with the handwritten dedication in the front: "Read this to me, and I'll come back to you."
  • in the final scenes, the revelation was made Allie had severe Alzheimer's Disease and could only remember the story of their love for a few minutes. She and Noah had met and fallen in love when in their teens
  • in old age, Noah repeatedly rekindled their love by re-reading from her old faded notebook diary (written by Allie as a present to Noah years earlier. After one of the readings telling of their love for each other, Allie briefly remembered their love during a special candlelight dinner in the nursing home when they shared a dance together - Allie requested: "Do you think I can be her tonight?" - but then she rapidly 'forgot' and panicked
  • in the final scene in the rest home, she remembered him as they held hands in her bedroom, where he promised he would always be there and never leave her. She asked him: "Do you think that our love can create miracles?" He replied: "Yes, I do. That's what brings you back to me each time." She asked a second question. "Do you think our love can take us away together?" He responded: "I think our love can do anything we want it to." They fell asleep in the same bed, and passed away together

Falling Asleep in Same Bed

Kissing in the Rain

Allie's Choice to Be With Noah

"Duke" (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) - Reading From the Notebook

The Notebook's Handwritten Dedication "Read this to me, and I'll come back to you"

Dancing After Candlelight Dinner

Now, Voyager (1942)


  • this sad tale was about misfit, neurotic, repressed ugly duckling spinster-heiress Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), who lived with her tyrannical, tormenting and domineering mother Mrs. Vale (Dame Gladys Cooper) in an upper-class Boston mansion; Charlotte bemoaned her entirely-aborted life: "What man would ever look at me and say, 'I want you.'? I'm fat. My mother doesn't approve of dieting. Look at my shoes. My mother approves of sensible shoes. Look at the books on my shelves. My mother approves of good solid books. I'm my mother's well-loved daughter. I'm her companion. I am my mother's servant. My mother says! My mother. My mother! MY MOTHER!"
  • Charlotte's transformation was stunning, when she was seen on an ocean cruise, now not a a dowdy, 30-ish aging female but a vibrant beauty
  • during a shore trip, she was introduced to handsome and suave European, Jeremiah 'Jerry' D. Durrance (Paul Henreid); while dining together on an outdoor patio, in the first of many cigarette lightings in the film, Charlotte was impressed that he graciously lit her cigarette that she held to her mouth
  • in the final famous tearjerking balcony scene between married single father Jerry Durrance and love interest Charlotte, both knew that Jerry would never leave his wife, but they also knew that they had found something far more enduring and happy; she proposed that they would test out Charlotte's care for Jerry's 12 year-old daughter Christine "Tina" (arranged by her psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains)); Tina would remain with Charlotte to be cared for as their "child," and he could regularly come and visit: ("Jerry, Dr. Jaquith knows about us. When he said I could take Tina, he said, 'You're on probation.' Do you know what that means? It means that I'm on probation because of you and me. He allowed this visit as a test, and if I can't stand such tests, I'll lose Tina, and we'll lose each other. Jerry, please help me")
  • Jerry responded by asking once more: ("Shall we just have a cigarette on it?") to which she responded breathlessly: "Yes, sir," holding out an opened cigarette box. He took two cigarettes and put them in his mouth, lit them both, and then handed one over to Charlotte
  • about how they could share in the love of Tina: ("Of course, and just think, it won't be for this time only. That is, if you'll help keep what we have. If we both try hard to, to protect that little strip of territory that's ours. We can talk about your child" - Jerry: "our child"; Jerry asked if she would be happy with looking after Tina: "And will you be happy, Charlotte?"
  • the film ended with Charlotte's most memorable line on the balcony: "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars"
  • as the music swelled, the camera moved between them and ascended above the trees to a starry night sky
Tearjerking Conclusion
"Shall we just have a cigarette on it?"
Intimate Sharing of Cigarette
Before Moving to the Balcony
On the Balcony: "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon...we have the stars"

'Ugly Duckling' Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis)

Charlotte's Nervous Breakdown

Vibrant Beauty - On Ocean Cruise

'Jerry' D. Durrance (Paul Henreid)

First Cigarette Lighting

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A | B | B | C | C | D | D | E | F | F | G | G
H-I | J-K | L | L | M | M | N | O | P | P
Q-R | S | S | S | S | T | T | U-V-W | X-Z

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