I was musing the other day (I muse a lot these days) about why we might watch a movie over and over. I view certain films frequently, and each for a different reason or reasons: the plot, dialogue, cast, locale, and ending, to name a few.
That day I was specifically thinking about movies I watch because I love the ending. Before I elaborate, I must explain I am a pre-Baby Boomer, therefore I am genetically programmed to expect happy endings. In the ’50s the U.S. Cavalry always showed up, in the end; the detective always got it right, in the end; the wrongly incarcerated was released, in the end; and the couple realized they were meant to be together for all eternity, in the end. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy trick endings as well. 1987′s No Way Out, for instance, where Kevin Costner is shown to be the “baddie,” totally took me in. But that being said, I still enjoy the Cavalry riding in in the nick of time, the guy getting the girl, and the “world once again turning on greased grooves” (this last piece of rhetoric courtesy of John Houston from 1982′s Cannery Row) !
I apologize for digressing (I also digress a lot these days as well). To get back to movie endings, the particular ending that came to mind was the 1983 Kate Nelligan/Judd Hirsch drama Without a Trace. That ending is worth the wait. When Judd shows up at the end with Kate’s missing son and she sees him for the first time in a couple of years, well…hell, I’m getting verklempt as we e-speak! Another great ending, when Meryl Streep realizes she cannot take son Justin Henry away from ex-husband Dustin Hoffman, and Dustin realizes he won’t lose him (just), in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
I also enjoyed the ending to another Best Picture Oscar-winner, The Silence of the Lambs (1991), when an on-the-loose Anthony Hopkins calls Jodie Foster and informs her he’s “having an old friend for dinner…how “poetic.” Wait, this last one seems to belie my previous statement of happy endings. Oh, no, perhaps I’m getting jaded in my old age! So be it; it’s still a great ending. Hmmmm: I wonder which of these movies I’ll watch first ?
Bill Dunphy enjoys photography, cooking, reading, and, of course, movies–of which he has about 350 in his library.
What are some of your favorite movie endings? Let us know in the comments!