Now it's time for the end! Well, 10 endings to be exact. Out of the Past has aired the best entrances and twists over the last few weeks, and now the time has come to end my trilogy. So here's the best endings in movie history, or endings to movies that you've never seen and won't ever care about. Oh well, I do....
10. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter's The Thing tells the story of scientists who are trapped at the South Pole all the while being invested by an alien creature. Whatever the alien is, it consumes the scientists one by one and duplicates their bodies. Among the scientists are two hero figures. One, R.J. MacReady(Kurt Russell) is intent on killing the alien at any cost and two, Childs(Keith David) believes MacReady just might be the alien himself. Towards the end of the movie Childs goes missing, while MacReady tracks an invested scientist underground. While planning to destroy the alien's underground layer, we see a huge mutation of previous victims emerge from underground. MacReady, stick of dynamite in hand, utters the classic line "Yeah, well f@#k you, too!", as he supposedly destroys the alien.
MacReady crawls out to the surface alive, but with no shelter as that he has destroyed it all. As he makes his way out of the inferno he runs into Childs. Childs explains that he thought he saw the invested scientist and went after him. MacReady asks "How can I be sure you're not the thing?" and Childs asks the very same question. MacReady says "Well, if you are, I don't think I'm in any shape to do anything about it. Let's just sit here and see what happens.", as the two share a bottle of liquor as the movie ends. Either MacReady or Childs could've been invested. It doesn't matter because if either one is human, they're going to die anyway. With no shelter, they'll freeze. Meanwhile, if one of them is the thing, it can simply wait until someone else comes to infect them. John Carpenter never tells us which man, if either one, is an alien. He leaves it to us, the audience, to wonder.
9. City Lights (1931)
In what was his ultimate masterpiece, Charlie Chaplin plays The Tramp, as always. The time around The Tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl. The only problem is that the flower girl believes The Tramp to be rich after hearing him leave at the same time as a rich man closes the door of his car. The Tramp believes he must be rich for her to love him and he sets out to do anything to earn money to be so. Along the way he earns a thousand dollars to pay for a surgery to restore the blind girl's sight. Upon going to see the flower girl after her surgery, she tries to sell him a flower not knowing who he is. When she puts the flower in The Tramp's hand she realizes it's familiar. The flower girl simply says "You?" and The Tramp replies "Yes". The film ends with a close up on a big smile-wearin' Chaplin, as the music swells. For The Tramp and the flower girl, their love didn't have a price. It was priceless.
8. Rocky (1976)
I don't care what anyone says, the original Rocky is far and away the best of the series. Somehow through the miracle of Hollywood in the later movies Rocky becomes a great boxer. In the original, it was very different. Rocky was an enforcer for a loan shark and boxed at a local gym. Rocky was a boxer that at one time had potential, but let it waste away. When the World Champion Apollo Creed has an opponent cancel on him, he finds a way to save the promotion money he's already spent. Apollo will give a local man a shot at the title. Obviously, that man is Rocky. Rocky soon begins to fear that he's nothing more than a joke and that he has no chance of winning. Rocky decides if he can only go the distance with Creed he won't be a joke.
The fight comes and so does Apollo's prediction of a win in the three rounds. The fight starts with Apollo Creed playing around with Rocky, trying to make a show for the people. That is until Rocky knocks Apollo down. Then the fight becomes real. By now, you all should have guessed Rocky goes the full 15 rounds and "the distance". In the end, Rocky loses by decision, but it doesn't matter. In the first and best Rocky movie, it wasn't about winning, but just not losing. Rocky took himself from someone everyone laughed at to someone everyone cheered for. Make all the jokes about the gazillion sequels you want, but the original Rocky is one of the greatest movies ever made.
7. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Out of all the movies that are supposed to disturb you, A Clockwork Orange stands at the top. Whether it be a rape scene where our main character Alex(Malcolm MacDowell) assaults a woman while singing Singin' in the Rain or when he accidently kills a woman with giant sculpture of a penis. Stanley Kubrick's tale of a not-so far away future society is just plain twisted. After Alex is sent to prison for murder-by-penis he's put into an experimental program that takes criminals and morphs their brain into inducing physical pain by certain triggers. Whether it be the thought of murder, theft, rape or in Alex's case a trigger is accidently Beethoven's the 9th Symphony. After Alex is released from prison and is all "fixed" he accidently stumbles onto the house where his "Singin' in the Rain" rape occurred, but Alex doesn't realize it. Sadly for Alex, the husband of the woman does. He takes Alex in under the disguise of helping him, but all the man does is lock Alex in a room and play Beethoven. Alex's only way out is to jump out of a window to the ground several stories below in an attempt to stop the song in his head. Once Alex awakes in hospital he's surrounded by the doctors who engineered his condition. They've all seen the light and the horror they've put upon Alex. In doing so, they've reversed his condition. Alex is now completely free to do whatever he wants to whomever he wants. A Clockwork Orange ends with Alex saying "I'm cured all right!"
6. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Dr. Strangelove to some might just hold the best ending ever. Some other time I might have put it at the top myself, but as to right now I feel five more endings are better. Maybe I'm wrong? Dr. Strangelove is about a General who decides that his inability to get an erection is directly the fault of the Soviet Union and launches a nuclear assault on Russia in retaliation. Obviously, this is a comedy, right? Well, I guess it sort of is. Unless you consider the type of people we have controlling these weapons in the real world. Then it's quite frightening. It's that reality that Dr. Strangelove makes fun of. Despite every attempt by the US government, the General's attack succeeds as pilot Slim Pickins rides a nuclear bomb to the Russian surface waving a cowboy hat above his head. We then see several mushroom cloud explosions as the song "We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day" plays overhead. It's very comedic and frighteningly poetic. Am I wrong for putting this at #6? I don't know, but the next five are amazing too.
5. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
I said in my Top 10 Entrances column that this movie is Sergio Leone's masterpiece. You have to look no further than the ending to see why. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly tells of three men who are all trying to find gold buried in a graveyard during the civil war. In what has to be the greatest showdown in western movie history, the good(Clint Eastwood), the bad(Lee Van Cleef) and the ugly(Eli Wallach) stand apart and have a three-way gunfight in the cemetery where the money is buried. Whichever is left alive we'll get the money. Well, when the good guns down the bad and the ugly discovers his gun isn't loaded that leaves one man in control. As Eastwood so perfectly says "There's two kinds of people in this world. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig!" Wallach digs up the gold and Eastwood divides it up between the two, right down the middle. Eastwood has one request, that Wallach tie a noose around his neck and attach it to a tree as he stands on a wooden tombstone. Eastwood then proceeds to ride off leaving Wallach to hang. Just as the tombstone holding Wallach up is about to break, Eastwood shoots down to the rope. Thus leaving Wallach to yell "Blondie, you no good son of a" as the music plays over the last word. Eastwood, money in hand, rides off as a major long shot shows him escaping with the treasure. One great ending for the greatest western ever made.
4. The Third Man (1949)
I feel like I've written about this movie a million times. By now, I probably have. It is one of the best movies ever. Okay, here we go again. The Third Man is about an American(Joseph Cotten) who travels to Vienna(happy?) to see his old buddy, Harry Lime(Orson Welles). Upon arriving in Vienna, Cotten learns that Harry Lime is dead. Meanwhile, Cotten drinks a lot and falls in love with his dead friend's girlfriend. Only as Cotten soon learns, Harry Lime isn't dead. Harry is a wanted criminal for being a black market profiteer. Cotten being a good guy is set at odds with his old friend and it eventually leads to Lime's real death. At the funeral we see Cotten leaning up against a car at the end of the cemetery waiting for his friend's girl who he's fallen in love with. The girl walks right on by Cotten, not even offering a glance in his direction. She never loved the good guy. The girl loved Harry Lime. Who needs a happy ending anyway?
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The ending to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may not be the best ending on the list as in that it comes in at #3, but it is the coolest. Butch Cassidy(Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid(Robert Redford) take off for Bolivia after they realize that they've stolen all they can get away with in America. They see Bolivia as ripe for the taking. That is until they become surrounded by the Bolivian army while they're held up in a little shack. Butch and Sundance load their guns and plan for the future as they don't realize the amount of guns waiting for them outside the little hut. Once they're ready the two thieves charge out as the frame stops on the image of Butch and Sundance with their guns drawn. We then hear round after round of Bolivian gunfire. Every time I write about it, it's so damn cool. Mark it down, that's how I want to go!. Well, maybe not, but it's cool to see it happen to someone else.
2. Casablanca (1942)
Wow, this is probably the most famous ending in movie history. Humphrey Bogart sacrifices his love for Ingrid Bergman for the cause of fighting the Nazis. Bogie walks off into the fog with Claude Rains as the two men plan their getaway and end the movie on the classic line "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.", or in other words, they escape to fight another day. Casablanca, along with it's genius ending, captures Hollywood at it's height, the 1940's. WWII lent the world of movies dark subject matter and brought on a cynicism that wasn't in American movies previously. Casablanca is the 1940's era of the film noir and the Bogart anti-hero at it's apex. The end plays as the hardened Bogart character lets the woman who was his true love go with another man because it's the right thing to do and deep down he's a sentimental man is who is good. With all of the endings in movies that end with the two stars running into each other's arms and "happily ever after", Casablanca turns it around and goes for a bigger, more meaningful ending. It's very masculine, but in an odd romantic way.
1. The Godfather Parts 1&2 (1972 - 1974)
I know, it's kind of a cop out! I just couldn't pick between the two, so why not have a tie for #1?
Part One: The first Godfather ends with Michael(Al Pacino) denying to his wife(Diane Keaton) that he had his sister's husband killed. She believes him only to see him walk into a room and be christened the new Godfather of the Corelone crime family. She watches this display until the door is closed on her and us, the audience. The boy Keaton loved has morphed into the head of a mafia crime family. Michael Corelone, her husband and our hero, is now The Godfather. She learns what we all already knew, yes, Michael did have his sister's husband killed. That's where the first movie ends. We see through Keaton's eyes that the young man we've followed through the movie has become evil. No need for a happy ending.
Part Two: We go back into the world of the Corelone family as someone tries to kill Michael. He searches through the second film to find out who set him up until he finds out that it was his own brother, Fredo. What's Michael to do? He can't let a betrayal like this go and hope to keep his power as Godfather. So, after their mother's funeral, as Fredo goes out to fish he recites a prayer that he believes helps him catch fish. Fredo recites the prayer over and over until we a hear gunshot. The film then cuts to Michael sitting in a chair having damned himself for having his own brother killed. As I said, no need for a happy ending.
Both of these endings are very somber and each one ends on anything but a good note. So which one is better? I can't decide! You tell me! The endings that Francis Ford Coppolla and Mario Puzo created are so haunting and brutally honest that putting anything above them just seems like a letdown.
Honorable Mentions - Seven, Shane, Mister Roberts, Forrest Gump and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Well, the ring has been thrown in the lava, Robocop has flown in a jetpack, Axel Foley shot up a a theme park and Out of the Past has completed it's horrible trilogy too. See you in a couple of weeks!
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Dec 23, 2011 7:20 PM
|Damn Andy, I never knew we had so much in common movie taste wise. I think Casablanca has to be number one though. It's so freaking...inspired!|
And I'd go with the ending to Godfather Part 1. It's like it finally dawns on you what you've been watching all along. And that last shot brings it home.
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Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.|
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