REEL 13

Discussion: Tearjerkers

Posted: October 1, 2012
The Light that Failed

The Light that Failed (1939)

Dark Victory is one of the great tear jerkers of all time. What’s your favorite tearjerker?  There are so many to choose from! Neal Gabler selects The Light that Failed, starring Ronald Coleman. Charles Busch loves Random Harvest, also starring Ronald Coleman!

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  • Al

    Letter From an Unknown Woman. Stella Dallas. The Old Maid. Wuthering Heights. Imitation of Life. Magnificent Obsession.

  • Nikki

    I’ll pretty much cry at the drop of a hat. Here are some for the list. “Mask” when Cher walks into the bedroom and realizes her son is dead; “Philadelphia” the hospital scene when everyone says goodbye; “Sophie’s Choice” when you realize what her choice was; “Hotel Rwanda” throughout the entire the movie, and “Shindler’s List” also throughout, and the line “The List is Life!”, and in the end, when the survivors place their stones on the grave.

  • rayban

    When it comes to old-time tearjerkers, I’d have to go with two films – Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas” and Bette Davis in “Now Voyager”. And, when it comes to a Douglas Sirk tearjerker, always in a class of its own, I’d have to go with “Magnificent Obsession” and “All That Heaven Allows”.

  • anallia

    Cinema Paradiso

  • Sue

    “Miracle in the Rain”, Jane Wyman, Van Johnson. Makes me cry every time.

  • Katie

    “Sentimental Journey”, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara

  • Barb

    My favorite for a very long time has been “Brief Encounter” with Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard and Stanley Holloway. The passion and ultimate pain of these lovers is only heightened by the use of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto to score the movie.

  • M. Shamamian

    The best ever is The Way of All Flesh with Akim Tamiroff, particularly the final scene. And only a heart of stone could fail to be moved by Ricky Schroeder when Jon Voigt dies in the remake of The Champ.

  • Mike

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

  • Linda K

    My favorite films must be “The Red Shoes”. I love Moira Shearer. Another “Sophie’s Choice”. The cast is wonderful. I must not forget “Doctor Zhivago”, need I write a word…

  • Aviva

    3 favorites: DARK EYES, loosely based on 4 Chekhov stories. I started crying from when the married Italian man (Marcello Mastroianni) realizes he’s in love with a Russian woman he had a brief affair with at a spa and pursues her in Russia — to the tearful shocking ending. The scene where he’s driving through the greenest of landscape as a proto-environmentalist begs him not to establish a factory on that land, is deeply touching.
    IKIRU — Kurosawa’s 1962 masterpiece about a Japanese bureaucrat who, when he’s given less than a year to live, realizes he has wasted 30 years of his life tries to experience what he’s missed. Then we learn via flashback what he achieved — it’s so poignant, heart-wrenching. It’s like I lived through this whole experience with this man.
    HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY: First saw this in summer camp, age 10 and have seen it on TV whenever it’s on. When the naarator says “Men like my father never die,” after his father’s body is raised from the mine after an accident, I tear up. Also, every time Anhared (Maureen O’Hara) has this scene with the preacher (Walter Pigeon) and tries to convince him she wants him to marry her — and fails — I keep thinking, “Maybe this time she’ll succeed.” Iknow it’s irrational but I can’t help myself. And when she walks out of his room, defeated, I cry.

  • Aviva

    (This is not for posting but a response to the message that I posted a “duplicate” comment. I am a Recovering Neo-Luddite. I probably hit the “Submit” button twice. Or else, you found that I submitted a similar comment on “Feedback.” The reason for that is that Neal Gabler did not tell us viewers where on 13′s website to submit the comment and I spent at least a half-hour looking in various spots. Not finding anything remotely resembling your spot, I posted a shortened comment on “Feedback.” Then, after more wandering around, I found your spot. So please forgive me….And it would help others like me if there were a “subtitle” on the screen giving the specific location for Comments on Classics. I hope you use my Comment or part. Thanks. AC

  • Aviva

    (This is not for posting but a response to the message that I posted a “duplicate” comment. I am a Recovering Neo-Luddite. I probably hit the “Submit” button twice. Or else, you found that I submitted a similar comment on “Feedback.” The reason for that is that Neal Gabler did not tell us viewers where on 13′s website to submit the comment and I spent at least a half-hour looking in various spots. Not finding anything remotely resembling your spot, I posted a shortened comment on “Feedback.” Then, after more wandering around, I found your spot. So please forgive me….And it would help others like me if there were a “subtitle” on the screen giving the specific location for Comments on Classics. I hope you use my Comment or part. Thanks. AC

  • Barbara

    “All This and Heaven Too” — another Bette Davis treasure — has to be the tearjerker of all time. I sobbed through it in the late 50s when I was in college — and I remember being depressed for days after! I’ll watch it whenever it comes around, and it is still the best sob story EVER!

  • Sherry

    Brief Encounter, Now Voyager, and Steel Magnolias, each for different reasons can make me dissolve into tears.

  • Mitch

    Yentl. At the end when Yentl sings, “Papa–Watch me fly!” It’s so joyful and sad at the same time, I always start crying.

  • Iris V. Metzger

    Hmmmm… I love animals so from scenes of certain films I’ll cry,cry,cry. Old Yeller (57 ?) when the boy has to shoot the yellow lab due to rabies. Bambi (42 ?)The scene where the parent deer is shot. Allegro Non Tropo, anime’(72 ?) The scene w. the cat remembering the happy home it lived in b/4 the wrecking ball destroys the abandoned bldg. Just could not stop crying even though the next scene was comedic. Non-anime: 1932′s The Sign of the Cross, wish it could be shown again.

  • Iris V. Metzger

    Oh, just one more re: animals. My late monm’s favorite was (42 ?) The Yearling.

  • Barbara

    For a more recent film, I’d say THE JOY LUCK CLUB. The scene towards the end between the father and daughter…oh my goodness, there are not enough tissues in the world to dry my tears.

  • Mary Farris

    SOMEWHERE IN TIME
    I have watched this movie probably 50 times and I always cry.

  • Barbara

    Oops, forgot to mention TERMS OF ENDEARMENT…talk about a tear-jerker. 2 Scenes…when Shirley McLaine is yelling at the nurses to give her daughter the shot and of course, when Debra Winger is saying goodbye to her sons at her hospital bedside. Plenty of tears there…

  • nancy harris

    Antwon Fisher starring Denzel Washington, the scene when Antwon meets his mother who abandoned him and she doesn’t speak to him. The Color Purple when the sisters are forced apart. Imitation of Life at the mother’s funeral

  • Jane

    Madam X “Today, I had a son.” The Way We Were, Dr. Zhivago,

  • Ann Gray

    Just enjoyed watching Dark Victory and enjoyed it. My favorite tearjerkers of all time are ” imitation of Life” Love Story” ” To Sir with Love” ” Born Free” to name a few!

  • peggy stern

    sophie’s choice, bambi (when bambi’s mother is killed), the lovers

  • Klancy

    Now Voyager, Terms of Endearment, Dumbo (when the mother elephant cradles him in her trunk thru the bars of her cage, and music is “Baby Mine”), Gone with the Wind, Old Yeller, The Yearling, Bambi, Love Story, OMG don’t forget Penney Serenade, I cry buckets everytime, Since You Went Away, The Glenn Miller Story, Shenandoah, all Shirley Temple movies

  • Pamela

    “Shadowlands”(Debra Winger & Anthony Hopkins), “Camille” (Garbo, of course),the scene in “Goodbye Mr. Chips” when Peter O’Toole stands before his classroom knowing his wife is dead, “Legends of the Fall” & “Meet Joe Black” (both w/Hopkins) and of course, “Penny Serenade” (a 4-hankie each time).

  • Edwin

    In the name of my dear departed friend Jorge Santos whom always said it was “Frosty the Snowman”-when he melts, that always made him cry.

  • Jack

    “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” – at he gas station, the young but already magnificent Catherine Deneuve, with her black mink, Mercedes, & perfect little daughter, driving away in the snow, driving away from her first love, the father of Deneuve’s child, who turns to his wife and little son, playing in the snow – the Michel LeGrand wonderfully schmaltzy music welling up yet again …. Shameless manipulation, & I choke up EVERY time …

  • Anna Amato

    Please plese broadcast “The Light that Failed” I’ve never seen that one but I love Random Harvest also and of course Now Voyager but I remember that my true favorite from my teen years was “The Blue Veil”. I had pneumonia at the time which may have affected me but I remember it being a two box (kleenex) movie!

  • Connie DiGiovanni

    Since You Went Away is a classic that has always left me disolving in tears. for ao many reasons not the least being the music. Having been born about the time the film was released, I remember the music very well from the 40′s. As a child it was on TV constantly, all-be-it cut and small but always hitting me the same way. It will to my dying days.

  • Marshell Brown

    Tearjerkers: Beaches, Love Story, To Sir With Love, The Lou Gherig Story, Pennies from Heaven (Danny Kaye)all time FAVORITE, I Want to Live, Imitation of Life, bust most of all………Brian’s Song!

  • Marshell Brown

    I forgot, Lady Sings the Blues, so many moments in that movie required a hanky. The thought that her mom raised her in a house of ill repute putting her in horrific situations, to the scene where Billy Dee Williams rescues her from an overdose on the bathroom floor. Finally the discovery of the ugliness of racism in the deep south which evoked the song Strange Fruit, (bodies hanging and swaying in trees. A tearjerker throughout……..

  • Marshell Brown

    Correction: I said Pennies From Heaven when actually I meant the scene from the Five Pennies when Red Nichols, (Danny Kaye) contacted polio and was hospitalized.

  • frank soriano

    Nothing tops the final scene of Resurection with Ellen Burstyn and Sam Shephard – and even better, nobody dies.

  • Jerry

    A tear jerker which transcends its genre:the old B&W “Imitation of Life” (1934) with Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers as two young widows, one white, one black with a daughter apiece, who struggle to survive and support their kids. Through talent, nerve and luck, they become a big success in their business. The most wrenching scene? In a downpour, Louise Beavers stands soaking wet outside the classroom door clutching the galoshes she has brought for her child. What follows never fails to tear my heart out…

  • Celine

    There is nothing as sad as Camille with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. So many parts of that movie make me cry, it is wonderful!

  • Eugenia Renskoff

    Hi, One of my favorite tearjerkers is One Way Passage from 1932. William Powell and Kay Francis are wonderful in this movie. Brief Encounter is another one. And The Yearling, Stella Dallas with Barbara Stanwyck and Dark Victory. Stella Dallas is, to me, the perfect Mother sacrifics all for daughter movie. Eugenia Renskoff

  • Nikki

    I’d add to all the ones already listed: “House of Fog and Sand,” “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas,” “Jeux Interdits,” and Monty Cliff in “Search.”

  • Emily

    I’m a very emotional person but there are only a few in all the movie I’ve watched in my life that have made me cry, without being able to hold back. Many of them I’m surprised aren’t something I would cry to now, but it was the original and initial experience that always, in some cases, mattered most. “Maytime” (1937) with Jeannette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy is one, amongst the cherry blossoms of a melodramatic operetta song, “Will You Remember.” So is “Now, Voyager”(1942) with Bette Davis, her line, “Don’t let’s ask for the moon, we have the stars” — but surprisingly that didn’t make me cry, but it was a very honorable one that arouse a lot of feeling and thought. “Algiers”(1938) with Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, I found myself weeping at the last minute at event of how creully arranged the thwarted love was.
    With Capra, I experienced the heart-bursting tear for the message of raising the soul of the middle-man, the individual Joe, in “John Doe” (1941) with the full-of-moxie Barbara Stanwyck and humble hero, Gary Cooper. A tear rolled down my eye as he reads his climatic speech and in the end as he climbs the Empire State building. Oh, I could go on and on! “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947) is another, when Rex Harrison’s ghost cries “Lucia! Lucia, what we’ve missed—what we’ve.. both missed”, as he contemplates the magical life and perfect world they could have led if only she lived when he was alive, or he could be more than just a ghost.

  • Ann

    Surprised “An Affair to Remember” hasn’t made the list yet. And how about “Kramer vs. Kramer”? — whenever the parents feel torn from their young son. “Splendor in the Grass” is pretty weepy, too.