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Forget It Jake, It's Chinatown: Flavorwire's 10 Greatest Movie Endings -- Do You Agree?

by Beth Hanna
August 28, 2012 2:18 PM
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Jack Nicholson Chinatown
Jack Nicholson in 'Chinatown'

Flavorwire has compiled a list of the 10 greatest movie endings, including the likes of Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" and Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights." Full list and videos below, but beware! Some of these endings (with Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Diaboloque" as the grand dame of doozies) should only be watched if you've already seen the film.

Flavorwire's 10 Greatest Movie Endings (SPOILER ALERT!):

1. "Halloween" (dir. John Carpenter, 1978)

2. "Chinatown" (dir. Roman Polanski, 1974)

3. "Casablanca" (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1942)

4. "The Godfather" (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

5. "Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

6. "There Will Be Blood" (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)

7. "The Wizard of Oz" (dir. Victor Fleming, 1939)

8. "Diabolique" (dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)

9. "The Graduate" (dir. Mike Nichols, 1967)

10. "City Lights" (dir. Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

What say you, TOH-ers? What film endings would you add to the list? Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (and the top winner of Sight & Sound's recent poll) and "North by Northwest," Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows," Chris Marker's "La Jetee," Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" and "Some Like It Hot," Stanley Donen's "Charade," Akira Kurosawa's "High and Low," Robert Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder," Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" and, obvious as it may be, Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," the deposed Sight & Sound king, should all rank in a greatest movie endings list, too.

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More: Classics, Video


  • Dalton B. Pittman | September 10, 2012 7:24 PMReply

    The best ending for a motion picture is likely Billy Wilder's "Witness for the Prosecution" in the 1950's starring Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, and Marlene Dietrich. It's an Agatha Christie play brought to the Silver Screen by one of the entertainment industry's greatest directors and writers.

  • Paulo | August 30, 2012 9:29 PMReply

    One of the greatest endings in film history would have to be carol reed's The Third Man.

  • AJ | August 29, 2012 5:53 PMReply

    There would be an almost totally different list if you were asking for the 10 best last lines.
    Casablanca would stay: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
    And "Some Like It Hot" would certainly be added. When Jack Lemmon, who is still in a dress, frantically tells his dancing partner, Joe E. Brown that he's not a woman, Brown responds: "Nobody's perfect."

  • John Hitchcock | August 29, 2012 4:19 PMReply

    Casablanca definitely. Great film!

    I really don't think Halloween deserves to be at the beginning; for me if anything, all it did was leave me more confused than it did terrified (mainly just because the whole supernatural thing didn't work for me- Michael Myers just randomly turns out to be invincible, with no real build-up or explanation beyond Donald Pleasance repeatedly reminding you of the obvious fact that he's a dangerous psycho and one kid whining about "the boogeyman). If anything, out of Carpenter's work, I'd probably suggest The Thing instead- the bleak tone of the scene, with the fates of the survivors and the Thing itself open to debate- perfect ending fitting to such a dark and well-written story.

  • cadavra | August 28, 2012 8:09 PMReply

    A few off the top of my head (chronologically):

    Keaton's SHERLOCK, JR.
    Kubrick's THE KILLING
    Wilder's ONE TWO THREE
    Burton's MARS ATTACKS!

  • KES | August 29, 2012 1:04 AM

    I'm with Cadrava: Sherlock, Jr. definitely should be on the list (and maybe Some Like it Hot, too).

  • Forrest C | August 28, 2012 3:56 PMReply

    Always thought that The Graduate's ending was pretty overrated. Predictable and has not aged well (just like the rest of that movie). That aside, the rest are all deserving except maybe There Will Be Blood, which is great but maybe not top 10 ever. In fact, I'd say it's not even PTA's best ending (Magnolia).

  • Greg | August 29, 2012 5:09 PM

    What about it are you saying was predictable?

  • Skippy | August 28, 2012 3:38 PMReply

    I'll mention a Hitchcock that doesn't usually get much mention--the 1956 version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much."
    "Sorry we were gone so long but we had to pick up Hank."

  • Mitchell | August 28, 2012 2:40 PMReply

    It's not a bad list, but absolutely no Billy Wilder is inexcusable. You could make a top 10 endings with solely Wilder films.

  • Beth Hanna | August 28, 2012 3:26 PM

    @Mitchell -- It's true. "Double Indemnity," "Sunset Blvd.," "Witness for the Prosecution," "Some Like it Hot," and the list could go on. Wilder really knew how to end a film.

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