Some movie producer way back when said that movie audiences will really only remember the ending. If the ending is great, they love the movie. If the ending sucks, so does the film. I don’t buy into that at all - we’re a bit smarter than that, aren’t we? But what I do believe is that a great ending - what I consider a great ending anyway, can really save an otherwise not-great movie. We can have that post-movie chat in the theater parking lot: “That movie blew, but the ending was pretty cool!” In reality, I’m the guy going “Oh, he was the killer? I didn’t catch that.”
Regardless, endings - and I’m not talking the climax of the film, but the last shot/scene of a movie can really get me all giddy. Two of my personal favorites are pretty classic ones. Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, is a great film-noir from 1956. It’s a heist film told in a novel way. But the ending, where Sterling Hayden’s character (and his moll) watch their million dollars in cash go swirling into the air in front of a prop planes engines, is the “most”. Since they can’t get on their flight, they try to catch a cab outside the airport. Who knows - this might have been filmed at the Hollywood Burbank Airport (my personal favorite airport - you still walk on the tarmac to get on the plane!). Anyway, as they are hailing a taxi, we have a shot of the glass front doors of the airport terminal. Behind the glass, we see two G-Men being told what had happened on the tarmac. These two guys - burly, older, wearing fedoras, look towards our anti-heroes. They slowly walk towards the doors (and the camera), one at either door. At the same time, they draw their guns, point and open the doors. “THE END” comes up between them. Fade to black. Holy Shit, is that great. Simply shot, but so effective. The jig is so up for them.
The second is so classic - The Godfather. All I’ll say is that one shot of one of my Michael Corleone’s henchmen closing the door on Diane Keaton’s character as Pacino looks at her, tells you all you need to know about the future of their marraige, and more importantly, the future of her life. It ain’t going to be great. An American classic has THE classic ending. Goddamn, that movie is so freaking good.
I know there are other, more obscure film endings to pick - but I went down Fifth Avenue with these. Burk and Kathy came up with some great ones too - but mine are the best….. ;-)
Thanks for reading - Mark