For Memorial Day: Five Best Graveside Scenes

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Memoral Day is the time we honor those who gave their lives for their country, and families everywhere will be going to graves to leave something for the young boys who "never saw gray hair."

Hollywood has always been fond of graveside scenes, of course, especially for war movies. The web is full of such scenes, but in choosing our Five Best Graveside Scenes we decided to open it up to any subject. Freedom of choice -- it's what the guys fought for.

So here are the best cemetery scenes, for Memorial Day:

5. Saving Private Ryan

Okay, so right out of the box we violate our guidelines. But no Memorial Day list can be done without including this. It's the law.

The opening D-Day scenes of Saving Private Ryan were so groundbreaking (much imitated since), so intense, that viewers and reviewers give a large pass to the often-substandard stuff that follows. And when Spielberg lays on the schmaltz, he does it with both barrels.

The clip above, of course, includes one of the more well-known "cheats" in good movies -- all along, you've assumed the old man at the grave in the opening is Tom Hanks' character. If you can fight your way through the smothering strings of John Williams' score, you'll find out different.

4. Godfather II

Just before he was killed by his grandkid, whom he was trying to frighten to death in some Sicilian thing that's been going on for 2,000 years, the Don tells Michael Corleone that whoever comes to him to set up a meeting with Barzini is a traitor.

At the funeral we find out who it is: Abe Vigoda.

Tom Hagen says he thought it would be Clemenza. No, says Michael: "It's the smart move. Tessio was always smarter." To a degree, it seems.

 3. It's a Wonderful Life

An obscure, seldom-seen or discussed indie film,

It's a Wonderful Life

posits that all angels are bumbling drunkards. Luckily for us, it also includes a cemetery scene.

Clarence: Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey: That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war - he got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport.
Clarence: Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry.

(Tears successfully jerked, always.)

In the clip above, George learns something that is apparently far, far worse, judging by his reaction: His wife is now a librarian.

2. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

We've discussed our love for A Christmas Carol in all its many forms. The graveyard scene has never been scarier than in Mr. Magoo's epic production.

1. This Is Spinal Tap

"There's too much fucking perspective." And remember, if you're going to sing "Heartbreak Hotel" at Elvis' grave, try to be in the same key and don't make it too raga.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.