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For Memorial Day: Five Best Graveside Scenes

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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.

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