Tear Jerkers

I watched a film yesterday that had me bawling my eyes out. Now the film is stuck in my head, and I started thinking about other films with heart-wrenching scenes. The power of pathos! My first experience of a tear jerker was as a kid watching Roddy McDowell defend his dog, “Old Yeller just saved your life, and you’re gonna kill him like he was nothin!?” I can see the scene in my mind like it was yesterday. Knowing misery loves company, here are a few films that really got me weeping.

1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

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The film comes from the perspective of an 8 year-old-boy trying to make sense of his world and Nazi father. The irony sneaks up and throttles you.

2. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

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I remember going to see this one by myself unaware of the plot twist that dramatically changed the tone of the film. I cried and cried and couldn’t stop.

3. Les Misérables (2012)

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When I saw this with my daughter, the only two seats available were down in front. Maybe because their faces were so huge and their expressions so close, but I cried so many times throughout the three hours, I was quite embarassed I couldn’t stop. She had to run to the bathroom to grab me more tissues.

4. Sophie’s Choice (1982)

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Everyone has heard that Meryl Streep is the best of the best. This film is the reason why. She gives the most unforgettable performance by any actress EVER. I dare you to disagree. Kevin Kline is marvelous, orchestrating in the dark, living in a fantasy world. All aboard the train. Raus! Bring your tissues.

5. The Champ (1979)

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My favorite film starring John Voight. Little Ricky Schroder gave such a heart-felt performance. When he cried, everyone cried. A great classic by Franco Zeffirelli.

6. Up (2009)

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So there I was taking my grandson to see this children’s film at the movies. I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of tears streaming down my face, and it was only the first ten minutes into the movie! Good Grief!  What a perfect film.

7. West Side Story (1961)

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I do believe I’ve seen WSS more than any other human. Even today, when Maria holds Tony’s hand as he takes his last breath made me realize I should have bought stock in Kleenex.

I wonder why many of my favorite films are the ones that made me cry the most?  Which films got you crying in the dark?

30 thoughts on “Tear Jerkers

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        1. I need to revisit this again. I remember I was impressed with Chris O’Donnell’s performance. Interesting that Al Pacino was nominated 8 times for an oscar, and this performance in Scent of a Woman earned him the award. I laugh every time I heard him say, “Hoo-ah”.

  1. Great post Cindy! The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Million Dollar Baby are probably the ones that got me the most on your list. Other Tear jerkers that I can think of off the top of my head, The Pianist (2002), The Cure (1995), American History X (1998), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) , Stepmom (1998), Marvin’s Room (1996) (another Meryl Streep film), Braveheart (1995), Dead Poet’s Society (1989). Usually you can tell that a movie is very well made if it can make you cry. It’s a sign of a quality film.

    1. Twisted somehow? Why despair and catastrophe should somehow rise in your mind as a sign of a good film? I couldn’t agree with you more! I love your list, too. American History X was one of the most powerful films I can think of. The Pianist hit hard deep for me, too. Thanks!

  2. When I first seen this post Cindy, I wondered if you’d include the film that always gets me. And yes, you did…. The Champ is a film that’s very difficult to get through without shedding a tear. I struggle to think of a more tear jerking ending.

  3. You know, I’ve never cried at a film. I have a heart of stone! Plenty of films do make me sad though. Up was a proper slap round the face in the first 10 minutes! And The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was very sad too, although the book made a bigger impact on me. One that always puts a lump in my throat is The Lion King when Mufasa dies!

      1. Sorry to pry into your personal life…

        Anyway, I wrote something similar to this last year and included Up and Million Dollar Baby. I watched Up with my daughter this past Sunday and had to choke back tears at the beginning. She liked the talking dog.

  4. Oh I love the mention of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. What a powerful movie. Also have to agree with that opening segment of “Up”. I’m not the biggest animated guy but that really got me. Great post Cindy.

    1. I’m not either, the animation films–unless I am designated to babysit, it would never occur to me to buy a ticket to see one. That’s why I was so shocked about UP. Pixar did such a great job with this film! I loved the story, the characters. Kevin the bird was a hoot as well as the Japanese soprano Doberman. Brilliant to make a scary dog funny.

  5. Hi Cindy! Great new layout, awesome! Love this list, I remember seeing The Champ as a kid and bawling my eyes out. I actually cried watching WALL•E, and the marriage montage scene in UP had me in tears as well. I’m a crier so I do cry often watching movies 😀

    1. Hi Ruth! Glad to see your familiar shielded eye once again. 🙂
      WALL E, yes! I’d like to think I’m tough, but it’s like someone pushed a button and my shields are deactivated. I’d never make it as a superhero!

  6. The first movie that ever made me cry was Annie. When they almost succeed in taking her way from Daddy Warbucks… I can still remember breaking my 6 year old heart over it, and then crying with happiness when he gets her back!

  7. I haven’t seen number 1, 5, or 7. I never used to cry when I was little, but now if there is a hint of sadness in a movie or book, I need tissues.

  8. I remember crying watching the Railway Children when Jenny Agutter is reunited with her father. The way she says “Daddy, my daddy” gets me everytime.

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