Top Ten: Movie Weepies

There’s an episode of Friends which shows Chandler being berated by Monica and Pheobe because of his lack of emotions. He can’t cry at sad movies, the thought of his wife dying doesn’t do anything for him and it is only Ross and Rachel’s inability to get together that finally elicits tears. I’m exactly the opposite. I cry at anything – it’s even been known for episodes of Home and Away or Britain’s Got Talent auditions to start my waterworks flowing. Sometimes I relish the thought of sitting in front of the TV and having a good old cry.

Here are ten movies that are guaranteed to move me to tears (spoilers ahead):

1. Beaches

The story of two friends, classy Barbara Hershey and brassy Bette Midler, from their first meeting as children, through romances and betrayals to the death of Hershey’s Hillary. This is one film where I always say I’m not going to cry – then start bawling as soon as Bette starts to sing Wing Beneath My Wings.

2. The Bells of St Marys

Bing Crosby stars as Father O’Malley, the kind and twinkly eyed priest who can make everything right with just a rendition of High Hopes. He and Sister Mary Benedict gently bicker their way through the film until it is discovered that the good sister is dying of tuberculosis. I think it’s Crosby’s natural charm that makes the sadness so complete.

3. The Christmas Shoes

Yes, it’s corny but it gets me every single time. After leaving The West Wing and before Brothers and Sisters Rob Lowe made a series of made for TV movies, including this one where he plays a workaholic lawyer who realises the true meaning of family one Christmas Eve when he meets a little boy buying shoes for his mummy to wear to dance with the angels in heaven. I don’t just cry, I heave gut-wrenching sobs.

4. E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg’s love letter to childhood innocence and discovery always, always makes me cry. And it’s always at the same moment in the film. The friendly alien and Elliot have bonded and Elliot agrees to help ET ‘phone home’ but their happiness is short-lived as government officials grab the alien who seemingly dies. But – a flower which has also died miraculously comes back to life… yip that’s the moment that gets me. Every single time.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey (James Stewart) is a good man who is down on his luck. Thanks to the dirty dealings of Bedford Falls’ richest man, Bailey’s Savings and Loan is about to collapse. George is ready to kill himself when trainee angel Clarence shows him how important he is and what an impact he has had on the lives of those around him. On Christmas Eve George’s business is saved and he is surrounded by people who love him and a bell rings, letting him know that Clarence has got his wings. If you don’t well up at this then you have no heart and I don’t want to be your friend.

6. Schindler’s List

I think I was about the last person on Earth to finally see Schindler’s List. It always seemed to be the clichéd Holocaust film and I wasn’t sure that I could cope with three hours of unremitting grief. Based on Thomas Keneally’s biography this film tells the story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved thousands of Jewish lives by claiming he needed them as workers in his factory. The true events portrayed in the film are heart-breaking but the tears for me come in the postscript when actors and the real-life survivors they portrayed come together to place stones on Schindler’s grave in Jerusalem.

7. Sophie Scholl – The Final Days

The Holocaust and the Nazi regime are prime territory for sad films and this 2005 German film is one of the best that I’ve ever seen. Based on the true story of the White Rose group, this film follows student Sophie Scholl, her brother and friends as they distribute anti-Nazi literature. The group are arrested and Sophie faces interrogation by Gestapo investigator Robert Mohr. Sophie admits to distributing the literature but refuses to betray her friends and steadfastly clings to her beliefs and principles. She is tried and executed for treason on February 22 1943. Sophie Scholl is now celebrated as one of Germany’s greatest heroines.

8. Titanic

James Cameron became King of the World following the release of this all-conquering epic and Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio became bona fide movie stars. A simple tale of star-crossed lovers is given extra drama by setting it on the ill-fated liner’s maiden voyage. The effects were ground-breaking at the time but the sinking isn’t the saddest part, nor is Jack’s death but the montage of passengers preparing for their final moments including a mother reading to her children and an elderly couple holding onto each other. Titanic has stood the test of time well and is surely as classic a melodrama as Gone With The Wind

9. West Side Story

This is the first film that I can actually remember crying at. Sondheim’s musical version of the Romeo and Juliet story brings together a beautiful Puerto Rican girl and a handsome Italian boy, much to the chagrin of their respective friends. The story ends in tragedy as Tony kills Maria’s brother and is then fatally injured. I can’t hear Somewhere being sung without having at the very least, a large lump in my throat.

10. White Christmas

In a list full of genocide, murder and death it’s only fitting that the final entry should create happy tears. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are old army buddies and successful entertainers who discover that their old General has fallen on hard times. They gather together their comrades in arms and put on a show to help raise the money he desperately needs – when the General is faced with a roomful of his subordinates singing “We’ll Follow The Old Man” I always had a good, happy cry.

What films make you cry? Or are you impervious to the effects of a weepie movie? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. I thought I cried quite easily at films, but the only one I can remember crying at in the cinema was Dead Poets Society. I Am Legend was the last one I cried at at home, and I heard everyone cried at Toy Story 3 – so not actually watched that yet!

  2. Neil Wheeler says:

    Cant believe you missed The Champ with Jon Voight and young Ricky Schroeder
    “wake up champ, wake up” cue streams of tears

  3. The Christmas Shoes is a new one on me Louise. I’m feeling a bit of a Christmas theme amongst these “weepies”. I watched Dave starring Kevin Kline last night and that brought a tear to my eye – such a sweet film.

    • Louise says:

      I noticed when I was writing it that there appeared to be a lot of Christmas films. The Christmas Shoes is utter tosh, but it does make me weep buckets.

      Never thought of Dave as a weepie, will have to watch again soon.

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