Making a filmgoer cry is a tricky bit of cinematic sleight of hand for any director to pull off. The picture alone probably can’t make the tears flow; you’ll notice that watching a sad movie with the sound off probably won’t get you that worked up. Most filmmakers resort to emotional music cues to start the waterworks, and like jarring noises in horror movies, the soaring scores usually have the desired effect.
Personally, we always cry at the end of Rudy. David S. Ward’s ode to Notre Dame football, starring a pre-Samwise Sean Astin, never fails to make us wail like a baby. However, from the looks of a recent poll, we might be in the minority.
The good folks across the pond at the London Daily Mail asked 3000 moviegoers to rank the movies that make them cry. Not surprisingly, Bambi is number one. It should go without saying that you can’t kill off a baby’s mother without eliciting major tears. But the rest of the list is populated with movies you’d expect to see on Lifetime (Ghost! Beaches! Steel Magnolias!). Where’s Rudy? Or Once? Or that episode of The O.C. when Caleb dies? Harrumph! We’ll just have to go watch a clip of that on our own. We could use a good cry on this Columbus Day. The top-ten below:
3. (tie) The Lion King / E.T.
7. (tie) Philadelphia / Watership Down
9. Boys Don’t Cry
10. Steel Magnolias