Apr 22, 2012

The 10 SADDEST old movies (I've watched)

NOTE: This entry was reposted over MovieFanFare, becoming one of their most popular articles with nearly 1,000 comments :)

Well, you know them. You're watching them and you're thinking:

"Mother of god, life can be awful. Why people have to suffer so much! I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry. Think of something positive. Or something that makes you angry. Oh no, a tear is coming. I'm gonna cough to try to pass this heavy lump in my throat. Oh, what did she or he have to say that line? That's the saddest thing..."

Ginger Rogers Crying animated gif
Anyway, I sacrificed myself for you, and re-watched some of these films. I included movies in which the predominant feeling is sadness or those whose endings are very dramatic.

So, grab your tissues, here we go (warning: spoilers ahead):

10.- Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)
Plot: A girl and a boy fall in love and have a child but can't be together (review).
You can't hold your tears when...they say goodbye at the train station (watch).

Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)

9.- Waterloo Bridge (1940)
Plot: Vivien Leigh thinks her boyfriend Robert Taylor is dead so she finds a socially rejected way to survive (mentioned in 5 movies in which tragedy was caused by chance).
You can't hold your tears when...the camera focus a little special object after some tragic event and then Robert remembers Vivien in the bridge (watch the ending).

Waterloo Bridge (1940): Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor

8.- The Wedding Night (1935)
Plot: A writer (Gary Cooper) falls in love with a girl (Anna Stern) from a strict Pole family of farmers (review).
You can't hold your tears when...at the end, Gary looks out the window and "sees" the love of his life disappearing (watch a clip from the movie).

The wedding night (1935): Gary Cooper and Anna Stern
7.- This Land Is Mine (1943)
Plot: Awesome Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara respectively play a coward teacher and his love interest in this World War II film (review).
You can't hold your tears when...Charles sees how a teacher he admired and respected is killed. But the worst part is the ending, one of the best fictional uses of the Declaration of Human Rights (watch).

This land is mine: Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara

6.- Camille (1936)
Plot: An impossible love between a courtesan (Greta Garbo) and Robert Taylor (listed in Favorite Movies).
You can't hold your tears when...Camille faces Lionel Barrymore and when Robert visits a "very weak" Camille in the last scene (watch the trailer).

Camille (1937): Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor

5.- A star is born (1937)
Plot: After two actors marry, the success of their careers enter in a inversely proportional relationship (review and haiku).
You can't hold your tears when...the granny takes her granddaughter to the station. And when Fredric March embraces Janet Gaynor knowing it would be the last time and then he says "do you mind if I take just one more look?" (watch the second moment).

A star is born (1937): Janet Gaynor and Fredric March

4.- Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Plot: An old couple (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi) realize they have the worst children in the history of cinema (mention).
You can't hold your tears when...these people are humiliated and separated, which is practically the whole film (watch an example).

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

3.- Three Comrades (1938)
Plot: After World War I, three German friends (Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone, Robert Young)  meet Margaret Sullavan and their lives change forever. Adapted by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
You can't hold your tears when...you watch the final scenes. Really. (here are some of them edited).

Three Comrades (1938): Robert Taylor and Margaret Sullavan

2.- The small one (1978)
Plot: A poor family have to get rid of their old donkey, a task that is entrusted to the kid (mention).
You can't hold your tears when...the last time I saw this one I cried my eyes out like the whole film, especially when the kid tries to cheer up his little animal and the ending (watch the whole film).

The Small One (1978)

1.- Ever in my heart (1933)
Plot: Barbara Stanwyck marries a German before World War I (review).
You can't hold your tears when...the family faces tragic situations (I mean TRAGIC) and the ending (trailer).

Ever in my heart (1933): Barbara Stanwyck and Otto Kruger

Honorable mentions: Letter from an Unknown Woman (mini review), I Remember Mama (mention), Penny Serenade and Doctor Zhivago.

What do you think?


  1. Waterloo Bridge = TEARS forever. Great list!

  2. Hola Clara,
    Así de repente me acuerdo de:
    El puente de Waterloo
    Los Miserables (la de Frederich March) bueno en realidad cualquiera, la novela me causó honda conmoción cuando la leí.
    Esplendor en la hierba
    Ben Hur
    El séptimo cielo
    El último refugio
    Bueno ahora no recuerdo ninguna más.Saludos y buen domingo,

  3. Ya he recordado:
    Tiempo de amar, tiempo de morir
    Imitación a la vida, cada vez que veo ese final no puedo dejar de llorar.

  4. I am utterly destroyed watching "Ever in My Heart". Utterly. Destroyed.

    My special needs son adores "The Small One". He makes me sing the song and, again, I am utterly destroyed. "There's a place for each small one God planned it that way."

    Oh, Clara, that's some list.

  5. Dawn,
    I guess I'm not a crier! I thought I was given that I cried during recent films like Forest Gump and of course Steel Magnolias.

    I took a friend to see the 3D release of Titanic last weekend and he cried at the end! lol I was surprised since I've never seen him get emotional.

    I guess when thinking of classics I cry during all three of the A Star is Born films then I cry every time I see Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. That one is a tear jerker.

  6. I used to never cry during movies. Never. Then one night I saw "The Green Mile" on TV, and I've been an emotional wreck ever since. :) When I'm watching movies alone, I cry at the drop of a hat: happy, moving, or sad moments, it doesn't matter (I can practically sob at the end of animated movies like Monsters, Inc. and Tangled). When I'm watching with other people I can restrain myself and just have a lump in my throat. :)

    But apparently with classic movies I gravitate towards happy, cheerful comedies and musicals, because I can't remember the last time I cried during an old movie because it was sad. I tend to avoid that sort of thing. :) I'm pretty sure I cried during the '53 Titanic film. I remember Penny Serenade being sad, and I seem to remember crying the first time I saw Kitty Foyle.


  7. Hi Clara!
    My favourite one is Waterloo Bridge, one of the sadest endings.
    Greetings from Spain and thanks for your visit!

  8. Make Way for Tomorrow has got to be one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. Waterloo Bridge was really sad, too, but it felt different. I just kind of got annoyed with it because it felt like there was a big build up to nothing. I don't know.

  9. Hi, I must say that I haven't seen any of these movies yet! But I have heard of many of them. I have read your post and for me the saddest is the one with the donkey :'(
    Once I saw one movie with Cameron Mitchell (el gran chaparral) and I remenber that I cried all the movie, I could not stop. Penny Serenade is sad too, but at least it has a goog ending. Well, Saludos!! :')

  10. I forgot, jeje, the name of the movie is: All mine to give 1957

  11. Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. As Orson Welles said about it, "That movie would make a stone cry."

  12. Oh my god....Make Way for Tomorrow is soooo sweet *soooooob*
    And I have to admit....when they kill that poor defenseless, baby dachshund in "Ever in My Heart"...that whole move is tragic but that poor dog didn't know what it did wrong! *Soooob*

  13. Those are all tear-jerkers, but I think the saddest one is Make Way for Tomorrow. It makes me really sob! Good post!

  14. I think we need to start a support group for people who have seen Make Way for Tomorrow. It took me years to work up the nerve to see it, and then it was *devastating*. Dark Victory and West Side Story always make me sob too.

  15. Oh, grief. Good list. But Ever in My Heart and Waterloo Bridge are especially good. I cry so hard...

  16. Carrie (1952) con Laurence Olivier y Jennifer Jones..

  17. Great list!

    I recently just saw "Make Way for Tomorrow" and it is heartbreaking. That final scene! A little-known gem.

    And I had forgotten all about "The Small One!" It's probably been twenty years since I've even thought about it. But now I remember it and how sad it is. Anything with animals gets me--even animated ones. My child is way into "Lady and the Tramp" right now and I can't stand the scene with all the sad-eyed puppies wailing in the pound! I also just can NOT watch "Dumbo," because of the scene where the mother cradles Dumbo in her trunk and rocks him through the bars of her cage as they sing "Baby Mine."

    Barbara Stanwyck had made me cry so many times! "Ever in My Heart" is incredibly sad. As a mother, I bawled like a baby at the end of "Always Goodbye," where she gives up her own happiness for a chance to be a mother to her own child.

  18. I wholeheartedly agree about The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Camille. I don't think I cried at the end of Ever in My heart, though. I hope you don't think I'm heartless. LOL

  19. ...well, of course Ginger up there caught MY attention...and yeah, the end of 'Castles' is pretty sad, although ya know it's gonna happen...

    I've honestly only seen a few of those on the list, which just reminds me of how woefully behind I am on film watching...

    And the mention of Forrest Gump reminded me of...yep, I ALWAYS lose it at the end of that one every time when he is talking to Jenny's 'resting place' under that honkin' oak... which HAS to be the same one they climbed as kids, right?

    ok - BTW, awesome blog ya got here, Clara! If you are ever looking for GingerInfo, please feel free to visit Gingerology at jwhueyblog.blogspot.com

    Thanks - and Keep it Gingery!


  20. @Kendra: I know, it's so sad! Thank you very much :)

    @lola: Ay, de tu lista me faltan como 5 por ver!! Tendrè que comprarme màs pañuelitos parece :) Muchas gracias por tu comentario!

    @Caftan Woman: I'm glad you agree with me "Ever in my heart" is just heartbreaking...and yeah, "The small one" is sooooo sad, you just can't help crying like a baby! Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it.

    @Page I agree with the movies you mentioned, thanks for stopping by :)

    @Kristin: Well, I could restrain myself from crying in public sometime ago, but know I takes a great effort :) Yeah, "Penny Serenade" has some very sad moments, but ends well. Thanks for stopping by my site!

    @Fran: You're welcome, I really liked your site. Y, sí, "Waterloo Bridge" es muy triste! Gracias por tu visita!

    @Audrey: Yeah, "Make way for tomorrow" is just plain sad and heartbreaking. Stupid children!! :) Thanks for your comment :)

    @Pilar: Nice you agree with me with some of the movies, I'll try to check the one you mentioned! Gracias por pasar!

    @Dave: Haha, I remember that Orson Wells quote. But, for some reason, I can't imagine him watching "Make way for tomorrow" and crying :) Thanks for visiting!

    @Jessica: YES, that scene with the dog is so GAWWWD...the poor animal! Great to notice that there are more fans of "Ever in my heart". Thanks for your comment :)

    @ClassicBecky: THANK YOU, I'm glad you liked my post!

    @KC: HAHA, yeah, maybe we should! I didn't like "West Side Story" and I haven't seen "Dark Victory"! Adding it to the list of sad recommended film...and buying more Kleenex :) Thanks for your visit!

    @Natalie: Agreed :) Thank you very much for your visit!

    @Tania: Oh, yes, I remember that one...but I think I didn't actually cry...Thanks for you comment, girl, glad to see you around!

    @DearMrGable: NICE, you've seen a lot of rare films, and agree with you of course. I've also cried with other animated movies, but they aren't that old. Have you seen "The fox and the hound"? The scene were the the old woman leaves the little fox in the woods? Heartbreaking! But the animated film that is just terribly HEARTBREAKING is "Grave of fireflies". It's just...I don't know, my eyes had never cried that much. Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate it!

    @KimWilson: YOU'RE HEARTLESS :) I mean the scene with the little blonde child? The scene with the little dog? The ending? :) Nice you agree with me about "The umbrellas..." and "Camille"! Thanks for your comment!

    @VKMfanHuey: THANK YOU, very much, I'm glad you enjoy my blog!And of course I know yours, I follow you via RSS :) I think I didn't cry with "Castles" but I agree about "Forrest"! That scene with the graveyard is really sad. Thanks for your visit :)

  21. I think Zhivago is extremely sad, but the ones that get me every time are Somewhere in Time, Mrs. Miniver, and Summertime. It doesn't matter how many times I see these movies they still get to me. Great list, thanks for the suggestions.

  22. Camille ♥ Garbooooo ♥

  23. Even though about 90% of the movies I watch are old and I do like sad movies every once in a while and I watch movies pretty frequently I have not seen any of the ones listed except for Penny Serenade.

    Some of the movies I have found sad include:
    Pride of the Yankees
    (About the great Lou Gehrig)
    Carve Her Name with Pride
    (The true story of Violette Szabo, a heroine of the Second World War for her espionage activities on behalf of the British government.)
    Tomorrow is Forever
    (Elizabeth and John say good-bye as John leaves to go to war. When the war ends, Elizabeth receives a telegram that John has been killed in action. She finds comfort in Larry and they marry. John returns 20 years later, disfigured, with a new identity, Erik, and an adopted daughter, Margaret. John/Erik and Elizabeth accidentally meet and he learns that he has a son, Drew. John must then decide whether or not to reveal his true identity.)
    Mrs. Miniver
    ("Winston Churchill is said to have claimed that it had done more for the Allied cause than a flotilla of battleships.")
    Footsteps in the Fog
    (A sad movie which has, I think, one of the most powerful ending lines in a movie.)
    Little Boy Lost (1953)
    (A hard to find movie that's on youtube last I checked. "The film is about a war correspondent stationed in Paris during World War II and once married to a French girl who was murdered by the Nazis. Following the war, he returns to France trying to find his son.")

    Honorable mention: The Miracle of the Bells

    And I just have to add Life is Beautiful though it was made in 1997.

  24. Gotta be the ending of Wizard of Oz when I know I'll never go home again ...



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