Note the First: I am providing links rather than embedding to spare myself and my friends list.
Note the Second: I am putting the identities of the deceased under cuts to avoid outraged shrieks of "SPOILER!" Yes, one could argue that revealing that anybody dies in a given film constitutes a spoiler. Deal with it.
Note the Third: These are onscreen deaths that have stuck in my head. Why? It could be the performance, the dialogue, a special effect, the staging, the way it was filmed, the score, or, most likely, some combination of these factors.
Enjoy. (And feel free to provides links to better versions of these clips, or suggest your own.)
- Kong, King Kong (1933)
This is my personal Voight-Kampff test. Annoyingly, the best clip I could find is colorized; feel free to adjust your monitor and watch in glorious monochrome.
- Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This one is all about the dialogue and its delivery.
- Toshiro Mifune as Taketori Washizu, Throne of Blood (1957)
I cannot believe this is not on YouTube. It combines simple practical effects, a judicious splice, and a bravura performance (augmented by the genuine danger of the sequence) to tremendous effect.
a trailer with part of the climax: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-72oaAS9hc
a sped-up version set to "Yakety Sax," AKA the Benny Hill theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITyt4RvmBFw
- Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, Psycho (1960)
Even though everybody on the planet has been spoiled for this one it still works, thanks to the score and the editing.
- Tatsuya Nakadai as Hanbei Muroto, Sanjuro (1962)
It feels a bit like cheating to include a second clip from an Akira Kurosawa film, but this one is truly extraordinary (and it makes up for the missing Throne of Blood footage).
- Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
This may have been the very first time I watched a character I loved die.
- John Hurt as Kane, Alien (1979)
Deservedly a classic. The FX have aged well, and the ensemble is perfect.
- Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann, The Shining (1980)
This clip alone is sufficient to cement Stanley Kubrick's reputation as a Magnificent Bastard who excelled at taking Refuge in Audacity. The fact that this scene is a major deviation from the source novel meant it caught everyone off guard — and raised the stakes considerably.
- Leonard Nimoy as Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
I cannot watch this without tearing up.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLaAHTxF3k8 (somewhat annoying editing to remove interstitial material)
- Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, Blade Runner (1982)
Speaking of Voight-Kampff tests...this scene feels like the result of a miraculous alignment of the planets, especially since the dialogue was reportedly improvised.
- David Prowse & James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, and Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
If someone had pulled me aside on my way into the theater and told me this death would make me sad, I would have laughed in his or her face.
- Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, Die Hard (1988)
One of the most satisfying slow-motion sequences of all time...and another completely mystifying void in YouTube. Really, Internet?
The footage (first 20 seconds of a fanvid): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCAa28f4wKs
The actor discusses the filming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLt9-cvf2XI