No – not the last half-hour of your life; the last half-hour of someone else’s.  Well, not even that actually.  I’m talking about the last few minutes of a great movie or the final episode of a television show.

I guess the best, happiest most recent last-half hour for me, is the last episode of Newhart, with Bob Newhart as the Vermont innkeeper.  After a full 30-minute episode about investor’s trying to buy up the small town where Bob’s character, Dick, ran an inn, Dick/Bob suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night, and when he turns on the light, we see him next to his wife from his previous series.  Bob relates to the nightmare, a recap of the current Vermont innkeeper series.  She commiserates with him and when they turn over to go back to sleep, he turns off the light, and that scene becomes the last few minutes of the current show.   

Since everybody loved whatever Bob Newhart did, it was a real treat to be reminded of his previous sit-com, and it was a surprise ending to everyone. 

And the last 2 1/2 hour episode of M.A.S.H. – depending on your recollection apparently you’ll only remember bits and pieces of this one.  It ran like a movie – from 8:30 to 11pm on the East Coast.  I remember Hawkeye’s mental breakdown.  Hawk was riding in a bus and was constantly yelling at a Korean woman fellow passenger, “to keep that chicken quiet”, so as not to alert a passing North Korean patrol.  The “chicken” is finally quieted down, but we learn later, and find out that Hawkeye is in a mental hospital, that Hawkeye’s brain had transformed a woman with a baby, into a woman with a chicken, and it was the baby that had been quieted – permanently. 

The final shot, after 2 1/2 hours, is stones spelling out GOODBYE, that the now settled Hawkeye reads from a helicopter, taking him to catch a plane back home to Maine.  I was a little disappointed – I wanted to see his father hugging him hello in Maine.

There’s more in the final episode, each main character had their own storyline, and it’s was only aired two or three times in the ’80’s.  Now when you see it, the movie is split up into five 30 minutes episodes.  They should show it again – maybe every five years or so.

As for movies – that’s what prompted this blog.  During a weekend a few weeks ago, I watched Philadelphia, Dirty Dancing, and E.T.   Well, I cried through each ending.  I hadn’t had a good week, so it was very cathartic.  You know, Tom Hanks memorial service home movies, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”, and flying bicycles – what more could you ask for when you’re depressed.

Well , you could ask for ~

  • GWTW“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” – and what a gorgeous hunk Clark Gable was!
  • Casablanca – the ending is OK – but “La Marseillaise,” in the middle of the film, compels you to stand up for FREEDOM!  I wonder what audiences did in the movie theatres when it was originally shown.
  • Some Like it Hot– the last scene -whatta’ stitch!  Joe E. Brown to Jack Lemmon -“Well, nobody’s perfect.” 
  • Fargo – the bad guy’s legs sticking out of a wood chipper, which meant he went in head first, then  the cop’s husband winning third place in a design-a-stamp contest – eh?
  • Being There –  Aside from Peter Sellers being terrific – I loved the outtakes.
  • Boogies Nights – The last minutes of this film made the hair on my arms stand up; I saw this as an affirmation of the dissipated, debauched, and depraved life of porn-actors: I pitied them.
  • Mister Roberts – Jack Lemmon again; “Now, what’s all this crud about no movie tonight?”
  • Stalag 17Gunsmoke’s Jim Arness’, bad-guy brother, mowed down by his fellow Nazi’s and William Holden grinning, “If I ever run into any of you bums on a street corner, just let’s pretend we never met before – understand?”  
  • National Velvet – the whole damn movie !
  • The Other Sister – in the last few minutes, a touching two-tissue scene of 76 Trombones, is the groom’s present to his bride – sniff.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much – “I’m sorry we were gone so long.  We had to go over and pick up Hank.”  Fade to black and the credits roll !  Husband, Jimmy Stewart, apologizing to his guests for being late, after he and his wife, Doris Day, return to their hotel room with their son Hank, who they’ve just rescued in a Marrakesh to London Hitchcock thriller. 
  • Bridge Over the River Kwai – “What Have I Done?”  said by Alec Guinness when he realizes he’s been aiding & abetting the enemy, as he falls on the bomb-plunger  that blows up the bridge.     “Madness – Madness”   is said by another officer as he watches the “madness” of war around him. 

I used Wikipedia to jog my memory – so what’s your favorite last half-hour?