Emotional dialogue doesn’t have to be treacly or obvious. It’s fairly awful, in fact, when filmmakers have their characters say “this is who I really am and this is what I’ve always wanted,” etc. I can’t think of a more sickening use of the gooey stuff than in the middle-school graduation scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love. And I can’t think of a better, less sentimental, polar-opposite case than Thomas Mitchell‘s death scene in Only Angels Have Wings.
Mitchell’s “Kid” is lying flat. Cary Grant‘s “Geoff” is standing a foot or two away, looking down. A few others are huddled nearby.
Kid: Geoff, tell this guy to quit fussing with me, will ya? I’m all right.
Geoff: Let him alone, Doc.
Kid: Cigarette, Papa?
Geoff: Sure. (He holds his cigarette to the Kid’s mouth.) Here.
Kid: How’s the other guy?
Geoff: Hands burned and one side of his face.
Kid: He’s all right, Geoff. Could’ve jumped but he didn’t. Just sat right there and took it like it was an ice cream soda. Buy him a drink for me, will ya?
Geoff: Sure I will.
Kid: Hadn’t been for those birds, we’d have made it.
Geoff: Sure you would.
Kid: I’d make a windshield at an angle and they’d bounce off.
Geoff: Not a bad idea.
Kid: I’ll make you a present of it, Papa. When I get on my feet, we’ll work it out. Or will we?
Geoff: Your neck’s broken, Kid.
Kid: Funny. Wondered why I couldn’t feel anything. Well, guess this is it, then. Bad sport. Gee.
Geoff: What is it, fella?
Kid: Get that bunch outta here, quick.
Geoff: (To everyone) Get out of here. Hurry up. You too, Doc, use both feet. (They leave. Geoff turns back.) What is it fella? Come on, you can tell me.
Kid: I didn’t want them to see me.
Geoff: Sure, sure.
Kid: I’m not scared, Geoff.
Geoff: Of course you’re not.
Kid: It’s just that…it’s like doing something new. Like when I made my first solo. I didn’t want anybody watching then, either.
Kid: I don’t know how good I’m gonna be at this.
Geoff: Do you want me to go too?
Kid: I’d hate to pull a boner in front of you, Geoff.
Geoff: Sure, sure I know. Here y’are, boy. (He gives him a last puff on his cigarette.) So long, Kid.
Kid: So long, Geoff.