Almost all movie deaths, it seems, are brutal, shocking, bloody, sudden, ghastly, traumatic. Nice little nod-off deaths — like Sir Cedric Hardwicke‘s passing in The Ten Commandments or Keir Dullea‘s in 2001: A Space Odyssey — have been few and far between over the last 50 years. Is real-life death ever smooth and easy? Very rarely, it seems. I’m almost tempted to say “only if you do yourself in with pills” but I’m sure exceptions abound.

James Toback once told me that (I’m paraphrasing) “almost none of us are going to die as pleasantly as we’d like to…it’s always under circumstances we can’t foresee, much less plan for, and sooner than we’d like.” And the likelihood that you’re going to die while lying comfortably in bed between recently-washed sheets is almost nil. The odds are that your final throes are going to either be painful or traumatic or grotesque, and possibly a combination of all three.