50 most heartbreaking movie moments

41. Platoon (1986)

The Moment: Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) is left for dead in Vietcong territory, but as the platoon looks back from their choppers, they realise he's still alive.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Elias is gunned down to the sad refrain of Barber's "Adagio For Strings".

If It Was Played For Laughs: The VC would be such terrible shots they'd kill each other and allow Elias to walk away.

40. The Shootist (1976)

The Moment: Cancer-stricken gunslinger L.B. Books (John Wayne) calls his enemies to the saloon for one final, suicidal shootout.

Get Your Tissues Ready: It's the knowledge that Wayne himself was himself dying of cancer that gives this scene its poignancy.

If It Was Played For Laughs: Wayne wouldn't allow himself to die on-screen and instead snarls, "That'll be the day" when he's shot.

39. Rome Open City (1945)

The Moment: Pina (Anna Magnini) sees her resistance fighter husband Francesco rounded up by the Nazis.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Running after Francesco to thwart the arrest, she is gunned down in the street.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The Nazis are terrible shots in most WWII movies. If the same applied here, they'd simply shoot each other and Pina would live.

38. Wendy And Lucy (2008)

The Moment: Penniless drifter Wendy (Michelle Williams) finally tracks down her missing mutt, Lucy, to the yard of a kind dog-lover.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Realising that she can't look after Lucy as well as its new owner, Wendy tearfully says her farewells.

If It Was Played For Laughs: Instead of walking away, Wendy climbs the fence and goes to sleep in Lucy's new kennel.

37. Beaches (1988)

The Moment: C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler) whisks dying friend Hilary Whitney (Barbara Hershey) out of hospital to enjoy her final hours outside.

Get Your Tissues Ready: The two friends sit on the beach where they grew up, watching the sunset. Cut to: Hilary's funeral.

If It Was Played For Laughs: It can't be a coincidence that this was released only a year before Weekend At Bernie's.

36. Milk (2008)

The Moment: Gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) is assassinated by closeted colleague Dan White (Josh Brolin).

Get Your Tissues Ready: Thousands turn out for a candlelit vigil in Milk's memory.

If It Was Played For Laughs: It's 1978. Obviously, everybody goes to a massive disco at the YMCA.

35. The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943)

The Moment: At the outbreak of World War Two, immigration officers question German refugee Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook).

Get Your Tissues Ready: Theo reveals he's left Germany to honour his late English wife's wish to move to the country of her birth, and to get away from his children who have become Nazis.

If It Was Played For Laughs: A Jeremy Kyle-style talk show in which the children would be wheeled on for an awkward reunion.

34. Big Fish (2003)

The Moment: Dying storyteller Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) asks his son William (Billy Crudup) to finish the story of his life.

Get Your Tissues Ready: At a riverside funeral, William carries Edward to the water where he transforms into the big fish of the title.

If It Was Played For Laughs: Instead of the fish story, William simply tells the plot of Happy Gilmore but with Edward as the hero instead of Adam Sandler.

33. Silent Running (1972)

The Moment: Astronaut Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), along with damaged drone robot Huey, blow up the Valley Forge in order to camouflage the escape of the last eco-dome containing Earth wildlife.

Get Your Tissues Ready: The last drone, Dewey, loyally tends to the forest as the dome drifts through space.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The film would end with Dewey building a lady robot to keep him company.

32. Kramer Vs Kramer (1979)

The Moment: Billy Kramer (Justin Henry) hurts himself in a fall and dad Ted (Dustin Hoffman) rushes several blocks to carry him to a hospital.

Get Your Tissues Ready: As a doctor stitches up Billy's injury, Ted sits with him to help him conquer his fear and pain.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The doctor uses laughing gas as an anaesthetic, and Ted decides to inhale some too.