Tragedy Films: 6 Movies That Will End Well For No One

Monday, January 16 by Joseph Gibson

Charles Foster Kane.jpg

There's something cathartic about watching bad things happen to other people. And in case you weren't paying attention in English class, "cathartic" does not mean "hilarious" (you should probably just look it up). If you're in the mood to see everybody suffer, check out these six movies with a tragic film bent. And no, "bent" does not mean "football to the crotch."

"The Public Enemy"

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Modern American tragedy often takes the form of a gangster story. And this is the movie that cemented the genre basics – James Cagney gives a career-defining performance as Tom Powers, the Chicago hood who is destined for both power in the underworld and eventual tragedy. His death scene is one of the most haunting in all of movies, showing that even big shot gangsters can meet unceremonious ends.

"Citizen Kane"

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	Not all American tragedies are gangster stories, though. Charles Foster Kane is on the other side of the <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/law-511/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>law</a> (just barely), and he lives to a ripe old age, but his story is probably even more tragic than Tom Powers'. He lives a sad and lonely life, going from a poor affection-starved child to a wealthy industrialist who never really connects with another human being. It's depressing, and incidentally one of the <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/best-movies/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>best movies</a> ever made (if not THE best).</p>
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	<strong>"The Fly"</strong></p>
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Both the original 1950's version of "The Fly" and the 1980's scifi remake are tragic stories about a man of science who's transformed into a hideous beast. The saddest part is that he's not a bad guy – just ambitious, and smart enough to create a teleportation device that works (albeit with one crucial flaw). In both versions, the focus is on his tragic fall from humanity – the word "Kafkaesque" would probably be appropriate ("Kafkaesque" does not mean "an inspirational, feel-good movie").

"Midnight Cowboy"

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	Then again, some characters are tragic figures even though they were never really that well-off in the first place. That's the case with Joe Buck, who moves to New York to become a male prostitute, and <span data-scayt_word=Ratso Rizzo, who shows (or tries to show) him the ropes. Their stories end in misery and for one of them, death, and somehow the fact that they were pretty miserable to begin with just makes it sadder.

"The Godfather, Part II"

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	Sometimes moral death is even more tragic than literal death. And the death of Michael <span data-scayt_word=Corleone's morals is the focus of the sequel to "The Godfather," cementing Michael's transformation from basically good upstanding member of society to a vicious and ruthless crime lord. His lowest moment is when he orders the death of his own brother Fredo, but low moments are not hard to come by in this tragic tale.

"The Dark Knight"

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	Amidst all the hubbub about Heath Ledger's Joker, many people seemed to miss that "<a href=The Dark Knight" is basically a story about Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent, who goes from being a crusading district attorney to a horrible monster (both inside and out) after coming too close to the evil he was fighting against. It's dark and depressing stuff, especially for a "comic book movie."