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6 Greatest Movie Moments with: Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal has been in show business since the 1970s, starring in television before making the leap to the big screen. A talented vocal impressionist and physical comedian, he landed a number of memorable leading roles, including a few that have become iconic. Here are the 6 greatest movie moments with Billy Crystal.

Getting to Know Owen

Billy Crystal
Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal (Throw Momma From The Train, 1987)
FILM: Throw Momma From the Train (1987)     STARS: Billy Crystal, Danny DeVito

In this dark comedy, Crystal plays Larry Donner, a once promising novelist whose ex-wife stole his book and published it as her own. Now suffering the worse case of writer’s block, he teaches a creative writing class at a community college. One of his students is a middle-aged man named Owen Lift (Danny DeVito), an odd fellow with an active imagination who still lives at home with his aggressively obnoxious mother (played by Anne Ramsey). Owen misunderstands an explosive rant where Larry wishes his ex-wife dead, and hatches a plan where he will kill her and Larry will do in Owen’s mother. Of course Larry wants nothing to do with the scheme, but after spending some time with the ferocious “Momma” he beings to see things differently. It really all changes in this touching little moment when Owen decides to share with Larry his coin collection. Being Owen, the coins have no real financial value, but instead, priceless sentimental worth as each were given to him in change at special events with his father, a man Owen dearly misses. Larry sees Owen in a new light and it forever alters their relationship. A great moment.

The New Consigliere

Billy Crystal
Joe Viterelli, Billy Crystal (Analyze This, 1999)
FILM: Analyze This (1999)     STARS: Billy Crystal, Robert DeNiro

Robert DeNiro pokes a little fun at the genre that helped make him famous, playing a mob boss named Paul Vitti with a sudden conscience after an assassination attempt takes out his consigliere. Not long after, his car is rear-ended by a psychiatrist named Ben Sobel (Crystal), who doesn’t notice that the now open trunk has a body inside. In the ensuing conversation, he passes his business card to Vitto’s associate Jelly (Joe Viterelli) in case there is damage to the car, still not realizing Vitti is the owner. A few days later, the mob boss arrives at the doctor’s office and demands a session, and soon takes the doctor on as his specialist. The two make big progress, but the mob thing is a constant stress for Sobel, who is trying to marry his fiancé but forced to deal with Vitti, even in his private life. Things come to a boil when, on the day of a big mob meeting the heads of all the major family will have a conference, Vitti has another panic attack and can’t go. Instead, he sends in Sobel (who was at his wedding) as his new Consigliere. Sobel is terrified at first, but then finds the role one he really takes too, playing the tough guy. When he smacks around the ever-loyal Jelly, it’s the funniest moment in the entire movie.

One Thing

Billy Crystal
Jack Palance, Billy Crystal (City Slickers, 1991)
FILM: City Slickers (1991)     STARS: Billy Crystal, Jack Palance

Certainly a unique comedy/drama, this one has Crystal as Mitch Robbins, a disillusioned radio ad-man smack in the center of a mid-life crisis. Along with two friends, each with their own burdens, they embark on two-week vacation driving cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. Joining others in the drive, they meet the trail boss, a big, rough, scowling figure named Curly Washburn (Jack Palance). He’s a quiet man who keeps to himself, but is equally intimidating. Nonetheless, as circumstances bring them closer, Mitch gets to know more about the cowboy. In this moment, Robbins is curious if the old man has ever been in love. He confesses he was, once, to a woman he saw only from a distance, silhouetted in the sunset. Be he rode away, never talking with her, claiming it would couldn’t get better than that. The conversation evolves into a discussion on the meaning of life and Curly finally stops and tells his new friend the secret of life: one thing. But you have to find out what it is. We’re still looking.

Mickey Gordon is the Ref

Billy Crystal
Karem Abdul-Jabbar, Billy Crystal (Forget Paris, 1995)
FILM: Forget Paris (1995)     STARS: Billy Crystal, Debra Winger

In this romantic comedy, Crystal plays Mickey Gordon, a referee for the National Basketball Association who takes a little time off to bury his father in France where many of his former platoon friends died in World War II. There, he meets an employee of the airline, Ellen Andrews (Debra Winger), who, after there is some trouble locating the casket, attends the burial so Mickey won’t be alone. They share some feelings, but she is still married, though unhappily. Needing to return to his job, he’s forced to leave her in France, his love for her more than he can manage. As he returns to the courts, we see a spectacular montage of NBA players in-game with Mickey, and it’s a load of great gags, but the moment follows right after, when he is depressed and saddened to be so far from Ellen. On Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s farewell tour, Mickey in officiating, but his head in not in the game and eventually loses it, ejecting the big man from the game on a silly call. Then he ejects Isiah Thomas, and soon the staring line-up for both teams, Abdul-Jabbar’s parents and the man who puts cheese on the nachos. It’s a hilarious breakdown.

Harry’s Been Doing a Lot of Thinking

Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally, 1989)
FILM: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)     STARS: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan

One of the greatest romantic comedies (if not the greatest) ever made, this sublimely fun and emotionally satisfying film sees Crystal as Harry Burns and Meg Ryan as Sally Albright, two people who have known each other for years and years who finally fall in love. They meet on a drive to New York City after they both graduate from college, but go their separate ways. As the years pass, they keep running into each other. They become the best of friends, though it becomes clear they are attracted. When then finally have sex, it seems to ruin everything. Not wanting to lose her, and realizing that in fact, he truly loves her, this moment sees Harry rush to the New Year’s Eve party where she is depressed at being alone. His speech to Sally on the reasons she is perfect for him is one of cinema’s greatest romantic moments. Gets us every time.

A Noble Cause

Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal (The Princess Bride, 1987)
FILM: The Princess Pride (1987)     STARS: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright

This romantic fantasy film tells the story of everlasting love. And revenge. And a six-fingered man. And a rhyming giant. Inconceivable! Crystal has but a cameo in this charming and quirky story about a boy and a girl who are destined to be together but have to overcome a few simple challenges along the way. Like being dead. Well, mostly dead. The Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) has come to rescue Buttercup (Robing Wright) from the clutches of a mad prince who needs a princess that he can kill and blame on anther kingdom. In the process, under torturous inquiry, Roberts ‘dies’ and so his companions, the gifted swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and the gentle giant Fezzik (André the Giant) take his body to Miracle max (Crystal) in hope he cane cure him. It’s a short scene, but one of the funnier moments in a movie filled with them. Have fun storming the castle.