Sunday, April 30, 2017

My 65 Favorite Film Quotes: Part I

     I was never particularly impressed with the idea of memorializing film through memorable lines of dialogue. Quoting a single line is more of a parlor trick and the way lines live on in pop culture like "We're gonna need a bigger boat," "Here's looking at you kid" and "I'll get you my pretty" aren't any more welcome to cultural discourse than modern-day memes are. Besides, the conversation should shift to films that have great dialogue throughout the entire movie. Nevertheless, I was recently convinced otherwise by my good friend Adam Spector in a recent roundtable discussion and especially after seeing his list. I'm offering one of my own and following his ground rules for not including more than one from any one film, I'll split this up in two as well. Keep in mind that I'm only selecting films I've seen so no Godfather, Scarface or Rocky. 

1. Fran Kubelick: Shut up and deal
-The Apartment (1960)

A perfect last line to dampen any potential sappiness of a love story that’s light-hearted comedy with pretty dark undertone

2. Luke: What we've got here is a failure to communicate
-Cool Hand Luke (1967)

This is somewhat of a shocker of a scene because it’s really hard to figure out what will happen on first viewing. Luke is ultimately a fool but he’s so charismatic and crafty that you feel like it’s roughly 50/50 odds that he will come out on top in this moment.

3. Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?
Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future. Now, where's the girl? I want the only daughter I've got left. As you found out, Evelyn was lost to me a long time ago.
Jake Gittes: Who do you blame for that? Her?
Noah Cross: I don't blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything.
-Chinatown (1974)

Seems especially relevant in 2017 where several cabinet level positions are being filled by inexperienced millionaires and billionaires who are taking these positions for enigmatic reasons. Perhaps, it’s the future they want. The second two lines are an entirely separate thread but they are also among the most memorable lines of the movie and I had the convenience of not having to put ellipses.

4. Colonel Dax: I apologize... for not being entirely honest with you. I apologize for not revealing my true feelings. I apologize, sir, for not telling you sooner that you're a degenerate, sadistic old man. And you can go to hell before I apologize to you now or ever again!
-Paths to Glory (1957)

The apotheosis of all films resolved through one whopper of a “fuck you” monologue.

5. Clarence: [In book inscription] Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends. --It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Or as they say in the 2010s, no man is a failure who has candy crush requests whenever he logs into Facebook.

6. Alan Turing: You got what you wanted. A husband, a job... a normal life.
Joan Clarke: No one normal could have done that. Do you know, this morning... I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn't for you. I read up on my work... a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. And while you wish you could have been normal... I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren't.
Alan Turing: You really think that?
Joan Clarke: I think, that sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one... can imagine.
-Imitation Game (2014)

7. Schwartz: Well, Hank was a great detective all right.
Tanya: And a lousy cop.
Schwartz: Is that all you have to say for him?
Tanya: He was some kind of a man... What does it matter what you say about people?
-Touch of Evil (1958)

This extremely rich character study is sort of an anti-“rosebud” of sorts for Orson Welles' final film. Whereas “Citizen Kane” was about getting to the bottom of a person’s external identity, “Touch of Evil” is more noirish and reaches the darker conclusion that you simply can’t know a person past a certain point so such characterizations are useless.

8. Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU... WILL... ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that... perfect world... in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
Howard Beale: Why me?
Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy.
-Network (1976)

Jensen (Ned Beatty who got Oscar-nominated for what was essentially a one-scene performance) spits this diatribe out so fast, it’s almost impossible to get it all on no matter how many times you see this film. This begs the question, why is Paddy Chayefsky writing such an insightful commentary on the state of the world in 1976 in a manner no one could hear but that’s just how Paddy rolls.  One cannot understate the impact of the way Ned Beatty comes across more like God then in quote #14 due to the cinematography and Beatty’s delivery.


9. Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren't you?
Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I'm sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.
Phyllis: There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I'd say around ninety.
Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn't take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.
-Double Indemnity (1944)

Exhibit A for the case against old movies being overly tame about sex. Also, exhibit A for how they just don’t like write dialogue like they used to.


10. Jack Sparrow: Gentlemen, you’ll remember this as the day you almost caught Jack Sparrow
-Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

The oft-repeated line that encapsulates Jack Sparrow’s larger-than-life quality. He not only talks about himself in the third person but as a future historical figure. How appropriately meta. 

11. Julian Marsh: Sawyer, you listen to me, and you listen hard. Two hundred people, two hundred jobs, two hundred thousand dollars, five weeks of grind and blood and sweat depend upon you. It's the lives of all these people who've worked with you. You've got to go on, and you've got to give and give and give. They've got to like you. Got to. Do you understand? You can't fall down. You can't because your future's in it, my future and everything all of us have is staked on you. All right, now I'm through, but you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out, and Sawyer, you're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!
-42nd Street (1933)

The best pep talk in cinema history augmented with undercurrents of financial desperation. 

12. Yolanda Johnson: How about just a moment of silence?
Garrison Keillor: Silence on the radio... I don't know how that works. 
-Prairie Home Companion  (2006) 
This ranks so high because it perfectly encapsulates the character of “Garrison Keillor” (who, yes, is a real person) as a man whose aloof adherence to routine make him as comfortable with death as he will ever be. Keillor’s congenial stubbornness is echoed many times throughout the film and echoes director Robert Altman’s unpublicized life-ending illness between when this film was made and its subsequent release.

13. Harry Lime: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.
Martins: You used to believe in God.
Harry Lime: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils.
-The Third Man (1949)

It's brilliant that it isn't until halfway through that Lime doesn't actually appear until half way through the film so the legend of the man (mostly positive) has a lot of space to grow in our minds by the time we see how slimy he is

14. God: Grace. You want her back?
Bruce: No. I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all the love she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through your eyes.
God: Now THAT'S a prayer.
-Bruce Almighty (2003)

A very simple lesson about love. If you haven’t seen the film, God is not some voice from above but Morgan Freeman in a white suit standing a few feet away from Bruce (Jim Carrey) so it’s a very grounded look at the nature of spiritual connection.

15. Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?
Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn't live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She's my idea of nothing!
Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?
Peter Warne: YES! But don't hold that against me, I'm a little screwy myself!
-It Happened One Night (1934)

16. Blake: You certainly don't, pal, 'cause the good news is - you're fired. The bad news is - you've got, all of you've got just one week to regain your jobs starting with tonight. Starting with tonight's sit. Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good. 'Cause we're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired. Get the picture? You laughing now? You got leads. Mitch and Murray paid good money, get their names to sell them; you can't close the leads you're given, you can't close shit. You ARE shit. Hit the bricks, pal, and beat it 'cause you are going OUT.
-Glengarry Glenn Ross (1992)

Perhaps, the most famous example of a one-scene wonder. Alec Baldwin was not Oscar-nominated for his role here but it wouldn’t have been that strange if he was. David Mamet wrote this as an unforgiving critique of capitalism and even if subsequent stage productions of the play have softened the actions of the agents by comparison but Blake's monologue holds up.

17. Charlie Kaufman: Then, when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. And it was like they were laughing at *me*. You didn't know at all. You seemed so happy.
Donald Kaufman: I knew. I heard them.
Charlie Kaufman: How come you looked so happy?
Donald Kaufman: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn't have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.
Charlie Kaufman: But she thought you were pathetic.
Donald Kaufman: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago.
-Adaptation (2002)

18. Cory: Can I ask you a question? [pause]  How come you ain't never liked me?
Troy: Like you? What law is there sayin' I got to like you?
Cory: None.
Troy: All right then. Don't you eat every day? Answer me when I talk to you! Don't you eat every day?
Cory: Yeah...
Troy: As long as you're in my house you put a "Sir" on the end of it when you talk to me.
Cory: Yes, Sir.
Troy: You eat every day?
Cory: Yes, Sir.
Troy: You got a roof over you head?
Cory: Yes, Sir.
Troy: Got clothes on your back?
Cory: Yes, Sir.
Troy: Why you think that is?
Cory: 'Cause of you?
Troy: [chuckles] Hell, I know it's 'cause of me. But why do you think that is?
Cory: 'Cause you like me?
Troy: Like you? I go outta here every morning, I bust my butt 'cause I like you? You're about the biggest fool I ever saw. A man is supposed to take care of his family. You live in my house, feed your belly with my food, put your behind on my bed because you're my son. It's my duty to take care of you, I owe a responsibility to you, I ain't got to like you! Now, I gave everything I got to give you! I gave you your life! Me and your Mama worked out between us and liking your black ass wasn't part of the bargain! Now don't you go through life worrying about whether somebody like you or not!
-Fences (2016)

I was rooting for the Casey Affleck to get the Oscar this past year but I have a new appreciation for Denzel Washington after seeing him pop up everywhere on my list. This line seems cruel on the surface (and out of context) but it’s absolutely 100% true.


20. Tommy Johnson: I had to be up at that there crossroads last midnight, to sell my soul to the devil.
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well, ain't it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved. I guess I'm the only one that remains unaffiliated.
-O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)

This film is a love letter to Mississippi and the state’s most famous and peculiar piece of lore—Blues legend Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the intersection of Highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale—is mashed up here with early Christain mythology and topped up with the declaration that McGill (George Clooney) is still a religious free agent.

21. King Arthur: Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest. If he will give us food and shelter for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
French Soldier: Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he will be very keen. Uh, he's already got one, you see.
King Arthur: What?
Sir Galahad: He said they've already got one!
King Arthur: Are you sure he's got one?
French Soldier: Oh yes, it's very nice!
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

True story: One night my freshman year of college, two kids painted nearly half the campus walk one Saturday night with the entirety of the “Knights of Ni” interchange. For my MPatHG, I’m going with the greatest brick joke in history.

22. Roger Thornhill: Now you listen to me, I'm an advertising man, not a red herring. I've got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don't intend to disappoint them all by getting myself "slightly" killed.
-North by Northwest (1959)

23. Pike Bishop: We're not gonna get rid of anybody! We're gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished! *We're* finished! All of us!
-Wild Bunch (1969)

24. Father Brendan Flynn: [to Sister James] There are people who go after your humanity, Sister, that tell you that the light in your heart is a weakness. Don't believe it. It's an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of virtue.
-Doubt


25. Joe: [trying to get Jerry to face reality regarding his engagement to Osgood] Jerry, Jerry, will you take my advice? Forget about the whole thing, will ya? Just keep telling yourself: you're a boy, you're a boy.
Jerry: I'm a boy.
Joe: That's the boy.
Jerry: [coming around] I'm a boy. I'm a boy. I wish I were dead. I'm a boy. Boy, oh boy, am I a boy. Now, what am I gonna do about my engagement present?
Joe: What engagement present?
Jerry: Osgood gave me a bracelet.
Joe: [takes it and inspects the stones with Beinstock's glasses] Hey, these are real diamonds!
Jerry: Of course they're real! What do you think? My fiance is a bum?
-Some Like it Hot (1959)

I wanted to do the “where are you going on your honeymoon” line but it’s not on IMDB

26. Muse: Look at me.
Captain Richard Phillips: Sure.
Muse: Look at me.
Captain Richard Phillips: Sure.
Muse: I'm the captain now.
-Captain Phillips (2013)
This film has tons of good dialogue and hopefully was rewarded properly during the awards season. It’s also a nice coincidence that the film’s best line ended up being an indelible catchphrase that memed its way across culture for a good while.

27. Lawrence Garfield: Amen. And amen. And amen. You have to forgive me. I'm not familiar with the local custom. Where I come from, you always say "Amen" after you hear a prayer. Because that's what you just heard - a prayer. Where I come from, that particular prayer is called "The Prayer for the Dead." You just heard The Prayer for the Dead, my fellow stockholders, and you didn't say, "Amen." This company is dead. I didn't kill it. Don't blame me. It was dead when I got here. It's too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We're dead alright. We're just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let's have the intelligence, let's have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. "Ah, but we can't," goes the prayer. "We can't because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?" I got two words for that: Who cares? Care about them? Why? They didn't care about you. They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, "We know times are tough. We'll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer." Check it out: You're paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago; and our stock - one-sixth what it was ten years ago. Who cares? I'll tell you. Me. I'm not your best friend. I'm your only friend. I don't make anything? I'm making you money. And lest we forget, that's the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You want to make money! You don't care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You want to make money! I'm the only friend you've got. I'm making you money. Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you'll get lucky and it'll be used productively. And if it is, you'll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy and, God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves. And if anybody asks, tell 'em ya gave at the plant. And by the way, it pleases me that I am called "Larry the Liquidator." You know why, fellow stockholders? Because at my funeral, you'll leave with a smile on your face and a few bucks in your pocket. Now that's a funeral worth having!
-Other People’s Money (1991)

I was thinking of putting Wall Street’s “Greed is Good” but why not use up more word space with this Danny DeVito monologue. When my dad went to a leadership training seminar late in his career, they played both this and the Gregory Peck speech.

28. Dr. Otternschlag: Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.
–Grand Hotel (1932)

This line, of course, is a complete lie based on the story we’ve witnessed because almost everything imaginable has happened if Dr. Otternschlag was a wee bit more perceptive:  A man gained his self-confidence by telling off a man who mistreated him, a woman was left without a job, a man fell in love with a reclusive ballerina, a robber was exposed, a man was shot and another man arrested for the murder, two lost souls agreed to become travel companions to one another.

29. Vernon Hardapple: Why did you keep writing this book if you didn't even know what it was about?
Grady Tripp: I couldn't stop.
-Wonder Boys (2000)

The film and this line is about the way we pursue our goals without thought and for no reason other than that's what we've always been doing. The protagonist (Michael Douglas) is a brilliant English professor and writer who just lost the manuscript for his next book. Because losing your hard drive isn't particularly cinematic, we witness a glorious cascade of flying pages out the window of a taxi cab on a rainy day.

30. Laine Hanson: Principles only mean something when you stick to them when its inconvenient.
-The Contender (2000)

31. Sofía: Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.
-Vanilla Sky (2001)

This is the classic Cameron Crowe movie making practice of building a movie around a catchy phrase or two as motifs. Not much about the rest of the film is memorable, but this got drilled into my head like "Show Me the Money" and was a much more applicable life lesson. 

32. Captain of Louisa: By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William the Second I pronounce you man and wife - proceed with the execution.
-The African Queen (1951)

The interplay between two of the greatest cinematic opposites to fall in love makes for a lot of great dialogue but this is a great quote partially because it encapsulates a lovely yet absurd action so well. 

Part II is here

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