Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What makes a movie quote so quotable?

What movie has the most entries on the American Film Institute's (AFI) list of 100 best movie quotes?

Casablanca with six: l) "Here's looking at you, Kid." 2) "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine." 3) "We'll always have Paris." 4) "You stop breathing, you die. You stop fighting, the world dies." 5) Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." 6) "Play it once, Sam.  For old times' sake."

Just repeating these quotes, immediately brings one right back to that place, that mood, as is in the case with hundreds of great films.  Just a few of many favorite screenwriters are Joseph Mankowicz, Billy Wilder, William Goldman. For me, one of Joseph Mankiewicz's best films is All
About Eve; its famous quote, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!". From Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot; "Well, nobody's perfect."  And William Goldman's Marathon Man; Is It Safe?" But his best quote about Hollywood in general is, "Nobody knows anything."

So, why does a line become quotable? 

William Goldman

(CNN) -- Screenwriter William Goldman has written some of the most famous lines in movie history.
You know the ones. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die from The Princess Bride. "Is it safe?" from Marathon Man. "Follow the money" from All the President's Men. "Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
He's won two Oscars, two Edgars, a Hugo and a career achievement award from the National Board of Review. He obviously knows how to write. And he still has no idea why some of his dialogue manages to become part of the national vernacular. There are so many factors that go into creating a movie, he says, that it's all a writer can do to get his script right.
"When you're doing a movie you have no idea who the powers on the movie are going to be, and is there going to be a star who wants this line or doesn't like that line. You're at the mercy of everybody and you do the best you can," he says. "But you never know."
(It's no wonder that another of Goldman's most famous lines is his summation of Hollywood: "Nobody knows anything.")
If you're a screenwriter, it's not exactly something you can plan. Maybe the actor gives a line a poor spin; maybe the director doesn't capture the moment; maybe the film editor changes the rhythm of the scene in the cutting room. It's been said that nobody plans to make a bad film, but with so many variables at play, even a good script isn't bulletproof.
Fred Shapiro, editor of "The Yale Book of Quotations" and several other books in the field, points out that movie quotations can be a shorthand -- something that brings up powerful associations.
"Some movie quotes become popular because they evoke a great film, or a great scene, or a great actor," he says. "Sometimes the words of the quote become proverbial -- something like 'The natives are restless' or 'If you build it they will come' or 'Win one for the Gipper!' They enter into the language."
He also notes that lines tend to get condensed or changed. For example, he was quick to point out that the correct quotation from "Field of Dreams" is "If you build it, he will come."
They're also social glue. Repeat a line from popular comedies such as "Airplane!" or "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and you can immediately establish bonds with similarly minded individuals. This summer Marvel fans have been fond of repeating, "I am Groot."
The late Harold Ramis was a champ at composing such wisecracks, anti-establishment jokes that have been repeated by generations of viewers.
During the Oscars, Pepsi even promoted its "mini can" with a commercial that featured only well-known movie quotations. Why that strategy? "We want to take this to an emotional place," Seth Kaufman, PepsiCo's VP-marketing for colas, told Advertising Age
Shapiro makes a distinction between popular quotations and catchphrases. The latter is more of a trademark, he says -- Bugs Bunny's "What's up, doc?", for example, and incessantly repeated. They're often even said in the voice of the performer. It's hard to say "Make my day" without evoking Clint Eastwood's clenched-jaw delivery.
These days, thanks to repeated television showings, video streaming and the Internet, quotations attach themselves to our craniums more quickly than ever. Ironically, that means the person who wrote the immortal line is now more ignored than ever. Think about Goldman's classics: "Who do you think of, the actor or the writer?"
"Nobody cares about who the screenwriter is," Goldman says. "That's one of the things you have to deal with if you write a screenplay. Nobody has the least knowledge of what's going to work, and everybody wants Tom Cruise."


Part of the AFI 100 Years... series, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes is a list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. The American Film Institute (AFI) revealed the list on June 21, 2005, in a three-hour television program on CBS.

How many do you recognize?

The list

The table below reproduces the quotes as the AFI published them. However, the following have since been identified as being misquoted by the AFI.
  • #2: Marlon Brando says "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", not "...going to...".
  • #4: Judy Garland says "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." (AFI misquotes the line as "I've got a feeling...")
  • #40: Tom Hanks says "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" (AFI omitted "my.")
  • #66: Charlton Heston says "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape", not "Get..."
  • #78: Keir Dullea says "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." (AFI added "please.")
  • #98: Patrick Swayze says "Nobody puts Baby in the corner", not "...a corner."
Quotation numberQuotationCharacterActor/ActressFilmYear
1Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.Rhett ButlerClark GableGone with the Wind1939
2I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.Vito CorleoneMarlon BrandoThe Godfather1972
3You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."Terry MalloyMarlon BrandoOn the Waterfront1954
4Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.Dorothy GaleJudy GarlandThe Wizard of Oz1939
5Here's looking at you, kid.Rick BlaineHumphrey BogartCasablanca1942
6Go ahead, make my day.Harry CallahanClint EastwoodSudden Impact1983
7All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up.Norma DesmondGloria SwansonSunset Boulevard1950
8May the Force be with you.Han SoloHarrison FordStar Wars1977
9"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night.Margo ChanningBette DavisAll About Eve1950
10You talkin' to me?Travis BickleRobert De NiroTaxi Driver1976
11What we've got here is failure to communicate.CaptainStrother MartinCool Hand Luke1967
12I love the smell of napalm in the morning.Lt. Col. Bill KilgoreRobert DuvallApocalypse Now1979
13Love means never having to say you're sorry.Jennifer Cavilleri BarrettAli MacGrawLove Story1970
14The stuff that dreams are made of.Sam SpadeHumphrey BogartThe Maltese Falcon1941
15E.T. phone home.E.T.Pat WelshE.T. the Extra-Terrestrial1982
16They call me Mister Tibbs!Virgil TibbsSidney PoitierIn the Heat of the Night1967
17Rosebud.Charles Foster KaneOrson WellesCitizen Kane1941
18Made it, Ma! Top of the world!Arthur "Cody" JarrettJames CagneyWhite Heat1949
19I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymoreHoward BealePeter FinchNetwork1976
20Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.Rick BlaineHumphrey BogartCasablanca1942
21A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.Hannibal LecterAnthony HopkinsThe Silence of the Lambs1991
22Bond. James Bond.James BondSean ConneryDr. No1962
23There's no place like home.Dorothy GaleJudy GarlandThe Wizard of Oz1939
24I am big! It's the pictures that got small.Norma DesmondGloria SwansonSunset Boulevard1950
25Show me the money!Rod TidwellCuba Gooding, Jr.Jerry Maguire1996
26Why don't you come up sometime and see me?Lady LouMae WestShe Done Him Wrong1933
27I'm walking here! I'm walking here!"Ratso" RizzoDustin HoffmanMidnight Cowboy1969
28Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"Ilsa LundIngrid BergmanCasablanca1942
29You can't handle the truth!Col. Nathan R. JessupJack NicholsonA Few Good Men1992
30I want to be alone.GrusinskayaGreta GarboGrand Hotel1932
31After all, tomorrow is another day!Scarlett O'HaraVivien LeighGone with the Wind1939
32Round up the usual suspects.Capt. Louis RenaultClaude RainsCasablanca1942
33I'll have what she's having.CustomerEstelle ReinerWhen Harry Met Sally...1989
34You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.Marie "Slim" BrowningLauren BacallTo Have and Have Not1944
35You're gonna need a bigger boat."Martin BrodyRoy ScheiderJaws1975
36Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"Gold Hat"Alfonso BedoyaThe Treasure of the Sierra Madre1948
37I'll be back.The TerminatorArnold SchwarzeneggerThe Terminator1984
38Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.Lou GehrigGary CooperThe Pride of the Yankees1942
39If you build it, he will come.Shoeless Joe JacksonRay Liotta (voice)Field of Dreams1989
40Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.Forrest GumpTom HanksForrest Gump1994
41We rob banks.Clyde BarrowWarren BeattyBonnie and Clyde1967
42 Plastics.Mr. MaguireWalter BrookeThe Graduate1967
43We'll always have Paris.Rick BlaineHumphrey BogartCasablanca1942
44I see dead people.Cole SearHaley Joel OsmentThe Sixth Sense1999
45Stella! Hey, Stella!Stanley KowalskiMarlon BrandoA Streetcar Named Desire1951
46Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars.Charlotte ValeBette DavisNow, Voyager1942
47Shane. Shane. Come back!Joey StarrettBrandon De WildeShane1953
48Well, nobody's perfect.Osgood Fielding IIIJoe E. BrownSome Like It Hot1959
49It's alive! It's alive!Henry FrankensteinColin CliveFrankenstein1931
50Houston, we have a problem."Jim LovellTom HanksApollo 131995
51You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?Harry CallahanClint EastwoodDirty Harry1971
52You had me at "hello."Dorothy BoydRenée ZellwegerJerry Maguire1996
53One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.Capt. Geoffrey T. SpauldingGroucho MarxAnimal Crackers1930
54There's no crying in baseball!Jimmy DuganTom HanksA League of Their Own1992
55La-dee-da, la-dee-da.Annie HallDiane KeatonAnnie Hall1977
56A boy's best friend is his mother.Norman BatesAnthony PerkinsPsycho1960
57Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.Gordon GekkoMichael DouglasWall Street1987
58Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.Michael CorleoneAl PacinoThe Godfather Part II1974
59As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.Scarlett O'HaraVivien LeighGone with the Wind1939
60Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!OliverOliver HardySons of the Desert1933
61Say 'hello' to my little friend!"Tony MontanaAl PacinoScarface1983
62What a dump.Rosa MolineBette DavisBeyond the Forest1949
63Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?Benjamin BraddockDustin HoffmanThe Graduate1967
64Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!President Merkin MuffleyPeter SellersDr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb1964
65Elementary, my dear Watson.Sherlock HolmesBasil RathboneThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes1939
66Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.George TaylorCharlton HestonPlanet of the Apes1968
67Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.Rick BlaineHumphrey BogartCasablanca1942
68Here's Johnny!Jack TorranceJack NicholsonThe Shining1980
69They're here!Carol Anne FreelingHeather O'RourkePoltergeist1982
70Is it safe?Dr. Christian SzellLaurence OlivierMarathon Man1976
71Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!"Jakie Rabinowitz/Jack RobinAl JolsonThe Jazz Singer1927
72No wire hangers, ever!Joan CrawfordFaye DunawayMommie Dearest1981
73Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?Cesare Enrico "Rico" BandelloEdward G. RobinsonLittle Caesar1930
74Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown."Lawrence WalshJoe MantellChinatown1974
75I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.Blanche DuBoisVivien LeighA Streetcar Named Desire1951
76Hasta la vista, baby.The TerminatorArnold SchwarzeneggerTerminator 2: Judgment Day1991
77Soylent Green is people!Det. Robert ThornCharlton HestonSoylent Green1973
78Open the pod bay doors please, HAL."Dave BowmanKeir Dullea2001: A Space Odyssey1968
79Striker: "Surely you can't be serious." Rumack: "I am serious...and don't call me Shirley."Ted Striker and Dr. RumackRobert Hays and Leslie NielsenAirplane!1980
80Yo, Adrian!Rocky BalboaSylvester StalloneRocky1976
81Hello, gorgeous.Fanny BriceBarbra StreisandFunny Girl1968
82Toga! Toga!John "Bluto" BlutarskyJohn BelushiNational Lampoon's Animal House1978
83Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.Count DraculaBela LugosiDracula1931
84Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty  killed the Beast.Carl DenhamRobert ArmstrongKing Kong1933
85My precious.GollumAndy SerkisThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers2002
86Attica! Attica!Sonny WortzikAl PacinoDog Day Afternoon1975
87Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!Julian MarshWarner Baxter42nd Street1933
88Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!Ethel ThayerKatharine HepburnOn Golden Pond1981
89Tell 'em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper."Knute RocknePat O'BrienKnute Rockne, All American1940
90A martini. Shaken, not stirred.James BondSean Connery[Goldfinger[1964
91Who's on first?DexterBud AbbottThe Naughty Nineties1945
92Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!Carl SpacklerBill MurrayCaddyshack1980
93Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!Mame DennisRosalind RussellAuntie Mame1958
94I feel the need—the need for speed!Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and Lt. Nick "Goose" BradshawTom Cruise  Anthony EdwardsTop Gun1986
95Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.John KeatingRobin WilliamsDead Poets Society1989
96Snap out of it!Loretta CastoriniCherMoonstruck1987
97My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.George M. CohanJames CagneyYankee Doodle Dandy1942
98Nobody puts Baby in a corner.Johnny CastlePatrick SwayzeDirty Dancing1987
99I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!Wicked Witch of the WestMargaret HamiltonThe Wizard of Oz1939
100I'm the king of the world!Jack DawsonLeonardo DiCaprioTitanic1997

As Time Goes By, or Play it Sam, Casablanca


Ron said...

Faaaaaaaaaaabulous post, Petra!

*thunderous applause*

And me, being a HUGE film fan like you, really enjoyed it!

"For me, one of Joseph Mankiewicz's best films is All About Eve; its famous quote, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!".

Me as well! I love that film and line from Margo Channing (Bette Davis). In fact, I have the film and watch it often. Many years ago, I shared a post on that film and had a clip of Bette Davis speaking that line at the end of the post.

BEST line ever!

"I'll have what she's having.CustomerEstelle ReinerWhen Harry Met Sally...1989"

HA! Another GREAT line!

It's amazing how certain lines from movies become legends unto themselves, isn't it?

Loved the two clips you shared. Both that will remain CLASSICS!

Scarlett O'Hara: "I'll think of someway to get him back, because after all, tomorrow is another day."


Anonymous said...

Wow, Petra. This is such a comprehensive list. As I skimmed through it, I realize there are many films I just haven't seen.

Adore Casablanca and Gone With the Wind. And, of course, who doesn't remember Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront's" Stella! And Blanch DuBois', "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

Really fun post, Petra!

K. :)

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ron!

Do you remember The Late Show, The Late, Late Show, The Late, Late, Late Show every night many years back. When I was but a young girl I'd watch these films, so that by the time Turner aired the classics, I already knew so many.

It's amazing how many years later, I would actually turn to screenwriting.

Yep, I agree, one of the best lines ever, Ron!

Thank you for your most exuberant comment! :))

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Thank you, K.! It really was fun to put together. I think I've seen most of these films. And remember most of the quotes. They do become so quotable if the movie is captivating.

There are so many greats. And that's just the American, let alone those from around the world.

Thanks again, K.! :))