Wednesday, January 19, 2011


A friend of mine once wrote column citing his favorite lines from classic movies. At least I think they were classic movies. Frankly, because it is going on 30 years since I read it, I don't recall whether the movies themselves were classic or just the lines.

But I do know that his favorite line was from a classic movie -- “Round up the usual suspects,” from Casablanca.

Now I can’t watch that movie now without thinking about that column and mentally coming up with some of my own favorites. Sometimes I don’t even need the movie to get me thinking about them, which is why I am writing about them today.

You’ll probably remember many of these lines, too, as they very well could be among your favorites (if you ever dwell on such things).

I am going to number them, not because they are in any particular order, but because at the end I will match them later with the movies they are taken from. Not all of them, you see, are from classic movies. They are lines from movies I like, and this is my blog.

The lines:

1. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

2. “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”

3. “Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, What did you do in the great World War Two? You won’t have to say, ‘Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.’ ”

4. “Heeere’s, Johnnny!”

5. "What knockers!”

6. “How ’bout some more beans, Mr. Taggart?”

7. “Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying. There’s no crying in baseball.”

8. "Seven years of college down the drain.”

9. "Heil, myself."

10. “We're gonna need a bigger boat.”

11. “Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valence.”

 12. “She calls those nothing. Imagine her concept of something.”

13. “I sometimes wonder whose side God is on.”

14. "He's in the car."

15. “I let him go.”

16. “If you build it, he will come.”

17. “Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.”

18. “You can't handle the truth!”

19. “What we have here is failure to communicate.”

20. “What a dump.”

21. “In Italy under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed. They produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.”

The movies:

1. Casablanca, of course. I like this one better than “Round up the usual suspects,” but then, the movie had so many great lines. “We’ll always have Paris” is another. Quite possibly the one cited most often is actually a misquote. Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.” What he said was, “You played it for her. You can play it for me.” Ingrid Bergman was actually closer to that when Ilsa said, “Play it once, Sam. For old time's sake” and “Play it, Sam. Play as ‘Time Goes By.’ ”

2. Ah, Clint Eastwood. He has had some great lines, but I like this one from Dirty Harry best.

3. If you didn’t know this was said by George C. Scott in Patton, you must be some sort of unpatriotic, anti-military, Commie pinko.

4. Jack Nicholson in The Shining. One thing bothers me about that movie: A resort in Colorado that shuts down because of snow?

5. This comes from Young Frankenstein, which is a movie I always stop to watch when I am channel surfing. Just can’t resist. “He was my boyfriend!” -- screamed by Cloris Leachman -- is another favorite. So is “Wait. I was going to make espresso,” the plea from the blind man (Gene Hackett). And then.... I’ll stop now. The movie is full of them.

6. Speaking of Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles is full of memorable lines, too. In particular, I like this one and “Somebody’s got to go back and get a shitload of dimes” when the bad guys ride up to the toll booth at the Gov. William J. Le Petomane Thruway. One line from the movie, “Badges? We don’t need no steenking badges,” actually comes from 1948’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre with slightly different wording.

7. This is no doubt the most well-known line from A League of Their Own, but what follows Tom Hanks’ admonition to Madonna is funnier. Hanks says to the umpire, “Anyone ever tell you you look like a penis with a little hat on?”

8. One of many from Animal House. Another one -- “Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman. Damn glad to meet you” -- becomes funny because of how many times Tim Matheson says it.

9. This is from at least one version of To Be Or Not To Be. It is there in the remake when Mel Brooks, disguised as Hitler, passes by in front of German troops, but I don’t know if it was in the original that starred Jack Benny.

10. Jaws, of course.

11. In addition to his one, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance gives us the classic “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This concept has not been lost on present-day news media.

12. From SOB. William Holden is discussing the, ah, charms of a topless sunbather.

13. This is another military movie, The Longest Day. Curt Juergens, playing German general Gunther Blumentritt, ponders what is about to occur. Another line, also from the German side of the story of D-Day, is said by Hans Christian Blech (playing Major Werner Pluskat, who is stationed at the Atlantic Wall) when he calls headquarters after seeing the invasion fleet headed his way: “You know those five thousand ships you say the Allies haven't got? Well, they've got them!”

14. This is from The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner. Eliot Ness says it after being asked where Frank Nitti is a few minutes after having pushed Nitti him off the roof of the courthouse, where he lands on a parked car in the street.

15. This Arnold Schwarzenegger line from Commando is in the same vein as the previous quote. Arnold is answering a question from his partner after just dropping a bad guy off a cliff (or overpass; can’t really remember which).

16. Field of Dreams.

17. Cloris Leachman says this in High Anxiety when outlining the dinner time rules at the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Very Nervous. I also love it later in the movie when, after his fight in a phone booth with a bad guy, Mel Brooks, who is already on the lam for a murder he didn’t commit, tells Madeline Kahn he has just killed a man. Kahn responds, “Another one? Listen, Richard, you have to a grip on yourself.”

18. Another Jack Nicholson classic, A Few Good Men.

19. Cool Hand Luke. Notice it is not “a” failure to communicate.

20. I’ll be honest with you here. I didn’t actually remember where this one came from. But the answer that Paul Lynde gave on “Hollywood Squares” when asked who uttered that movie line remains a classic. “Dumbo,” he said. So I looked it up. It was Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest, a 1949 production.

21. Another confession. I did not remember all the words to this quote, which comes from the Orson Welles’ 1949 classic, The Third Man, but wanted to include it. It’s something for all those people who think things are so wonderful in Switzerland compared to the United States to think about.

You may notice that many of my movie lines are from older (and Mel Brooks) movies. That’s probably for three reasons:

No. 1, I don’t get around to movies as much as used to. Guess I’m cranky, but I rarely see much of anything listed that I care to lay out so much cash for. (The King’s Speech I’ve heard may be an exception.)

No. 2, I like Mel Brooks.

No. 3, older movies seemed to have better dialogue. Too many new ones seem to feature explosions over talk.

1 comment:

  1. Another favorite of mine from Mel Brooks: "Why didn't someone tell me my ass is so big?" It's uttered by Mel Brooks in the movie Space Balls when he comes through the transporter and it puts his head on backwards. He looks down and delivers the line.