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And I Quote: Some Favorite Movie Lines, With Gravy

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I’m a meat-and-potatoes moviegoer more than I am a nuts-and-bolts one. Admittedly, considering my weird hardware-and-hearty-fare metaphoric and personal terminology, that no doubt means nothing to you. Here’s what it means to me, and here’s how I can best explain it:

I usually stay for the end credits, but not because I’m a cinema snob-o-rama who absolutely needs to take note of all the production details to find out who the 2nd Assistant Gaffer was. What I am most curious about – and this information is pretty much stuck on at the tail end of the credits -is the location settings and the music used; I’m resourcefully cheap enough to vicariously use films as travelogues and song sampling buyer’s guides. And as long as I’ve waited the thirteen minutes to get to that point in the eye-glazing acknowledgments, I’ll stick around to see if any animals were harmed in the making of the movie.

Another essential cinematic nutrient lies in keep-it-simple offerings. There’s nothing terribly wrong with fast-food for thought, and I’m too impatient and restless for most multi-course feasts. Ninety minutes is a perfect length for a movie – a constraint conducive, like a short story, to disciplined craftsmanship.

But the most important ingredient for the best meat-and-potatoes fare lies in the good writing, of course; pearls of wit and wisdom that are contained in the bon mots and repartee make for a more memorable and evocative film, resonating long after the sticky floors, popcorn smells and nine bucks shelled out fade to black and blocked memory.

I may not always be able to tell you who-done-it, but I can usually remember who said it and what was said – committing quotes to recollection much better than problematic plots, cardboard characters, and the name of that 2nd Assistant Gaffer. Here’s some of my favorite lines – some the usual suspects, others not AFI-approved – that satiates an aphoristic appetite and satisfies a hunger for gift-of-gab confabs, from stuff ‘n’ nonsense to a deeper truth-delving. The quotes are grouped into three classifications – other than that, no particular order. I don’t need no stinkin’ order:

1. The Appetizers. Usually non-essential to the plot, these do little to advance the story line but whets a desire for a film’s full flavoring. Many are stand-alone lines or non-sequiturs that are funny, astute or absurd in and of themselves, regardless of who is saying them, although most are hinged upon an appropriate delivery and a few are almost inseparable from the character or actor:

“It’s in that place where I put that thing that time.” – Nancy Ticotin, Hackers.

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!” – Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove.

“She tried to sit on my lap, and I was standing up at the time.” – Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep.

“If I hold you any closer, I’ll be in back of you.” – Groucho Marx to Esther Muir, A Day at the Races.

“I’d like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” – Bette Davis, The Cabin in the Cotton.

“Let’s go get sushi and not pay!” – Dick Rude, Repo Man.

“He’s the only man I know who can strut sitting down.” – Gene Kelly on Fredric March’s Mathew Harrison Brady, Inherit the Wind.

“Son, you got a panty on your head.” – store clerk, Raising Arizona.

“We’re not talking about killing people. Herb’s talking about killing me and I’m talking about killing him.” – Henry Travers, Shadow of a Doubt.

“What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-going on here?” – Slim Pickens, Blazing Saddles.

2. The Main Course. Dig in with these more substantial and cerebrally ample, satisfyingly, stick-to-your-ribs lines. These are usually integral to the plot and theme and overall tenor and mood of the movie, whether nourish or comedic. Not only character-driven but often used to define and convey character and personality, these are the quotes most ingrained with the protagonist or antagonist or actor–imbuing empathy or ill will–and sometimes helping, unfortunately, to typecast him or her:

“I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. I don’t like them myself. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them long winter evenings.” – Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep.

“What a dump.” – Bette Davis, Beyond the Forest.

“I can never get a zipper to close. Maybe that stands for something, what do you think?” – Rita Hayworth, Gilda.

“Who are those guys?” – Paul Newman and Robert Redford, at different times, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.” – Robert Mitchum, Farewell, My Lovely.

“There’s no crying in baseball!” – Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own.

“It was a hot afternoon, and I can still remember the smell of honeysuckle all along that street. How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?” – Fred MacMurray, Double Indemnity.

“Would you mind putting that gun away? My wife doesn’t mind but I’m very timid.” – William Powell, The Thin Man.

“My, my. Such a lot of guns around here and so few brains.” – Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon.

“It’s a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn’t always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her.” – Laurence Harvey, The Manchurian Candidate.

“I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” – Sterling Hayden, Dr. Strangelove.

“I don’t use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.” – Clifton Webb, Laura.

“Goodness had nothing to do with it” – Mae West, after an onlooker said, “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!” Night After Night.

“He used to be a tough mug, but he’s cracked up and gone soft over a dame.” – dock worker talking about Robert Armstrong, King Kong.

3. Dessert. Loosen-your-belt time. For good measure, these are the take-it-or-leave-it lines, not especially character-based, that put the icing on the cake for a little added surround-sound dimension. But they are often the ones – not especially imperative or inextricable from the fabric of the film – that you remember or try to look up later because you can take them out of context with no-harm no-foul consequences later on and repeat them as your own splendid witticisms. Or at least until the movie goes into wide-release:

“Positive thinking is fine in theory. But whenever I try it on a systematic basis, I end up really depressed.” – Taylor Nichols, Barcelona.

“Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.” – Jack Nicholson,
As Good As It Gets.

“Playing strip poker with an exhibitionist somehow takes the challenge out of it.” – Chris Eigeman, Metropolitan.

“I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is that you can turn right on a red light.” – Woody Allen, Annie Hall

I see disaster; I see catastrophe; worse – I see lawyers!” – Danielle Ferland, Mighty Aphrodite.

“You chased a dog and you beat a horse. You’re stronger than you think.” – George Kellerman, The Out of Towners.

“I once asked this literary agent what writing paid the best, and he said `ransom notes.’ ” – Gene Hackman, Get Shorty.

And roll the credits . . .

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • What, no…Go ahead, make my day…or…Where are all the white women at?

    What we have here…is a failure…to communicate!

  • GoHah

    And what you have there, Andy, is an inability to see beyond the obvious, overused cliches I was too disinclined to repeat as they’ve been repeated over and over again. Excuse me while I stifle a yawn…

  • If you already knew about “make my day,” Andy, then obviously you didn’t need GoHah to write about it in this article. I was glad to see some good lines here that haven’t already been burned into the phosphors of our cultural monitor screens.

    What’s the point of a list of quotes where all the readers have already memorized all the lines being quoted? None at all, except perhaps a mutual stroking of egos. “Oooh, cool! There’s Arnie saying ‘I’ll be back,’ just like I would have picked! Yeah baby, yeah!”

    What we have here is not a failure to communicate. It is merely a refusal to mutually masturbate, and thus GoHah helps to maintain the purity of our precious bodily fluids.

  • Thanks for the image, Victor.

    I agree, though, GoHah, good, strongly unpredictable list, including many I’ve either never heard or had forgotten. Wanna hear my own favorite?

    Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo: “You shouldn’t keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn’t have been, you shouldn’t have been that sentimental.

    Of course, a lot depends on hearing the ache in Stewart’s voice on that last word.

  • Didn’t realize you didn’t want opinions…I’ll be sure to avoid leaving you any in the future. yawn away

  • But no “It’s twue! It’s twue!” Unforgivable.

  • treasure of sierra madre

    treasure of sierra madre.
    badges? we dont need no
    stinking badges !

  • Bliffle

    Another Clifton Webb from “Laura”, upon being threatened with a knife by a hood: “Oh put that thing away before you hurt yourself – or do something useful with it and pare your fingernails”.

  • GoHah

    Bliffle#9: a big oversight–that’s an essential one, thanks.

  • Bliffle

    Dick Powell in A Hammett story after waking up from an involuntary drugged nightmare, talking to himself “You’re a Big Brave Detective, let’s see you do something really tough, like pull on your pants”.

  • Bliffle

    In Patrice LeContes film “Ridicule”, set in the court of Louis XVI where dueling metaphors and putdowns determine a mans fate, the antagonist, surrounded by his Fine Courtly friends puts down the hero and his low farmer friends with what he thinks is the coup de grace “a man is known by the company he keeps” he sneers, and Our Hero parries with “a mistake in judgement; Judas kept excellent company”.

  • We can’t forget Scarlet and Rhett, can we?

    MY fave—“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

  • Oh sure…a quote from Gone with the Wind is ok…but not some ordinary film…but then again..I’ve looked at Gohahs blog and I get it now…I’m not nearly well read enough…looking at the book reviews he does, I’d have to find the most obscure corner of the library to find them…and that makes the off the wall quotes make more sense too!

    But then again…anyone that finds anything related to the child molester Woody Allen interesting or even worth mentioning doesn’t even deserve the effort it takes to hit these keys!

    So I was right…it has been a waste of my time…Happy New Year!

  • “Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.”

    Bonus points if you know who I’m quoting.

  • MCH

    Andy…please, stop playing the victim!!!

  • but…but…

    ok…I will…but I still don’t like Woody Allen!

  • Funny how the same guy who says Woody Allen “isn’t even worth mentioning” has now mentioned him twice in the space of ten minutes.

  • That’s how much I don’t like him!

  • GoHah

    Andy–I like the lines you mentioned, and if I was doing a piece on “top 100 movie lines” they’d make the cut. But on compiling a more eclectic, non-comprehensive listing on “some of my favorite” lines, I thought I could spice up my piece and avoid the overly-familiar ones and bring out a few that don’t make the somewhat-boring AFI-sanctioned (and other) lists.

    I’m sorry for lashing out a bit, but it wasn’t so much a “failure to communicate” on my part, but an attempt at a different kind of communication. Read a book or two and you might understand.

  • Bliffle

    Andy: bummer man. Wanna go out on a double date? I can get some Fresh Ones, if ya know what I mean. Lemme know.

  • Bliffle

    Victor, that’s a tough one. Sounds like it could be Davis or Hepburn but screenwriters are more portable, like Fitzgerald, Faulkner, etc. But it feels more recent, too. I giveup since I can’t match it quickly.

  • GoHah

    Rodney–Thanks: I can imagine how Stewart would say that, but I’ll have to be alert next time I see Vertigo.

    Victor–my Grandpa used to talk to me like that, too.

  • GoHah

    Bliffle: your Hammett line reminded my of a favorite Chandler line from the book Big Sleep that never made it to the movie: “She had a face that made a Bishop want to kick a hole in a stainded glass window”–or something to that effect.

  • Gohah – I read…just not the stuff you read…way to thought provoking for me…I’d rather read a Dean Koontz book or a Stephen King book…but that’s just me. I read plenty of them as I fly around the country and world. It’s better than watching the crappy movies they play on those little screens.

    I was having a little fun and you took it way to serious and went off. That’s fine. It’s your thread. I guess it was a “failure to communicate” my sense of humor….or your lack of one. Either way, no skin off my ass.

    Life is good and Happy New Year!

  • GoHah

    Andy: “I don’t mind if you don’t like my lack of humor. I don’t like it myself. It’s pretty bad. I grieve over it long winter evenings.”
    Happy New Year, Andy–Gordon

  • Jeez, Andy, dry up.

  • Happy New Year Gordon!

  • Just a few favorites:

    Bacall to Bogey: You know how to whistle. Put your lips together and blow.

    Bogey (about Ingrid Bergmann): Of all the dirty gin joints in the world, she had to walk into mine.

    Bruce Willis: Yippee ki-yah, mother&^%$@!

    Jimmy Stewart: Well that rabble you’re talking about do must of the living and working and dying in this town.

    Ahhnold: That’s the greatest mind #$^% of all.

    Clint: Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?

    James Cagney: I’m on top of the world, Ma!

    Clarke Gable: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

    Alastair Sim (as Scrooge): Christmas is a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December.

    Ken Foree (original Dawn of the Dead) : When there’s no room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

    Roy Scheider ( Jaws ): I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat (after seeing the shark for the first time).

  • Bliffle

    I think it was Lee Merriwhether in “The Competition” to Anthony Zerby, an egotistical conductor: “It costs extra to carve ‘Shmuck’ in a tombstone, Max, but for you it would be worthwhile”.

  • Bliffle: why do these mentions always remind me of something else? Anyway, your reference to “Competition” reminds me of an old Groucho Marx line: “I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception” (I forget who he was talking to).

  • Bliffle

    Paul Muni, in Mervyn LeRoys fine “I Am A Fugitive from A Chain Gang” having escaped again from unjust imprisonment and stealthily meeting his fiancee at night, he refuses the money she offers, she asks “but how do you live”, looks into the camera with frightened hunted eyes: “I steal!”

  • Victor–after all these years, that Cagney “Top of the world, Ma” is still one of the best scenes of all.

  • Victor–It was Peter Falk in the Princess Bride.

  • GoHah,

    I was remiss not to note any Groucho quotes. There are some really funny ones, especially directed to Margaret Dumont (probably the best straight woman ever in film). I believe one of the best ones he said to her (she was a tall statuesque woman) was this:

    “I could dance with you until the cows come home. On second thought I’d rather dance with the cows until you come home.”

  • Victor: also Groucho to Dumont: “I’ll fight for your honor–which is more than you ever did.”

  • One of my favourite movies is Blade Runner and there are loads of great quotes from it, including these random memory bites:-

    Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.

    Roy Batty to Tyrell: I’ve done questionable things.

    Pris: Must get lonely here, JF.
    JF: Not really. I MAKE friends.

    Batty: I want more life, fucker!

    Batty: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

    Batty: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

    Tyrell: What seems to be the problem?
    Batty: Death.

    And right at the end

    Gaff: It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?

    I love this movie.

  • i laugh whenever i think about groucho
    and margaret dumont together. margaret that was real comedy !!! larry that

  • Christopher: I especially like “I want more life, fucker.” And “questionable things” seems akin to the ever-popular “youthful indiscretions.”

  • Bliffle

    Young Frankenstein: after Gene Wilder examines the door knockers and says “nice knockers”, Terry Garr says, mistaking a reference to her prominent decolette “Oh sank you!”

  • I just thought of another one I like from The Godfather :

    “Leave the gun; take the cannolis.”

  • Well, Virginia wins the bonus points for correctly identifying The Princess Bride, which has plenty of great lines to choose from.

    INIGO: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
    MAN IN BLACK: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.

  • KYS

    Don’t get me started on PB:

    No more rhymes, now. I mean it!
    Anybody want a peanut?

  • Bliffle

    In “Heartbreakers” (a pretty good Peter Coyote film) about two artists in LA:

    “How come my paintings don’t sell?”

    “You paint things people are ashamed to hang on their walls.”

  • Shark

    The Coen Bros. wrote so many of my all-time favorites. One could post about 30 just from *Raising Arizona.

    One of my ‘obscure’ favorites, from “Miller’s Crossing”:

    “Jeesus, Tommy, they took his hair.”

    * btw, “Son, you got…. on yer head…” is said by the guy in the PICKUP TRUCK.

  • KYS

    Ferris Beuller’s Day Off:

    Waiter: “Thank you for your understanding.”
    Ferris: “Not at all. It’s understanding that allows people like us to tolerate a person like yourself.”


    She’s Having a Baby:
    Interviewer 1: “How do you feel about slave wages?”
    Jake: “Slave wages are fine.”
    Interviewer 2: “How do you feel about alcoholics?”
    Jake “I..like alcoholics?”



    “Andrew? Are you going to bring me my lemon or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?”

  • KYS

    And since we’re onto the Arizona theme:

    “There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right, and never the twain shall meet…”

  • Shark, thanks for the correction

  • From the press conference in A Hard Day’s Night :

    Reporter: How do you find New York?

    George: Turn left at Greenland.

  • wasn’t it John who said “Turn left at Greenland”? (?)

  • I’m pretty sure that was John who said that.

    My favorite Princess Bride lines revolve around the overused word that does not mean what he thinks it

  • gonzo marx

    “I am not a chick. I am an ethno-historian with a Doctorate in cultural anthopology.”
    Amazon Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

    how’s that? from the Missus with <3 for all!


  • Welfare Cheese

    “I don’t want a large farva, I want a goddamn liter of cola.”

    “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

    “I’m the most dangerous man in this prison. You know why? ‘Cause I control the underwear.”

  • gonzo marx

    “fuck me gently with a chainsaw”

    “a man’s got to know his limitations”
    Magnum Force

    “let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things Uptown”

    just a few more…


  • wait a minute…if I can’t quote Dirty Harry without getting grief…don’t let gonzo get away with it!

    I quote 3 lines from well known movies and get a ration of shit for it…every one else does it and it’s all fun and games…did I miss something here???

  • Sorry Andy–I think the only thing that happened was that I overreacted to your “failure to communicate” mention, taking it more personally than I should have. I probably shouldn’t have been so thin-skinned and humorless, and for that I am truly sorry–Gordon

  • My cousin and I quote Singin’ In the Rain a lot too. One of my personal faves:

    “I make more money than Calvin Coolidge…put together!”

    And I’ve always enjoyed this dialogue:

    R.F.: We’re converting everything to sounds.

    Cosmo (musical player for silent movies): That means I’m out of a job! I can finally start suffering and write that symphony!

    R.F.: You’re not out of a job. I’m putting you in charge of sound production.

    Cosmo: A promotion! Now I can finally stop suffering and write that symphony.

  • Gordan – we’re good bud! Happy New Year!!! I was trying to be funny…apparently I failed…I’ll try harder…

    I don’t know the whole diatribe of Chunks in Goonies…but it starts with…

    “Ok, Start from the beginning” Chunks starts off sobbing…”it started in first grade…

  • MCH

    From the Outlaw Josey Wales:

    Chief Dan George reads a sign, Clint Eastwood asks, “How can you tell that?” to which George replies, “You have to be an Indian to know those things.”


    Eastwood, “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.”


    Eastwood; “What brings you to bein’ a bounty hunter?”
    Bounty hunter; “A man’s gotta make a living somehow.”
    Eastwood; “Dyin’ aint much of a living, boy.”

  • JR

    “As soon as I get to likin’ somebody, they ain’t around long.”

    “I notice when you get to dislikin’ someone they ain’t around long either.”

  • GoHah,

    Checked my source and you’re right: John did say to turn left at Greenland. On checking the transcript, I came across two other good ones:

    Reporter: Are you a “Mod” or a “Rocker”?

    Ringo: Um, no. I’m a mocker.


    Reporter: What would you call that hairstyle you’re wearing?

    George: Arthur.

  • Almost everything that comes out of the mouth of Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Texarkana, TX.

    Buford T. Justice: There is no way, NO way that you came from my loins. The first thing I’m gonna do when I get home is punch your momma in the mouth.
    Buford T. Justice: This happens every time one of these floozies starts poontangin’ around with those show folk fags.

    Also a big fan of The Bad News Bears with Matthau

    Engelberg: You’re not supposed to have open liquor in the car. It’s against the law.

    Coach Morris Buttermaker: So is murder, Englebert. Now put that back before you get me in real trouble.
    Coach Morris Buttermaker: [trying to console Ahmad after his errors in the first loss] There was nothing easy about those fly balls, Ahmad. They were tough chances! The sun was in your eyes!

    Ahmad Abdul Rahim: Don’t give me none of your honky bullshit, Buttermaker. I know they were easy.

    Coach Morris Buttermaker: Let’s not bring race into this, Ahmad. We got enough problems as it is.

  • Bliffle

    Jean Paul Belmondo in, I believe, “The Hat”, after being fatally shot calls his girlfriend to announce: “Genvieve, about tonight, I can’t make it.” Hangs up and expires.

  • gonzo marx

    “how long have you been a robber?”

    “four foot one”
    Time Bandits

    “he said he was looking for the Holy Grail”

    “what did you say?”

    “I told him we already got one”

    or now, go away or I will taunt you a second time”

    hell, just about the whole movie
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail



  • I thought of this one from one of my favorites, Night of the Living Dead (the original 1968):

    Reporter interviewing police chief on mop up effort:

    Reporter: Are they slow moving, chief.

    Chief: Yeah, they’re dead; they’re all messed up.