If you’re a regular reader of A Certain Point of View, Too, you know – or ought to know – that I dig movies. I love movies from many different genres; not every genre, mind, but there’s enough variety in my home media library to cover most mainstream tastes. As far as entertainment goes, I like movies almost as fiercely as I love the written word, and they are par in popularity with music as far I am concerned.
One of my favorite elements of any movie – and, from my perspective as a screenwriter, the hardest to master – is dialogue. And quite often, lines from movies are so memorable, so quotable, that they leap beyond the silver screen and become part of our cultural lexicon. So much so, in fact, that sometimes we say great movie lines from classics like The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, The Godfather, Jaws, Rocky, Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and countless other movies.
As a cinephile as well as a writer and lover of the written word, I have my fair share of favorite lines or exchanges from the movies. Here are some of them:
Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed. – Casablanca
[Tessio brings in Luca Brasi’s bulletproof vest, delivered with a fish inside]
Sonny: What the hell is this?
Clemenza: It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. – The Godfather
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: [last lines, at General Browning’s headquarters in Holland. After being extracted from the Arnhem debacle, General Urquhart arrives there and is greeted by dozens of geese in Browning’s yard; their honking sounds like scornful laughter] Welcome, Roy. How do you feel?
Major General Urquhart: I’m not sure I’ll know for a while. But I’m sorry for the way it worked out.
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: You did all you could.
Major General Urquhart: Yes, but did everybody else?
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: They’ve got a bed for you upstairs, if you want it.
Major General Urquhart: I took 10,000 of our finest troops to Arnhem; I’ve come back with less than 2,000. I don’t feel much like sleeping.
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: I’ve just been on to Monty. He’s very proud, and pleased.
Major General Urquhart: [incredulous] PLEASED!
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: According to himself, technically, Market Garden was 90% successful.
Major General Urquhart: But what do YOU think?
Lt. General Frederick “Boy” Browning: Well, as you know, I always felt we tried to go a bridge too far. – A Bridge Too Far
[the three men are comparing their scars]
Brody: What’s that one?
Brody: That one, there, on your arm.
Quint: Oh, uh, that’s a tattoo, I got that removed.
Hooper: Don’t tell me, don’t tell me…”Mother.”
[he roars with laughter]
Hooper: What is it…
[Quint solemnly clamps a hand on Hooper’s arm]
Quint: Mr. Hooper, that’s the USS Indianapolis.
[Hooper immediately stops laughing]
Hooper: You were on the Indianapolis?
Brody: What happened?
Quint: Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte, just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen-footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know… was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. Heh.
[he pauses and takes a drink]
Quint: They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. Y’know, it’s… kinda like ol’ squares in a battle like, uh, you see in a calendar, like the Battle of Waterloo, and the idea was, shark comes to the nearest man and that man, he’d start poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’, and sometimes the shark’d go away… sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. Y’know the thing about a shark, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’… until he bites ya. And those black eyes roll over white, and then… oh, then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin’, the ocean turns red, and spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces.
Quint: Y’know, by the end of that first dawn… lost a hundred men. I dunno how many sharks. Maybe a thousand. I dunno how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin’, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland- baseball player, boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up… bobbed up and down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well… he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. Young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and come in low and three hours later, a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. Y’know, that was the time I was most frightened, waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water, three hundred sixteen men come out, and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945.
[he pauses, smiles, and raises his glass]
Quint: Anyway… we delivered the bomb. – Jaws
Joachim: We’re all with you, sir. But, consider this. We are free. We have a ship, and the means to go where we will. We have escaped permanent exile on Ceti Alpha V. You have defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again.
Khan: [paraphrase from Melville’s Moby Dick] He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round perdition’s flames before I give him up! – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Marion: You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.
Indiana: It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage. – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Bob Woodward: The story is dry. All we’ve got are pieces. We can’t seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. John Mitchell resigns as the head of CREEP, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bullshit, we don’t exactly believe that…
Deep Throat: No, heh, but it’s touching. Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.
Bob Woodward: Hunt’s come in from the cold. Supposedly he’s got a lawyer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.
Deep Throat: Follow the money.
Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.
Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.
Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I’ll confirm. I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just… follow the money. – All the President’s Men