Film, News
May 19, 2014

TOP TEN QUOTABLE MOVIES

I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can finish this list. I hope people will read this top ten and shake my hand. I hope that the debate will be as lively as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

For this list I was forced to do more research and talk to more people than for any other one I have ever done. This is not about genre, or being stuck in any time period, or otherwise derived from a certain premise. This list is about where you grew up, when you grew up, and what happened to stick with you, especially as a child. If this list were based solely on my experience with film and taking nothing else into consideration, then The Last Starfighter would likely make the top three along with Krull and Conan the Destroyer.

After talking with dozens of people and more than a few hours of reading and re-watching candidates, I had a short list of about 40 films to narrow into a top ten. From here I had to get tough, I wanted not only great quotes but the ones that have become part of our cultural vernacular, quotes now so important that they have separated themselves from the film they came from. A line that tells an entire story, joke, or anecdote while keeping in mind that this list will still be subjective no matter the research. But it will still be a lot of fun, as was the research. But we can’t go over the line, this is a Top Ten, not ‘Nam, there are rules:

1. One film per franchise. Sorry Han, I know you never want to be told the odds but they are not good for Empire.

2. The film must have more than one iconic quote. So no matter how mad you are Peter Finch, you will have to take this some more.

3. I get one personal choice. One choice to rule them all. One choice to find them. One choice to bring them all into the darkness and bind them.

Without further ado, fasten your seatbelts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride:

10. Wayne’s World (1992) – I found it entertaining, whimsical and yet relevant, with an underlined revisionist conceit that belie the film’s emotional attachments to the subject matter. Aside from the above quote, this film is one of those where nearly every line is quotable due to a great script and hysterical characters from Mike Myers. In a recent review of Silicon Valley I cited Kierkegaard, who I know only from Wayne (Mike Myers) quoting him in this film. Other relevant quotes:

‘Party on, Garth!’ – Wayne Campbell,  ‘Party on , Wayne!’ – Garth Algar

‘A gun rack…a gun rack. I don’t even own *a* gun let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.’ – Wayne Campbell

‘Good call. It’s like he wants us to be liked by everyone. I mean Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes everybody liked. They left that to the Bee Gees.’ – Wayne Campbell

‘If you’re gonna spew, spew into this.’ – Garth Algar

9. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – The best of the Monty Python films also features the best sketches and characters from the famous troop. Although an older film like this might not be as fresh in younger minds, the side-splitting lines that range in content from shrubberies to witch trials to migratory swallows is still relevant and quotable today.

‘JESUS CHRIST!’- Arthur, King of the Britons

‘RUN AWAY!’ – Arthur, King of the Britons

‘Bring out yer dead!’ – The Dead Collector

‘Ni!’ – The Knights Who Say Ni

‘Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.’ – Dennis

8. The Big Lebowski (1997) – Another film that is less about one or two great quotes than a multitude of really really funny quotes. The Coen brothers, especially in their comedies, love to repeat seemingly innocuous lines such as ‘Ok then’ in Raising Arizona and ‘My hair!’ in O, Brother. There’s a certain cadence they bring with that style that I really love. If I could have two personal picks ‘Raising Arizona’ would have been the other one. But Coen Brothers films to me are contained in one quirky universe, so I could only keep one, and Lebowski is the greater cult powerhouse. The Todd abides. The quotes:

‘They peed on your (my) [email protected]#$ing rug.’ – Walt and The Dude

‘That rug really tied the room together.’ – The Dude and others

‘Shut the f%@# up Donny.’  – Walt

‘Nihilists! [email protected]#$ me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.’ – Walt

7. The Blues Brothers (1980) – Initially I was not going to include this film due to its placing on my Top Ten Action Buddy Comedies list. Then I re-watched the film and I figured I was probably looking too hard at excuses to include other films that may be less worthy. This film has a bunch of quotes much like a few others on this list, but it also has the iconic quotes to back it up. Kind of like having a band along with your two lead singers. Here they are:

‘We’re on a mission from God.’ -Elwood Blues

‘We’re putting the band back together.’ – Jake Blues

‘It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a tank full of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.’ – Elwood Blues, ‘Hit it’ – Jake Blues

‘Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters, sell them to me. Sell me your children!’ – Jake Blues

6. Forrest Gump (1994) – Finally, we have broken through that gauntlet of strange and goofy comedies to farcical sagas. The film certainly has it comedic elements, but also enough tragedy and pathos to make it more of a drama. Still, it has more than a few quotes including the ones you know, thanks not only to the comedic elements that buoy the drama of a man’s entire life but in their sage simplicity as well. And that’s all I have to say about that. The quotes:

‘My name’s Forrest. Forrest Gump.’ – Forrest Gump

‘Run Forrest Run!’ – Jenny Curran and others

‘Stupid is as stupid does.’ – Forrest Gump

‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ – Forrest Gump

5. The Princess Bride (1987) – We’ve reached the feel-good portion of the list with these last two films. Both have quotes that are more iconic than funny. But where Forrest Gump’s quotes were didactic and sweet, ‘Princess Bride’ has quotes that range from sinister to confused to affectionate. Anybody want a peanut? Quotes:

‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’ – Inigo Montoya

‘Inconceivable!’ – Vizzini

‘As you wish.’ – Westley and Grandfather

‘Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist.’ – Westley

4. Ghostbusters (1984) – This is the last straight-up comedy to make the list, and perhaps by sheer volume the most quotable movie of all time. To this point I have been limiting myself to just four quotes per film, and for most of these films even that has been hard to pare it down to that. I may have to break that unwritten rule for this one. It’s not as if I’m crossing the streams or anything. Quotes:

‘He slimed me.’ – Peter Venkman

‘It’s the Stay Puft marshmallow man.’ – Ray Stantz

‘Ray, if someone asks you if you’re a God you say, Yes!’ – Winston Zeddimore

‘Yes it’s true. This man has no dick.’ – Peter Venkman

‘Mother pus bucket!’ – Peter Venkman

‘Get her!’ – Ray Stantz

‘Go get her, Ray!’ – Peter Venkman

‘I collect spores molds and fungus.’  – Egon Spengler

3. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) – Without a doubt the film on this list I have seen the most by a margin as wide as Jabba after all you can eat rib night. As part of the research I watched it again, this time for the first time with my four-year-old. He was mesmerized, though he didn’t really say it, but I am sure it blew his mind. Which tells you the staying power of this film, starting with my generation. It is as much as part of my culture and history as baseball and apple pie. Now it is in the hands of Disney. For now let us focus on the light side of the Force:

‘Use the force, Luke.’ – Obi-Wan Kenobi

‘The Force is strong with this one.’ – Darth Vader

‘May the Force be with you.’ – General Dodonna, in later films everyone else.

‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this.’ – Han Solo. Harrison Ford managed to parlay this line into the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise.

‘(Darth Vader Breathing)’ – Darth Vader

2. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Perhaps one of the most watched films of all time, which is only a small reason for it’s spot on this list. We’ve now reached the point in the list where the quotes have become so well-known that there are likely people who use and know these quotes but have never seen the movie associated with them. Quotes:

‘I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!’ – Wicked Witch of the West

‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ – Dorothy

‘Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!’  – Dorothy and others

‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!’ – The Wizard

‘How about a little fire, Scarecrow?’ – Wicked Witch of the West

‘There’s no place like home.’ – Dorothy

1. Casablanca (1942) – A few years ago the American Film Institute did a list of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all time. ‘Casablanca’ had six of them. Each one a part of the cultural vernacular that I mentioned in the introduction. Two even inspired movies whose title is taken from the quote. ‘Casablanca’ is a film about the interregnum, the in between place where divided factions must coexist on neutral ground, and Humphrey Bogart is smack dab in the middle of that middle. The quotes reflect that loss of decisiveness, of being sure of one’s place in the world. The quotes:CasablancaQuote

‘Here’s looking at you kid.’ – Rick Blaine

‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she has to walk into mine.’ – Rick Blaine

‘We’ll always have Paris.’ – Rick Blaine

‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’ – Rick Blaine

‘Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’ – Ilsa Lund

‘Round up the usual suspects.’ – Capt. Louis Renault

You want more? You think greed, for lack of a better word, is good? Then here are some films that barely missed the cut:

A Christmas Story (1983) – Society and the Christmas season nearly browbeat me into this pick. Nothing against this movie, it is a true holiday staple and classic for a reason. But it is also in great part due to the 24-hour airplay this film gets over that season that this film is considered. Either way, those quotes are more accessible thanks to that and its family-friendly setup. Relevant quotes:

‘You’ll shoot your eye out kid’ – Various

‘Randy lay there like a slug, it was his only defense!’ – Narrator

‘I triple dog dare ya!’ – Schwartz

‘Scut Farkus…He had yellow eyes, so help me God! Yellow eyes!’ – Narrator

Gone With the Wind (1939) – This film contains arguably the greatest film quote of all time, plus a few others that were on AFI’s Top 100 list. Why didn’t I include this one? Because it is dated, where The Wizard of Oz, which came out the same year (and had the same director) has continued to march like Sherman to the sea, Gone With the Wind, at 238 minutes, is daunting for today’s lack of attention spans. I love the film, and even love the quotes, but due in large part to conversations with others this film and its quotes seemed to have missed more than a few people.

‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ – Rhett Butler

‘Fiddledee dee.’ – Scarlet O’Hara

‘I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies!’ – Prissy

‘As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!’ – Scarlet O’Hara

Pulp Fiction (1994) – I know, take my hipster card away from me for I have spurned our King of Kings Quentin Tarantino. The main take from this film is not a single quote but an entire monologue taken from the bible. Ezekiel 25:17 I believe. There are a few other lines, but this film is more about the overall non-linear story and cool conversations over flashy one-liners. Here are some anyway:

‘Any one of you [email protected]#$ing pricks move, and I’ll execute every [email protected]#$ing last one of ya!’ – Yolanda

‘Aw man, I shot Marvin in the face.’ – Vincent Vega

‘It’s the one that says Bad [email protected]#$er.’ – Jules

‘Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.’ – Butch

Dumb and Dumber (1994) – Jim Carrey’s funniest movie is rife with quotes, even one that could be considered iconic. But it doesn’t beat out similar films like ‘Lebowski’ and ‘Ghostbusters.’ Anywhoo, here’s some quotes:

 

‘We got no food, we got no jobs, OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!’ – Lloyd Christmas

‘No, it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing.’ – Harry Dunne

‘Hey guys. Whoa Big Gulps, huh? All right! Well, see you later.’ – Lloyd Christmas

‘So you’re saying there’s a chance?’ – Lloyd Christmas

Made it Ma, top of the world! You want changes to the list? Can’t handle the truth? Make me an offer I can’t refuse in the comments section. Tell us what your favorite most quotable movies are and remember to list the relevant quotes.