By A. Pawlowski
And why not?
When some of the funniest, most dramatic, romantic and poignant words are spoken on the big screen, it’s no wonder they stick with us long after the movie is finished.
It also turns out that using movie quotes in everyday conversation is akin to telling a joke and a way to form solidarity with others, according to a researcher who has actually studied why we like to cite films in social situations.
Gee willikers, really?
“People are doing it to feel good about themselves, to make others laugh, to make themselves laugh,” said Richard Harris, a psychology professor at Kansas State University.
Slow down, Professor Turbo, I’m not following you. So when I say, “I caught you this delicious bass,” I’m… trying to make someone… laugh? What if I really caught them a delicious bass? What then, Dr. Genius?
Harris decided to ask hundreds of young adults about their film-quoting habits after he and his graduate students realized it was a common behavior that no one had looked at closely before.
Does it really take a team of graduate students to tackle this question? People like to appropriate some of the good will that peers might have with the film in question, and show off their pop culture prowess. Next you’ll be telling my we need to study why English lit majors like to quote Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the practice. I, myself, like to fish that pond often.
He found that all of the participants in his study had used movie quotes in conversation at one point or another. They overwhelmingly cited comedies, followed distantly by dramas and action adventure flicks.
As for horror films, musicals and children’s movies, “fuh-get about it.” They were hardly ever cited, Harris said.
Don’t cite musical or children’s movies? Last night alone I referenced “The Little Mermaid” at least two dozen times: “It’s a dinglehopper!”
When asked about their emotions while quoting films, most people reported feeling happy, the study found.
If it made them feel sad/confused/depressed/angry/remorseful/fearful/exasperated do you think they’d do it? Side note: check out this fascinating (no, seriously) Wikipedia entry for “emotions.”
For those who can’t get enough of movie quotes, there are countless lists and trivia dedicated to them online. Depending on your budget and taste, you can buy T-shirts, mugs, games and posters featuring your favorites. Web sites like MovieQuotes.com allow users to submit film lines to a growing quote bank and take quizzes.
Some movies, like “The Godfather,” “Casablanca” and “Gone With the Wind,” seem infinitely quotable.
It’s called “classic.” Next you’ll be telling me the Bible seems “infinitely quotable.”
Others can produce a single unforgettable line that will define that film forever: “You can’t handle the truth” from “A Few Good Men” and “I see dead people” from “The Sixth Sense.”
I’ve always thought “You can’t handle the truth!” to be overrated. The actual most quotable line from that movie is by Cmd. Gibbs: “Captain West, this is Lt. Commander Galloway. Jo, you know Mike Lawrence.”
A number of Hollywood masterpieces can infuse a single word with meaning: Think “plastics” from “The Graduate” and “Rosebud” from “Citizen Kane.”
“Citizen Kane” = GREAT movie. Despite my love of Simon and Garfunkel, I’m not a huge fan of “The Graduate.”
Movie quotes can even be used to teach lessons in the unlikeliest places. A blog on JavaWorld.com recently took lines from movies such as “Jaws,” “Jerry Maguire” and “The Princess Bride” and applied them to software development, of all things.
“My precious,” the words uttered by Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, for example, can teach programmers a valuable lesson, the blog said.
“In software development, it is good to take ownership of things,” JavaWorld’s blogger Dustin Marx wrote in explaining the quote’s significance. “However, we can take it too far to where we refuse to admit anything is wrong with what we’ve done or insist ours is the only way to go.”
Seriously? We’re going here?
Like a food connoisseur pairing wines with meals, one man’s fascination with memorable film lines led him to self-publish a book that advises readers which quotes would be perfect to use in which situations.
Jim Silverstein, author of “Movie Quotes to Get You Through Life,” called the 14-year project a labor of love that grew out of his fondness for bantering in movie quotes with friends in college.
Silverstein — a self-described “computer guy” who lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois — began compiling his book in the early 1990s, watching hundreds of films and gathering more than 2,000 quotes in the process. The constant search for good lines made it hard for Silverstein to relax while watching films at home and annoyed his wife because he would frequently pause the movies to write down the lines, he said.
OK, this part is actually kind of cool.
Silverstein, 39, categorized the quotes under topic headings such as compliments, excuses and marriage. Readers looking for zingers have an especially big selection of movie lines to choose from; the insults category has nine subgroups, including appearance, intelligence and sex.
Journalistic aside – I’ve always been puzzled that journalists a whole like to stick people’s ages in stories. Everybody does it. NYT, AP, everybody. It’s not like it’s relevant to the story. To me, you mights as well say, “Silverstein, a white, Jewish man of 39 who prefers swiss cheese to American or cheddar, categorized…” (Mr. Silverstein, I apologize if I offended you by assuming you’re Jewish. Zay moykhl!)
Everyone loves movies, so citing them is a way to break the ice, Silverstein explained.
“I think it’s a matter of lightening up conversation, maybe finding a better way to say it than you would have said yourself,” Silverstein said.
“It’s meant to help you be clever. … Sometimes, when you don’t know what to say, why not say what James Caan said? Why not pull out a Marlon Brando: ‘Make me an offer I can’t refuse’? Everybody understands.”
Ahh… the trusty standby, “WWJD?” (What Would James (Caan) Do?)
Silverstein’s own favorite quotes include lines from movies such as “Roxanne” and “Spinal Tap.” But with some of his friends looking for work in a tough economy, he has become fond of citing a line from “Raising Arizona” to cheer them up: “You’re young, and you’ve got your health; what [would] you want with a job?”
What? Not a single reference to Monty Python (“…then thou shalt count to three; no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four, shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three.)? Have they never met a male college student? Also, my dad LOVES “Raising Arizona.” I can take it or leave it. What is Nic Cage’s appeal?
Top 100 movie quotes (according to the American Film Institute)
I starred the ones I’ve seen. Because I know you were wondering. Wow, only 36. I have some work to do. Sadly, my personal favorite movie quote didn’t make the list: “I was born a small black child” (Steve Martin, “The Jerk”). Wow. Lots of racial humor in the blog lately. Bad form, BK. Bad form.
|1||“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a [darn].”||Clark Gable||Gone with the Wind||1939|
|*2||“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”||Marlon Brando||The Godfather||1972|
|3||“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”||Marlon Brando||On the Waterfront||1954|
|*4||“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”||Judy Garland||The Wizard of Oz||1939|
|5||“Here’s looking at you, kid.”||Humphrey Bogart||Casablanca||1942|
|6||“Go ahead, make my day.”||Clint Eastwood||Sudden Impact||1983|
|7||“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”||Gloria Swanson||Sunset Boulevard||1950|
|*8||“May the Force be with you.”||Harrison Ford||Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope||1977|
|9||“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”||Bette Davis||All About Eve||1950|
|10||“You talkin’ to me?”||Robert De Niro||Taxi Driver||1976|
|11||“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”||Strother Martin||Cool Hand Luke||1967|
|*12||“I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”||Robert Duvall||Apocalypse Now||1979|
|13||“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”||Ali McGraw||Love Story||1970|
|*14||“The stuff that dreams are made of.”||Humphrey Bogart||The Maltese Falcon||1941|
|*15||“E.T. phone home.”||Pat Welsh||E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial||1982|
|16||“They call me Mister Tibbs!”||Sidney Poitier||In the Heat of the Night||1967|
|*17||“Rosebud.”||Orson Welles||Citizen Kane||1941|
|18||“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”||James Cagney||White Heat||1949|
|19||“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”||Peter Finch||Network||1976|
|20||“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”||Humphrey Bogart||Casablanca||1942|
|*21||“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”||Anthony Hopkins||The Silence of the Lambs||1991|
|*22||“Bond. James Bond.”||Sean Connery||Dr. No||1962|
|*23||“There’s no place like home.”||Judy Garland||The Wizard of Oz||1939|
|24||“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”||Gloria Swanson||Sunset Boulevard||1950|
|25||“Show me the money!”||Cuba Gooding Jr.||Jerry Maguire||1996|
|26||“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?”||Mae West||She Done Him Wrong||1933|
|27||“I’m walking here! I’m walking here!”||Dustin Hoffman||Midnight Cowboy||1969|
|28||“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'”||Ingrid Bergman||Casablanca||1942|
|*29||“You can’t handle the truth!”||Jack Nicholson||A Few Good Men||1992|
|30||“I want to be alone.”||Greta Garbo||Grand Hotel||1932|
|*31||“After all, tomorrow is another day!”||Vivien Leigh||Gone with the Wind||1939|
|32||“Round up the usual suspects.”||Claude Rains||Casablanca||1942|
|*33||“I’ll have what she’s having.”||Estelle Reiner||When Harry Met Sally…||1989|
|34||“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”||Lauren Bacall||To Have and Have Not||1944|
|*35||“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”||Roy Scheider||Jaws||1975|
|36||“Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”||Alfonso Bedoya||The Treasure of the Sierra Madre||1948|
|*37||“I’ll be back.”||Arnold Schwarzenegger||The Terminator||1984|
|38||“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”||Gary Cooper||The Pride of the Yankees||1942|
|*39||“If you build it, he will come.”||Ray Liotta (voice)||Field of Dreams||1989|
|*40||“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”||Tom Hanks||Forrest Gump||1994|
|41||“We rob banks.”||Warren Beatty||Bonnie and Clyde||1967|
|*42||“Plastics.”||Walter Brooke||The Graduate||1967|
|43||“We’ll always have Paris.”||Humphrey Bogart||Casablanca||1942|
|44||“I see dead people.”||Haley Joel Osment||The Sixth Sense||1999|
|45||“Stella! Hey, Stella!”||Marlon Brando||A Streetcar Named Desire||1951|
|46||“Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”||Bette Davis||Now, Voyager||1942|
|47||“Shane. Shane. Come back!”||Brandon De Wilde||Shane||1953|
|48||“Well, nobody’s perfect.”||Joe E. Brown||Some Like It Hot||1959|
|49||“It’s alive! It’s alive!”||Colin Clive||Frankenstein||1931|
|*50||“Houston, we have a problem.”||Tom Hanks||Apollo 13||1995|
|51||“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”||Clint Eastwood||Dirty Harry||1971|
|52||“You had me at ‘hello’.”||Renée Zellweger||Jerry Maguire||1996|
|53||“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.”||Groucho Marx||Animal Crackers||1930|
|*54||“There’s no crying in baseball!”||Tom Hanks||A League of Their Own||1992|
|55||“La-dee-da, la-dee-da.”||Diane Keaton||Annie Hall||1977|
|56||“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”||Anthony Perkins||Psycho||1960|
|57||“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”||Michael Douglas||Wall Street||1987|
|*58||“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”||Al Pacino||The Godfather Part II||1974|
|*59||“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”||Vivien Leigh||Gone with the Wind||1939|
|60||“Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”||Oliver Hardy||Sons of the Desert||1933|
|61||“Say hello to my little friend!”||Al Pacino||Scarface||1983|
|62||“What a dump.”||Bette Davis||Beyond the Forest||1949|
|*63||“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”||Dustin Hoffman||The Graduate||1967|
|64||“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”||Peter Sellers||Dr. Strangelove||1964|
|65||“Elementary, my dear Watson.”||Basil Rathbone||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes||1939|
|*66||“Take your stinking paws off me, you [darned] dirty ape!”||Charlton Heston||Planet of the Apes||1968|
|67||“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”||Humphrey Bogart||Casablanca||1942|
|68||“Here’s Johnny!”||Jack Nicholson||The Shining||1980|
|69||“They’re here!”||Heather O’Rourke||Poltergeist||1982|
|70||“Is it safe?”||Laurence Olivier||Marathon Man||1976|
|71||“Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet! Wait a minute, I tell ya! You ain’t heard nothin’!”||Al Jolson||The Jazz Singer||1927|
|72||“No wire hangers, ever!”||Faye Dunaway||Mommie Dearest||1981|
|73||“Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?”||Edward G. Robinson||Little Caesar||1930|
|74||“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”||Joe Mantell||Chinatown||1974|
|75||“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”||Vivien Leigh||A Streetcar Named Desire||1951|
|*76||“Hasta la vista, baby.”||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Terminator 2: Judgment Day||1991|
|77||“Soylent Green is people!”||Charlton Heston||Soylent Green||1973|
|*78||“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”||Keir Dullea||2001: A Space Odyssey||1968|
|*79||Striker: “Surely you can’t be serious!” Rumack: “I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.”||Robert Hays and Leslie Nielsen||Airplane!||1980|
|*80||“Yo, Adrian!”||Sylvester Stallone||Rocky||1976|
|81||“Hello, gorgeous.”||Barbra Streisand||Funny Girl||1968|
|*82||“Toga! Toga!”||John Belushi||National Lampoon’s Animal House||1978|
|83||“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.”||Bela Lugosi||Dracula||1931|
|84||“Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”||Robert Armstrong||King Kong||1933|
|*85||“My precious.”||Andy Serkis||The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||2002|
|86||“Attica! Attica!”||Al Pacino||Dog Day Afternoon||1975|
|87||“Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”||Warner Baxter||42nd Street||1933|
|88||“Listen 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!”||Katharine Hepburn||On Golden Pond||1981|
|89||“Tell ’em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper.”||Pat O’Brien||Knute Rockne, All American||1940|
|*90||“Shaken, not stirred.”||Sean Connery||Goldfinger||1964|
|*91||“Who’s on First?”||Bud Abbott||The Naughty Nineties||1945|
|*92||“Cinderella 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!!”||Bill Murray||Caddyshack||1980|
|93||“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”||Rosalind Russell||Auntie Mame||1958|
|*94||“I feel the need—the need for speed!”||Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards||Top Gun||1986|
|*95||“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”||Robin Williams||Dead Poets Society||1989|
|96||“Snap out of it!”||Cher||Moonstruck||1987|
|97||“My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.”||James Cagney||Yankee Doodle Dandy||1942|
|98||“Nobody puts ‘Baby’ in a corner.”||Patrick Swayze||Dirty Dancing||1987|
|*99||“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”||Margaret Hamilton||The Wizard of Oz||1939|
|100||“I’m the king of the world!”||Leonardo DiCaprio||Titanic||1997|