June 21, 2005

Those 100 AFI quotes.

Okay, I'm game. I'll TiVo-blog, numbering each entry. Watch for continuous updates. Ah, it's good to be simulblogging again!

1. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” That's the first one that made me want to type it out. That's # 91. Hmmm… I’m seeing a theme. Life affirmingness. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” “Carpe diem.” “I’m the King of the World.” It’s all so damned positive… so far.

2. I singled out a few quotes in my post on the original 400 nominees, and coming it at #84 is one of my favorites: "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast."

3. File under: movies no one feels any compunction about spoiling. "Soylent Green is people." (#77) Ray Romano: "Not a day went by when someone didn't yell that out in the school cafeteria."

4. "What a dump." (#62) The line everyone knows without seeing the movie. The movie is "Beyond the Forest," which I'm not going to recommend to you because I don't want to hear your bellyaching when you discover it's not a good movie. But I love this movie! I love when Bette Davis finally gets out of her damn little town and makes it to Chicago -- Chicago! of all places -- and she goes to a bar and, because she's a woman alone, she's perceived as a prostitute, and they kick her out. And then there's the part where she's pregnant, but she doesn't want the baby, so she just hurls herself down a hill. And all those great scenes where she stands by the window and looks at the smoking factory right outside and just burns with unexploded sexual passion. That is a movie! Oh, they scarcely tell us anything about this film, they just segue quickly to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," with Elizabeth Taylor saying the same line. The line doesn't get counted a second time. The point seems to be it was such a line that it got quoted in the movies, quoted by a big, big movie star. But "Beyond the Forest," that's on my personal list.

5. We're getting into doubles for the same movie. A second quote from "Streetcar Named Desire." ("Stella" beat "kindness of strangers.") A second quote from "Casablanca." ("We'll always have Paris" beat "Of all the gin joints..." I'm predicting at least one more from "Casablanca.") A second quote from "The Graduate." ("Plastics" beat "You're trying to seduce me.")

6. Okay, enough baseball already! We're at the fourth or fifth baseball quote, including the mushy-headed "If you build it, he will come." (#39) "Luckiest man on the face of the earth" follows at #38.

7. Yes, another "Casablanca" quote: "Round up the usual suspects." (That must get extra credit for providing the title for another film.) Ah, now they tell us the total for "Casablanca" is going to be six. So three more to go. "Here's looking at you, kid" -- I assume. And "Play it, Sam." And, maybe the "hill of beans" quote. Or the final "this is the beginning" quote? Not sure what the third one left is.

8. "That movie is about so much. I think that it is so much about God...." So says Jennifer Grey about -- what else? -- "The Wizard of Oz." The quote at #23 is the dopey "There's no place like home." Aren't there 23 better lines in that film alone?

9. Another "Casablanca" at #20. Oh, it's "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

10. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Now, that's a catchphrase. Remember when Peter Finch went on "The Tonight Show" to promote that movie -- "Network" -- and for some reason got to talking about how some of the people watching the show that night would be dead next week, and then he proceeded to die within the next week? Am I getting that right?

11. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." That's #13. Ugh! Pure crapola!

12. "Napalm in the morning" ... "Failure to communicate" ... "You talkin' to me?" ... "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

13. "May the force be with you." George Lucas tells us he meant that to sum up and represent all religions and save us from the difficulty of scrutinizing the details that make them different.

14. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup." #7. I approve!

15. The final "Casablanca" quote is "Here's looking at you kid." #5. (Doesn't Ingrid Bergman have the most beautiful lips?)

16. At #4: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Only line on the list addressed to a dog.

17. Three left, and we're told one actor said two of them. Clearly, it's Marlon Brando, and as we see the first one is "I coulda been a contender," we know that "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse" is either number 1 or number 2.

18. Second place goes to Brando, for "offer ... refuse." Why am I not thinking of the top quote? It should be obvious, right?

19. Oh, it's "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Somehow, I had the feeling we'd already hit that one. So, sure. I would have put that first... in the world of American movie catchphrases.

20. Okay, that was three hours of slogging through the quotes. Three hours well spent? Who knows!

21. During the show, they pointed us to the AFI website to read a quote from "Mrs. Miniver" that wasn't on the list, but that, we were told, FDR had printed up and dropped from planes on Nazi-occupied Europe.
This is the people's war! It is our war! We are the fighters! Fight it, then! Fight it with all that is in us, and may God defend the right.

Of course, the war quote that made the list was the cynicism-promoting "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

22. In the first entry to this post, I noted that the quotes seem to have been selected for their life-affirmingness. But toward the top of the list, things got darker. The top quotes are all pretty sad or cynical or nutty or negative. They stowed all that sunny stuff at the bottom of the list.

23. Adam at Throwing Things has some observations including the count of lines spoken by nonwhite actors: 3. All by men, I note. Two of the three make the speaker look bad ("Show me the money" and "stinking badges"), Adam notes. I note that the other one -- "They call me Mr. Tibbs" -- is too pretty. Why not one of Samuel Jackson's lines from "Pulp Fiction"? Adam asks. Which reminds me: how about Quentin Tarantino? Not a single line from him. Well, most of the lines they had drew attention to the actors that delivered them, not the person who happened to write them. This was not a celebration of screenwriters.

24. Here's the whole list. I took the trouble to figure out the percentage of quotes spoken by women: 25%.


Gerry said...

"“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”"

My own favorite personal easter egg. I tend to hide this in all of the programs I write.

Larry in Gibbsville said...

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

One of my favorite lines....

Patrick said...

Casablanca #6: "I am shocked. Shocked!"

And I'm not so sure about "Here's looking at you, kid," which, IIRC was said to Bacall, not Bergman.

Wade_Garrett said...

"Shocked!" is my favorite line from Casablanca, though of course the scene where Victor conducts the band doesn't have any one line that sums it up.

I'm a huge baseball fan, but most baseball movies are crap. The luckiest man line is great, but then that was said in real life, so I think that alone should disqualify it, or at least knock it town 50 or so spots. And Field of Dreams sucks, its Costner's THIRD best baseball movie. Bull Durham has at least ten lines better than that.

Dave said...

I love the smell of napalm in the morning?

Adam said...


I just got my post about the list up on ALOTT5MA.

Two big gaps? Comedy quotes (no Spinal Tap? no Princess Bride?) and quotes from minority actors -- of the latter, only three?

And I agree -- "Shocked, SHOCKED" may be my most quoted line in the movie, but it didn't make the list.

Category that could have been cut? Lines in movies that were just repeats from real life -- Lou Gehrig's speech, George Gipp's, and "Houston, we have a problem".

chuck_b said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ron said...

There are no lines from Tarantino because the AFI is a bunch of old coots! "Oh, I'm sorry did I break your concentration?" is better than a lot of lines from older films, and it's not even the best Pulp Fiction line!

Fifty years from now, they'll like it!

With all proper respect for classic Hollywood, but the films of the '30's through the '50's are over hyped compared to films from before and since...

Ann Althouse said...

Ron: What they overhyped, I think, are the films of the 60s and 70s. Did you notice how often Faye Dunaway showed up in the clips? The choices were made by Boomers, and it showed. The older ones they recognized were just the classics that all the Boomers saw, like "Animal Crackers" (which got a conspicuous rerelease in the 70s).

Ron said...

Ann: Yes, on further review, (as they say) I agree with you...Faye Dunaway: right place, right time... I still accept the basic grumpiness of my meme.

ah, well, if I was wrong in this comments section...We'll always have Paris! (to find movies about!)

Eric said...

Agree with you Boomer comment - would anyone who was older than 25 or younger than 12 in 1970 have ever chosen "Love means never having to say you're sorry?" And I'm also shocked there's nothing from Pulp Fiction. I was really expecting the Jules "bible quote."

Adam said...

But the "Love means . . . " quote had an enormous cultural impact, and if you ever wonder why there are so many women aged 30-35 named Jennifer, it comes back to that movie.

One quote from a minority woman I'm shocked, SHOCKED (but happy) didn't make the list? Butterfly McQueen, on her obstetrical skills.

Not one Mel Brooks line. That's a travesty.

Ann Althouse said...

Eric: Yeah, and one of the reasons they chose it was that Barbra Streisand reused it, comically, in "What's Up Doc?" And B.S. was also represented by the quote "Hello, Gorgeous." Clearly, a taste for Barbra, and for a certain type of woman was quite evident. Two quotes for Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard." Multiple Bette Davis quotes. The old "No wire hangers." You pretty much had to swagger or go mad to make it on the list if you were a female. So maybe I should be grateful for a little soppy Ali McGraw. And that damn Zellweger thing from "Jerry McGuire." (How did that movie land three quotes on the list?!)

Dave said...

Barbra Streisand makes my skin crawl.

jeff said...

Princess Bride was definitely missing.

"My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father - prepare to die."

"Aaaas yooooou wiiiiiish!" (rolling down hill)

"Have fun raiding the castle!"

"..but your biggest mistake was going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

Tarantino? I don't even think I've seen any of his movies. Not my genre at all.

jinnmabe said...

No doubt about Ingrid Bergman's lips. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

And as a Casablancophile, I agree that the lines they chose were merely the most well-known ones, not the best. My personal favorites, besides the "shocked, SHOCKED" line are:

"I was misinformed." after being told that Casablanca is in the desert and has no waters.

"I'm a drunkard." when asked his nationality.

And the line I use on my wife all the time (and she just rolls her eyes), "Irene, I love you; but he pays me."

Richard Fagin said...

"I told you to stay away from that radio! If that batt'ry's (that's how James Cagney pronounced it) dead, it'll have company!" -from "White Heat"

Since "shocked!" seems so popular, let's not forget, "Shocking!" as James Bond (Sean Connery) said after the victim was electrocuted by a fan dropped in the bathtub. - from "Goldfinger"

Steven said...

"May the Force be with you"? May the f*****g Force be with you?

I'm sorry, if you're going to include a Star Wars universe line, you go with "I am your father." It's, a), the most important one in the entire thing, b) the most quoted one, and c) not nearly as stupid as the bleepin' "May the Force be with you".

The whole AFI should be Force-choked to death for that one.

Honus said...

I'm 22 and think Ingrid Bergman was hot.

Isn't a thought like that supposed to be reserved for old people?

Barburso said...

Given the supposed boomer skew and cultural impact criterion, I don't see how "What we have here is a failure to communicate" from Cool Hand Luke didn't make the list.

Also we needed:
Vizzini: "Inconceivable!"
Inigo: "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." The Princess Bride

Barburso said...

Given the supposed boomer skew and cultural impact criterion, I don't see how "What we have here is a failure to communicate" from Cool Hand Luke didn't make the list.

Also we needed:
Vizzini: "Inconceivable!"
Inigo: "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." The Princess Bride

Ann Althouse said...

Barbuso: "Communicate" is on the list. Quite high.

Scott said...

I'm 26, and with you, Honus.

The Mojician said...

Althouse always notices lips. Maybe some follow-up on lips other than Ingrid's in connection with this list would be welcomed.

Ann Althouse said...

Mojician: Maybe AFI will one day get around to doing the 100 greatest American movie lips.

Slac said...

Oh... shame on me for not checking Althouse more often. I completely forgot to watch this.

My favorite is (#14), "the stuff that dreams are made of," from the Maltese Falcon. It really caps off the entire film, unifying the whole complex storyline. The story is really very intricate and hard to keep together. If you manage follow the entire thing and keep all the characters together in your head, that final line makes you want to shudder and shiver, and appreciate both life and dreams.

Slac said...

Oh yeah! Adam, the lack of even one Mel Brooks line is really a shame. But I suppose it's fitting, since many of his lines are pretty juvenile.

But there was always that famous one from Blazing Saddles.

"You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons."

It seems like the AFI didn't want to pick quotes that ostensibly might hurt people's feelings, but are nonetheless famous. Like this one from Humphrey Bogart's last film, The Harder They Fall:

"The people, Eddie, the people! Don't tell me about the people, Eddie. The people sit in front of their little TVs with their bellies full of beer and fall asleep. What do the people know, Eddie? Don't tell me about the people, Eddie!"

Richard Bennett said...

I'm shocked to hear that only 25% of the most memorable lines were delivered by women, I tell you, shocked.

Now how many were actually, you know, *written* by women, oh victim of patriarchy?