June 22, 2005


Apparently the AFI (American Film Institute) adopted the FAG (Film Actors Guild) way of deciding on the best 100 film lines ever. Here's a few of the more egregious choices:

31. After all, tomorrow is another day! (How insightful!)
41. We rob banks. (Because, well, because Warren Beatty just hasn't said many memorable lines, I guess.)
46. Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars. (Whoa! I havne't heard that line since, well, never actually.)
48. Well, nobody's perfect. (How original.)
49. It's alive! It's alive! (Hey, I like Young Frankenstein a lot, but this is a great line?)
55. La-dee-da, la-dee-da. (Marshall McLuhan's line must be trapped in an alternate universe somehwere.)
56. A boy's best friend is his mother. (Great concept, weak line.)
62. What a dump. (???)
65. Elementary, my dear Watson. (Because no one knew about Sherlock Homes before 1929.)
69. They're here! (Yes, this one pops up almost one each century in conversation.)
78. Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (Actually, perhaps the least quoted line from 2001: A Space Oddessey.)
81. Hello, gorgeous. (See 41 above, substitute Shelley Winters, I mean, Barbra Streisand.)
82. Toga! Toga! (Seven years of college, wasted.)
86. Attica! Attica! (This is a line?)
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! (How to minimize Katherine Hepburn without really trying. Remember, this is AFI's list of America's Greatest Quips, Comebacks and Catchphrases. So which is this entry?)
93. Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! (Raise your hand if you've seen Auntie Mame.)
95. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. (One can only assume that the selectors were unfamiliar with the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, more famously uttered over 2,000 years ago by Horace.)
98. Nobody puts Baby in a corner. (I still can't understand why this phrase ever shows up on any llist.)
100. I'm king of the world! (Even at 100, one quote from Titanic is still one too many. Now, if only the selectors had seen the 1932 version of Scarface...)

And not a single line by Shakespeare...

Like all such lists, it suffers from an unclear definition of what they are trying to judge, so everybody brings their own criteria to it. There are numerous other bad choices, and some quotes are wildly overated, IMHO. I really don't think Casablanca should have six of the top one-hundred -- even if they left out "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" -- and The Wizard of Oz certainly should not have three -- unless one of them is "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" -- of the top one-hundred. This is tough to judge though, since perhaps Caddyshack, The Princess Bride, Month Python and the Holy Grail, and Animal House all merit their own sections. Fully one-fifth of all the quotes come from movies in 1939. Jeez, I guess most of the good writers must have got killed in WW II.

For the record, here was my Top 21 (with only one per movie and per actor/actress) in response to another silly list last October:

1. "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." - The Godfather (1972)
2. "Plastics." - The Graduate (1967)
3. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." - To Have and Have Not (1944)
4. "Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects." - Casablanca (1942)
5. "May the force be with you." - Star Wars (1977)
6. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." - Cool Hand Luke (1967)
7. "You talkin' to me?" - Taxi Driver (1976)
8. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." - Gone with the Wind (1939)
9. "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." - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
10. "I know what you're thinking, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" - Dirty Harry (1971)
11. "My precious." - LOTR (2001, 2002, 2003)
12. "Yippie-ky-yay motherf*****r." - Die Hard (1988)
13. "You'll put your eye out." - A Christmas Story (1983)
14. "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?" - Three Kings (1999)
15. "Is it safe?" - The Marathon Man (1976)
16. "As of now, they're on Double SECRET Probation!" - Animal House (1978)
17. "I'll be back." - The Terminator (1984, 1991, 2003)
18. "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass." - Pulp Fiction (1994)
19. "Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book." - Patton (1970)
20. "We're gonna need a bigger boat." - Jaws (1975)
21. "The name's Bond, James Bond." - Dr No (1962), et al.

And for fun, here's a few more off the top of my head (without the one per movie/actor/actress limitation) that I might have included:

"Fa love Pa." -- Day of the Dolphin
"Princeton can use a man like Joel." -- Risky Business
"Who's da U-boat Commander?" -- Risky Business
"Sometimes you gotta say 'what the f*ck'." -- Risky Business
"Bueller. Bueller. Bueller." -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Charlie doesn't surf!" -- Apocalypse Now
"I don't know, I'll think of something." -- Indiana Jones (I, II, and II)
"Nazis. I hate these guys." -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
"You take the blue pill, the story ends here, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill...and I'll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes." -- The Matrix
"Deserves got nothin' to do with it." -- Unforgiven
"No!" - Silent Movie
"Earn this." -- Saving Private Ryan
"Remember when I said I was going to kill you last? I lied." -- Commando
"Run Forrest, run!" -- Forrest Gump
"Why no Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." -- Goldfinger
"Lighten up Francis." -- Stripes
"Guns, guns, when do we get guns?" -- Police Academy
"Don't call me stupid!" -- A Fish Called Wanda
"We're on a mission from God." -- The Blues Brothers
"How much for the little girl? How much for the women?" -- The Blues Brothers
"It's show time, folks." -- All That Jazz

Posted by Charles Austin at June 22, 2005 02:32 PM

Here's a couple I like. I'm sure you can guess the film.

"I've done questionable things. Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for."

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

Posted by: Lawrence at 11:32 PM

Yep, but I won't say to allow others a chance to guess.

Posted by: charles austin at 10:38 AM

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion

I've loved the imagery of that line since I was a kid. As much as I generally loathe techno, Paul Oakenfold has a remix of Rachel's Song with that whole monologue as its opening, and it's just beautiful.

Posted by: Tanya at 02:34 PM