Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie Dialogue

We’ve chosen a simple topic for this week’s Roundtable, but it should be a fun one. Let’s rattle off some of our all-time favorite pieces of movie dialogue. There’s so much to choose from!

Josh Zyber

Long-time readers of this blog may expect me to pick a quote from ‘Dune’. Indeed, I’ve seen that movie so many times that I can recite most of its dialogue from memory. However, that’s not where I’m going this time. In fact, my very favorite piece of movie dialogue is this exchange from ‘Broadcast News‘, in which Holly Hunter’s journalist character Jane is scolded by her producer Paul:

Paul: “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.”
Jane: “No. It’s awful.”

She doesn’t say this sarcastically. The weariness in her response conveys volumes about the character’s drive for perfection and the toll this has taken on her personal relationships. It’s a simple but perfect little moment, and that dialogue has stuck with me for years.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The movie I quote more than any other is ‘Jaws‘. It doesn’t exactly hurt that I have something like half the movie completely committed to memory. For whatever reason, my favorite exchange from the entire film comes courtesy of Larry Vaughn:

“Martin, it’s all psychological. You yell ‘Barracuda!’ and everybody says ‘Huh? What?’ You yell ‘Shark!’ and we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”

I wish I had some amazing explanation about why I love that line so much, to the point where my fake band name for years was going to be Panic on the Fourth of July, but I don’t. Sorry.

Nate Boss

No one quite does inspiration like Tyler Durden.

“Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

“We are all part of the same compost heap.”

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

“Fuck what you know. You need to forget about what you know, that’s your problem.”

“You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you, never wanted you, and in all probability, he HATES you.”

– ‘Fight Club

Luke Hickman

My pick also comes from ‘Fight Club’:

“Marla – the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal
if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can’t.”

Wayne Rowe

“We’re doomed, I’m afraid. If I had an anus, I’d probably soil myself.”

– Captain Macanudo, ‘Space Truckers

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

Here are a couple that stick in my mind:

Carl Spackler: “What’s your address over there? You’re over on Briar, right?”
Ty Webb: “Yeah, Briar. Uhuh… 2.”
Carl Spackler: “You got a pool over there?”
Ty Webb: “We have a pond in the back. We have a pool, and a pond. A pond is good for you.”

– ‘Caddyshack

And on the other end of the spectrum:

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

– Roy Batty, ‘Blade Runner

M. Enois Duarte

Out of so many favorite movie lines, I’m choosing the one which continues to make me laugh. It comes from Richard Kelly’s ‘Donnie Darko‘. The reason for this is mostly due to the delivery by Beth Grant. It’s simply terrific!

Principal: “So, let’s go over this again. What exactly did you say to Ms. Farmer?”
Kitty Farmer: “I’ll tell you what he said! He asked me to forcibly insert the lifeline exercise card into my anus!”

Mike Attebery

I find antisocial behavior hilarious. It’s why my favorite recurring character is a total grump. But I especially enjoy it when characters who are perceived as being saccharine sweet act like total jerks. Case in point: George Bailey could make some really biting comments, like the scene in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘ when he goes to see Mary Hatch just before a call with Sam “Hee-Haw” Wainwright leads to a life-changing kiss. Struggling to make conversation, the only thing George can do is utter a matter-of-fact observation about the post-Christmas smell of the Hatch home. It’s so ridiculously grouchy that I find it hilarious:

George: “Well… I see it still smells like pine needles in here.”
Mary: “Thank you.”

All great choices. (Though, if we’re talking Kitty Farmer in ‘Donnie Darko’, I think I’m most fond of: “Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!” That line and her delivery send me into convulsive fits of laughter every time.)

Now it’s your turn to tell us your favorite lines of movie dialogue. If this doesn’t turn out to be our most-commented Roundtable yet, I’m going to be sorely disappointed.

62 comments

  1. One of my all-time pieces of dialogue comes from Ed Wood:

    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: I met Bela Lugosi.
    Dolores Fuller: Why, I thought he was dead.
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: No, he’s very much alive. Well, sort of.

    [Bela Lugosi casts a love spell on Vampira who is on TV while moving his fingers like Dracula]
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: My Gosh, Bela, how do you do that?
    Bela Lugosi: You must be double-jointed. And you must be Hungarian.

    Bela Lugosi: Karloff? Sidekick? FUCK YOU! Karloff did not deserve to smell my shit! That limey cocksucker can rot in Hell for all I care!
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: What happened?
    Bela Lugosi: How dare that asshole bring up Karloff? You think it takes talent to do Frankenstein? It’s all makeup and grunting.
    [Mocks Frankenstein]
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Bela, I agree with you 100%. Now, “Dracula,” that’s a role that requires talent.
    Bela Lugosi: Of course. Dracula requires presence. It’s all in the eyes, and the voice, and the hands…
    Edward D. Wood, Jr.: [interrupting] That’s right. That’s right. You seem a little agitated. You wanna to go outside and get some air?
    Bela Lugosi: Bullshit! I’m ready now! Roll the camera!

    Also, this is one of my favorite lines of dialogue from The Crow with Brandon Lee:

    ERIC DRAVEN: Victims. Aren’t we all?

  2. Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
    Ted Striker: Surely you can’t be serious.
    Rumack: I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.

  3. UltimateFlynn

    So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o’clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn’t go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head ’round the door, and mentions there’s a little sweets shop on the edge of town. So – we go. And – it’s closed. So there’s me, and Keith Moon, and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweets shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they’ve got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shopowner and his son… that’s a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business, really. But, sure enough, I got the M&Ms, and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.

  4. After much thought:

    All-time favorite: Casablanca
    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    [aloud]
    Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

    To be honest, Renault gets ALL the best lines in that movie.

    And I would put forth that “Casablanca” can stand toe-to-toe with “Apocalypse Now” as the most quotable movie…

    Honorable mentions:

    It’s a Wonderful Life-
    George: “Burt! Do ya know me?”
    Burt: “Know ya? I’ve been looking for ya all night!”

    Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid-
    Butch: “…because I can’t swim!”
    Sundance: “HA! Are you kidding! Hell, the FALL’ll probably kill ya!”

    Bull Durham-
    Skip: “You guys… You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!”
    Larry: “Lollygaggers!”
    Skip: “Lollygaggers.”

    Clerks-
    Dante: “You all got any spare balls down there?”
    Jay: “‘Bout the biggest pair ya ever seen, Dingleberry!”

    and of course, The Empire Strikes Back-
    Leia: “I love you…”
    Han: “I know.”

  5. Jon

    Airplane:
    We have to get these people to a hospital

    A hospital? What is it?

    It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

    and..

    Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.

  6. I’d have to say, practically anything from Casablanca, Conan the Barbarian (I hasten to say 1982 version, since in the near future anyone looking back through these posts might actually wonder which version!) and Dune. 😉

  7. merlich

    I can’t believe no one had quoted a Mel Brooks film.

    Here’s 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.

  8. Great quotes here. But when I first read the title of the post, I thought the discussion would be about the overall dialogues in some movies, meaning, to point out not just a single dialog of a movie, but actually to point out movies with good dialogues throughout the movie as a whole.

    Funny dialogues apart, I appreciate sharp, intelligent dialogues. So a movie that comes to my mind is Basic Instinct. The dialogues are awesome, especially the ones between Catherine Tramell and Michael Douglas’s character.

    Talking about a specific speech, I would say the speech of the Architect to Neo in the end of Matrix Reloaded.

  9. Andy

    Most of mine come from the Lotr trilogy. One moment is when Gollum and Smeagol are arguing over the precious ant the hobbits in two towers. Two of my other favourite moments are from return of the king:

    Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.
    Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it.
    Pippin: What? Gandalf?… See what?
    Gandalf: White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
    Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn’t so bad.
    Gandalf: [softly] No… No it isn’t.

    Aragorn: Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you *stand, Men of the West!*

    God I love those movies 😀