Alternative Quotes

Have you ever thought of the right thing to say ten minutes after the moment had passed? Me too. Film characters rarely have that problem. They always have something interesting to say at just the right time. Then again, they have professional screenwriters supplying their lines and we don’t. So what do we do? We take film quotes and use them as part of our own language.

Last month the American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled what it described as the 100 greatest film quotes of all time. As with many of the AFI’s lists, the idea was better than the execution. I can’t argue with most of the selections, but the list as a whole felt uninspired. Perhaps that’s because the AFI went to some of the same films over and over again. I’ve seen Casablanca several times and own a copy on DVD. There’s no denying its status and that it has many wonderful lines. But picking seven quotes from that film meant that many other deserving films were left out. Has any film in the past 15 years been quoted more than Pulp Fiction? Not on the list. How many people during December cite It’s a Wonderful Life? Not on the list.

There are many more glaring omissions, but rather than just critique the AFI’s list I’m providing one of my own. I made my task tougher than the AFI did. My rules were simple: Only one quote per film. No quotes from films on the AFI list. Why the second rule? Because it would be far to easy to just go back to the AFI list and pick other quotes from those films.

My rules were fine in theory, but they led to some very tough choices. I could rattle off ten Naked Gun quotes. How do I pick one? Same goes for Pulp Fiction, Swingers, or any Marx Brothers movie. But, as Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) said in Heat, that’s the discipline. I think it makes for a much more interesting list, but I’ll let you decide:

Honorable Mention
Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy): “I was in the Green Berets. Airborne tactics, specialist tactics unit battalion. It was real hush-hush. I was Agent Orange, that was my name, Agent Orange.” - Trading Places

Ring Lardner (John Sayles): “You lied to me, Eddie.” - Eight Men Out

100. Low I.Q. Video Customer (David Klein): “Do you have that one with that guy who was in the movie that was out last year?” - Clerks

99. Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup): “And you can tell Rolling Stone magazine that my last words were ... I'm on drugs!” - Almost Famous

98. Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart): “Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.” - Harvey

97. Russian Interregator (James Daughton): “Every minute you don't tell us why you are here, I cut off a finger.”
Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase): “Mine or yours?”
Russian Interregator: “Yours.”
Emmett Fitz-Hume: “Damn!” - Spies Like Us

96. William Wallace (Mel Gibson): “They may take away our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!” - Braveheart

95. Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield): “Get up, will ya? You look like the poster boy for birth control.” - Back to School

94. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack): “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”
Joe (Loren Dean): “By choice, man.” - Say Anything . . .

93. Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera): “Oh, how reckless of me. I made you all wet.”
James Bond (Sean Connery): “Yes, but my martini is still dry.” - Never Say Never Again

92. Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger): “You’re fired.” - True Lies

91. Dr. Evil (Mike Myers): “It's Dr. Evil, I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called "mister," thank you very much.” - Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

90. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver): “Get away from her, you bitch!” - Aliens

89. Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers): “Well ... that felt good.” - The Pink Panther Strikes Again

88. Crash Davis (Kevin Costner): “Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once - the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains.” - Bull Durham

87. Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd): “It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.” - The Blues Brothers

86. Seth Gecko (George Clooney): “Low profile. Do you know what the words "low profile" mean? IT IS NOT taking girls hostage. IT IS NOT shooting police. IT IS NOT setting fire to a building.” - From Dusk Till Dawn

85. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant): “I've got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don't intend to disappoint them all by getting myself "slightly" killed.” - North by Northwest

84. Slaves: “I am Spartacus” - Spartacus

83. Harbinger (Miguel Ferrer): “War ... It’s fantastic.” - Hot Shots! Part Deux

82. Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner): “KHAAAAN!!!” - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

81. Kevin Rawley (Owen Wilson): “How’s your portfolio.”
Greg Focker (Ben Stiller): “I’d say strong to ... quite strong.” - Meet the Parents

80. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce): “Now ... where was I?” - Memento

79. Bart (Cleavon Little): “Excuse me while I whip this out.” - Blazing Saddles

78. Major Clipton (James Donald): “Madness! Madness!” - The Bridge on the River Kwai

77. Hammer (Groucho Marx): “Why, it's the most exclusive residential district in Florida. Nobody lives there.” - The Cocoanuts

76. Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro): “Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” - Heat

75. Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen): “I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.” - Bananas

74. Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy): “And I want the rest of you cowboys to know something, there's a new sheriff in town. And his name is Reggie Hammond. So Y'all be cool. Right on.” - 48 Hrs.

73. Boris (Woody Allen): “And so I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Actually, make that "I run through the valley of the shadow of death" - in order to get OUT of the valley of the shadow of death more quickly, you see.” - Love and Death

72. Arjen "Aryan" Rudd (Joss Ackland): “Diplomatic immunity!”
Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover): “It's just been revoked.” - Lethal Weapon 2

71. Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau): “You leave me little notes on my pillow. Told you 158 times I can't stand little notes on my pillow. "We're all out of cornflakes. F.U." Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!” - The Odd Couple

70. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino): “Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.” - The Godfather, Part III

69. King Louis XVI (Mel Brooks): “It's good to be the king!” - History of the World: Part I

68. Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino): “You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!” - . . . And Justice for All

67. Economics Teacher (Ben Stein): “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller.” - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

66. Blanche (Joan Crawford): “You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair.”
Jane (Bette Davis): “But you are, Blanche. You are in that chair.” - What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

65. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston): “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.” - Office Space

64. Fast Eddie (Paul Newman): “Even if you beat me I'm still the best.” - The Hustler

63. Groucho (Grouch Marx): “I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.” - Monkey Business

62. Bounty Hunter (John Davis Chandler): “A man's got to do something for a living these days.”
Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood): “Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy.” - The Outlaw Josey Wales

61. John Harper (Billy Chapin): “He's not my pa!”
Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish): “No, and he ain't no preacher neither!” - The Night of the Hunter

60. Pike Bishop (William Holden): “If they move, kill 'em!” - The Wild Bunch

59. Captain of Louisa (Peter Bull): “By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.” - The African Queen

58. Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner): “You aren't too bright. I like that in a man.” - Body Heat

57. Joe (Clint Eastwood): “I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it.” - A Fistful of Dollars

56. Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford): “I didn't kill my wife.”
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones): “I don't care.” - The Fugitive

55. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman): “Well, she wasn't your real grandmother.” - The Royal Tenenbaums

54. J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster): “I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.” - Sweet Smell of Success

53. Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss): “Because of a mentally arthritic director, I am about to play the second greatest role in the history of the English-speaking theater like a fresh double-order of California fruit salad.” - The Goodbye Girl

52. Dr. Teeth (voice of Jim Henson): “I got the paper towels!” - The Great Muppet Caper

51. Perry Smith (Robert Blake): “I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman . . . I thought so right up to the time I cut his throat.” - In Cold Blood

50. Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn): “Do you know what's wrong with you?”
Peter Joshua (Cary Grant): “No, what?”
Regina Lampert: “Nothing!” - Charade

49. Bronksi (Tom Dugan): “Heil myself!” - To Be or Not to Be

48. Hot Lips Houlihan (Sally Kellerman): “I wonder how such a degenerated person ever reached a position of authority in the Army Medical Corps.” Father Mulcahy (Rene Auberjonois): “He was drafted.” - M*A*S*H

47. Trent Walker (Vince Vaughn): “I don't want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's really hoping makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from. Okay? You're a bad man. You're a bad man, Mikey. You're a bad man, bad man.” - Swingers

46. Bill McKay (Robert Redford): “What do I do now?” - The Candidate

45. Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn): “People on 'ludes should not drive.” - Fast Times at Ridgemont High

44. Waitress (Lorna Thayer): “You want me to hold the chicken, huh?”
Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson): “I want you to hold it between your knees.” - Five Easy Pieces

43. General George S. Patton (George C. Scott): “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” - Patton

42. Otto (Kevin Kine): “Don’t call me stupid.” - A Fish Called Wanda

41. Tuco (Eli Wallach): “When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk.” - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

40. Da Mayor (Ossie Davis): “Always do the right thing.” - Do the Right Thing

39. Receptionist (Julie Benz): “How do you write women so well?” Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson): “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.” - As Good as it Gets

38. Lone Starr (Bill Pullman): “Will we ever see each other again?”
Yogurt (Mel Brooks): “Who knows? God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money.” - Spaceballs

37. Father Jerry (Pat O’Brien): “Let's go and say a prayer for a boy who couldn't run as fast as I could.” - Angels with Dirty Faces

36. Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau): “This is the most uncomfortable coffin I've ever been in.” - Ed Wood

35. Blake (Alec Baldwin): “We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.” - Glengarry Glen Ross

34. Lt. John Dunbar (Kevin Costner): “I am Dances with Wolves. I have nothing to say to you. You are not worth talking to.” - Dances With Wolves

33. Nancy Felix (Susan Anspach): “My lawyer will call your lawyer.”
Allan Felix (Woody Allen): “I don't have a lawyer. Have him call my doctor.” - Play it Again, Sam

32. Barbara Stone (Bette Midler): “I've been kidnapped by K-Mart!” - Ruthless People

31. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt): “The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is - you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” - Fight Club

30. Black Knight (John Cleese): “Just a flesh wound.” - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

29. Jefferson Smith (James Stewart): “You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.” - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

28. Alex (Malcolm McDowell): “I was cured, all right!” - A Clockwork Orange

27. Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson): “Ray, when someone asks if you're a God, you say "Yes"!” - Ghostbusters

26. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins): “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” - The Shawshank Redemption

25. John Merrick (John Hurt): “I am not an animal. I am a human being!” - The Elephant Man

24. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford): “I’m going after that truck.”
Sallah (John Rhys Davies): How?
Indiana Jones: “I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go.” - Raiders of the Lost Ark

23. Anakin Skywalker (Sebastian Shaw): “You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right.” - Return of the Jedi

22. Holly McClane (Bonnie Bedlia): “After all your posturing, all your speeches, you're nothing but a common thief.”
Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman): “I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.” - Die Hard

21. Dick (Todd Luiso): “Marie de Salle's playing. You remember I told you about her. I like her. She's kind of Sheryl Crow-ish crossed with a post-Partridge Family pre-L.A. Law Susan Dey kind of thing, but, you know, uh, black.” - High Fidelity

20. Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook): “Follow the money.” - All the President’s Men

19. David Huxley (Cary Grant): “Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments.” - Bringing Up Baby

18. Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman): “How many are following us?”
Sundance Kid (Robert Redford): “All of 'em.”
Butch Cassidy: “All of 'em! What's the matter with those guys?” - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

17. Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken): “I'm the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.” - True Romance

16. Martin Blank (John Cusack): “Psychopaths kill for no reason. I kill for money.” - Grosse Pointe Blank

15. Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (Buck Taylor): “Why do you do it?”
Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer): “Wyatt Earp is my friend.”
Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: “Friend? Hell, I got lots of friends.”
Doc Holliday: “I don't.” - Tombstone

14. Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen): “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” - Reservoir Dogs

13. Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine): “Shut up and deal.” - The Apartment

12. Panama Smith (Gladys George): “He used to be a bigshot.” - The Roaring Twenties

11. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson): “Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration? I didn’t mean to do that. Please, continue. You were saying something about best intentions. What’s the matter? Oh, you were finished. Well then allow me to retort.” - Pulp Fiction

10. Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx): “Remember, while you're out there risking you're life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are.” - Duck Soup

9. Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci): “I'm funny how? Funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh?” - Goodfellas

8. Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen): “It's true what they say: Cops and women don't mix. It's like eating a spoonful of Drano. Sure it'll clean you out, but it'll leave you hollow inside.” - The Naked Gun

7. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher): “I love you.”
Han Solo (Harrison Ford): “I know.” - The Empire Strikes Back

6. Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest): “These go to eleven.” - This is Spinal Tap

5. Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey): “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.” - The Usual Suspects

4. Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin): “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father: prepare to die.” - The Princess Bride

3. Harry Bailey (Todd Karns): “To my big brother George: The richest man in town.” - It’s a Wonderful Life

2. Jim Malone (Sean Connery): “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!” - The Untouchables

1. Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young): “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Adam Spector
July 14, 2005

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