Great Movie Quotes
Since the title of this blog is a lifted directly from movie dialog (specifically, the second-most famous exchange in Danny Kaye’s The Court Jester. Check out my “About The Court Jester” page here), I receive a lot of questions — and search engine hits — about the phrase “Get it? Got it. Good.” I’m a writer, not a professional etymologist, but I’ve always been fascinated by words, and how they can equally inspire, motivate, incite and demoralize (not sure if my blog does any of those)…how they lift us up, and how they can so easily tear us down.
It’s no surprise then, that great movie dialog and song lyrics stay with us. Words connected to strong images always do. Politicians know this. Songwriters and rappers know this. Even kids with chicken pox know this. Words help create a shared community we all need to survive, and movie dialog is a great example of the cultural shorthand I mentioned in a recent blog post.
Two years ago, the American Film Institute formed a jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians to select the top 100 movie quotes. The selections are fascinating, and although they do tend to skew older (Only eleven lines come from films premiering after 1987, with none in the Top 20), many will be recognizable to those who may not have even seem the films themselves.
Check out the entire AFI Top 100 list here.
The lines “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn;” “You can’t handle the truth;” “Show me the money;” “May the force with you” and “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” are dropped into conversations all the time, often devoid of their movie roots. They have drifted from the screen to common usage, sometimes used in ways never intended by the writer(s). To misquote Inigo Montoya, in perhaps the most quotable movie of my generation (William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, chock-full of wonderful dialog COMPLETELY IGNORED by the AFI panel):
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
With great movie quotes, it doesn’t matter. If I have a chance to drop one on somebody, I’ll bring my own shoehorn.
Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary) once said (tongue firmly planted in cheek) that repetition in a song gives us a false sense of security. Good movie lines (and those from popular television shows) may do the same thing.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
One last bit of trivia: three of the top four AFI movie lines came directly from books, so we may be more literate than we knew.
What are some of your favorites? Did they make the AFI list? Are you as frustrated as I am about the exclusion of “The Princess Bride”? Drop a comment.
Go ahead. Make my day.