Best. Movie. Line. Ever.

Over at Andrew Sullivan’s place, he’s been presenting candidates for best movie line ever. Since I seem to have control of a blog of my very own, I’d like to present my nomination:

Holly Gennero McClane: After all your posturing, all your speeches, you’re nothing but a common thief.

Hans Gruber: I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I’m moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.

(transcription from IMDB)

Apparently my affection for this line is not widely shared, however, as finding the clip online has proven to be beyond my google skills. On the other hand, I did discover a phenomenon wherein people present montages of clips and photos of Alan Rickman with a musical background. I’m not sure whether to be disturbed or not.

Sullivan’s nominations can be found here. Other suggestions are encouraged in the comments. No points for anything from Monty Python or The Princess Bride, though — too obvious.

Comments

  1. #1 HP
    August 18, 2007

    Here’s my nominee, from the Herschel Gordon Lewis/David Friedkin prototype “roughie” sexploitation film, Scum of the Earth”:

    “All you kids make me sick! You act like Little Miss Muffet, and down inside you’re dirty! Do you hear me? Dirty!”

    Youtube here. The speech starts about half a minute in. The disgusting, sweaty, spittle-flecked extreme close-up really sells it for me.

    The rest of the movie is pathetically awful; not even “so bad it’s good,” it’s just bad. But this speech transcends the genre. It’s a kind of pure, unalloyed camp, untouched by camp culture.

  2. #2 abraxas
    August 18, 2007

    From the second Alien:
    “Vazquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?”

    “No. Have you?”

  3. #3 Legend
    August 18, 2007

    Speaking of Alan Rickman…sometimes, it not the line itself, but how it’s delivered, Rickman is past master of delivery. That said, who can forget the line from Robin Hood: Prince of Theives:

    “That’s it, then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.”

  4. #4 Kurt Montandon
    August 18, 2007

    Kind of a shame it’s a movie line, because the best thing I’ve heard spoken by an actor in recent years was Dr. Cox’s line on Scrubs: “Sorry, I’m fresh out of gold stars, so you’re just going to have to settle for a lifetime supply of my foot up your ass.” The delivery on that one was especially great.

    (Including TV would, of course, mean a bunch of inevitable Firefly quotes, starting with “… darn.”)

    Matt Damon’s little speech to the pony-tailed guy in Good Will Hunting is pretty good, but it’s more of a, well, speech.

  5. #5 Mike Molloy
    August 18, 2007

    The greatest movie line ever is from the Maltese Falcon. Bogie (Sam Spade) has buttonholed Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo) in a hotel lobby and is giving him some line of double talk, leading to this exchange:

    Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation…

    Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?

  6. #6 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 18, 2007

    But I like Monty Python and The Princess Bride! Oh, well, maybe I’m too simple.

    Lots of old favorites here, the Die Hard line is one, the Aliens as well. My current example (it’s morning here, and I need more coffee) would be Young Frankenstein:

    [[[Context: Dr. Frankenstein: [agitated by students] I am a scientist, not a philosopher! [picks up a scalpel] You have a better chance of re-animating this SCALPEL then you would of mending broken nervous tissue!

    Student: But what about your grandfather’s work?

    Dr. Frankenstein: MY GRANDFATHER’S WORK WAS DOO-DOO!!! I am not interested in death! The only thing that concerns me IS THE PRESERVATION OF LIFE!!! ]]]

    [in his anger, Dr. Frankenstein stabs himself in the leg with the scalpel, grimaces, then crosses his legs]

    Dr. Frankenstein: Class…is…dismissed!

    Gene Wilder’s delivery when his character feels his mistake was …, um, sharp.

  7. #7 Charlie
    August 18, 2007

    A line from Real Genius:

    Girl: Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?

    Val Kilmer: Not at the moment.

    Girl: Well, a girl’s got to have her standards.

    Refering to Scrubs:

    My personal favorite line from Dr. Cox (which I’ve had occasion to use once or twice:

    I’m going to say this very carefully because I don’t want to exagerate, but Bob Kelso is the most evil person on the face of the planet and may, in fact, be Satan himself.

  8. #8 dr. dave
    August 18, 2007

    Actually, pretty much anything spoken through the gritted teeth of Clint Eastwood gets my vote. I was going to go for the obvious Dirty Harry “Do I feel lucky” monologue, but this one is actually my favorite…

    “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. “

  9. #9 Rob Knop
    August 18, 2007

    The whole Bill Paxton “Game Over Man” speech from Aliens, while not a particularly inspiring speech when written down, was delivered so spaztically that I think it deserves an individual performance Academy award.

    -Rob

  10. #10 Ahcuah
    August 18, 2007

    Although already mentioned, Young Frankenstein should probably be added to the list of ineligible movies. It’s nothing but a bunch of Best.Movie.Lines.Ever strung together. :-)

    “Put . . . ze . . . candle . . . back.”

  11. #11 daedalus2u
    August 18, 2007

    A favorite line of mine has always been

    “Spock, start your computations for time warp.”

    But then I have always identified with mythic heroes.

  12. #12 Romeo Vitelli
    August 18, 2007

    Some of the best movie lines of all don’t involve dialogue:

    In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is fighting a group of thugs in Cairo and he is suddenly confronted with an assailant who is showing off flashy swordwork. Indy shrugs, takes out his gun, and shoots the thug.

  13. #13 Brian Postow
    August 18, 2007

    Well, part of the question should be “what makes the best movie line ever”? Is it a line that you wish you could actually use in every day life some time? Is it a line that’s just so funny, you laugh when it’s out of context? Is it a line that’s so true, it transcends the medium? Is it a line that you just quote incessently just because it’s fun?

    I could probably give “best” lines with all of these definitions.

  14. #14 Doug Natelson
    August 18, 2007

    For context, I’ve always liked:

    INDIANA JONES (getting into Ford Trimotor): Nice try, Lao Che! (closes door, revealing insignia that says “Lao Che Air Freight”).

    LAO CHE: Good bye, Dr. Jones. Bwah-hah-hah!

    and from a better movie, after an explanation of the Ark of the Covenant leveling mountains and laying waste to whole regions….

    GOVERNMENT AGENT: Good God!

    MARCUS BRODY: Yes, that’s just what the Hebrews thought.

  15. #15 Thony C.
    August 18, 2007

    Michael Cain to Ian Hendry in Get Carter (the original and not the crappy remake with Rambo!)

    You know, I’d almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow.

  16. #16 andy
    August 18, 2007

    I quite like this exchange from Time Bandits:

    EVIL: When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding.

    ROBERT: Uh, understanding of what, Master?

    EVIL: Digital watches.

  17. #17 MaxPolun
    August 18, 2007

    “Back off man, I’m a scientist” From Ghostbusters. There are several good ones in it, but I have always wanted to use that line some time.

  18. #18 PuckishOne
    August 18, 2007

    Charlie @ #7 started it, so I’ll add my own favorite “Real Genius” quote:

    Chris Knight’s on a tour of the labs that have all but assured him a job after graduation. He’s wearing his “I *heart* toxic waste” t-shirt and a pair of deely-bobbers on his head.

    The Stuffy Scientist appraises him critically and says, “Why do you wear those things on your head?”

    Chris’ reply: “Because, if I wear them anyplace else, it chafes.”

  19. #19 David Marjanović
    August 18, 2007

    In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is fighting a group of thugs in Cairo and he is suddenly confronted with an assailant who is showing off flashy swordwork. Indy shrugs, takes out his gun, and shoots the thug.

    You’ll have noticed that Indy first glances at his whip. In fact, a long duel with sword and whip was planned, but Harrison Ford had diarrhea that day. That’s what I call a lucky coincidence!!!

    Alternatively, I can offer “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die”, and how Number Two explains to Dr Evil that he won’t follow his orders anymore, how it took him years to turn Dr Evil’s Evil Empire into a multinational corporation and how there is no world anymore for Dr Evil to conquer, only corporations. That’s priceless. Makes great fun of the whole concept of supervillains.

    Oh, and there is…

    “DOCTOR Evil! I haven’t studied at Evil Medical School to be called ‘Mister’ by you!”

  20. #20 Mary Kay
    August 18, 2007

    I have an inexplicable fondness for Nicholas Cage’s charac ters’s

    “Put the bunny back in the box.”

    from Air Con. I make no excuses.

    MKK

  21. #21 Leni
    August 18, 2007

    Back off, man, I’m a scientist.

    That is a great one, LOL.

    The Jerk has a lot of good ones too:

    It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.

    No! Maybe you’ve hit bottom but I haven’t hit bottom yet! I have a ways to go. And I’m gonna bounce back!

    I’m gonna buy you a diamond so big it’s gonna make you puke!

    The whole “All I need” speech is great. And the Ukelele song is the best.

  22. #22 Norm
    August 18, 2007

    Christian Slater as Mark Hunter in Pump Up The Volume
    Mark Hunter: Remember my dear, I can smell a lie like a fart in a car.

  23. #23 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 18, 2007

    Restricting for a moment to:

    100 GREAT MOVIE LINES WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
    Selected by Premiere Magazine (in their August 2000 issu

    http://www.filmsite.org/moments00.html

    I’m partial to:

    “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

    “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms.”

    “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”
    [technically a Science Fiction movie, too; and also we have the classic line: "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, that is, depending on the breaks."]

    The same Director, of course, brought us the greatest SF film of all time:
    “Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.”

    “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
    [technically, a Fantasy movie]

    “We find the defendants incredibly guilty.”

    Coincidently, just 2 days ago my wife quoted to our son:

    “Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.”
    – “You want me to hold the chicken, huh?”
    – “I want you to hold it between your knees.”

    And the one that has passed into general usage:

    “Round up the usual suspects.”

    Now, why did Premiere Magazine fail to list the actual AUTHORS of all these lines? Do they think that the actors just ad lib them?

  24. #24 chris
    August 18, 2007

    Re: 5, my favorite exchange from Casablanca is Rick talking to Yvonne at the bar. It’s about noon.

    Yvonne: “Where were you last night?”
    Rick: “That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.”
    Yvonne: “Will I see you tonight?”
    Rick: “I never make plans that far ahead.”

    And of course…

    Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here.”
    Croupier, handing Renault a wad of cash: “Your winnings, sir.”
    Renault: “Oh, thank you very much.”

  25. #25 Tophe
    August 18, 2007

    A few of my favorites…

    From Better Off Dead
    Tree Trimmer: Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.
    (Lots of other good lines in that movie too.)

    From Tank Girl
    Tank Girl: Look, it’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.

    From About Last Night
    Danny: So, did you sleep with him?
    Debbie: No, Dan, we were bowling partners.

  26. #26 jk
    August 18, 2007

    The scene in Dr. Strangelove with Peter Sellers and Keenan Wynn had some great ones (mostly from Wynn). Personally, I’m torn between

    “You try any preversions in there I’ll blow your head off,”

    and

    “You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.”

    Then there’s General Jack D. Ripper’s question for the ages, also from Dr. Strangelove:

    “You ever see a commie drink a glass of water?”

  27. #27 Baratos
    August 18, 2007

    “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 Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain. Time….to die.”
    –Blade Runner

  28. #28 Tony
    August 19, 2007

    Best Movie Line:
    End of Empire Strikes Back:

    Princess Leia: I love you
    Han Sole: I know.

  29. #29 ali
    August 19, 2007

    From _The Heist_:

    “Everybody needs money! That’s why they call it money!”

    Also see:

    http://miniver.blogspot.com/2004/02/everybody-needs-roger-ebert.html

  30. #30 "Q" the Enchanter
    August 19, 2007

    From The Unforgiven:

    Little Bill: “I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.”
    William Munny: “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

  31. #31 plainjanewayne
    August 19, 2007

    Bogie was always good for a memorable line. I like:

    Girl: “You’re not very tall, are you?”

    Bogie: “I try to be.”

    from “The Big Sleep”

  32. #32 max
    August 19, 2007

    I take issue with the concept of “the best” anything, but some good lines include:
    -“I want more life fucker” Blade Runner
    -“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very bright” Blade Runner
    -“I love the small of napalm in the morning” Apocolypse Now
    -“Accusing someone a murder here is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500″ -Apocolypse Now
    -“Here’s Johnny!” Shining
    entirely too many good lines in movies. “the best” anything is a fallacious notion

  33. #33 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 19, 2007

    I do agree with #27 that Roy Batty’s (Rutger Hauer) final line is the best line of a particularly brilliant film.

    Joseph M. Reagle Jr. quotes it to argue that that Deckard’s nemesis, Roy Batty, knew that Deckard was a replicant.

    The Parting of the Mist
    Film History: Blade Runner
    Joseph M. Reagle Jr.
    http://reagle.org/joseph/1996/film/blade-runner.html

    Wikipedia, on the film Soldier, adds:

    Soldier is set within the same fictional universe as the 1982 cult science fiction film Blade Runner. Writer David Webb Peoples specifically wrote these references in his script for Soldier.

    * Tannhauser Gate, a location mentioned by Roy Batty in Blade Runner (“I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate”), is referenced three times in Soldier. Near the beginning of the film, Todd’s accomplishments can be seen on a computer screen. The screen reads that he was involved in the Battle of Tannhauser Gate. After Todd arrives at the settlement on Arcadia, a woman looks at Todd’s arm, which reads, among other things, “Tannhauser Gate.” When the woman reveals this to her husband, he replies “Tannhauser Gate was a battle.”
    * Reportedly, the original plan was to actually show the Battle of Tannhauser Gate in the film, but this idea was scrapped during production.
    * The Shoulder of Orion, another location mentioned by Roy Batty in Blade Runner, is also listed on the computer screen at the beginning of the film as a battle Todd had participated in.
    * A vehicle from Blade Runner (known as a “spinner”) can be viewed in one scene in the village on Arcadia, while the villagers are celebrating what is apparently Christmas.([2])
    * David Peoples has also stated that the soldiers of this film are examples of the engineered life forms (known as “replicants”) seen in Blade Runner.[citation needed]
    * The film also obliquely references various elements of works by Philip K. Dick, who had written the novel on which Blade Runner is based. However, Dick was not involved in Soldier’s creation, having died in 1982.
    * Director Paul W. S. Anderson states in the DVD commentary for the film that, in addition to the film being set in the same fictional universe as Blade Runner, Blade Runner was one of his primary influences when making the film and the themes and overall tone were meant to be similar.

  34. #34 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 19, 2007

    The utterly insane yet poignently poetic line that Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) reads to her father Robert (Anthony Hopkins) from his notebook, confirming that, alas, he is totallky delusional, and revealed by a series of flashbacks, in Proof, the 2005 film directed by John Madden, written by David Auburn (who also wrote Proof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play on which the film is based) and Rebecca Miller. University of Chicago mathematics professor Paul Sally served as academic consultant.

    “Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X. Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December. The months of cold equal November through February. There are four months of cold & four months of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature. In February it snows. In March the lake is a lake of ice. In September the students come back & the bookstores are full. Let X equal the months of full bookstores. The number of books approaches infinity as the number of months of cold approaches four. I will never be as cold now as I will in the future. The future of cold is infinite. The future of heat is the future of cold. The bookstores are infinite & so are never full except in September.”

  35. #35 milkshake
    August 19, 2007

    “Dr. Lecter, did you serve Raspail to the the orchestra officials?”
    “Have you ever had people coming to dinner and no time to shop, Clarice? You have to do with what’s in the fridge.”

  36. #36 Stupid Git
    August 20, 2007

    Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” :

    “You like money? I like money too!”

  37. #37 Patrick
    August 20, 2007

    I would like to add one from TV and 2 from a movie.

    From WKRP in Cincinnati’s Holiday Helicopter Turkey Drop gone awry:

    Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump): As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    And from the movie Fandango:

    Phil Hicks (Judd Nelson): Gardner! You are the most irresponbilbe person I’ve ever met!

    Gardner Barnes (Kevein Costner): Well, somebody had to be.

    Also:

    Judy (Elizabeth Dailey): Then she had her utopian tubes removed.

    Gardner : No That’s fallopian darlin’.

    Judy: Fallopian? Them’s books of the bible silly… first and second fallopians!

  38. #38 Laura
    August 20, 2007

    Joe Clark (played by Morgan Freeman):

    “I don’t have to do nothin’ but stay black and die!”

  39. #39 stephen
    August 20, 2007

    I cant believe no one has brought in a line from Armies of Darkness. A few beautiful one liners delivered perfectly.

    “First you want to kill me, now you want to kiss me, Blow!”

    “Gime some sugar baby”

    and many others.

  40. #40 Deb
    August 20, 2007

    from All About Eve

    [throwing door open]
    Eve Harrington: Get out.
    Addison DeWitt: You’re too short for that gesture.

    sigh…story of my life

  41. #41 "As you know" Bob
    August 21, 2007

    Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

    Jake: Hit it.

  42. #42 Toby
    August 21, 2007

    Alec Baldwin’s entire speech from “Glengarry Glenross”… best thing he ever did in movies, maybe the only thing …

  43. #43 Pacific Tech
    August 21, 2007

    Welcome to Pacific Tech’s “Smart People on Ice”.

    I never sleep, I don’t know why. I had a roommate and I drove her nuts, I mean really nuts, they had to take her away in an ambulance and everything. But she’s okay now, but she had to transfer to an easier school, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with being my fault. But listen, if you ever need to talk or you need help studying just let me know, ’cause I’m just a couple doors down from you guys and I never sleep, okay?

    Sir, let me take this moment to compliment you on your fashion sense, particularly your slippers.

  44. #44 Snibril
    August 21, 2007

    Well, after “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!” was already mentioned, i would go for the take-off scene in Armageddon:

    Rockhound: You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

    Makes me feel good all the time…

  45. #45 Mariprosa
    February 3, 2008

    You’re going to need a bigger boat.

    Jaws, of course!!

    Also, from the Life of Brian, the best callback for a running gag I can think of:
    Brian: We must unite against our common enemy!:
    Crowd: The Judean People’s Front??

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