Top 14 Movie Misquotes, the Scream That Will Not Die and More...
Question: I don't want to sound like a complete geek, but it bugs me when people misquote famous movie lines like "Luke, I am your father," which just isn't what Darth Vader said. I feel that if you're fan enough to quote a movie, you should be fan enough to quote it right. Please tell me I'm not the most compulsive person ever. - Don
Darth Vader courtesy 20th Century Fox
The most compulsive
? No way - I basically agree. If you're going to quote the quote,
quote the quote
That said, there's a pattern to a lot of common misquotations. Here's the thing: Screenwriters can't predict what's going to seize the public imagination when they're writing, so that kickass line is often embedded in a larger, less pithy piece of dialogue.
1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
"Luke, I am your father."
"No. I am your father."
Your bête noire, spoken during Luke's illusion-shattering confrontation with his nemesis, Darth Vader, is a perfect example. The pertinent part of the exchange goes like this:
Darth Vader: "If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father."
Luke: "He told me enough! He told me you killed him."
Darth Vader: "No. I am your father."
Wow - great moment. But as beautifully as "No. I am your father," plays in context, it's not a one-liner without the specificity of Luke's name. So people remember it as "Luke, I am your father."
2. Dirty Harry (1971)
"Do you feel lucky, punk?"
"Ah, 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 one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?"
sells the hell out of that speech, but the misquoter boils it down to five key words that never occur together.
3. Wall Street (1987)
"Greed is good!"
"The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that 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; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."
Gordon Gecko's (
) go-go '80s mantra isn't - it's a full-blown speech.
4. Apocalypse Now (1979)
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning it smells like victory!"
"You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know, that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smells like victory."
Once again: Captain Kilgore's (
) signature line is actually a speech.
Even shorter pieces of dialogue get pared down:
5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
"Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
"Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!"
This is the scurvy Mexican bandits' retort when savvy treasure hunter Fred C. Dobbs (Bogart) challenges their claim that they're lawmen.
6. Casablanca (1942)
"Play it again, Sam."
"You played it ["As Time Goes By"] for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!"
The world-weary line disillusioned Rick (
) lays on piano man Sam (
) is among the most frequently misquoted - thanks
7. White Heat (1949)
"Top of the world, Ma!"
"Made it, Ma. Top of the world!"
That's sociopathic, mother-fixated gangster Cody Jarrett's (
) parting shot from the top of the oil tank he's about to blow to kingdom come - take that (S)mother.
That said, mental editing doesn't account for all the common misquotes. Some are just careless.
8. The Graduate (1967)
"Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?"
"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"
That's callow college boy Benjamin Braddock (
) to cougar Mrs. Robinson (
9. Casablanca (again)
"I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship," or "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Rick to Captain Renault (
) after everything has gone to hell.
10. All About Eve (1950)
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night."
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."
Fading star Margo Channing (
) - role model for generations of drag queens - to her party guests.
11. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
"What we have here is a failure to communicate."
"What we've got here is failure to communicate."
It's the pause that makes the sadistic chain-gang guard (
) challenge to headstrong prisoner Luke (
) so flawless, but tell that to the misquoter.
12. She Done Him Wrong (1933)
"Why don't you come up and see me sometime?"
"Why don't you come up sometime and see me."
Given that saucy
was the mistress of the devastating double entendre, this misquote is just inexcusable. And again, it's the pause that takes it home.
13. 42nd Street (1933)
"You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star."
"You're going out a chorus girl, but you're coming back a star!"
An oldie that's still got juice - that's Broadway director Julian Marsh (
) to chorine Peggy (
14. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."
"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
Deranged former silent-movie goddess Norma Desmond (
) to all those beautiful people out there in the dark.
Readers, weigh in!
Question: I'm trying to figure out a movie from, I think, the 1960s. It was about a haunted house and there are groups of people searching in this house/castle. One group is a gang of leather-clad bikers and at one point one of the bikers is making a scary "ooooo" noise; the rest of the group thinks it's a ghost and when they realize it's just one of the guys they hit him. There's also a big-haired go-go ghost dolled up in a furry white bikini who keeps popping up randomly. My husband and I saw about 20 minutes of it about five years ago on AMC (I think), and we're dying to know what it was so we can get it and watch the whole thing. It looked to be more a comedy than a horror movie. I hope you can help, and thanks. - Cori
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
(1966) to your Netflix queue: It's got classic horror-movie stars
, plus a dopey biker gang, a lovely bikini-clad ghost (
), Nancy Sinatra, former Mouseketeer
Gidget Goes Hawaiian
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
was the last entry in American International Pictures' beach-party series, and while it's by no stretch of the imagination a
film, it's entertaining if you're in the right frame of mind.
Question: Someone told me that there's this one scream that gets used in tons of movies, but he couldn't tell me anything specific. Is this true, or was he pulling my leg? - Nicole
It's true and it even has a name: It's the Wilhelm Scream. The Wilhelm Scream was first recorded for a 1951 Warner Bros. movie called
, for a scene in which a guy gets his arm ripped off by an alligator. But it got its name, bestowed by alert sound engineer Ben Burtt, then a LucasFilm employee, from the character who lets out the recycled yelp in 1953's
The Charge at Feather River
. Until Burtt found the old stock scream recording while researching existing sound effects for a little sci-fi movie he was working on, it was only used in Warner movies.
But after Burtt put it in
(1977), word got around the sound-engineer and tech-head community - sometimes encouraged by geek film directors like
- and people began slipping it into all kinds of movies. At last count, sharp-eared movie buffs had identified the Wilhelm Scream in more than 100 movies, ranging from
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Planet of the Apes
(2001) to Dante's
(2005), and Tarantino's
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Now you may be wondering, who screamed that immortal scream? The answer appears to be that it was actor-singer
, probably best known for the novelty hit
Purple People Eater
. Wooley, who died in 2003, was one of four actors who both appeared in
and recorded additional sound bites for the film. (Burtt also dug up that tidbit.)
article quotes Wooley's widow, Linda Dotson, saying, "He always used to joke about how he was so great about screaming and dying in films. I did know that his scream had been in some films, the older Westerns, but I did not know about
and all. He would have gotten such a kick out of this. He would say, 'I may be old but I'm still in the movies.'"
So what makes the Wilhelm Scream so special? Beats me. It's just a sort of strangled "Owwwwwww" - listen
Question: There was a Disney Channel Original Movie a few years ago about two completely different sisters who each wish on a star that she could be the other. I remember some parts of it, but I have no clue as to the title. Can you tell me? - Victoria
You're going to want to kick yourself: The title is
Wish Upon a Star
(1997). The teenage sisters are
, who plays the smart but plain sib and - get this! -
as the airheaded cutie.
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