22 July 2012

Ten Best Movie Lines

[ disclaimer appears below ]

№ 10: “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.” — Jn Cleese as a French Guard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Admittedly, we could populate the whole list of ten with lines from this movie alone.  Cleese’s outrageous accent, and the little-marked fact that elderberry juice does come to smell rather . . . dubious, push this line to the top.

№ 9: “These flies, for example. They’re protected against pilferage under the provisions of the Guacamole Act of 1917.” — Peter Falk as Vince Ricardo in The In-Laws.

Another script which could run away with the whole list (the argument could be made that a list of ten could be seeded from this scene alone).  It was a close contest, between this line and The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That’s really the key to the benefit program. But there: you get a glimpse of the rabbit-hole here.

№ 8: “Disappointed!” — Kevin Kline as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda.

Another script which could &c.  I lit on this one, in particular, to recognize the fact that mere wordiness is not necessarily the key to a great line.  It is also a matter of delivery, and artists like Kline can deliver in a single word.

№ 7: “It costs money, ’cause it saves money.” — Vincent Gardenia as Cosmo Castorini in Moonstruck.

You’ll never think the same about plumbing again.

№ 6: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” — Michael Caine as Charlie Croker in The Italian Job.

A classic injunction of the Less Is More principle, which Michael Caine delivers fraternally to his brother Stanley.

№ 5: “Wait till you get to my teeth.” — Sean Connery as Come On, You Know Who in Thunderball.

An old roommate used (possibly coined, but I’ve not done the research) the term Little Jimmies for Bond one-liners like this.  This one stands out for its subtlety, I think.

№ 4: “Laugh a-while you can, monkey-boy!” — Jn Lithgow as Lord John Whorfin inhabiting the earthling Dr Emilio Lizardo in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.

(Seems that any note I might add would only be gilding the lily.)

№ 3: “As opposed to the Louvre in Wisconsin?” — Bruce Willis as the Hudson Hawk in the movie of the same name.

Part of why this works especially well, I think, is as a response to Minerva Mayflower (Sandra Bernhard being a bit more flatly obvious even than usual). You know how when a cast really inhabit their characters, there is a kind of electricity which flows between them as they deliver their lines?  Bernhard is astonishingly impervious to any such electrical charge.

№ 2: “You can’t really dust for vomit.” — Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap.

Another drummer lost in mysterious (not to say tragic) circumstances.

№ 1: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.

One treads delicately when challenging a Sicilian’s use of the adjective inconveivable.

Disclaimer:  All right, I don’t think one can really settle on the ten best movie lines, but these were the first ten which came to mind, and they’re darned good.

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