If you’re a classic film fan, it’s almost a given that many people you greet in your daily life won’t know what you’re talking about. Topics like the cool pre-code you watched last night or how you’re still angry that Gloria Swanson didn’t win the Academy Award for “Sunset Boulevard” are most likely met with a blank stare.
Even still, classic films are so immersed into our daily life and thoughts, that it’s hard not to casually quote a film in your daily speak. I don’t mean outrageous and obvious quotes that would get you called into Human Resources. (See: Standing on your desk and shouting “Look at me, Ma! Top of the world!” or ending a meeting with “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn.”)
For me, there are simple, catchy film quotes that I slip into my conversations on the sly; fully knowing that no one around me will understand that I’m referring to a film.
Here are six examples of a few of the movies I quote regularly:
Plot: The 101st Airborne Division is fighting in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
The division is made up of various personalities from all over the United States. One of the soldiers, Abner Spudler (Jerome Courtland) is supposed to be a little more country than the rest and repeatedly says “That’s for sure, that’s for dang sure,” when he agrees with someone.
I often use this in my daily speech, since it’s my favorite film.
The division captures Germans who tell them that they should surrender, because the Allies are surrounded. Pvt. Jim Layton (Marshall Thompson) replies that the German can “go take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.”
This phrase is similar to “They can take a hike,” “have a seat” meaning to leave or something won’t happen. This is also a phrase I occasionally use.
Plot: After a woman’s husband is killed, several men begin harassing her to find money that her husband had stolen.
After Herman Scobie (George Kennedy) unsuccessfully looks for the money, his cohort Leopold Gideon (Ned Glass) saying that it was a “Dumb move, Herman!”
While I don’t know anyone named Herman, I say this occasionally to myself as a personal joke if I feel I did something stupid.
Parent Trap (1961)
Plot: When twins (Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills) meet for the first time by accident at summer camp, they switch places to get their divorced parents back together.
In order to switch the daughters back, their mother Maggie (Maureen O’Hara) has to bring Sharon (Mills) back to California to her father’s home. Dad, Mitch (Brian Keith) is unaware but has a sense of foreboding that he shares with his hired hand and friend Hecky (Crahan Denton).
To be honest, this is more of a family joke we use when something bad may happen, it it’s quoted at least once a month by my parents.
Since You Went Away (1944)
Plot: Chronicling the life on the American home front of a mother and two daughters while their father fights overseas during World War II. This includes adjusting to father being away, taking in borders and rationing.
Rationing changed the way civilians cooked and ate during World War II. Items like eggs and sugar were hard to come by so baking a cake was a luxury. In this scene, it’s Col. Smollett (Monty Wooley) is having a birthday party with the family he is boarding with (Claudette Colbert, Hattie McDaniel, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple). The maid Fidelia (McDaniel) tells Col. Smollett that she tried something new with the cake.
This is a phrase my mother and I often imitate when trying something new with a recipe or buying a dessert. Since this is my favorite film, it was hard to pick out just one scene I reference the most, but I’m pretty sure this is up there.
The Trouble with Angels (1966)
Plot: Two trouble making teenagers attend an all girl’s Catholic school and wreak havoc.
Anytime Mary (Hayley Mills) has a great idea for a scheme for she and her best friend Rachel (June Harding), she says that it’s a “scathingly brilliant idea.” Trouble generally ensues.
I think anyone who has seen this movie tries hard to work it into their everyday talk. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a cool and clever sounding phrase. Admittedly, when I say the line, it generally is referring to ideas about food.
What are film lines you quote in everyday life? Does anyone catch on that you aren’t making up these witty lines? Tell us the film and the quote below!
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I love this post! Me and my mom quote the scathingly brilliant line CONSTANTLY. Another favorite that I find myself quoting (to myself, usually) whenever I misplace something is the line from Young and Innocent, “what did I do with the belt!!???” and then I quietly, maniacally laugh (again, to myself.)
Whenever a co-worker gets a little snarky or a little overbearing, I use “Well I like that, without so much as a kiss my foot or haaaaaaave an apple!” from White Christmas. LOVE that line – have no clue what it means! Another favorite is “You’re killin’ me Smallz” from The Sandlot (not a true classic movie, but entertaining nonetheless).
I have been wanting to say “That’s for sure, that’s for dang sure” to somebody ever since I watched Battleground…but since I watched it by myself and nobody else in the house knows the joke, I’d only get odd looks. 🙂
But my family definitely does this all the time. Probably our most-quoted old movies are The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (“I could if I wanted but I don’t wanna, see, mug?”) and It’s a Wonderful Life (“And it goes for YOU, too!”). We also speak fluent BBC period drama—there is a Cranford, Pride and Prejudice or Martin Chuzzlewit quote for absolutely any occasion. Also lots of John Wayne.
I think my personal all-purpose favorite is from Ben Johnson in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: “That ain’t in my department.”
The one quote we love from “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” is when Van Johnson asks his wife
(Phyllis Thaxter) “Honey, How come you’re so Cute?”
She replies,” I had to be if I were going to get such a good-looking Fellow!”
This is repeated in the movie twice, and is quoted again right at the end.
If something is not working out in a situation, or I need to go to plan B, I like to say, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” from Jaws. Not what I consider a classic film, but an excellent film nonetheless 🙂
I say “Thank you ever so” and “Mutual, I’m sure.” Both MM, I think from How to Marry a Millionaire. Not sure any more, I’ve been saying them for so long. Clever post!
In White Christmas, there is a blonde gum-chewing showgirl Danny Kaye tries to set up with Bing Crosby – she responds to nearly everything anyone says to her with an exaggerated “Mew-chew-al, I’m shuuure!” Cracks me up every time.
OMG, Jessica, just the other day, my daughter asked me about men cheating, and I told her, “Women are so much more sensible. When we get tired of ourselves, we change the way we do our hair, or hire a new cook. A man could do over his office, but he never thinks of anything so simple. A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self in the mirror of some woman’s eyes.” She thought I was the most brilliant thing ever. LOL
That’s from the Women isn’t it?
It definitely is! In the film, it was Norma Shearer’s mother saying it to her. That line really made an impression on me.
“Say hello to my little friend” Dog Day Afternoon
All the time! My mum and I love to quote Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) – usually hollering “HE’S GOING TO TELL!!” or “But ya are, Blanche…”. My husband and I regularly quote the telephone operator in The Apartment (1960), complete with her adorable Brooklynese accent, whenever Thursday is mentioned: “Thursday?? But that’s The Untouchables with Bob Stack!!”
I find myself quoting old time radio a lot, too. For instance, Senator Claghorn from the Fred Allen Show: “That’s a joke, son” or “Your tongue’s a-flappin’ but nothin’s a-comin out!”
I can relate to what you write in the first paragraph so much – the blank stares, or the awkward explanations you find yourself giving (“Are you familiar with the actor Clark Gable? No…?”) Although, being an old Hollywood buff helped me figure out my husband was the man for me, from our very first date. I mentioned the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, and not only did he know what I was talking about, he had seen them all. 🙂