Why Do Movie Quotes Keep Popping Into My Head?

We’re all “Mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

I know I’m not alone in this. Something happens in my day, either ordinary or extraordinary, and my initial reaction, the first thing that pops into my head, is a movie quote. Mostly, to be honest, I hear Homer Simpson’s voice — “D’oh!” — every time I screw something up. Homer puts it better, more accurately and more succinctly than I ever could. But, I also hear Howard Beale’s voice shouting “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” every time a Republican opens their lie-hole. Hell, as I contemplate what the Republicans are doing right now to America, Edward G. Robinson at the end of “Little Caesar” suddenly pops up: “Is this the end of Rico?”

Edward G. Robinson asks at the end of “Little Caesar”: “Is this the end of Rico?”

As I look around at the madness on all sides, Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy slides into frame, shaking his head in mild exasperation (because Sundance has just chuckled “You keep thinking, Butch, that’s what you’re good at!”): “Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals”. It sure does feel that way more often than I care to admit.

Sundance: “You just keep thinking, Butch, that’s what you’re good at!:” Butch: “Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

But then, “Butch’s” insistence — a few minutes later in the film when Ted Cassidy as Harvey Logan forces Butch into a do or (literally) die knife fight. Butch breaks Harvey’s momentum by demanding that, first, they go over the rules. I become Harvey: “Rules? In a knife fight?” And, boy, do I feel what comes to Harvey.

Butch is smart. So was Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest”. Faye’s Joan may not have won any “Mother Of The Year” awards (“No more wire hangers!”) but she certainly knew how to put a roomful of hostiles on notice (or a roomful of anybody not on your side as a hard negotiation begins): “Don’t f*ck with me fellas, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo!”

Hey — how many times has someone walked in the door bringing chaos with them and, as you look at them, Crash Davis’ voice inside your head demands in the middle of their insanity: “Who dresses you?”

At the end, of course, Crash falls for Susan Sarandon’s Annie Savoy though, considering how wonky Susan Sarandon’s politics are, it probably won’t be too long before Crash starts thinking like Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist wishing he “knew how to quit” Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar.

Ah, the human mystery. That’s what movie quotes nail better than almost anything. They’re pithy word Mcnuggets that capture the universe or life or living perfectly. “We’ll always have Paris”. “Oh dear, I have trod in monsieur’s bucket!” “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me… aren’t you?” “You’ve got me? Who’s got YOU?” “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”. “May the force be with you.” “Go ahead, make my day”. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”. “I’ll be back”. “They’re here!” “Houston, we have a problem”, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”. “It’s alive!” “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into”. “Here’s Johnny!” “Is it safe?” “Nobody puts baby in a corner”, “Of all the gin joints in all the world, she walks into mine”, “What a dump!” (which gets bonus points for being referenced by Elizabeth Taylor as Martha in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?)”, “Say hello to my little friend!” and “Show me the MONEY!”

Here’s one I say literally EVERY TIME I drive through LA’s Chinatown: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown”. It’s stupid, I know — but I can’t help myself.

Finally, there’s one movie quote I wish popped into my head. Malcolm McDowell as Alex, the “hero” of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”. It’s at the very end of the movie — it’s the very last line and the irony sums up everything, well, perfectly: “I was cured alright!”

Oh, to be cured of this madness!

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