Say it again, Sam

Hot on the heels of the Oscars, an avid movie fan shares her favorite lines from the silver screen

ice age 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ice age 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Delighted to report that HOT had the good sense to air the Academy Awards again this year (unlike the Emmys, which the cable network neglected to air for its loyal TV fans), I am still basking in the afterglow of all the glitz and glamor of one of my favorite annual events. No matter how bad or good the Oscar extravaganza is from year to year, I am always enthralled to watch what the proceedings and see the Hollywood who’s who do and say no matter what.
For me, one of the highlights of Sunday night’s show came toward the end, as they were preparing to announce the winner in the Best Actress category. Among the nominees were nine-year old Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and 86-year old Emmanuelle Riva (Amour). The show was running long, and host Seth MacFarlane said, “So who will win the Oscar for Best Actress? Will it be nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis or Emmanuelle Riva, who was nine when this show started?” I love a good line, be it a pithy remark or a clever play on words, and I have an arsenal of them stored in my brain, with a special category for great lines from the movies.
In keeping with the Oscar show itself, for example, I will always remember what Bob Hope, the consummate Oscar host for 14 years, said at one of the shows. Having made umpteen movies and never having won an award at that point, he quipped, “Welcome to the Academy Awards, or as we call it at my house, Passover.”
Many lines from the movies have become part of our lexicon. Phrases such as “Make my day,” “You had me at hello,” “We’ll always have Paris,” “Make him an offer he can’t refuse,” “Hasta la vista, baby” and “Frankly, my dear...” have become common expressions in our vernacular. For some of the lesser-known quotable quotes, let’s dig a little into my verbal vault and see what comes up.
In the early days of film, stars like Mae West had some wonderful lines. The ultimate vamp of her time, Mae West was notorious for her provocative “Come up and see me some time.” In the film Night after Night, when a hat check girl comments on the jewelry she is wearing and gasps, “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!” West responds with a sultry, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.”
In a slight digression in that vein, glamorous movie star Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has been married nine times, was asked about the protocol of breaking an engagement.
“Do you give back the ring?” a woman asked her. “Yes, darling, you give back the ring,” she replied, “but you keep the diamond.”
Coming up to more modern times, one of my favorite lines comes from Body Heat, when Kathleen Turner says to William Hurt, “You’re not very bright, are you? I like that in a man.”
In a similar tone, in a film I saw years ago, a woman says to a real charmer, “Do I know you or just your type?” When it comes to the tough guys in the movies, they have been given some hardhitting things to say. In the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, the inimitable – but oft imitated – John Wayne says, “Never apologize; it’s a sign of weakness.”
In Pulp Fiction, Harvey Keitel plays Winston “the Wolf” Wolfe, a man who cleans up other people’s nasty work. When Quentin Tarantino calls him to come to his house to dispose of a dead body, the cool Keitel says on the phone, “That’s 30 minutes away; I’ll be there in 10.”
In one of the Raymond Chandler-based films, Robert Mitchum as detective Philip Marlowe enters into the following dialogue. A female client says to him, “For a tough guy, you can be pretty soft.” And he says, “In my business, you’ve got to be tough to stay alive. But if I didn’t know how to be soft, I wouldn’t deserve to be alive.”
But they don’t come more hard-hitting than the totally un-politically correct line delivered by Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon when he says, “I never met a dame who didn’t understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a Colt .45.”
In a more romantic mode, Audrey Hepburn says to Cary Grant in Charade, “You know what’s wrong with you? Absolutely nothing!” While in a more pithy mode, Al Pacino says in Glengarry Glen Ross, “I always tell the truth – it’s easier to remember.”
In the drama Ship of Fools, set in 1933, Jose Ferrer says to a fellow passenger, “You know it is a historical fact that the Jews are the basis of our misfortunes.”
“Yes,” the man says, “the Jews and the bicycle riders.”
“Why the bicycle riders?” says Ferrer.
“Why the Jews?” the man replies.
In a lighter mood, some of my favorite lines come from such unlikely sources as animated films and George Hamilton movies. In the animated film Ice Age II, the Arctic creatures have to move to safer ground because the ice caps are melting.
As the procession of quirky denizens makes its way along the tundra with all their belongings, one of the characters gripes, “Why do we have to take all this crap with us? Don’t they have crap where we’re going?” And his mate responds, “Yes, but this is our crap.”
The handsome George Hamilton, touted in Hollywood more for his perennial tan than for his acting skills, is actually a very good comic actor. In Zorro the Gay Blade, the scene opens in a boudoir in Madrid, with Hamilton locked in an amorous embrace with a beautiful woman.
“Do you think I’m a good wife?” she asks.
“Yes, I think you’re a wonderful wife,” he replies.
“So why doesn’t my husband think so?” she says.
To which he responds with a heavily inflected, “Because your husband is not intelligent; he is not insightful; he is not intuitive...”
At which point a portly man wielding a weapon jumps out from behind a curtain and cries, “And he is not in Barcelona!” But of all my favorite lines from the movies, the award goes to the one delivered by Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch. In the film, he plays a middle-aged married man whose wife is out of town, and there’s a heat wave in New York. Marilyn Monroe plays a former model who temporarily rents an apartment upstairs from him. At one point, she goes down to visit him – and his air conditioner. As she sits there, patently seductive and looking hot in every sense of the word, Ewell says to her, “Who do you think you are – Marilyn Monroe?” And speaking of awards as such, a truly memorable line about winning came not from the movies but from real life.
After US figure skating champion Michelle Kwan won the silver medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, she appeared on the Tonight Show. When host Jay Leno asked her, “So how did it feel to lose the gold?” Kwan smiled and answered, “I didn’t lose the gold – I won the silver.”
Here’s looking at you, kid.