Top 25 Lines in Movie History

This list could easily be a top 300. So many great lines have been written in film history. Some were scripted while others were improvised on set. While it does not make a movie, a classic phrase can catapult a picture into the realm of unforgettable status. These are my Top 25 Lines in Movie History. Films with several famous lines will not be repeated. Each movie gets one.
25. ‘E.T. Phone Home’ (“E.T.”):


The generation one grew up in does not matter. Unless you are a pure cold hearted or bitter person, director Steven Spielberg’s brilliant children’s sci-fi film “E.T.” encapsulates the imagination we have in youth. The lost and accidentally abandoned E.T. loses his way during a routine peaceful observation of Earth. It is up to a group of kids protecting the alien creature from the cynical government adults. All he wants is to get back with his people. As he says with the most basic understanding of the English language; “E.T. PHONE HOME.”
24. ‘You Can’t Handle the Truth!’ (“A Few Good Men”):

Few Good Men

“A Few Good Men” would not have been nominated for a best picture award if it had not been for the climactic scene. The Rob Reiner directed military court drama is solid, but not great at all. Then you get Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, two all-timers, going at it on the stand. Cruise is trying to prove the innocence of two soldiers who were ordered to kill a soldier that was weak. Colonel Jessep gave that order, and once he has him in a corner on the stand, Cruise attacks. That is when, out of anger, Nicholson yells the famous words; “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
23. ‘Fasten Your Seatbelts, It’s Going To Be a Bumpy Night’ (“All About Eve”):

All About Eve

Perhaps one of the most used as well as misquoted lines in movie history was delivered by the legend Bette Davis in the 1950 classic “All About Eve”. A story that is relatable no matter the generation or art form, Oscar winner “Eve” is about an aging Broadway star in Bette Davis trying to fend off the hot up and coming new actresses the old white producers want. The battle to retain ones beauty is far more difficult for actresses than actors. Fed up and a bit tipsy during a party, Davis utters the screw you phrase as she is being pushed out; “FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY NIGHT.”
22. ‘I Have a Particular Set of Skills’ (“Taken”):


Look, “Taken” is not a very good movie. The fight scenes are poorly shot and the premise is ridiculous if you think about it. Why Liam Neeson decided to stop actually acting to become a half-ass action star is beyond me. However, his mini-monologue over the phone in the original installment is iconic. With his daughter being kidnapped while on vacation in Europe by sex traffickers, Neeson delivers one of the most frightening pieces of dialogue any kidnapper could here. It is their dumbass fault to not listen; “I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR RANSOM, I CAN TELL YOU I DON’T HAVE IT. BUT WHAT I DO HAVE ARE A PARTICULAR SET OF SKILLS, SKILLS I HAVE ACQUIRED OVER A VERY LONG PERIOD. SKILLS THAT MAKE ME A NIGHTMARE FOR YOU. IF YOU LET MY DAUGHTER GO NOW, THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT. I WILL NOT LOOK FOR YOU, I WILL NOT PURSUE YOU. BUT IF YOU DON’T, I WILL LOOK FOR YOU, I WILL FIND YOU, AND I WILL KILL YOU.”
21. ‘Houston, We Have a Problem’ (“Apollo 13”):

Apollo 13

One of America’s most legendary trips to the moon during which the astronauts never landed. “Apollo 13” chronicles the struggles of multiple faults as well as creative scientific research that was simply destined for disaster no matter the safety measures taken. The crew cannot wait to see something few have in history. Then a random piece of equipment blows the ship off course and instead of achieving the ultimate adventurer’s dream, three men have to battle in order to make it back home. The dream of stepping on the moon is done. The battle for pure survival begins with three simple words; “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.”
20. ‘They Call Me Mr. Tibbs’ (“In the Heat of The Night”):

Mr Tibbs

While racial tension continues to exist, the height was the civil rights movement. Legendary actor Sidney Poitier was at the center of a best picture winner tackling that subject with “In the Heat of the Night”. Set in Sparta, Mississippi, Detective Virgil Tibbs is arrested for being black in the racist southern community while trying to catch a train home. Once the racist local sheriff gets word that Tibbs is the top detective in Philadelphia, he swallows his pride and reluctantly asks if the detective will help in solving a murder. Still surrounded by a racist police force, he  asked ‘What do they call you boy?” He responds very simply; “THEY CALL ME MR. TIBBS!”
19. ‘No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Die’ (“Goldfinger”):


While obviously both “Shaken, Not Stirred” and “Bond, James Bond” are the most recognizable in a series that has lasted 60 years, the best single phrase came in my favorite installment of the series. “Goldfinger” stars the greatest Bond in Sean Connery as he goes up against the villainous madmen of the titular name as he is attempting to rob Fort Knox. The highlight is when Bond is captured and wakes up tied to a table with a laser going straight towards his crotch. As Goldfinger walks away James asks “Do you expect me to talk”. In the most devious way Goldfinger responds; “NO MR. BOND, I EXPECT YOU TO DIE!”
18. ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ (“When Harry Met Sally…”):

Harry Sally

“When Harry Met Sally…” is not the most conventional romantic comedy. It takes years for Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal to finally realize they are meant to be. Harry is an egotist and Sally is a control freak when they first meet in college. Fate continually brings them together as each experiences their own relationships. They even have a brief sexual relationship along the way before finally getting together. The highlight scene is when Harry says that he can tell if a woman is faking it in the bedroom and that it has never happened to him. In a crowded diner, Sally re-enacts the most epic and loud orgasm that has the whole restaurant watching. When she “climaxes”, an older lady says one of the funniest lines in old people history when she leans over to the waiter and says; “I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING.”
17. ‘This is Nothing!’ (“Wag the Dog”):

Wag Dog

In today’s politically corrupt atmosphere amped to 11, a movie like “Wag the Dog” suddenly does not seem so far fetched. Robert DeNiro plays a shady Mr. Fix-It man who is called to the White House weeks before an upcoming election. The current president, fighting for a second term, is caught molesting a girl scout. In order to divert the media coverage, the Washington team turn to Hoffman’s character, a big time Hollywood producer, to create and produce a fake war. From green screened villagers running from destruction to a fake hero coming home, a psychopath played by Woody Harrelson,  the scheme works to get the president re-elected. Not everything goes according to plan. But for Hoffman, he is never concerned, constantly citing on set experiences from the past. When something bad happens, he just screams; “THIS IS NOTHING!”
16. ‘We’re on a Mission From God’ (“The Blues Brothers”):

Blues Brothers

Of all the comedies based on “Saturday Night Live” characters, there is none better than the 1980’s classic musical “The Blues Brothers”. Dan Akroyd and the late John Belushi created a sketch featuring two white guys who grew up in an orphanage and eventually started a large jazz band. After a stupid heist and prison stint, Joliet Jake is released from prison. His brother Elwood Blues picks him up and the brothers find out the parish they grew up in is going under. In order to raise money to save the parish, Jake and Elwood plan on holding a huge concert once they get the band back together. The duo has several hurtles to go through, starting with a mis-understood traffic stop that turns into a car chase in a mall. Over-the-top musical numbers featuring musical legends such as Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles are combined with slap-stick comedy. The entire adventure gets going after the guys visit a black church led by James Brown as preacher when they see the light. From there, The Blues Brothers have one mantra to save their childhood home; “WE’RE ON A MISSION FROM GOD.”
15. ‘Get To Da Choppa!!!!’ (“Predator”):


Arnold Schwarzenegger, while not a great actor,  has so many amazing lines throughout the years that ‘TRUMPS’ any action star. He is the G.O.A.T. when it come to killing. “Predator” is not my favorite of his movies. The first half is ridiculous and the surrounding crew cannot act to save their lives. Maybe Carl Weathers. Arnie carried this far-fetched bad boy. Yet his most iconic line came from this sci-fi shooter. With almost his entire battalion lost, the military leader is attempting to make sure the few survivors get away safe while fighting a camouflaged alien hunter. Before the final face-off, two members are left and Arnie fends off the creature so that the remaining survivors can do one thing; “GET TO DA CHOPPA!”
14. ‘There’s No Crying in Baseball!’ (“A League of Their Own”):

League Own

With all of the young men fighting during WWII, America’s favorite sport was put on hold. Professional baseball could not go on without the women at home playing for those back home looking for a distraction. A former player and drunk named Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is tasked with managing an all-girls team in “A League of Their Own”. Dugan is embarrassed in coaching girls for the make-shift Chicago team. Ultimately a heart warmer that redeems the coach and raises the confidence of women in the 1940’s, the road toward that good ending is rough. Tom Hanks’ character loses his shit during a game, screaming at a player until she bursts into tears. At the end of his rope and not coming out of the tunnel of sadness, Coach gets into her face and says; “ARE YOU CRYING? THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”
13. ‘I Wish I Knew How To Quit You’ (“Brokeback Mountain”):


I am not a gay man, but I have zero qualms with whom one decides to love. Whatever you do behind closed doors as well as out in the open that makes you happy is a beautiful thing.  “Brokeback Mountain” was only controversial because people remain to this day closed minded and hate what they do not agree with.  “Brokeback” angered people because it was about gay cowboys, a culture in which you ain’t supposed to be homosexual. The romance portrayed by Heath Ledger (R.I.P.) and Jake Gyllenhaal is poetic and also a struggle at the same time. With society pressuring the ranchers to be straight, Gyllenhaal lets out a harrowing statement and ultimate realization of feelings; “I WISH I KNEW HOW TO QUIT YOU.”
12. ‘I Am Not An Animal!’ (“The Elephant Man”):

Elephant Man

One of the worst parts of society is our constant fear and demonizing of what is different. This is not generational, it is a human trait we can never overcome as a collection of mammals. Based on a true story, director David Lynch chronicles the life of John Merrick in “The Elephant Man”. A circus act and eventual scientific wonder, Merrick was born with an extreme case of elephantiasis that made the man look like a monster. Unless doing a forced circus performance or being a scientific guinea pig in Victorian England, John lived every day covered in raggedy clothes and a bag with a hole on his head. The big moment comes when Merrick escapes the scientists and simply attempts to ride the train. Drunk citizens pick on the “disgusting creature” before enough is enough. The Elephant Man lashes out with the simple desire to be accepted; “I AM NOT AN ANIMAL! I AM A HUMAN BEING! I… AM… A MAN!”
11. ‘Life is Like a Box of Chocolates’ (“Forrest Gump”)


Tom Hanks comes up once again. He is basically the Michael Jordan of famous quotes. No doubt his most recognizable line happens at the very start of “Forrest Gump”. Winning his second consecutive Oscar, Hanks is excellent as a perceived simpleton who ended up having one of the most unbelievable journeys in life. The one thing missing is the woman he has always loved, Jenny. Having achieved so much, even becoming a millionaire, he sits on a bus bench waiting for a ride to see the woman he loves. Several visitors join him on the bench as he tells his story. The first is a nurse trying to ignore Forrest. After kindly offering her a treat the lament on his journey begins with a simple phrase; “LIFE IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET.”
10. ‘You Shall Not Pass!’ (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”):

Lord Rings

The last true traditional epic that was great started in 2001 with Peter Jackson’s mammoth “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings”. A five year journey of filmmaking if you include reshoots, “The Lord of The Rings” was referenced by many critics as destined to be the most expensive made-for-TV series ever. Wrong. In the initial installment the fellowship takes off to destroy the ring. One of the major hurdles comes in the Mines of Moria, an underground mining structure originally created by Dwarves. After battling thousands of evil Orc’s, the crew is almost safe when a monstrous demon known as The Balrog shows up. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is the most powerful member of the crew as the wizard. To ensure the rest of the fellowship escapes he turns to face the beast and yells one of the most badass lines in fantasy history; “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
9. ‘Show Me The Money!’ (“Jerry Maguire”):


So many excellent quotes came out of one of the best rom-com’s ever in “Jerry Maguire”. If you’re a romantic, which I am, it does not get much better than “You Complete Me” at the end. But for me I had to go with the moment when Tom Cruise’s titular character loses his mind early while trying to hang on to a client. Maguire, a great sports agent, has been fired and is desperate to keep his top level clients. The only one he can hold on to is an eccentric wide receiver played by Cuba Gooding Jr. The only stipulation is that jerry does one thing; “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”
8. ‘I Drink Your Milk Shake(“There Will Be Blood”):

There Blood

One of the most dominating characters performed by one of the most powerful actors in history came in “There Will Be Blood”. Daniel-Day Lewis gave us an Oscar winning turn as the cut throat Oil Barron Daniel Plainview who will stop at nothing to milk every last drop from the breast of the Earth when it comes to the black substance that runs the world. He goes up against a preacher in Paul Dano who thinks that he is as smart as Plainview, the madman crushes him, literally. The duel ends with the wimpy preacher begging the rich man for help. After explaining how “Drainage” works in the oil business, Day-Lewis embarrasses the man in the worst way possible; “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT ALL UP! IF YOU HAVE A MILKSHAKE, AND I HAVE A MILKSHAKE, THERE IS A STRAW. WE EACH HAVE A STRAW. NOW MY STRAW REACHES ACROSS THE ROOM AND DRINKS YOUR MILKSHAKE. I DRINK IT ALL UP!”
7. ‘Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother F-er’ (“Die Hard”):

Die Hard

For my money, the best pure action movie ever made is “Die Hard”. Not known as an action star, Bruce Willis stars in a Christmas movie centered around a terrorist take over. In an attempt to save his marriage, John McClane travels to Los Angeles for the holiday when a group led by the awesome bad guy Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) invading the giant corporate firm Holly McClane works for and holds everyone hostage during the company Christmas Party. They were not counting on a badass rugged cop to be in the building. As he picks away at the group of flunkies, Gruber gets increasingly irritated with John. The ultimate middle finger comes when, over the radio, McClane tells the bad guy; “YIPPEE-KI-YAY MOTHER FUCKER!”
6. ‘Rosebud’ (“Citizen Kane”):

Citizen Kane

One word. That was all it took to start one of the most historically important films in history. The Orson Welles classic “Citizen Kane” is the standard when it comes to introducing film students and lovers to real cinema. The story of Charles Foster Kane (Welles) rising from poverty to becoming one of the richest people in the world living in his self created world of Xanadu as the richest man in the worlds not the great life one would think. The mystery comes as reporters try to understand the final word the mega-mogul utters. In one word only; “ROSEBUD”.
5. ‘Do You Feel Lucky Punk?’ (“Dirty Harry”):

Dirty Harry

So many badass characters Clint Eastwood has played in his career. My favorite has got to be “Dirty Harry”. The rogue cop with a no-nonsense attitude almost doesn’t need a weapon other than his menacing stare. Bad guys have no shot, and the first in the series came right out of the gate dripping with bad-assery. The final shootout ends with Clint in a showdown with the main bad guy and daring him; “Uh uh. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
4. ‘A Failure to Communicate’ (“Cool Hand Luke”):

Cool Luke

Today the younger generation knows Paul Newman for his exquisite selection of salad dressings at the grocery store. Back  in the day he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world. One of his best turns was in the prison drama/comedy “Cool Hand Luke”. A total hot head, Luke is a magnet for trouble. As part of a chain-gang prisoner in the South, Luke continually escapes his shackles and cell only to be hunted down. And all he did initially was get drunk and break a bunch of parking toll machines. The domineering sheriff gets tired of the prison group on one hot afternoon as they are shoveling a ditch and takes it out on Luke and the rest of the prisoners. As they are all down ready to grab their shovels, the sheriff utters one very simple phrase; “NOW, WHAT WE’VE GOT HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE. SOME MEN YOU JUST CAN’T REACH…”
3. ‘You Talkin’ To Me?’ (“Taxi Driver”):

Taxi Driver

Long time collaborators Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese have made so many great films throughout the years. The most divisive and controversial is perhaps “Taxi Driver”. Film nerds love it. Average movie-goers are turned off by its violent nature. The story follows Travis Bickle (DeNiro) who comes to New York and sees how evil people are to one another in the big city. He arms himself and is ready to get what he sees as the scum off the streets. Practicing his quick draw skills in front of a mirror, DeNiro utters the famous words; “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME? YOU TALKIN’ TO ME? I DON’T SEE NOBODY ELSE AROUND SO YOU MUST BE TALKING TO ME.”
2. ‘Play it Sam. Play As Time Goes By’ (“Casablanca”):


Can you believe that an all-time classic like “Casablanca”was literally being written while they were filming it!? Pre-production was so behind that the producers said just start and we’ll figure it out. What a product to come out of throwing things together last minute. There are so many classic lines uttered in this Oscar winning classic. For me, I have to go with another often mis-quoted line. Having lost love due to the war, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are suddenly placed together in a complicated situation involving important information against the Nazi brigade. For one brief moment, Bergman sees her former love’s best friend Sam playing piano. Finding a sliver of happiness is beautiful as she asks the singer; “PLAY IT SAM. PLAY AS TIME GOES BY.”
1. ‘I’m Gonna Make Him An Offer He Can’t Refuse’ (“The Godfather”):


For my money, the most classic and universal movie ever. Not best to me personally, but most renowned in the collection of film history. While not the first gangster film by a long shot, the Mount Rushmore of Mafia tales begins and ends with “The Godfather”. The story of Don Vito Corleone and his family is an epic tail. It took the man, played by Marlon Brando, years to create a strong mafioso group while also maintaining a strict code of honor with his affairs and transactions. The signature line comes when a singer and friend of the family is begging the Don to help him get a part in a Hollywood picture. Corleone says very plainly; “I’M GONNA MAKE HIM AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE.”

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