Cinema has been the most influential form of art. Movies not only sold stories, but also dreams that made the masses imagine themselves in the situations they saw their favorite heroes/heroines in. With their massive impact on popular culture, films went on to influence fashion, our outlook towards life, and mostly importantly, language. Film dialogues have often found their ways into our daily conversations. So without further ado, here we present to you our list of the 50 greatest quotes in film history:
50. Dirty Harry (1971)
After the Dollars trilogy, the ‘Dirty Harry‘ franchise pushed forward Clint Eastwood‘s status as Hollywood’s Mr. Macho. In this series, he portrays police detective Harry Callahan, a man who doesn’t mind bending the law to meet his goals. In a bank robbery scene in the first film, Harry points his revolver at a robber at the final stages of a shootout and rather nonchalantly says, “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 kind of lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”
49. Some Like It Hot (1959)
In this hilarious roller-coaster of a film by the legendary Billy Wilder, the lead actors spend most of the time disguised as two women. It so happens that an old man called Osgood falls for one of these disguised men who now goes by the name Daphne. When Daphne, whose actual name is Jerry, tries convincing Osgood that he’s not a woman, the old man simply says, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” The film ends with this very line and sums up all the characters in it perfectly.
48. Apollo 13 (1995)
Based on the true story of the Apollo 13 mission, this critically acclaimed film sees Tom Hanks play the role of Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell. It is when the ship starts malfunctioning, Lowell makes his command center in Houston aware of the situation by uttering the line which is now considered one of the most iconic in cinema history: “Houston, we have a problem.”
47. Chinatown (1974)
We cannot give you details of the exact situation when this quote was said since it happens at the climax of the film. But just know that the central character Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) gives in all his might to pin down the criminal throughout the film. However, the last scene gives him such a blow that he’s completely devastated by it. Then one of his acquaintances puts things in perspective for Jack by saying, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”
46. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick‘s 1980 psychological horror film has always polarized critics and audiences. Be that as it may, no one can deny the brilliance of Jack Nicholson after watching his performance in the film. Nicholson’s character Jack, after he loses his sanity, attacks his wife and son with an ax. When he manages to ax down a door behind which his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) has taken shelter, Jack sticks his head in, and with an evil smile on his face, utters, “Here’s Johnny!” Interestingly, this line was completely improvised by Nicholson.
45. Planet of the Apes (1968)
In this iconic 1968 film, Charlton Heston plays the character of George Taylor, an astronaut. When he lands on a foreign planet along with his colleagues Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton), Taylor witnesses the planet being run by a population of apes. It is during his capture that Taylor utters the now-famous line “Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.”
44. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Stanley Kubrick’s masterful creation ‘Dr. Strangelove’ imagines a world where the Cold War has reached such a point that America is about to attack Russia using nuclear weapons. When the President wants to stop this attack from happening, he invites all the major players in the country’s defense sector to the Pentagon. When a high-ranking army general and the Russian ambassador get into a scuffle during the meeting, the President utters the ironic line, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
43. Goldfinger (1964)
Though this line was first used in the very first James Bond novel ‘Casino Royale’ itself, it would not find a translation to television until 1964’s ‘Goldfinger’ when Bond instructs a bartender for a drink using the phrase “A martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
42. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The film that put M. Night Shyamalan on the map, ‘The Sixth Sense‘ became a major hit soon after its release. The central character of the film is Cole Sear. When Cole’s mother seeks the help of child psychologist Malcolm Crowe for her son’s bizarre behavior, Crowe (Bruce Willis) at first has a hard time figuring out the reason for the same, until one day Cole confides in him by saying, “I see dead people.”
41. Casablanca (1942)
This is a film which will pop up frequently on this list. ‘Casablanca‘ has some of the most iconic phrases in film history. Among them, the line “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”, is uttered by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), after his former lover Ilsa Lund walks into his bar in Casablanca with her husband.
40. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
One of the best films in Al Pacino‘s illustrious career, ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ is about the real-life attempted bank robbery carried out by Sonny Wortzik, along with his friends Salvatore “Sal” Naturale, and Stevie. However, things do not go according to plan and soon, the police surround the bank and passers-by gather around to witness the entire fiasco. During one of his negotiations with the police, Sonny comes out and shouts “Attica! Attica!”, only for the crowd to cheer him on. Sonny here was referring to the 1971 Attica Prison uprising.
39. Forrest Gump (1995)
One of the most popular films of the 1990s, ‘Forrest Gump‘ stars Tom Hanks in the leading role. Forrest’s mother is an exceptionally strong woman and always asked her son to keep his chin up even after realizing he is much slower than kids his age. Even when Forrest grows up, he remembers how his mother encouraged him: “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The line becomes the theme of the film as Forrest somehow becomes a part of some of the most important moments in 20th century American history.
38. The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron has always been a trendsetter. He has really pushed the boundaries of cinema and changed the way blockbuster movies were made, like Steven Spielberg. In his iconic 1984 sci-fi action film, ‘The Terminator‘ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the eponymous cyborg utters the line, “I’ll be back” to a desk officer when he is refused entry into a police station where his targets Sarah Connor and her son are being held.
37. Jaws (1975)
The first-ever summer blockbuster, ‘Jaws‘ is the film that turned Spielberg overnight into a Blockbuster messiah. The most famous line from the film, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, is spoken by Roy Scheider’s Sheriff Brody when he first sees the size of the shark he’s trying to catch along with Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw.
36. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
This John Huston directorial is one of the best films in Humphrey Bogart’s glorious career. When Bogart’s character Fred C. Dobbs asks one Mexican bandit leader called Gold Hat to show him his badge if his claim to be a police officer is true, Gold Hat refuses to do so, and instead delivers the iconic line: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”
35. Scarface (1983)
Brian DePalma’s 1983 gangster film ‘Scarface’ sees Al Pacino play the role of a Cuban refugee called Tony Montana who becomes one of the biggest cocaine smugglers in America. In the final act of the film, when Pacino’s character is about to be overpowered by a bunch of killers sent to assassinate him, he comes out with a huge assault rifle and says the line “Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!” before blowing off two of the hitmen.
34. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
One of the most famous romantic comedies of all time, ‘When Harry Met Sally’ stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the leading roles. In one of the scenes when Harry and Sally are in a restaurant, Sally fakes an orgasm to show how it is done. She’s so loud about it that many other patrons take notice. Among them is an old lady, who is so intrigued by the orgasm that she tells the waiter “I’ll have what she’s having”, pointing towards Sally.
33. A Few Good Men (1992)
Tom Cruise in this film had to display his acting skills in front of one of the most iconic actors in film history, Jack Nicholson. In one of the scenes where Cruise’s character Daniel Kaffee asks Nicholson’s character Base Commander Colonel Nathan Jessup the truth regarding the murder of Private First Class William Santiago, Jessup taunts him by saying, “You can’t handle the truth!”
32. Casablanca (1942)
‘Casablanca’ makes another entry in this list. This time, when Rick shoots Major Strasser, as the latter would’ve prevented Ilsa’s escape, only Renault, the commander of the local police, witnesses the incident. However, he does not arrest Rick, and instead orders his people to “Round up the usual suspects”. The line has since then entered film folklore, and also inspired the title of the next film on this list.
31. The Usual Suspects (1995)
The film which turned Kevin Spacey into a superstar, ‘The Usual Suspects‘ directed by Brian Singer is one of the coolest neo-noir thrillers you’ll ever come across. Spacey here plays the role of Verbal Kint. It is his interrogation with the police which forms a major part of the narrative. Without going into details, we’ll just say that at the end of the film, after Verbal emerges from the interrogation unscathed, we get a flash of a scene where Verbal tells detective Dave Kujan, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
30. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight star in this 1969 film as Joe Buck and Ratso respectively. When Joe arrives at new York from a rural area, he finds a friend in Ratso, a hustler. During one of the scenes where the two are walking together on the pavement, Ratso stops an incoming cab by yelling at the driver, “I’m walking here! I’m walking here!” Hoffman completely improvised the scene and it was so much in character that the director decided to keep the scene in the movie.
29. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Quentin Tarantino‘s sophomore venture ‘Pulp Fiction‘ went on to become one of the most influential films in history. In the film, just before shooting Bret and his friends, Marsellus Wallace’s hitman Jules utters a distorted quote from the Bible, the Ezekiel 25:17: “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”
28. Casablanca (1942)
Well, I did warn you this film is going to pop up frequently on this list. This time, we focus on the scene where Ilsa and her husband have arrived at Rick’s bar for the first time. Ilsa remembers Sam, who is now working as the bar’s in-house pianist. She requests him to play a song by saying, “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” The line is often mistakenly attributed to Bogart, but it is actually Ingrid Bergman who utters this famous line in the film.
27. Gone With the Wind (1939)
Margaret Mitchells’ Civil War-era novel ‘Gone With The Wind’ was adapted for the silver screen in the year 1939. The film became as famous as the book, and the line “Tomorrow is another day”, which is first used in the book, became an iconic film quote after Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) uttered it in the film. The line is said at the end of the film when Rhett Butler leaves O’Hara.
26. The Graduate (1967)
‘The Graduate‘ is the film which turned Dustin Hoffman into a major Hollywood star. At one point in the film, Hoffman’s character Benjamin is asked by Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s law partner, to take her home. At the house, her seductive behavior prompts Benjamin to ask her, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”
25. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is the central character of the ‘Godfather‘ trilogy. According to many, his performance in the second film, ‘The Godfather Part II’ is better than the one in its predecessor. After a failed assassination attempt on Michael, he advises one of his hitmen to play it cool, so that the enemy does not know his identity has been revealed. Michael explains his strategy by saying that his father has taught him a lot of things, but the most important one among them was, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
24. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Directed by Billy Wilder, ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is a film about an aging star of the silent era, whose stardom has faded after the talkie era of Hollywood began. Norma Desmond, the character in question, utters the now-iconic line “I am big! It’s the pictures that got small” when struggling writer Joe Gillis recognizes her and remarks that she used to be big during the silent era.
23. Dr. No (1962)
The coolest detective in the history of fiction, James Bond, appeared for the first time on the silver screen in this film with Sean Connery playing the character. We first meet Bond in a casino, wearing a crisp tuxedo and playing poker when a woman asks him his name. Bond lights a cigarette with his trademark suave and simply utters, “Bond. James Bond.”
22. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Tom Cruise plays the eponymous central character in this film. Maguire is a sports agent who looks after the financial interests of footballer Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). Dissatisfied with Maguire’s performance at one point, Rod clearly asks him, “Show me the money”, if Maguire wants to keep working for him.
21. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
One of the finest films of the 1990s, ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ is the story of a serial killer called Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and a young FBI rookie, Clarice Starling. When Clarice pays Dr. Lecter a visit in prison to take his help regarding a serial killing case, Dr. Lecter very casually explains to her how he deals with humans he doesn’t like: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
20. White Heat (1949)
James Cagney stars in this 1949 classic, which is one of the greatest film noirs of all time. Cagney’s character Cody Jarrett is a gangster whom we see running for his life at the very end of the film. When Cody realizes he has nowhere else to hide, he blows up the gas tank on which he has been sitting, and shouts out “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” as he is literally blasted high into the sky.
19. Network (1976)
Sidney Lumet‘s 1976 film ‘Network’ is one of the finest commentaries on television media culture and how news has become nothing but a commodity one has to sell to the population. In one of his appearances on the television, Howard Beale, who earlier claims he will be committing suicide on air, shouts out, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”. He clearly means that he is frustrated with the commodification of news and will not subscribe to this buffoonery in the name of newscasting any longer.
18. Casablanca (1942)
‘Casablanca’ makes its appearance once again! And let me assure you, this is not the last time. After saving Louis by not ratting on him, Rick and Renault walk towards the city in a dense fog. And while walking, Rick, touched by Renault’s kindness, says, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
17. Citizen Kane (1941)
Orson Welles established himself as a force to be reckoned with after the release of his seminal debut feature ‘Citizen Kane’. The most famous quote from the film is a single word, “Rosebud”, which Kane utters on his deathbed. It is this word which forms a leitmotif throughout the film and keeps coming back at very important moments. A reporter tries to find the meaning of the word, but the meaning remains in the shadows forever. There are now many interpretations of the word, but Welles never spoke about its meaning.
16. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Paul Newman’s prison drama from 1967, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, is considered one of the greatest in its genre. Newman’s character, Luke, is not a very obedient prisoner and always talks back to the police whenever he finds an opportunity to do so. The captain, who is in charge of maintaining order and discipline in the prison, does not appreciate this behavior of Luke’s and tortures him heavily to make him understand that talking back won’t get him anywhere. Pretending that Luke has failed to understand his message, the captain says, “What we’ve got here…is failure to communicate.”
15. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
This famous Steven Spielberg directorial is among the few heartwarming films which do not see aliens as some massive threat. The alien in the film, who’s known simply as E.T., wants to go back home. But he needs to communicate with his home planet for doing so. He tries and explains his desire to his friend Elliot that he wants to send a message home by saying “E.T. phone home.”
14. Love Story (1970)
‘Love Story’ by Arthur Hiller is one of the most melodramatic Hollywood films you will ever see. The film centers around the romantic relationship between the characters Oliver and Jenny. Just before Jenny dies of cancer, the couple have a huge argument. When Oliver goes to Jenny to apologize for his behavior, she utters the corniest line in this entire list, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
13. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
One of the most tense films you will ever watch, ‘The Maltese Falcon’ stars Humphrey Bogart as the detective Sam Spade who comes in contact with a lady who hires him for a case. After an intense cat-and-mouse chase, we understand that one statuette is the center of all the events of the film. When the police take away the villain for the last time, Spade tells them to take away the statuette as well. When one of the officers asks him what it is, he simply replies, “The stuff that dreams are made of.”
12. King Kong (1933)
In the 1933 ‘King Kong’ film, the now-famous ape made its first onscreen appearance. As the story goes, it was the ape’s affection for the central female character of the film which makes the giant creature take her and climb up to the top of the Empire State Building. After the army planes shoot down the beast, the director Carl Denham, whose crew first spotted the creature, comments: “Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”
11. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
The iconic film noir again makes an appearance on this list. Norma Desmond is a character who lives with her past glory. She is so disillusioned that she continues to imagine herself as a huge star who still has her best years ahead. At the very end of the film, when the police come to arrest her for murder (let’s keep the victim’s name under the wraps, shall we?), Norma Desmond walks up to a news camera in dramatic fashion, saying, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” She is so deranged that she believes she’s in the middle of a film shoot.
10. Apocalypse Now (1979)
One of the greatest war films ever made, ‘Apocalypse Now‘ serves as a testament to the depravity that went on during the Vietnam War where American soldiers had to spends months, sometimes years, away from their families. The central character of the film, Captain Willard, meets a character called Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. His enthusiasm about surfing remains unhindered even as people die by the hundreds right in front of his eyes everyday. One day, as he gets down from a helicopter while his men fight the Vietnamese, Kilgore admires the situation and claims, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
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9. All About Eve (1950)
A has-been actress, Margo Channing (Bette Davis), is the central character of this 1950 film. Margo is someone who loves the spotlight on herself and will do almost anything to be the center of attention. During one party which she has thrown for someone else, Margo downs a drink and proclaims to the guests around, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
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8. Taxi Driver (1976)
Martin Scorsese‘s masterpiece, ‘Taxi Driver‘ is one of the greatest American films of all time. Robert de Niro plays the central character, Travis Bickle, in the film. After watching the depravity in people in and around New York, Bickle slowly starts losing his mind and prepares for something dangerous. During one of his practice sessions with the gun in front of his mirror, Bickle mutters to the mirror, “You talkin’ to me?” and repeats it over and over again as if someone is right there in front of him. De Niro completely improvised the entire thing without having any clue that it would go on to become one of the most quoted lines in film history.
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7. Star Wars (1977)
‘Star Wars‘ is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most popular film franchises in history. The franchise started by George Lucas has influenced generations of science fiction lovers. Two of the most famous characters in the series are undoubtedly Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker. In the first film itself, when Luke climbs into his space ship X-Wing to blast off the Death Star, Hans says this very iconic line which has now become a part of pop culture: “May the Force be with you.”
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6. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, the influence ‘The Wizard of Oz’ has had on pop culture can be felt even today. When the central character Dorothy and her Dog Toto are blown away by a storm to the magical Land of Oz, Dorothy exclaims, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
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5. Casablanca (1942)
This is the last time ‘Casablanca’ will find itself on this list. During the course of the film, we see several instances of the romance between Rick and Ilsa when they were in Paris. In one of those scenes, we can see Rick raising a toast to Ilsa by saying, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
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4. On the Waterfront (1954)
One of the movies which played a major part in cementing Marlon Brando‘s status as a Hollywood icon, ‘On The Waterfront’ saw the legend playing Terry Malloy, a dockworker whose brother Charley works for a gangster responsible for various murders in and around the dock area. Terry also gets caught up in the gang, and later, when he laments to his brother, he says, “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”
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3. Sudden Impact (1983)
The fourth film of the ‘Dirty Harry’ film franchise finds its way to this list. The scene I’m referring to here happens very early in the film. When Harry Callahan enters a coffee shop, the waitress warns him that there are robbers inside the place. However, Callahan doesn’t get the sign. After he does get it, Callahan enters the shop and kills all the robbers except one who has taken a lady hostage. Callahan calmly tells him, “Go ahead, make my day.” If he’d have killed the lady, the robber would’ve given Callahan the license to shoot him.
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2. The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando really outdid himself playing the character Vito Corleone in ‘The Godfather‘. Quite naturally, it is one of his lines which finds itself as the second-most iconic quote in film history. When Vito’s godson Johnny Fontane tells him that he needs a part in a Hollywood movie to boost his career but a studio head Jack Woltz refuses to cast him, Vito simply says Johnny’s going to get the part. When asked how this will be possible, Vito simply says, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
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1. Gone With the Wind (1939)
If you adjust inflation, ‘Gone With The Wind’ is still the highest-grossing film of all time. No wonder it has such deep roots in pop culture history. When the character of Rhett Butler, played by Clarke Gable, speaks for the last time to Scarlett O’Hara, the latter asks him where she should go or what she should do, to which he simply answers, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
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