“We’ll always have Paris”; “I’m your father”; “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”.
You know these phrases, do you? These movie lines are so deeply rooted in our collective imagery that even younger generations would recognize them without watching Casablanca, Star Wars or The Godfather.
But writing one-liners takes practice. And perhaps the best way to learn is to learn from the great screenwriters.
So for this post, we’ll take a look at 4 Memorable Movie Lines from Master Classics that get to say the obvious while remaining interesting and different:
1. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” Casablanca, 1942
Besides from “Here’s looking at you kid” or “We’ll always have Paris.” My favorite quote from Casablanca is particular this one.
Because Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) manages to say “It was destiny” without being cheesy.
2. “Why must fireflies die so young?” Grave of the Fireflies, 1988
The Grave of The Fireflies follows the story of Seita and Setsuko, two Japanese children who have lost their house and their mother because of the American bombings at the end of the World War II.
The moment in which Setsuko, our 4-year-old girl protagonist gets to see the fireflies die in her hands, remains as one of the most charming and depressing moments of Animation history. It represents the dimming of both light and hope, but also, the cruel destiny of dying at a very short age.
3. “…Ah, but only one is a wanderer. Two, together, are always going somewhere.” Vertigo, 1958
In this dialogue from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, we get to see Detective Scottie (James Stewart) asking Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak) to wander around together without going anywhere in particular.
But Madeleine cuts to the chase. She knows there’s no wandering around. He wants something and so does she.
“Where do you want us to go, Scottie?” That’s more like it.
4. “Ya know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were.” The Apartment, 1960
When C.C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) talks, he does talk. Yet he makes every word counts.
With this dialogue, Director and Writer Billy Wilder found a way to say “I was alone in this world until I met you.” He did it by using a powerful image –a footprint in the sand. And by using a popular tale like Robinson Crusoe, which evokes feelings of loneliness and being lost.
Screenwriting is not stilted speech, yet it’s groundbreaking. It stirs the audience’s emotions by going far beyond words and verging on subtext. It’s a craft that takes time, passion and much writing practice, but that’s also rewarding.
So, what about you? Do you have other memorable lines that you can add to this list? What must a movie line have to capture your attention? Feel free to comment below and share with your friends if you liked the post.