‘I’ll be back’: Film fans stuck on tough talk when quoting movies
No, it’s not “And your little dog, too,” “You can’t handle the truth,” “Stella” or even “Rosebud.”
“Shaken, not stirred,” “Oh behave,” “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet” and “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” are nowhere to be found either.
Android wins all: The most oftenquoted line from a famous film is “I’ll be back,” at least according to research released Nov. 8.
Indeed, the three weighty syllables delivered by a pre-political Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator” 23 years ago resonate most with the public, said a survey of 2,000 movie fans asked to cite their favorite movie phrases. It was conducted by Myfilms.com, a social-networking site maintained by the UK Film Council, Britain’s government-backed film agency.
“Our research shows the huge influence films have over people, from life-changing experiences to the way we speak,” the survey noted.
Clark Gable’s ultimate comeuppance, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from “Gone With the Wind” came in at No. 2, with “Beam me up, Scotty” in third place — despite the fact that the exact phrase was never heard in any of the 10 “Star Trek” movies — or the original TV show.
Memorable movie mottos seem to be a manly business, though. Every one of the top 10 lines was spoken by a male actor, and all but one are emphatic directives.
“These phrases are popular because they’re aggressive and full of action. No wimps allowed,” said Robert Butterworth, a Los Angeles psychologist who specializes in the effect of culture on citizens.
“This has been going on since Shakespeare and all those Greek choruses were asking things like, ‘To be or not to be.’ Well, which is it? These are powerful statements, and convenient. Sometimes they fill the bill exactly,” Mr. Butterworth observed.
But the relationship between Hollywood and its audience can be fickle and subjective.
Mr. Schwarzenegger’s immortal words were only ranked 95th in a list compiled last year by Premiere magazine, whose readers voted “Here’s looking at you kid” from “Casablanca” into first place. Two years ago, an American Film Institute jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians selected Mr. Gable’s line as their ultimate favorite, with Mr. Schwarzenegger’s statement coming in 37th.
The AFI’s director, Jean Picker Firstenberg, deemed the contest “nothing less than a war of words,” and the quips, quotes and catch- phrases themselves our “cultural vocabulary.” So much so, it seems, that in about half his movies since “The Terminator,” Mr. Schwarzenegger has said “I’ll be back,” or uttered some variation or riff off that line.
Arguments over movie lines can get vigorous. It was left to Elizabeth Knowles, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, to ultimately determine whether Capt. James T. Kirk ever uttered “Beam me up, Scotty.”
He did not, she declared last year, elaborating her reasons in a 2006 book titled “What They Didn’t Say.” It also debunked other misheard film phrases like “You dirty rat,” “Me Tarzan, you Jane,” “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime” and “Play it again, Sam.”
A recent Guinness World Records survey of international film critics found their top movie motto to be “Bond, James Bond.” An ongoing viewer poll conducted by Turner Classic Movies has revealed more than 500 contenders, including “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up” from “Sunset Boulevard,” “It was beauty killed the beast” from “King Kong,” and “I’m king of the world” from “Titanic.”
Earlier this year, a Netflix survey of 5,000 customers revealed that “Everyone just pretend to be normal” from “Little Miss Sunshine” was the most memorable movie line, among the Oscar nominees for 2006.
The new British survey, meanwhile, also revealed that men and women have their respective tastes. When asked what film they wished they had starred in, the majority of women cited “Dirty Dancing,” “Pretty Woman” and “Gone With the Wind.” The gents chose any film from either the James Bond or “Star Wars” series, or “Lord of the Rings.”
More quoted by men than all of Steve Guttenberg’s films combined. Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator.