‘I’ll be back’: Film fans stuck on tough talk when quot­ing movies

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen­nifer Harper

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.

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