Fandango’s Provocative Question #148

If ever a question was aimed at Garry rather than me, this has got to be it. I’m going to answer it today. Garry has some kind of interview with a radio station about Boston busing — I think this must be an anniversary. Maybe the 50th? Anyway, Garry was really in the thick of it, so he has been interviewed by PBS, a few grad students working on doctorates or theses, and other radio outlets. They seem to be surprised he is still coherent.

He keeps having to warn them that he remembers most of the big events, but not every little thing. It was 50 years ago. A lot has happened since then, so details have gone a bit gauzy over time. Not that anyone actually believes him. There is a thing going around amongst the young that if you are over 70, you are probably sliding into dementia. OR you are a legend and should be treated with breathless awe.

In between getting talked to about old news events, Garry has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of classic movies and can run dialog with many of them. Not just a few. Many.

What movie, if any, can you practically quote from start to finish?

For me, it’s a relatively short list and here it is.


Made in 1993, it has become our favorite shoot’em up Western. Starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany and narration by Robert Mitchum.

Garry and I spent one insanely hot afternoon in Tombstone. We bought tee-shirts — you have to get tee-shirts — and I took a lot of photographs. I loved it. It was a little too much like a baker’s oven for my taste but Garry and I had a lot of fun quoting movie lines all over town.

BLAZING SADDLES (Mel Brooks et al)

I liked it when it first came out, but over the years it has gone from a good movie to “I love that movie.” The only director whose movies I’ve ever bought in a boxed set are by Mel Brooks. I think I actually have at least half a dozen duplicates too. I can run dialogue with Blazing Saddles, but also with Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, and History of the World, Part I.

I’m hoping now that Mel is producing again, we’ll finally see “History of the World, Part II.” It has been a long wait.

I know Mel is producing History of the World Part II as a Hulu mini series. I can hardly wait!

THE LION IN WINTER (Kate Hepburn and Peter O’Neill)

For some of the greatest dialogue ever written on the stage and turned into a movie, this has to be near the top. Flawlessly played by its two stars and featuring some of the best lines ever written — oh SO quotable — if you haven’t see it, it’s brilliant. It was Anthony Hopkins’ first movie. It’s not “real history,” but it should be.

OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR! (Starring everyone who was anybody in British movies or stage in 1969 — really, everybody)

It was a stage play and then Richard Attenborough — who had never directed before — got it into his head to make it into a movie. From Laurence Olivier onward, all the greats of British stage and screen are in it.

It is the horrible history of World War One as a ♫ musical ♫. It is sometimes comedic, often comic and tragic at the same time. It has an amazing score. We watched it the other day and I can’t quite get it out of my head. I think it might be the best anti war movie — along with The Americanization of Emily.

They used to play this movie every year on Armistice Day — 11/11 at 11 am (1918) when the first world war “officially” ended. I haven’t seen it on television in a long time. We have a DVD of it and seeing it again was brilliant, funny, and tragic. Especially as it seems that somehow, we are going to wind up n another war. I’m not sure where, but I feel a war coming on.

All the words in the movie are actual words (however bizarre) these people said. The songs were songs they sang. It was a remarkable play and an even more remarkable film.

If you can buy a copy of it — there never seem to be more than a few available — there is also a special by Richard Attenborough where he literally goes through the entire movie, scene by scene and explains how each was done. Garry said it was like “Film 101 and 102.” For me, it was great. I don’t have Garry’s background in film, so I learned a lot. I can sing every song — and they keep running around my head even when I don’t want them. I think I know every line. I saw this originally in the movies when it came out.

It wasn’t a general release film, so we saw it in an “art movie” house. If you haven’t seen it, try to find it. Not only is it a great movie, it’s a great film in every way. And so very British!

THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY 1964 (James Garner, Julie Andrews, James Coburn, screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky)

The Americanization of Emily is a 1964 British-American black-and-white film. Controversial for its stance at the beginning of the U.S.’s involvement in the Vietnam War, it has a brilliant script — and all the actors knew that this was probably as good a movie as they would ever make. Paddy Chayefsky didn’t write a lot of movies, but what he wrote is always a gem. This has got to be among his best efforts.

No blood, no gore, but full of ideas and idealism and a lot of Truth. It was Julie Andrews first serious, non-singing role. Both Coburn and Garner knew — they did a couple of YouTube videos about it — it was probably the best movie they would ever make. Not the most popular or the biggest money-maker. Just the most amazing script. I think actor’s rarely get scripts that good and when they do, they treasure it.

This actually got a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is interesting. The movie was a sleeper for years. It has grown enormously in popularity over the decades. It is absolutely worth seeing. The ideas are probably MORE on target now than they were in 1964.

There are many more movies that should go on this list, but I’ve already overstayed my welcome. I can run dialogue with The Magnificent Seven, The Haunting, and The Quiet Man. A few more. I think I also know all the lines in the original West Side Story because in my teens, that was my favorite movie.

If it weren’t in Swedish, I could probably run most of the lines from The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) which is a 1957 Swedish historical film about the plague and Death in the 14th century — written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. But — it’s in Swedish. I could recite the translation’s subtitles. That’s almost as good, right?

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15 replies

  1. My parents were huge fans of Musicals and I bet I saw pretty every musical that existed during my childhood: The King and I, Camelot, Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Music Man … and more and more. Better yet, we had all the recordings. “Quotes”??!! I could sing most song that was worth anything from those Musicals. A favoured upbringing.

    Otherwise these come to mind:
    Field of Dreams – “Go the distance.”
    Lord of the Rings: “They’ve got a cave troll!”
    Scrooge (Alastair Sim): “God Bless us! Everyone!”

    Ahh … that’s a good place to stop.


    • When our granddaughter was growing up, she wanted to see “A Christmas Carol. ” Thinking she was of the “new” generation, I got her a more modern version. After she watched it, she specifically requested the Alastair Sim version which she’d see a bit of when we were watching it. Over all, it turns out that younger people are not necessarily more fond of “newer” versions of old movies. They think the ACTING is better in the old ones! Imagine that! Young people noticing the quality of performance. It’s a Christmas MIRACLE.

      Meanwhile, talk about movies we know by heart, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I think everyone in the household, including my son’s friend, can run lines with that movie. Garry commented when it was over that it had been a flop when it came out — and typically, the movies we love were not movers and shakers at the box office. It’s just hard to figure what anyone could find objectionable about “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I love his little trip back to a time when he wasn’t there. Almost science fiction, in a Capra-esque way.


      • Excellent!
        I have both versions (colorized and B&W} of scrooge. It is novel to watch the colorized version after watching the B&W for so many years. We also had a LP of Lionel Barrymore reciting The Christmas Carol. It’s abbreviated, but very well done. Those old British actors (from the Shakespearian Theatre tradition} were Masters of their trade. Let’s face it, if you can do Shakespeare, you can do anything.

        ‘It’s a Wonderful Life” Magical also. When I watch these older movies and I see the craftsmanship I wonder if the know anything at all these days.


  2. There’s a spin-off western series — from the Yellowstone series with Kevin Costner — coming up soon, with Sam Elliott in it. There will also be a second spin-off series. I’m looking forward to these. Another western I like is called The Quick and the Dead. Oh, and I like Django.


    • The Yellowstone series won our special medal as the the western using the worst language EVER. I was impressed and I’m not shy about language — nor is Garry, but WOW! In fact, I wrote a post about it.


      I thought maybe they burned up the dialogue before they ran out of shows.

      Garry tends to like old westerns (well, we ARE old, after all) with the great old actors like Randolph Scott (bow your heads), Joel McCrea, and the Duke, our dog’s godfather. I still think Errol Flynn never cut it as a western good OR bad guy. The accent. It just wasn’t western.


  3. My immediate answer was going to be, “The Blues Brothers,” but I’m right there with you on “Blazing Saddles.” Worst of all I can even quote bits of the credits for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can quote “bits” from more movies than I can count. But it’s special when you can watch it and be just about three seconds ahead of the dialogue. Drives people who aren’t into movies completely nuts. It turns out, you can’t do this IN the movies. They eject you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • So many wonderful films in this piece and – all – so well remembered.

        I started watching movies at age 4. 1946. Mom and Dad (just returned from overseas combat duty) took me to see “The Best Years Of Our Lives” which has remained a perennial favorite. It was a night to remember. “Best Years” in first run at New York’s celebrated Radio City Music Hall.

        There are drawbacks to having recall of movie lines. One night in the 70’s, a friend and I went to a “Midnight Movie Special” in Boston. The feature – “Walk East On Beacon” – a gritty semi-documentary crime caper. My friend and I – both local TV News ‘celebs’ – sat in the front row, running movie lines with the film. We also were having giggle fits. Finally, after several warnings, the manager asked us to leave.

        I guess the film that I still run lines with a lot is “The Magnificent Seven” – the original 1960 version with Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and the other young hot shot actors. I’ve seen this film a gazillion times or more.

        Depending on the situation, I easily respond to the moment with lines like “The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We’ll always lose”. It’s a line that fits many moments of depression or things gone wrong AGAIN.

        Other goodies from “7” — “You came back! A man like you. To A place like this. Why?” Fits many situations.

        “We deal in lead, friend!”. Oh, man, I love this one.

        Finally, a tip of the hat to Bogie – responding to a query at the end of “The Maltese Falcon”. “What’s it all about? Um, the stuff off dreams”. The stuff of dreams.

        And, one more thing, Pilgrim. I never hurry a man who wants to die.


  4. Great choices and I’ve not seen all of them, but what a mix. My go to for quotes is ‘the graduate.’

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All fantastic movies, Marilyn. I’ve seen them all (except for the Swedish one), but except for “Young Frankenstein,” it’s been years since I’ve seen any of them. I think I might have to spend some time refreshing myself by watching them all again if I can find them streaming somewhere, as I don’t have a DVD player anymore.


    • We didn’t have a functional DVD player until I realized that that dust-covered flat thing in the bedroom was a never-used but 20 years old DVD player. Unplugged it from the bedroom, moved it to the living room. Voila! I have two others that work, but one has issues (like taking ridiculously long to get started) and the third I have yet to plug in, so I don’t know if it works. Tom SAID it works and he usually is right.

      Now that we are reconnected, we’ve been going through our collection and revisiting movies we loved — and being shocked at how relevant they remain. It’s scary how little we’ve advanced.

      Liked by 2 people

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