The legacy of quotable movies

A few days ago my partner and I were watching a film analysis on YouTube of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (The Anti-Movie Movie on Collative Learning if you’re interested). We both love the movie and of course starting quoting various famous lines from it. That got us into the conversation of “what are the most quoted movies?” Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are up there, as is Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, and a few others.

I noticed that all of them seemed to come from our teens and 20s, and wondered if anything made in the last 10 years comes close to being quoted as much, and is as well known for those quotes. We couldn’t really think of any.

So that got me to wondering “Why is that?” Could be we’re just out of touch with recent quoteable movies. But I did hit upon the fact that in the 70s/80s/maybe 90s I would watch and rewatch a favorite movie a dozen times or more. I think that makes certain dialogue stick in my head. These days I watch movies and shows once with hardly ever a rewatch. Recent ones hold their own against ones I remember from my youth, but with so much available to watch and so many opportunities to watch whenever I want via streaming, my watching habits are significantly different than they were 30-40 years ago.

So if you answer these questions three, 'ere the other side you’ll see:

  1. What is/are your most quoted movie(s)?

  2. Do you quote anything from the last 10 years as much as those from question 1?

  3. If question 2 is ‘No’, why do you think that is? Are movies not as quoteable now, or is it an artifact of movie watching habits from decades ago vs now? Or are movies from our relative younger years more ingrained because we were young?

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, Young Frankenstein, all three orginal Star Wars movies, Airplane!, Stripes, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

  2. Not even close. Maybe a handful of quotes from Marvel films, and that’d be it.

  3. I’m sure that movies are still as quotable, but I think that, for me, quotes are a function of my social group, and touchstones to movies that we all enjoyed, and have seen a lot of times, as well.

I think my most quoted line is “He chose…poorly.” from Indy and the Last Crusade.

I’ve heard Anchorman quotes quite a bit, but I don’t say them. Back when it was on TV, there were a lot of Dave Chapelle quotes heard in the wild.

As to why? I think it’s maybe a function of so much content, so less re-watching, and people just post the screen cap of gif of the quote.

  1. ‘Casablanca’ by a wide margin (not surprising, since no one ever loved me that much, and I stick my neck out for no one). Followed by ‘Holy Grail’, ‘Life of Brian’, and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

  2. No. The only line I quote from a movie that recent is, “Orphans always make the best recruits” from ‘Skyfall’.

  3. Can’t comment, because I don’t see new movies frequently enough.

  1. The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, The Great Race, The Producers, Start the Revolution without Me, Blazing Saddles, Airplane!, The Naked Gun, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Star Wars, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Pulp Fiction, The Simpsons Movie.

  2. I’ve seen maybe a dozen films in the last ten years, and the only quotable line I can think of offhand is “Ask me if my ass is fat!” (The Hateful Eight)

  3. Hard to say. Maybe the quality of writing has declined? I don’t go to the movies the way I once did because the subject matter and special effects put me off.

What we have here is … failure to communicate

From what I understand, young people nowdays use memes, which serve a purpose somewhat similar to quotes.

It seems that within my group of friends, quotes (from movies and other sources) make up half our conversation.

  1. The list is long. As I think of it, the quoting comes and goes in phases. Like I don’t quote “Holy Grail” much at all anymore. But off the top:
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Life of Brian
  • Stripes
  • Caddyshack
  • The Producers
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Enter the Dragon
  • Billy Jack
  • Midnight Run
  • Various Clint Eastwood westerns (and of course Dirty Harry)
  • Seems the most recent is Galaxy Quest
  1. No. No where nearly as much as earlier (15+ years ago)

  2. As to why, there are a number of reasons that come to mind. First, it seems I’ve watched less “quotable” movies. Seems far fewer movies that I would see over and over again, or that had lines that really stuck with me. As I think of it, this seems to coincide with seeing fewer comedies (where it seems most lines come from).
    Secondly, and most notably, the way I see movies has changed significantly. Most of the quotable movies were seen with groups of friends. Now I stream with just me and my SO. Having seen/experienced a given movie with a group of friends gives us all a common/shared experience with which to reference. We all know what we’re referring to. Now watching movies more privately, you don’t really know who has seen, or remembered given movies. So throwing out a quote may not draw any reaction/recognition. As a form of language/communication, you can’t use something unless you know the recipient will “get” what you’re trying to communicate.

  1. As others mentioned, The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca.
  2. None that I can think of.
  3. I think that the current focus on action movies means that there is less dialog in movies these days. It would be fun to compare the number of lines of dialog in Casablanca versus some of the newer comic book movies. The current dialog is mostly there to point out plot details.

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is another veritable gold mine of quotable lines.

I’ll add a few more movies from different eras:

Dr. Strangelove
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Blues Brothers

I can’t think of any recent movies I quote, but Deadpool and the Iron Man movies have potential.

I’m sure it’s a function of my old age, but I have a much broader notion of what counts as “recent.” Parenthood (“How proud you must be.”), Mystery Men (“We have a date with destiny, and she ordered the lobster.” “There’s not enough beer in the world.”), LA Story (“I’m taking that. I’m gonna steal that.” “The maitre d’ has this gross-looking cold sore.” “U should have got her number.”), and Almost Famous (“I can’t just stand here and chat with my many fans…” “It’s a think piece about a mid-level band coming to grips with their own limitations.” “I like what I’m hearing!” “Oh baby.”) all remain big go-to’s for me.

The Big Lebowski. It’s not even close. The only thing I’ll quote more than Lebowski is the Simpsons, but that’s not a movie. I quote from the MCU sometimes, especially the first Avengers, that’s really it for this millennium.

Island of Lost Souls (1932): “The natives…are VERY restless tonight.”

Horatio, you have uncommonly good taste.

Let your mind go, and your body will follow.

I don’t remember the “I’m taking that. I’m gonna steal that.” line; where is that in the movie?

Steve Martin and (I think) Richard E Grant were in some kind of group situation, maybe the art museum,and Grant said “If I were a woman, I’d just stay home and play with my breasts.” Martin replies “I’m taking that, I’m gonna steal that.”

I think Martin said the line about staying home and playing with his breasts; probably talking to his friend Ariel.

Or, there’s a similar line where Grant meets Martin while the latter is roller-skating through the art museum.

Grant: “Have you tried the Guggenheim?”
Martin: “I get that; because it’s round, and it goes downhill.”

My top ones. I use at least 3 or 4 different lines from each on a semi-regular basis:

Big Lebowski
Holy Grail
Life of Brian
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
Dr. Strangelove
Animal House
Rocky Horror

Other quotable movies that spring to mind include UHF and O Brother Where Art Thou.

These are all good plausible reasons. I also noticed that many of the movies mentioned in this thread were made by the writers (i.e. the filmmakers were the people who wrote the screenplay). Monty Python, for example, were a team of comedy writers (and performers, but for them the writing came first).

Let’s face it, the SDMB skews old. I’m the relative youngster at the age of 33. When I think of quotable movies, I’m thinking of movies I saw as a teenager, like Superbad, Austin Powers, or Anchorman. I think in general movies you see when you’re younger are more likely to stick in your head.

Also, TV shows have kinda overtaken movies as a source for quotes. You go over to Reddit, which is a much younger crowd, and half the comments are just lines from The Office.