Movies are universally enjoyed forms of art. The best ones have stories, characters and messages that permeate through culture, society and generations.
Some lines are particularly memorable, whether that be due to the context, the actor, the movie or simply because it was groundbreaking at the time. Here we take a look at 10 of the best.
The Godfather movies were among the first films to look at the underbelly of the mafia, igniting one of the most popular movie genres. The films were so highly acclaimed they even had an influence on the real-life mob. Gangsters became so fond of the film and the language used by the characters that they began to adopt it into their vernacular, with the head of the mob being called “godfather.” Vito Corleone’s line about how he’ll persuade a studio head to cast a singer in a movie has become so iconic that it is used whenever there is an ultimatum on the table.
A line so iconic it spawned its own holiday (May the 4th be with you). This greeting has appeared in all of the Star Wars films, but it was originally spoken by Han Solo. It was a pivotal moment in the film, as it showed the once cynical character had become a believer in the ways of the force.
Inspired by the introduction to the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," this line was a genius piece of improvisation by Jack Nicholson. After filming multiple takes of the chilling scene in which Jack is hacking through the door, director Stanley Kubrick wanted Nicholson to keep scaring actress Shelley Duval by saying different lines when he broke through the wood. Kubrick found this take both funny and creepy so it stayed in the movie.
Another improvised line in this list, Travis Bickle’s conversation with his reflection has become among the most famous in cinema. The sequence perfectly demonstrates his paranoid frame of mind and his loneliness at having to talk to himself. It is also arguably the most said phrase while looking into mirrors the world over.
After a shark has been terrorizing a small island town, three men set off on a small boat to kill the nuisance. Once the beast reveals itself from the depths of the ocean, a dumbstruck Chief Brody informs the boat’s captain that they have come underprepared. This line was also improvised by Scheider, who had made it a running joke to say this line during takes, due to the size of the production boat. Director Steven Spielberg left it in the final cut, because, in the end, it suited the scene perfectly.
What started as a menacing threat from a villainous character soon became the catchphrase of a movie star. This famous promise not only appeared in the rest of the films of the franchise, but would also be said by Governator Schwarzenegger, in movies such as "The Running Man" and on the campaign trail for his political career. He even immortalized it in cement, next to his signature and handprints at Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre.
In the first meeting between Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the imprisoned cannibal tries intimidating the junior agent by casually describing his crimes to her. He compliments the line with a horrifying slurp.
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is in the running when discussing the greatest film Hollywood has ever produced. The opening line is the iconic last word spoken by newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane before his death. Initiating the plot, Kane’s uttering of the word, “Rosebud,” was thought by reporters to be the missing piece in solving the mystery of his enigmatic personality. However, though the journalists in the film are never able to learn the word’s meaning, it is revealed to the audience in the film’s closing shots that in Kane’s final moments, it was a childhood sled he was calling for.
After a tornado picks up her family’s home in Kansas, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, find themselves in the magical, musical, merry land of Oz. The audience was transported with Dorothy to Oz when the film switched from the standard black and white in the opening scenes, to the jaw-dropping, state-of-the-art Technicolor, which brought Oz to life. It was one of the first uses of color in American cinema.
A line that has become the epitome of the cool introduction, it could have only be spoken by 007. It has been repeated in each of the 24 films about the British spy, and imitated in countless other pieces of work. Connery’s icebreaker proved to be an integral part of one of the most famous characters in history.