Who doesn’t love a good quotable movie? Lines of dialogue that pass in seconds, but last for decades. Lines we all say on a regular basis, sometimes without even thinking about it, almost as if they become some kind of muscle memory. Uttered words that can spark off a memory and put a smile on your face. As memorable as some movie quotes are, quite a few are remembered and quoted wrong. Well, let’s take a look at some of the more famous (and not so famous) quotes that people often seem to get wrong.
“Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?”
Easily one of the most classic scenes in cinema history. There’s Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan in a diner trying to enjoy his morning coffee… when a bank robbery kicks off across the street. Harry does his thing, whips out his Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver loaded with .44 Magnum bullets and takes out three of the robbers and holds a fourth at gunpoint where he delivers one of the most awesome movie speeches and ends with: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”. You can hear Clint saying it in your head right now, can’t you.
Except he doesn’t. It is close, but Harry Callahan never asked the punk if he felt lucky like that. The full quote is:
“I know what you’re thinking, ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’. Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”
He tells the punk that he needs to ask himself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”. Which he then answers for him with: “Well, do you, punk?”. He never says “Do you feel lucky, punk?” as often quoted.
“Greed Is Good.”
Wall Street is a film about eighties excess and suave but slimy stockbrokers. There’s a part in the film where Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) delivers a rather rousing speech about greed to a very hungry audience who lap up his every word. It is this speech where the famous line: “Greed is good” is uttered. Like the previous Dirty Harry misquote, this is close but not exactly right. Gordon Gekko’s speech goes on for a minute or so, so I won’t quote all of it. But the main part is actually:
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”
So he does kind of say: “Greed is good”… there’s just a few words in between that people seem to forget about.
“Mrs Robinson, Are You Trying To Seduce Me?”
In The Graduate, a young Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock who begins a love affair with the older Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft). The two have several meetings and the film ends with one of the most iconic and questionable finales ever. All with a pretty awesome Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. Dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. Dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee. In one of the earlier scenes of the film, it appears that Mrs Robinson (possibly) has an ulterior motive when Benjamin Braddock gives her a ride home. It is this scene where Dustin Hoffman delivers the immortal line as quoted above… doesn’t he? No, of course he doesn’t, that’s why it is in the article. What he actually says is:
“Mrs Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me… aren’t you?”
The real quote makes the character sound far more unsure of exactly what Mrs Robinson’s intentions are. In fact, Mrs Robinson even lets out a little laugh before Benjamin Braddock asks: “Aren’t you?”. It is that laugh that casts a cloud of uncertainty over the young man who was, just before, pretty confident of exactly what Mrs Robinson wanted. The correct quote adds a layer to the scene this is missed with the misquote.
“Luke, I Am Your Father.”
This is very easily one of the most famous movie misquotes of all time… EVER. It has been covered so many times by so many people already that I almost didn’t bother to include it. Still, as it is so (in)famous, I just felt that I had to pop it in here. It’ll be rude not too wouldn’t it? Anyway, we all know the scene from the climax of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he is his father in one of the biggest movie plot twists ever. So him saying: “Luke, I Am Your Father” makes perfect sense as he is literally telling Luke that he is his father. Simple enough. But we all know that is not what he says, despite the fact that is how so many people quote the line. The actual line is:
“No. I am your father.”
It is only a one-word change, but when you watch the whole scene, Darth Vader saying “Luke, I am your father” doesn’t make full contextual sense. Why would he need to address Luke as Luke, as if to clarify who he is talking to, when Luke is the only other person there? Especially after Luke’s little speech that precedes the quote. Despite some YouTube edits to try to fool people into thinking that the misquote is right, it’s not.
Speaking of YouTube edits, Dr Hannibal Lecter never said “Hello Clarice” in The Silence of the Lambs. What a film and what a first meeting of two characters played perfectly by both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. Still, many people are convinced that Hannibal’s first words to Clarice were “Hello Clarice”. Just going back to the YouTube clip I linked to there, the description for the video reads: “The footage has been edited with visual effects by Romthirty VFX”, yes, the clip has been edited as the uploader openly admits. Not only does Lecter not say “Hello, Clarice” when they first meet… he never says the line at all in the film. Even so, if we forget about that edited clip, Hannibal Lecter saying “Hello, Clarice” makes zero contextual sense when you take into consideration that Clarice Starling’s first line to the good doctor is:
“Dr Lecter, my name is Clarice Starling. May I speak with you?”
So why would Lecter say “Hello, Clarice” for Clarice to reply with her name as an introduction? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Now, he does say something, but just what does Lecter actually say to Starling when they first meet? Something far more simple and actually more chilling too:
The calmness of how that simple word is delivered and with Dr Lecter standing in the middle of his cell, ready and waiting for Clarice Starling is far more effective than he magically knowing her name. Oh and just for the record, in the script Lecter was not supposed to be standing there seemingly waiting for Starling to arrive. It was Anthony Hopkins’ idea to do that. When the director asked how could Lecter know someone was coming to visit him, Hopkins said “he can smell her”.
“Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who Is The Fairest Of Them All?”
The Evil Queen and her Snow White killing ways eh? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a classic fairytale and one of Disney’s most endearing films. The Evil Queen talking to her magic mirror and asking who is the fairest of them all is one of those lines that has gone down in cinematic history as one of the most quotable. Yet a great many people get it wrong… twice in the same line. See the Queen never said “Mirror, mirror” or asked “who is the fairest of them all?” either, I know you think she did. If you ask someone to quote the line, they will probably say it too… but she didn’t. What the Evil Queen actually asks is:
“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
I admit, it is close, but still a misquote nonetheless. From what I gather, the misquote seems to come from the original Snow White fairytale from The Brothers Grimm and not from the Disney film that people like to quote… wrongly.
“We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat!”
Shortly after this scene in Jaws where Roy Scheider’s Chief Martin Brody is throwing chum into the water to attract Bruce the shark. He backs away into the cabin of the boat and declares “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!” after seeing first-hand just how big the shark is. This misquote can certainly be seen as very, very pedantic, but that is not quite what Brody says. What he actually says is:
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
As I said, very pedantic sure. But it’s also another one of those contextual things too. When Chief Brody backs into the cabin and says the line, he’s addressing Quint (Robert Shaw) and the boat belongs to him. So Brody saying “You’re” makes more sense than “We’re”, as he is talking to the boat’s captain and owner. He is telling Quint that he’s gonna need a bigger boat.
“Play It Again, Sam!”
When it comes to classic cinema, they don’t come much more classic than Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and of course, Dooley Wilson as the often-quoted Sam. The scene in question basically has Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) ask Sam to play his and Ilsa Lund’s (Ingrid Bergman) song. This is when Blaine utters the immortal four words of the misquote that he never actually said. Some misquotes on this list are pedantic and are only a word or two wrong but this quote? It’s not even close to be fair. What Rick Blaine says is:
“You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”
Aside from the words ‘play’ and ‘it’, the real quote is nothing like the misquote. Sam is not even mentioned, yet “Play it again, Sam!” is one of the most quoted movie lines ever. Woody Allen named a film after the misquote, whenever this scene from Casablanca is referenced, “Play it again, Sam!” is always used despite that line not being in the film at all. The closest the misquote comes to being in the film is perhaps from Ilsa Lund when she says:
“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.”
Yet, when the misquote is used, it is always done so with Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine very much in mind.
“Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.”
1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man is credited with introducing the line “Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.”, it’s from a scene where Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) is trying to teach Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) to communicate. However, that line is never said in the film. During that scene (after saving Jane from a leopard), Tarzan learns to say Jane after encouragement from her. He also says Tarzan, he then just keep repeating their two names over and over to the annoyance of Jane. Now, while that line is not in Tarzan the Ape Man or any of the Tarzan films that Johnny Weissmuller starred in (including eleven sequels), Weissmuller himself did say it… at least twice. First, he said it during an interview with Photoplay magazine in 1932:
“I didn’t have to act in Tarzan The Ape Man, I just said, ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’.”
Johnny Weissmuller reportedly also said it again in another interview After Weissmuller died in 1984, Associated Press obituary posted a quote from him after being quizzed on his (limited) acting talent where Johnny Weissmuller replied:
“How can a guy climb trees, say ‘Me, Tarzan, you, Jane,’ and make a million? The public forgives my acting because they know I was an athlete. They know I wasn’t make-believe.”
“Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates.”
Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite films, it is also highly quotable. One of the most famous quotes is Forrest Gump saying “life is like a box of chocolates”. But what if I told you that he never says that line? You’d call me out for lying and being wrong, I assume. But here’s the thing, he never did say “life is like a box of chocolates”. Admittedly, this is one of those pedantic ones for a couple of reasons. The line is in the film, it’s just that Forrest himself never said it. mama Gump says it on her deathbed. What Forrest does is, he then quotes his mama saying it:
“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates.”
Forrest quotes his mom, he doesn’t say the line himself. Also, the quote is “life was like a box of chocolates” and not “life is like a box of chocolates” because Forrest is quoting from the past after his mama died. He says “was” and not “is”.
“I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning. It Smells Like Victory!”
Apocalypse Now is often seen as the quintessential ‘Nam movie. With an all-star cast and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This really is the Godfather of war flicks. It also features one of the most misquoted lines ever when
Robert Duvall’s Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore says:
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory!”
Now technically, he does kind of say that… this is just a case of the actual quote being longer and some of the wording is a tad different:
“Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell? The whole hill. Smelled like… victory. Someday this war’s gonna end.”
Yup, the shorter version is a bit snappier, but it also misses out on a lot of the meaning and vitriol behind the quote. As snappier as the misquote is, it really lacks the punch of the complete quote. Still, if/when you do say the misquote… people know what film you are quoting.
Well, I think that will do for movie misquotes for now. There are more… a lot more. Maybe I’ll take a look at some of those further down the road. But until then:
“Beam me up, Scotty.”