Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I’m Not Left-Handed Either

The Princess Bride - Most Quotable Movie Ever?

If there were ever a movie that’s non-stop quotable pretty much beginning to end, it would probably be Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But if there were a second movie, it would have to be The Princess Bride. Actually, it might be an interesting exercise to do a side-by-side comparison of how many really quotable minutes there are in each movie. I suspect that Holy Grail probably pulls the lead due to a number of entirely quotable scenes, whereas Princess Bride has a lot of quotable one-liners. Either way, it’s fantastic stuff.

My wife got me a shirt for my birthday that is quite possibly the most awesome mix of T-shirt kitsch and movie quotes in history. We’ve all attended meetings and parties where everybody was asked to wear a nametag that boldly proclaimed


below which you were to fill in your preferred name. This shirt has such a tag screen-printed on the chest, but it’s already filled in as follows:


Inigo Montoya

You killed my father
Prepare to die.

I’m wearing it now. And it got me thinking about this wonderful, quotable movie. It begins, of course, with a young boy, home sick from school, playing videogames in his bedroom. The boy (played by Fred Savage) is visited by his grandfather (Peter Falk), who offers to read him the story that had been passed down in their family for generations whenever one of them was sick. “That's right. When I was your age, television was called books,” says the grandfather. The tone is set, and the quotes roll forth like waves on the ocean.

Other great lines:

Vizzini: As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable. [and later] Inconceivable! [and again later] He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Personally, I use that one all the time. And still more:

Inigo Montoya: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
Man in Black: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.

Inigo Montoya: I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?
Man in Black: Oh no, it's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Vizzini:! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha... [klunk – he keels over dead]

I once told a college friend that he reminded me of Vizzini. He wasn’t my friend after that. Isn’t that sad? Still more!

Westley: My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?

Westley: No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.

The Grandson: See didn't I tell you she'd never marry that rotten Humperdinck.
Grandpa: Yes you're very smart. Shut up.

Miracle Max: Go away or I'll call the Brute Squad.
Fezzik: I'm on the Brute Squad.
Miracle Max: [sees Fezzik] You *are* the Brute Squad!

Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe [smacks his lips] they're so perky. I love that.

Miracle Max: Have fun stormin' da castle.
Valerie: Think it'll work?
Miracle Max: It would take a miracle.

Westley: Give us the gate key.
Yellin: I have no gate key.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, tear his arms off.
Yellin: Oh, you mean *this* gate key.

And the film’s crowning glory:

Count Rugen: You must be that little Spanish brat I taught a lesson to all those years ago. You've been chasing me your whole life only to fail now? I think that's about the worst thing I've ever heard. [pause] How marvelous.
Inigo Montoya: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
[Inigo advances on Rugen, but stumbles into the table with sudden pain. Rugen attacks, but Inigo parries and rises to his feet again]
Inigo Montoya: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
[Rugen attacks again, Inigo parries more fiercely, gaining strength]
Inigo Montoya: Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!
Count Rugen: Stop saying that!
[Rugen attacks, twice. Inigo avoids and wounds Rugen in both shoulders, the same spots where he wounded Inigo. Inigo attacks, bellowing:]
[Inigo corners Count Rugen, knocks his sword aside, and slashes his cheek, giving him a scar just like Inigo's]
Inigo Montoya: Offer me money.
Count Rugen: Yes!
Inigo Montoya: Power, too, promise me that.
[He slashes his other cheek]
Count Rugen: All that I have and more. Please...
Inigo Montoya: Offer me anything I ask for.
Count Rugen: Anything you want...
[Rugen knocks Inigo's sword aside and lunges. But Inigo traps his arm and aims his sword at Rugen's stomach]
Inigo Montoya: I want my father back, you son of a bitch!
[He runs Count Rugen through and shoves him back against the table. Rugen falls to the floor, dead]

And those are just some of the best lines. If you’ve seen it, you know you want to see it again. If you haven’t seen it, get a move on! You won't be disappointed.

What do you think is the most quotable movie ever? Post a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Something has long puzzled me.

    I watched it (The Princes Bride) with great expectations (a la The Holy Grail), and it fizzled. I watched it several years ago, and very few -scenes- come to mind, much less -quotes-.

    Of course I remember the Vizzini death scene, which was humorous. "Inconceivable!" was entertaining -- and easily quotable, for its length. And I doubt I'll ever forget Inigo's catchphrase-of-vengeance. That means I'll never fail to recognize it when I hear it :-) but, (and here's the point), I've never been able to quote it. Seeing you write it out above shows me how short the quote is (much shorter than anything out of the Book of Armaments), so it is not as if I can excuse myself on account of its length.

    The one quote from the movie that really did the job for me was grandfather's "...television was called 'books'". Jabbing with a velvet glove! Snarky and condescending, his snark undoes his condescension by telling the grandchild s/he is not a child, but an equal, one worthy of frankness--for what decent man would be snarky with a child? And I don't even remember here now whether the grandchild was a boy or a girl. How can I not remember that? I guess for the same reason I can't remember 90% of the movie.

    I'm not faulting the movie! I'm sure it's a great movie. I remember thinking, while watching, "this is a great movie (albeit less great than I was led to think it would be)."

    And I'm not faulting myself! Different movies for different folk. It might not be for me. And if I were to give it repeat viewing (which I should), I might discover that it is for me. (How could I have failed to enjoy this movie in the past?! Inconceivable!)

    What puzzles me is this: I seem to fit the profile of one who would really take The Princess Bride to heart -- love of quoting, love of Holy Grail and its ilk, etc. -- but I am imperceptive to the 'wow' of the movie.

    There is a related experience that puzzles me. (Maybe you experience this yourself, and find it puzzling as well.) There are some great movies which I absolutely adore watching. They grip me from scene one -- or from any scene should I happen to enter the room at that time). Despite this, I have trouble imagining watching them with pleasure. Should I decide to watch a movie, they might never be in my top hundred choices, much less my top ten. I don't know why this would be. Perhaps Princes Bride could end up there.

    This still breaks profile though. Princess Bride seems to belong to a class of 'quirky' comedies (cf Python, Coen) and non-comedies (cf Kubric) that pretty much grabs one (me anyway). Scenes are memorable, and great swathes of memorized dialogue are tied (in my mind anyway) to scenes -- from "Help, I'm being oppressed!" to "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." These lines are contextual to particular scenes, unlike the lines in Princess Bride that are contextual to particular characters (catchphrases).

    Eh, my mind is meandering through a late night of influenza and insomnia. I stumbled upon your little corner of the Internet and was provoked to ramble on. (You owe me two hours of sleep!)

    Now if you want to go head-to-head (or one upmanship) with quotes and catchphrases, can you tell me the meaning of the phrase "icky thump"?