Screen Lexicon: Art of Writing Dialogue

AFI’S DESCRIPTION OF MOVIE QUOTES CULTURAL IMPACT: Movie Quotes that viewers use in their own lives and situations; circulating through popular culture, they become part of the national (US) lexicon.

There is a certain genius in writing dialogue – because it is hardly ever about play with words – but more about allowing the character to speak through you… at the time when the words go down on paper, even the writer doesn’t fully understand the capacity of the work… and that is because he is simply the originating artist… the final artwork is always a collaboration – the final piece of originality that goes on to capture a civilization, is an amalgamation of the director’s vision, the actor’s intuition, the writer’s finesse, and most indebtedly, the spirit of the story itself. These characters exist… they existed long before they appeared on screen… and of all the stories that have been told, these have resonated most with the pulse of popular culture…

What is remarkable is how simple, seemingly meaningless ordinary text can suddenly – within their context, their irony, their subtext, their suggestiveness… the delivery of the words themselves… suddenly, become iconic. Suddenly these simple, meaningless, ordinary words… are magical – they create history, culture… one must be intuitive in the writing of dialogue… lest they miss what their character is saying…

This collection is simply a small tribute of my personal favourites that I have picked out of the 400 Nominated Movie Quotes for AFI…

Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night. – Character: Margo Channing, Film: All About Eve.

It’s showtime!Character: Joe Gideon, Film: All That Jazz.

Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.Character: Gen. George Patton, Film: Patton.

Chivalry is not only dead, it’s decomposed.Character: John. D. Hachensacker III, Film: The Palm Beach Story.

Follow the money.Character: Deep Throat, Film: All The President’s Men.

Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.Character: Ricky Fitts, Film: American Beauty.

Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.Character: Alvy Singer, Film: Annie Hall.

You make me want to be a better man.Character: Melvin Udall, Film: As Good As It Gets.

One million dollars!Character: Dr. Evil, Film: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

I love him because he’s the kind of guy who gets drunk on a glass of buttermilk, and I love the way he blushes right up over his ears. I love him because he doesn’t know how to kiss, the jerk!Character: Sugarpuss O’Shea, Film: Ball of Fire.

Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?Character: The Joker, Film: Batman.

His eyes have made love to me all evening.Character: Marguerite Gautier, Film: Camille.

If you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.Character: Mohandas Gandhi, Film: Gandhi.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.Character: Michael Corleone, Film: The Godfather: Part II.

In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject so worthy of my attention.Character: Waldo Lydecher, Film: Laura.

Somebody stop me!Character: Stanley Ipkiss, Film: The Mask.

But, in the opinion of the court, you are not only sane but you’re the sanest man that ever walked into this courtroom.Character: Judge May, Film: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.Character: Jefferson Smith, Film: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!Character: Howard Beale, Film: Network.

Ninotchka, it’s midnight. One half of Paris is making love to the other half.Character: Count Leon D’Algout, Film: Ninotchka.

I cannot stand little notes on my pillow! “We are all out of cornflakes, F.U.” It took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Unger.Character: Oscar Madison, Film: The Odd Couple.

Mr. Allen, this may come as a shock to you, but there are some men who don’t end every sentence with a proposition.Character: Jan Morrow, Film: Pillow Talk.

I want the fairy tale.Character: Vivian, Film: Pretty Woman.

I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you.Character: George Eastman, Film: A Place in the Sun.

They’re here!Character: Carol Anne Freeling, Film: Poltergeist.

Not many people know it, but the Führer was a terrific dancer.Character: Franz Liebkind, Film: The Producers.

There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun – a Swiss watch and a woman from anywhere.Character: Cherry Valance, Film: Red River.

Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?Character: Mr. Blonde, Film: Reservoir Dogs.

I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen.Character: Lloyd Dobler, Film: Say Anything…

Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.Character: Andy, Film: The Shawshank Redemption.

I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.Character: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Film: The Silence of the Lambs.

Look at that! Look how she moves. That’s just like Jell-O on springs. She must have some sort of built-in motor. I tell you, it’s a whole different sex!Character: Jerry, Film: Some Like It Hot.

Do, or do not. There is no try.Character: Yoda, Film: Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.Character: Blanche Dubois, Film: A Streercar Named Desire.

Go ahead, make my day.Character: Harry Callahan, Film: Sudden Impact.

Years from now, when you talk about this – and you will – be kind.Character: Laura Reynolds, Film: Tea & Sympathy.

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, and they had 500 years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.Character: Harry Lime, Film: The Third Man.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.Character: Atticus Finch, Film: To Kill a Mockingbird.

You see, François, marriage is a beautiful mistake which two people make together. But with you, François, I think it would be a mistake.Character: Mariette Colet, Film: Trouble in Paradise.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.Character: Verbal Kint, Film: The Usual Suspects.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.Character: Gordon Gekko, Film: Wall Street.

What hump?Character: Igor, Film: Young Frankenstein.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “Man’s reach exceeds his grasp?” It’s a lie. Man’s grasp exceeds his nerve. Society only tolerates one change at a time.Character: Nikola Tesla, Film: The Prestige.

~ by revolutionwithin on April 2, 2009.

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