Some movie lines have woven their way into Americana. Recently, I was walking in Times Square in Manhattan. While I was negotiating my way across the street, a cab driver tried to turn right, and, bluff his way against the oncoming pedestrians. Before I could even say it, a man in his fifties exclaimed, “I’m walkin’ here”.
I overheard the ensuing discussion between the man and his female friend. “What movie was that?” “Who said it?”
My mind entered the game uninvited. What movie was that? It had the name “Cowboy” in the title, but, I always get “Drugstore Cowboy”, “Urban Cowboy” and “Midnight Cowboy” mixed up.
Finally, I said, “something Cowboy”. That was enough of the clue for the man, who shouted “Midnight Cowboy” back at me. Details were coming to me. We were some distance apart by this time, and, I yelled “Dustin Hoffman”.
And so the trivia contest, played out while walking on the streets of New York, was over.
I suppose there are movie lines that are even better known. “Frankly madam, I don’t give a damn” “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” “Open the pod bay doors, please, Hal” … well, maybe that last one is not better known.
There are some lesser known lines that are part of my personal favorites collection. Usually, these are lines that are steeped in symbolism. I enjoy lines that are both literal and interpretative.
For instance, towards the end of “Breaking Away”, Dennis Christopher’s character, when talking of vacation plans, says “I’m not going anywhere.” The former “Katerina” responds, “I don’t know about that.”
This exchange from “Breaking Away” is a bit obvious. But you get the idea.
Another example would be in the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. Early in the book (movie), when the characters are still being fleshed out, someone points out that a special day is coming. (Is it the longest day of the year? I don’t remember.) Daisy responds, “We should plan something.” And as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote (in the words of Nick, the contemplative narrator), “She turned to me helplessly: What do people plan?”
What a wonderful line. The line helps to reveal Daisy’s nature with more detail than a thousand words of description could have done. I’ll be watching to see if Carey Mulligan delivers on this added meaning.
What’s your favorite movie line? I look forward to your comments below.
To see the classic scene of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, follow the link to the "I'm Walkin' Here" – video of Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy