Movies wouldn’t be the same without words, plain and simple. Without lines, or dialogue for that matter, we’d just be watching silent pictures like audiences had to way back in the early days of the first moving pictures. Thankfully we don’t live in that time, it just wouldn’t work, especially with peoples shorter attention spans nowadays, things just wouldn’t go over very well at all. Films, and the overall making of them, has come an extrordinary way since the silent era, a lot of things have; music, visuals, acting, you name it, it has.
One thing that makes a movie good, is dialogue. Without good dialogue, there wouldn’t be ANY great movies, like at all. It ties a movie together, it’s the glue that holds the flick together. An example of this would be to imagine watching an incredible movie, like Saving Private Ryan, without any words in it at all. It’d just be a silent film (obviously), and an adventure of a guy (in World War II) that has to find another guy. Really boring right? Yes, well, it does have some really great action/fight scenes up in it too…so it’d have that going for it. But nothing else…NOTHING! You smack that dialogue back in it, and it’s a whole new film entirely. You smell what I’m laying down here? Stay with me, I’m building up to something great (hopefully). A good film-maker needs to keep the audience interested in the movie throughout it’s whole running time. It’s a laborious task that sometimes takes years, and many many scripts to succesfully get it just right. The ideal dialogue should be able to:
- 1. Move the story forward without complications.
- 2. Be subtle and clever, all the while being both artistic and creative.
- 3. And be witty or comic.
A great example of all three, comes from The Exorcist (1973). Right before the exorcism is performed, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), the mother of the possessed girl, tries to relax the Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) by giving him tea. She asks, “Would you like some bourbon in that, father?” Father Merrin sighs and answers, “Well, my doctor says I shouldn’t.” He pauses and continues, “But thank God my will is weak.”
The dialogue is clever, unique, and a little comic. Why? Because if he had simply said “yes,” the dialogue would be boring. If he had said, “I’m weak and I’m afraid,” the dialogue would be too obvious, so there has to be just enough to keep the audience in-tune with what the film-maker is trying to do. No complications y’see.
Another grand example of good dialogue would be to create certain lines, lines that get right to the point, and ultimately go down in history. Simple lines, that have all the qualties of good dialogue infused in just a few sentences (or more). Below is a seven of the greatest lines, in ALL of cinematic history.
1. Pulp Fiction (1994) – Ezekiel 25:17
2. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) – Dr. Evil’s Group Therapy Session.
The Austin Powers franchise is one of the most beloved comedy series ever. The first film has some of the best dialogue out of all three. Yes, that’s right, Dr. Evil’s therapy session with his son Scott, is the best. Why? Because this particular line is the most memorable out of all of his lines; it’s funny and sad, intriguing, and pretty clever as well. Easily some of the best dialogue ever. And, we get to see the late Carrie Fisher as well!
3. Dirty Harry (1971) – Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?
Clint Eastwood is both a phenominal actor and film-maker, he just naturally has a way with words, he has to, given his particular line of work. Other than the line above, the other best line comes from 1983’s Sudden Impact, in which Harry utters the line,”Go ahead, make my day.” Truely awesome!
4. The Dark Knight (2008) – Why So Serious?
The late Heath Ledger brought something to his portrayal of the Joker, that new incarnations wont be able to beat ever, like at all. It was new, and exciting to say the least. The Clown Prince of Crime had some pretty memorable lines, the most popular being the above listed,”Why so serious?” Something as little and simple as a question, had a lot of people frightened, and this short sentence will go down in history, along with Ledgers performance.
5. The Big Lebowski (1998) – The Dude Abides, Man…
The Big Lebowski is one of those movies thats both stupid, and hilarious, all at the same time. The movie (in my opinion and others’), is just too aweome to pick just one line from, so the above video has a few of the best lines from the film (kind of). If you don’t think these are great, I think we can all agree that the rug did indeed however, tie the room together.
6. Cool Hand Luke (1967) – What We’ve Got Here Is, Failure, To Communicate.
Cool Hand Luke is one of the highest rated movies of all time. It deserves it to, for everything that was put into it, acting, the action, everything. Paul Newman was incredible, and without him, this movie would be a fraction as great if he wasn’t in it. Guns & Roses liked it so much, they incorporated the famous line (above) into their song, “Civil War.”
7. Fight Club (1999) – The First Rule of Fight Club Is: You Do Not Talk About Fight Club.
I’m stepping out on a major limb here…I’m breaking two rules of Fight Club, so because of this, I have to watch my back at all costs now. Thanks everyone! But that’s all I’ll say for about it. If for some reason you haven’t seen Fight Club, you need to, being that it is on almost every “Must See” movie lists, well actually almost every movie on this here list would be also, so, see them all!
So what do YOU think? Agree or disagree with my list? Are there other movie lines that should be on here?