Archive for June 4, 2011

Verbals

Posted in FILM with tags , on June 4, 2011 by dcairns

Some kind of Kabalistic entity barfs up half an intertitle in THE GOLEM.

Of course, Fiona and I quote movies a good deal, around the house. As we’ve been together awhile, we’ve kind of built up our own language of references that other people might not always get. I don’t mean stuff like Robert Stephens in THE ASPHYX crying “Was the smudge trying to warn Clive of danger?” I mean, everybody uses that one. Here’s a brief phrasebook of common sayings used around the Shadowplayhouse, some of which you might want to adopt for your own use. Please volunteer your own favourite samples.

“…because fun that’s got that way never did nobody no good.” Wallace Ford in FREAKS (suck that gut in, Wallace).

“…he’s got a genuine taste for it.” Jodie Foster in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

“At’s-a-n0-good.” Chico Marx in anything.

“‘At’s-a-matta-for-you?” Chico Marx in anything.

“Who the hell are you?” Used alongside or separately from the following line, ” One bastard goes in, another comes out.” From THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, in a scene where Eli Wallach is ranting off-camera, and I’m positive he just improvised along with the image while dubbing his role.

“Attractive brute!” Female onlooker in THE RED SHOES.

“What an attractive man.” I think this was Mystery Science Theater originally. Always used ironically, and particularly to welcome Timothy Carey into a scene. From the same show’s take-down of GORGO, we find “Will you die?” quite handy sometimes, and “He died gargling,” works whenever there’s a corpse or skeleton with gaping jaws. “We’re closed,” works whenever an animal roars at the camera.

“She is elderly, and she uses her wrist a lot.” ZELIG. You’d be surprised how often this one can fit neatly into a conversation.* I also use the latter part of this vox pop from the same film. Crazy old man: “I wish I was Leonard Zelig, the human chameleon, and who knows, maybe some day my dream will come true.”

“Heat! Sudden intense heat!” This is a misquote of an intertitle in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

“He ain’t pretty no more.” RAGING BULL, natch. Also, from the same movie: “Quit eatin’, ya fat bastard.” I swear we don’t just use this to abuse chunky characters, it has a far more specific use…

“Indie, why does the floor move?” RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Useful after a few drinks.

“He is in the belly of that steel beast!” INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. Not really useful at all, except when somebody asks you where somebody else is, and you don’t know.

“Stupid stupid stupid!” PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, a very quotable movie.

“People. All of them going somewhere.” GLEN OR GLENDA. Often used as commentary on boring montage scenes. Also, inevitably: “Pull the string!” although that one’s more ED WOOD.

“Send in that floating fat man, the Baron.” DUNE.

“What about me?” Last line of FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE, now sadly deleted. Always cracked me up.

“He said the title!” declared whenever a character in a film includes the title in a line. This comes from an interview from Empire magazine, I think, when Nick Cassavetes describes his reaction to Nic Cage slipping the title of FACE/OFF into an improv. “He said the title! I’m gonna say the title!”

“I don’t like it when you and mommy fight.” Whiny Sean Stone (director’s son) in tiresome family scene in JFK. The whiniest line reading since Mark Hammill’s first bit in STAR WARS.

“Some bath essence. A new spear.” Zero Mostel in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. This one is really unexplainable, but comes in handy when listing possible gifts at Christmastime.

“It’s almost hot.” Deborah Kerr in THE INNOCENTS. This is a kind of funny way of describing the weather. Once you zero in on it, it’s the funniest line in the film.

“My, it’s a big one, isn’t it?” Andy Robinson admires Clint’s Magnum in DIRTY HARRY. Many uses.

“Macabre, isn’t it?” and “…no strangers to confusion.” SHOCK TREATMENT, the inferior sequel to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

“Can’t you guess?” Carl Boehm in PEEPING TOM.

“That seems to surprise you…” THE TRIAL. The most dreamlike line reading of all time.

“What time is it, Eccles?” From radio’s The Goon Show.

“Who-hell-he?” Fiona likes this one from TV’s Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out.. 

“Some kind of dog.” Michael Hordern in the 60s TV version of Whistle and I’ll Come to You. Very handy during RW Paul movies.

“Don’t point that beard at me, it might go off.” Groucho to Sig Rumann in A DAY AT THE RACES, said whenever Sig or anybody with a pointy beard shows up in a film. Said with a special air of triumph when Sig shows up WITH a pointy beard.

“Mogambo khush hua,” is said a lot by Amrish Puri in Bollywood spectacular MR INDIA (by the future director of ELIZABETH). Works for smug villains. Don’t know what it means.

“This is terrible.” Dudley Moore, made up as a Thunderbirds puppet, in Not Only, But Also.

“Look at that: scarcely human.” Peter Sellers, in THE WRONG BOX.

“I thought she was a sandwich, until she went spare on me hand.” Ringo in HELP! Very useful given our Siamese cat Tasha’s aggressive tendencies, and close resemblance to a sandwich. While on the subject of bread ~

“Whyncha eat yer bun?” from Arnold Moss in REIGN OF TERROR has become a recent hit, as is Robespierre’s “Don’t call me Max!” which I know Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny enjoys too.

Richard Lester’s films are such favourites I can quote whole screeds from memory, and don’t need any excuse to do so. THE KNACK is one of the most quotable, even if a lot is sheer gibberish: “Kip, milk and biscuits: is it any wonder they’re screaming out for roughage?” “At every turn: how?” “She’ll regret she didn’t wear a safety device.” “A lilt of Irish laughter.” HOW I WON THE WAR has amazing monologues from Michael Hordern: “India is a hot, strange country, full of wily Pathans and up to wily things, which is why I always wear spurs, even in warm weather. When in India, my advice to you, is to always keep your rifle strapped to a suitable portion of your anatomy, a leg is good. Otherwise, your wily Pathan will strip himself naked, oil himself up, slippery as an eel, and make off with your rifle, which is a crime.” Was surprised to find that this vintage Charles Wood nonsense was actually lifted verbatim from the source novel by Patrick Ryan.

“He wants to do it on his own!” from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, an absurdly quotable picture.

“Who on earth could that be?” Patrick Magee (twice) in CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

“A passport to Hell is not issued on generalities.” Laird Cregar in HEAVEN CAN WAIT, a line I’ve actually elevated to the status of an artistic principle.

Preston Sturges provides enough ammunition in his wondrously verbose screenplays to allow any couple to communicate freely for a lifetime without having to come up with a single original line of their own. From UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, this bit of Rudy Vallee will have to stand in for the rest: “If it’s not one part of her that’s ailing it’s another, and she seems to have so many parts — for a woman her age, I mean.” Even though Rudy’s character is a nitwit, his motto, “If you want anything done, always ask the busy man, the others never have time,” strikes me as a good one. I always take the view that the more work I take on, the more I’ll accomplish, and perhaps fortunately I’ve never been popular enough with employers to test this hypothesis to destruction.

“You’re not thinking about atomic energy. You’re thinking about a brick wall.” VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. Don’t ask me how, but I work this one into the conversation fairly often. I don’t always “do the voices” when I quote a film, but to pull this one of you do need to take a stab at little Martin Stephens’ plummy, flutey tones.

Needless to say, since Fiona and I have been together seventeen years, there are many more… Do you, dear Shadowplayers, have some favourite domestic quotes of your own?

*Answer: never.

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