“A script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.” – screenwriter Harry Dawes (Humphrey Bogart) The Barefoot Contessa, 1954.
Out of the Past, 1947
Kathie: “Oh, Jeff, you ought to have killed me for what I did a minute ago.”
Jeff: “There’s still time.”
Waldo Lydecker, a newspaper columnist with a fearsome reputation. “I don’t use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.”
When tensions overflowed on the set of Sweet Smell of Success, 1957, the film’s star, Burt Lancaster, threatened to punch its writer, Ernest Lehman. With a smile, the scribe said, “Go ahead, I need the money.”
After working with Alfred Hitchcock on Notorious, 1946, Ingrid Bergman said, “I’d like to know more about his relationships with women. No, on second thoughts, I wouldn’t.”
Two For the Road, 1967.
A couple discuss their marriage.
Mark: “Just wish that you’d stop snipping.”
Johanna: “I haven’t said a word!”
Mark: “Just because you use a silencer doesn’t mean that you’re not a sniper.”
“A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven.”
“Movie stardom isn’t acting ability – it’s personality and temperament … I once directed Clara Bow (Wings – the first Academy Award winner). She was mad and crazy, but WHAT a personality!” – William Wellman, movie director.
When asked what he looked for in a film script, Robert Mitchum replied, “Days off.”
As Mae West once said:
“When caught between two evils, I generally pick the one I’ve never tried before.”
“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”
“The curve is more powerful than the sword.”
“Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.”
An American in Paris, 1951.
Jerry: “That’s quite a dress you almost have on.”
Jerry: “What holds it up?”
A lightbulb joke all writers can identify with…
Question: “How many screenwriters does it take to change a lightbulb?”
Answer: “Does it really need to be changed?”
“If you’re walking along the edge of a cliff and you don’t know it’s the edge of a cliff, you have perfect confidence. And I didn’t discover the cliff in films until after I’d been in it for a while.” – Orson Welles, 1982.
King Kong, 1933
Police Lieutenant: “Well, Denham, the aeroplanes got him.”
Denham: “Oh no, it wasn’t the aeroplanes – it was beauty killed the beast.”
“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?’ I say, ‘Your salary.’” – Alfred Hitchcock.
Ninety-nine percent of writers will tell you that there’s no money in writing. Harry Zimm in Get Shorty, 1995, summed it up perfectly. ‘I once asked this literary agent what kind of writing paid the best. He said, “Ransom notes”.’
Judgement at Nuremberg, 1961
Many of the cast worked for less than their usual salary because they believed the subject matter was so important.
“Before the people of the world – let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth and the value of a single human being.”
A Man For All Seasons, 1966
Sir Thomas More: “You threaten like a dockside bully.”
Cromwell: “How should I threaten?”
Sir Thomas More: “Like a minister of state. With justice.”
Cromwell. “Justice is what you are threatened with.”
Sir Thomas More: “Then I am not threatened.”
Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn) in The Lion in Winter (1968).
“For the love of God, can’t we love each other just a little? That’s how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children; we could change the world.”
Hail the Conquering Hero, 1944
Libby’s Aunt: “Well, that’s the war for you. It’s always hard on women. Either they take your men away and never send them back at all, or they send them back unexpectedly just to embarrass you. No consideration at all.”