The BBC conducted a poll of cinema-lovers on the best dialogue in the history of film. Here’s their Top 10:
- Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now (1979):
You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like… victory. Someday this war’s gonna end…
- Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men (1992):
You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know – that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
- Marlon Brando, On The Waterfront (1954):
Remember that night in the Garden? You came down to my dressing room and you said ‘kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson’… You was my brother, Charlie. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum. Which is what I am. Let’s face it.
- Samuel L Jackson, Pulp Fiction (1994):
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.
- Michael Douglas, Wall Street (1987):
The point is, ladies and gentleman, is that greed – for lack of a better word – is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind. And Greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
- Peter Finch, Network (1976):
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the streets, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.
- Ewan McGregor,Trainspotting (1996):
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends… Choose your future. Choose life.
- Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry (1971):
I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya punk?
- Richard E Grant,Withnail and I (1987):
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a God! The beauty of the world, paragon of animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dusk. Man delights not me, no, nor women neither, nor women neither.
- Mel Gibson,Braveheart (1995):
You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you’ll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!
There’s the top 10. I haven’t been able to find it on the ‘net, but I’m sure it’s probably real. However, there’s a couple there that do not belong IMO. Now, I’m no cinema buff by any stretch of the imagination, but I can think of two that should have been there that were not:
Although not a dialogue in the purest sense of the word, the accompanying dialogue is so intangible it may as well be a dialogue ( accompanying dialogue omitted ):
- Sterling Hayden, Dr. Strangelove ( 1964 ):
Mandrake? Have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water? Vodka, that’s what they drink, isn’t it? Never water? On no account will a Commie ever drink water, and not without good reason. Water, that’s what I’m getting at, water. Mandrake, water is the source of all life. Seven-tenths of this earth’s surface is water. Why, do you realize that seventy percent of you is water? And as human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids. Are you beginning to understand? Mandrake. Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol? Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation. Fluoridation of water? Well, do you know what it is? Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?
And, once again, another of MY Top 10 Dialogues with just enough supporting dialogue to keep it going omitted:
Listen — strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. Well you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went around sayin’ I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away! Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system. Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed! Oh, what a give away. Did you hear that, did you hear that, eh? That’s what I’m on about — did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn’t you?
I’m just going to give up here. How those two dialogues can not be greater than Braveheart, Wall Street, or Network just tells me I’m not on the same wavelength as the people in this poll. That’s not unusual tho.