You’re Gonna Need A Bigger List: Greatest Movie Quotes of All Times

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.
— Roy Scheider as Martin Brody in Jaws

For nearly 30 years, a good friend and I have had an on-going debate on the greatest movie line of all time. Actually, for the first few years, it wasn’t much of a debate. We both agreed “Luke, I am your father” from The Empire Strikes Back deserved the title. Discovering Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader were related was the most visceral experience either of us had ever had in a movie.

While it’s a compelling scene, we eventually realized we didn’t even remember the quote correctly. And so, the debate began: we compiled top 10 lists, argued over how ‘greatest’ should be measured, and contradicted ourselves every few years. The conversation eventually settled into a rhythm, with new movies being disparaged for lack of memorable lines and old classics rehashed for sentimental value.

My friend favored “Rosebud”; the mysterious final word of Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. Rosebud is famously explained at the very last moment of the film. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s worth doing so for this unexpected reveal.

I went a different way entirely. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws gripped me with implied threats, glimpses of the shark, and a slow build to the dramatic unveil nearly 20 minutes into the movie. Roy Scheider, playing police chief Martin Brody, captured the moment perfectly when he allegedly ad-libbed “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” – without dropping his cigarette.

Given that background, it’s not surprising we both watched when the American Film Institute (AFI) aired a special on the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time. According to AFI, more than 1,500 film artists, critics and historians chose quotes which “circulate through popular culture, become part of the national lexicon and evoke the memory of a treasured film, thus ensuring and enlivening its historical legacy.” Gone with the Wind takes the top spot but Casablanca has an amazing six different quotes in the top 100. Rosebud is on this list at #17 and my Jaws quote is #35. Here are the top 10 quotes:

  1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, 1939
  2. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Marlon Brando in The Godfather, 1972
  3. “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender.” Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, 1954
  4. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, 1939
  5. “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, 1942
  6. “Go ahead, make my day.” Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact, 1983
  7. “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard,1950
  8. “May the Force be with you.” Harrison Ford in Star Wars, 1977
  9. “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Bette Davis in All About Eve, 1950
  10. “You talkin’ to me?” Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver 1976

After the special aired, AFI published the full list of the 400 quotes which were nominated. That set off a fresh debate of quotes which should have made the top 100 but didn’t. Eventually, we agreed John Belushi’s stirring speech in Animal House deserved the nod:

Over? Did you say “over?” Nothing is over until we decide it is!

In fact, we both believe it could replace #82 “Toga! Toga!” from the same movie.

This past weekend I called my friend and started the conversation with one word: Rosebud. 30 minutes later I hung up and rewatched the scene in Jaws for the umpteenth time. We’re gonna need a bigger list.

Are there any quotes you would like to add?

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26 Responses to You’re Gonna Need A Bigger List: Greatest Movie Quotes of All Times

  1. Milene Flores September 7, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    “We will always have Paris” – Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, 1942
    This quote has been quoted over and over again in many different films, but the one and only is from Casablanca…. best romantic scence as well.
    Great list of quotes and very intersting post, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks

    • Jonathan Becher September 7, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

      “We’ll always have Paris.” is #43 on the AFI list. It’s one of the six Casablanca quotes in the top 100.

  2. Gaurav Jaiswal September 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    #2, 8 and 10 have been in my list of all-time favorites..

    Also, how about “Say hello to my little friend!”, Al Pacino in Scarface 🙂

    • Jonathan Becher September 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      That’s definitely a memorable quote. Say “hello” to my little friend! is #61 on the AFI list.

  3. Aniko Hanke September 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Yes, definitely. From the unforgettable “wheat” dialogue between Cousin Sonia and Natascha in Woody Allen’s Love and Death: “I never want to marry. I just want to get divorced.” But also Diane Keaton’s explanation on love and suffering – “To love is to suffer. Not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer.” – is on my personal list.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jdLNfBNblqU

    • Jonathan Becher September 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      The only Woody Allen that made the list is “La-dee-da, la-dee-da.” from Annie Hall.

      • Aniko Hanke September 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

        I would have preferred “I would never wanna belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member” from Annie Hall. So, you are right. I’m definitely gonna need a bigger list. 🙂

  4. Mark O'Toole (@markrotoole) September 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice. -Dalton, Roadhouse

    • Jonathan Becher September 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

      Patrick Swayze was nominated for Ghost and Dirty Dancing, but not for Roadhouse.

  5. brent September 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    “And I don’t know anybody that can see that far” Joe Pesci” Goodfellas

    • Jonathan Becher September 7, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

      1500 miles away, right? Good one and not often mentioned. The only Goodfellas quote to make the nomination list was Pesci’s “Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?”

  6. Rob Glickman (@Robissimo) September 7, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    Well I had a look at the AFI list and, alas most of my favorites are on there, except this one:
    “All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don’t break them for no one.” – Tony Montana, Scarface

  7. Henrik Wagner September 8, 2015 at 6:23 am #

    “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist” – The Usual Suspects

    • Jonathan Becher September 8, 2015 at 9:18 am #

      Much like Rosebud, The Usual Suspects has a reveal at the very last moment. This quote also made the AFI 400 list.

  8. Tom L. September 8, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    “That rug really tied the room together” The Big Lebowski

  9. Paula September 8, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”

    • Jonathan Becher September 8, 2015 at 9:17 am #

      This Clemenza quote in The Godfather is on the AFI 400 list.

  10. jbeisty September 8, 2015 at 8:08 am #

    Its 106 miles to Chicago. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes. Its dark. And we’re wearing sunglasses.

    • Jonathan Becher September 8, 2015 at 9:15 am #

      Blues Brothers is one of my favorite movies. This quote didn’t make the AFI nomination list but “We’re on a mission from God.” did.

  11. jbeisty September 8, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    “What have I done?” Alec Guiness character from bridge on the river Kwai. That one haunted me for years….

  12. Amanda Mountain (@almountain) September 8, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    This was a fun read! But does it HAVE to be a quote (i.e. something said out loud)? I personally love the ? of George’s in A Room With A View.

  13. JohnG September 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Korben Dallas: Whoa, lady, I only speak two languages, English and bad English.

    Priest Vito Cornelius: You’re a monster, Zorg.
    Zorg: I know.

    Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    Lord John Whorfin: Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy.

    Buckaroo Banzai: […] no matter where you go, there you are.

    Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?

    Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
    Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
    Sir Bedevere: A newt?
    Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.

  14. Will Greer September 8, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    There another Nicholson one from “Wolf” that I reminded me of a few women I dated in college:

    “You know, I think I understand what you’re like now. You’re very beautiful and you think men are only interested in you because you’re beautiful, but you want them to be interested in you because you’re you. The problem is, aside from all that beauty, you’re not very interesting. You’re rude, you’re hostile, you’re sullen, you’re withdrawn. I know you want someone to look past all that at the real person underneath but the only reason anyone would bother to look past all that is because you’re beautiful. Ironic, isn’t it? In an odd way you’re your own problem.”

  15. Ric Rogers September 9, 2015 at 6:15 am #

    “You’re making it worse” (Monster’s Inc.), “What would you do with a brain if you had one?” (Wizard of Oz), “This is a tasty burger” (Pulp Fiction)
    Some honorable mentions from Joe vs The Volcano include: “I am not arguing that with you.”, “I have no response to that”, “I’m a flibberdajibbit!”, and “It looks fake. I like it.”

    And of course there’s “Just keep telling yourself; it’s only a movie.” But that was an ad for The Last House on the Left and not an actual quote.
    I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.

  16. Dave Gordon September 20, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    “I think a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.” — Parker (Ryan Phillippe), “The Way of the Gun”

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