Often Silverscreen Misquotes

Play it again...um..well..

Some of the most classic film lines never really happened. They are merely movie legend or misquotes, but after many years, they have become part of the film-going lexicon. Many of these examples are film quotes that were either commonly attributed wrongly, or in fact were never actually spoken, such as:

In The Virginian (1929), one of the earliest Western talkies, Gary Cooper's taunting line was not: "Smile when you call me that!", or "When ya call me that, smile!", but "If you wanna call me that, smile.

"The legendary blood-sucking Count Dracula (Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi) never said "I want to suck your blood" in the Universal horror classic, Dracula (1931). However, the line was used in a humorous context by Dr. Tom Mason (Ned Bellamy) practicing his Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) impersonation in director Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994).

Often misquoted is Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) - yes, Frankenstein was the name of the mad scientist - and his shout of "It's alive" with the stirring of life within his non-human Monster (Boris Karloff), in Frankenstein (1931). Frankenstein has often been quoted as saying instead: "He's alive! Alive!" Mel Brooks' irreverent spoof Young Frankenstein (1974) featured grandson Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) resuming his late grandfather's experiments, and his loud exclamation of: "Alive. It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" to bug-eyed Igor (Marty Feldman) and voluptuous lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr):

The mobster refrain, "You dirty rat!" - was never said verbatim by James Cagney, although he did say something similar, "Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin' rat," in Blonde Crazy (1931). [In Home Alone (1990), Macauley Culkin watched a scene from a fictional B/W gangster film videotape titled, "Angels With Filthy Souls" (a take-off on the Cagney film Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)), in which a gangster shoots his girlfriend, while saying, "Take that, you dirty rat!"]

Greta Garbo's most famous quote of all, "I want to be alone," was often thought to be non-existent or merely a statement of her reclusive nature in private life. However, it prominently appeared, with her famous accent spoken by the character Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel (1932):

"Me Tarzan, you Jane" - was a catchphrase inaccurately-quoted from Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932)

Jane: (pointing to herself) Jane.Tarzan: (he points at her) Jane. Jane:

And you? (she points at him) You?Tarzan:

(stabbing himself proudly in the chest) Tarzan, Tarzan.Jane:

(emphasizing his correct response) Tarzan.Tarzan:

(poking back and forth each time) Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan...

"You're going out (there) a youngster, but you're coming back a star!", "You're going out (on that stage) a nobody, (kid), but you're coming back a star!", or "You're going out a chorus girl, but you're coming back a star!" - all misquotes of the original line in 42nd Street (1933): "But you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out, and, Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!"

"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" - was not spoken by Mae West in She Done Him Wrong (1933) - but she did restate the line in her final film Sextette (1978) to co-star George Hamilton. In the 1933 film, the bawdy actress did say, "Why don't you come up sometime 'n see me?," often misquoted as "Why, don't you come up and see me sometime?" or "Come up and see me sometime."

In the Laurel and Hardy classic comedy, Sons of the Desert (1933), Oliver Hardy exclaimed to partner Stan Laurel: "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" He did NOT say: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into"?

In Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Douglass Dumbrille did NOT say: "We have ways of making you talk." Instead, he said: "We have ways of making men talk."

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" - is actually an incorrect quote. In Disney's animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the wicked Queen asked: "Magic Mirror on the Wall, who is the Fairest one of all?"

"Come with me to the Casbah," followed by "we'll make beautiful music together" - was not said by Charles Boyer to co-star Hedy Lamarr in Algiers (1938); it was said by cartoon characters Yosemite Sam and Pepe LePew in subsequent Looney Tunes cartoons, among others; in fact, animator Chuck Jones based the Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe LePew on Charles Boyer's Pepe Le Moko.

"Elementary, my dear Watson!" - was a phrase never spoken by the lead character in the many Sherlock Holmes novels from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This quote was rather found in a film review in the New York Times on October 19, 1929. It became popularized only after its trademark use in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) (the first Holmes film with sound), with Clive Brook and H. Reeves-Smith. It was also stated by Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes character in Twentieth Century Fox's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939). The closest phrases in Doyle's writings were in The Crooked Man ("Excellent!" I cried. "Elementary!", said he), and in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box ("It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you").

Rhett Butler's (Clark Gable) scandalous, swear-word farewell to Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) was NOT: "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn," but: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" in Gone With the Wind (1939). Contrary to popular opinion, this was not the first use of the word 'damn' in a film. It reportedly was said a few times in Pygmalion (1938, UK), and in Glorifying the American Girl (1929). Also, the phrase "March and sweat the whole damned day" appeared on a dialogue card in the silent epic war film The Big Parade (1925).

"Judy...Judy...Judy" - was falsely attributed to Cary Grant. In Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Grant said the name 'Judy' numerous times to costar Rita Hayworth (playing a character named Judith McPherson), but never repeated her name in rapid succession.

The most beloved family film, The Wizard of Oz (1939) has had problems with one of its most famous lines spoken by Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) to her dog: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." It's generally misquoted as: "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Quite often, this actual quote has been adapted or abbreviated. The original lengthy line was from Knute Rockne: All-American (1940), spoken by team coach Knute Rockne (Pat O'Brien) as a pep-talk to his losing team during half-time: "And the last thing he said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper." It has often just been stated as "Win one for the Gipper," or "Win this one for the Gipper." Rockne's most famous player, George Gipp (Ronald Reagan), was a real-life football star who died young of pneumonia and provided an inspiring anecdote to his coach.

"Play it again, Sam" - was a line never spoken by Ingrid Bergman or Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942) to Sam (Dooley Wilson), the nightclub pianist and reluctant performer of the sentimental song 'As Time Goes By' (written by Herman Hupfeld). The closest Bogart came to the phrase was this: "You played it for her, you can play it for me...If she can stand it, I can. Play it!"The line "Play it again, Sam" appeared in the Marx Brothers' A Night in Casablanca (1946). When "Play It Again Sam" became the title of a Woody Allen comedy Play It Again, Sam (1972) that, in part, spoofed the classic 1942 film, the misquote was further reinforced. Variations on the line were spoken, however, by the two leads.

The last line of Casablanca (1942) is also often misquoted (and the name Louis mis-spelled as Louie) - the correct line is: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." It is often stated as: "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship" or "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."

One of the most oft-quoted lines in cinema history has often been misquoted or paraphrased, notably in director Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) as "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!", in Gotcha! (1985), in "Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF (1989) as: "Badgers??? We don't need no steenkin' badgers!", and in Troop Beverly Hills (1989) regarding the patches of the Wilderness Girls Troop as: "Patches? We don't need no stinkin' patches." In its original form in director John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), it was actually: "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!"

James Cagney's triumphant shout atop a oil tank before blasting himself into oblivion has often been erroneously quoted. The line is not: "Top of the world, Ma!", but "Made it, Ma. Top of the world!"

Bette Davis' most famous film line as aging stage actress Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950) was: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night." The line has often been misquoted, substituting the word "ride" for "night.""I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. De Mille" has often been presented as Norma Desmond's (Gloria Swanson) line, but it's actually a misquote of her original closing: "All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my closeup" - in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

The tagline from Cool Hand Luke (1967) has often been modified from its original. The Captain (Strother Martin) said to recalcitrant chain gang prisoner Luke (Paul Newman): "What we've got here is (pause) failure to communicate," NOT "What we have here is a failure to communicate.

"In The Graduate (1967), Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) asked the Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) character: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?," NOT "Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?" At one point, however, Mrs. Robinson asked Benjamin: "Would you like me to seduce you?"

Vigilante SF cop 'Dirty' Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) never said: "Do you feel lucky, punk?" while holding his giant-sized .44 Magnum at a downed bank robber in the opening of Dirty Harry (1971). He did say, however, in part: "...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?" The same full quotation is ritualistically repeated again almost verbatim at the film's conclusion.

Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) has often been misquoted, when Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) exclaimed to his crewmate Quint (Robert Shaw): "You're gonna need a bigger boat." He has been attributed as saying: "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

In Star Wars (1977), Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) NEVER said verbatim: "May the force be with you," but he did say at least two other variants: "The Force will be with you...always" and "Remember, the Force will be with you...always" [However, it appears that Han Solo said "May the force be with you" to Luke Skywalker just before the big battle.]

The oft-quoted line by Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) - a hawkish, lunatic, flamboyant commander, who wears a black horse soldier's Stetson cavalry hat with a cavalry sword emblem, sunglasses, and a yellow dickey, in Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) is often inaccurately abbreviated. It is often stated simply as: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning...Smells (or smelled) like... victory." The full quotation is: "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. Smells (or smelled) like - victory. [A bomb explodes behind him.] Some day, this war's gonna end."

The startling revelation of fatherhood by Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones) to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was not: "Luke, I am your father," but: "No. I am your father." [However, the trilogy's most famous line was never actually delivered by Vader - on the set, he really said: "Obi-Wan killed your father," but the line was secretly re-dubbed later.] Luke responds in horror: "No! No! That's not true. That's impossible." [The misquoted line: "Luke, Luke, I am your father" was stated in the film Tommy Boy (1995), by the title character Tommy (Chris Farley) as he goofed off in front of an electric fan.]

The multi-part sci-fi Star Trek TV and film series (first telecast as a one-hour TV show in 1966 and lasting until 1969 before syndication, and inspiring numerous feature films, beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)), popularized the common phrase, "Beam me up, Scotty." Contrary to popular belief, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) never uttered the line: "Beam me up, Scotty". The actual command, "Kirk to Enterprise. Beam us up, Scotty" was voiced by Captain Kirk (voice of William Shatner) in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek animated TV series from 1973-75. The closest Kirk ever got to saying the exact line was "Scotty, beam me up!" in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). Throughout the years, however, there have been a number of variants, such as "Gentlemen, Beam me aboard," or "Picard to Farragut, two to beam up." The "beam" quote was a reference to the ship's teleportation device and the affectionately-regarded ship's chief engineer and second officer, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott (James Doohan). "Beam me up, Scotty" was spoken by Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) in one of the episodes of the TV series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also referenced by Rockhound (Steve Buscemi) in Armageddon (1998) as: "While I don't share his enthusiasm, you know me, beam me up Scotty." And in the animated Fox-TV series Family Guy, in a 1999 episode (Season 1, Episode 2) titled "I Never Met the Dead Man," William Shatner showed up at the Griffin family's house and said, "Beam me up, God!"

Detective Joe Friday (Jack Webb) in the 50s NBC-TV classic police series Dragnet never said, "Just the facts, ma'am," although there were variations, such as: "All we want (or know) are the facts, ma'am." However, the inaccurate line was reinforced in the collective memory when Milton Berle parodied the show in a classic spoof, and when Dan Aykroyd uttered the line in the updated Dragnet (1987):

References to the "Greed is Good" speech truncate the actual words of the lengthy quote, spoken by Oscar-winning Michael Douglas (as ruthless stockbroker Gordon Gekko) in Wall Street (1987). The actual line was: "The point is, ladies and gentlemen, 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..."

"If you build it, they will come" was NOT what the voice said in Field of Dreams (1989). Instead, it was: "If you build it, he will come."A "misquote" of sorts - relating to a wrongly-attributed photograph for Home Alone (1990) that was used to prominently advertise the film.

It's often assumed that Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) has his hands up to his face and is screaming at the realization he's been left "home alone" or abandoned. In fact, he's screaming because he has just applied too much aftershave to his cheeks.

A minor misquote has often plagued the title character's (Tom Hanks) most famous line of dialogue in Forrest Gump (1994): "My mama always said, 'Life is (was) like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" It should be WAS, not IS. The line wasn't in the novel by Winston Groom -- the closest it came was the novel's first line with reversed meaning: "Let me say this: bein a idiot is no box of chocolates."

In Apollo 13 (1995), astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) told Mission Control: "Houston, we have a problem." The line has often been misquoted as: "Houston, we've got a problem." The historical quote was more accurately: "Houston, we've had a problem."

Another of the most mis-quoted lines was from James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic (1997). The line spoken by Leonardo DiCaprio's character was: "I'm the king of the world," NOT "I'm king of the world."

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