He performed one of my favorite movie lines, but it did not apply to him. Peter O’Toole, who died the other day, got to play a dissolute guest on an early television program in the 1982 film “My Favorite Year.” Through the haze, Alan Swann divines that he is about to appear live, a prospect that thoroughly terrifies him. As he is nudged onto the set, he protests: “I’m not an actor – I’m a movie star!”
The line speaks to the inner truth most of us know about ourselves: sometimes we are in over our heads.
O’Toole recently was seen in the 1987 Bertolucci film, “The Last Emperor,” in that wonderful series that New York’s Channel 13 runs all too infrequently on Saturday nights. As an English tutor brought into the Forbidden City, O’Toole proved my point. He was an actor.
Among my other favorites:
In the 1963 film “The Balcony,” Shelley Winters plays a madame whose office assistant, Lee Grant, is lobbying to change positions within the establishment. Winters keeps trying to put her off, and the writer, Genet, plants the madame’s line in our heads before it is actually uttered:
“The world is full of whores; what it really needs is a good bookkeeper.”
How many times have I used that line to advise people to stick with their chosen profession?
Then there is the Clint Eastwood film, “The Unforgiven.” (I love Clint, even though he now speaks to empty chairs.)
The movie has many good lines, including when the young man kills somebody for the first time and starts babbling.
Will Munny (Clint): It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.
The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvet): Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.
Will Munny: We all got it coming, kid.
That’s pretty much the point of the movie. I love it when Clint calls somebody “kid.”
Then there’s the scene we all know is coming, when Clint doubles back to town to avenge the killing of his pal, Ned, played by Morgan Freeman.
Inside the bar, Clint asks: “Who’s the fellow owns this shithole?”
The poor dope named Skinny admits he does, and Clint commences to do what Clint does. I often revive that line when fate takes me to some miserable football stadium or over-priced restaurant where I emphatically do not want to be. Don’t we all have our inner Clint?
At the end, Clint rides off into the rainy night, his voice cutting through the empty street:
“You better bury Ned right!... Better not cut up, nor otherwise harm no whores... or I'll come back and kill every one of you sons of bitches.” (I think he also mentions their children, even their dogs, but it’s just an echo by then.)
I know there’s a whole universe of favorite-movie-lines out there. What’s yours?
12/18/2013 10:00:31 am
I've always appreciated William Hurt's response in "The Big Chill" when an old college buddy implies their friendship is "deep":
12/18/2013 11:50:11 am
Roy, missed the movie...but love the line. GV
12/19/2013 07:02:25 am
The orgasm scene from “When Harry Met Sally” starring Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally is a classic.
12/19/2013 07:47:32 am
For funny, I like the movie, The Guard, with Don Cheadle as an FBI agent and Brendan Gleeson as police sergeant in rural Ireland. It is replete with great lines. The best one, for me, is when the Gleeson character, Sergeant Gerry Boyle, answers Cheadle's character's accusation of having made a racist comment, tells Cheadle, "I'm Irish. Racism is part of our culture." As the film goes on you realize that Sgt. Boyle is nobody's fool, and definitely not a racist.
12/19/2013 08:21:16 am
John-thanks for the movie.
12/19/2013 09:44:03 am
no, man, it's free-form....
Jeff from Jersey, yes New Jersey
12/19/2013 03:31:10 pm
Another memorable quote from Clint Eastwood came from Magnum Force. His character, Inspector Harry Callahan, noted as his nemisis left the film with a bang," A man has to know his limitations." Good advice in the real world, too.
12/20/2013 12:27:09 am
I only caught up with Clint in the last couple of decades -- Gran Torino, Unforgiven. Never heard that one. You are absolutely right. GV
12/20/2013 12:51:10 pm
"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse".
12/20/2013 12:52:48 pm
"That's not a knife. THIS is KNIFE".-Crocodile Dundee
12/20/2013 03:07:09 pm
"Moonstruck" - near the ending. Robbie Cammareri (Nicolas Cage)has just proposed to Loretta Castorini (Cher) in a kitchen filled with Loretta's family. Loretta's mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis) asks a question.
12/20/2013 03:12:59 pm
"Go ahead-make my day". Dirty Harry
12/21/2013 03:54:01 am
"Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.". Blanche DuBois (character), "Streetcar Named Desire."
12/21/2013 05:33:53 am
Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (I am hoping it was in the movie; it is part of Tom's final soliloquy:)
12/21/2013 01:13:04 pm
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.