The Stories Behind 4 Famous Movie Quotes

Movieby Joey Paur

I find quoting movies is pretty freakin' awesome, what movie geek doesn't quote movies?! We do it all the time when we find ourselves in the right situation to bust one out. No matter how many times we've heard some of these quotes we get a kick out of it every time. The LA Times ran a great article about famous movie quotes and how the screenwriters came up with them. One thing that is revealed is that these quotes were never planned ahead, they came out of the character that they have created. 

The writer of Dirty Harry, Joseph Stinson, explains:

If you set yourself up to write that one-liner that's going to be iconic, you set yourself up to never have it happen. 

That's a good lesson for all you aspiring screenwriters out there. You just gotta get into the characters you are writing for, when you're engulfed in who they are there comes a point where they start writing themselves. 

Here are the four quote that are pointed out and what the writers said about how they came up with it.

'Go ahead . . . make my day.' - Dirty Harry

Writer - Joseph Stinson

Line Delivered By - Clint Eastwood

Once a method actor, always a method actor. I thought about the character. He lives by a code: 'This is what I am, this is what I'm going to do. You decide.' I'll be honest, I thought it was a pretty good line. I walked around L.A. testing it out in my imagination. If someone cut in front of me at midnight in the eight items or less line, I'd give 'em the squint.

'There's no crying in baseball.' - A League of Their Own

Writer - Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel 

Line Delivered By - Tom Hanks

For us, the best stuff really comes conversationally. Nobody sits down and says, 'What would be a great line here?' It has to come out of the character organically. That's why the line is effective. You believe that he's genuinely appalled that a ballplayer would cry. Tom was so funny doing it. For a writer, that moment of hearing your lines brought to fruition perfectly by a terrific performer is always gratifying. We knew that was one of those cases.

'What we've got here is failure to communicate.' - Cool Hand Luke

Writer - Frank Pierson

Line Delivered By - Strother Martin 

I couldn't tell you where that line came from. I can still visualize where I was [when I wrote it]. I was typing on my old Underwood in my house overlooking the sea in Malibu. In the scene, Luke has been recaptured and the warden wants to teach him a lesson. This whole thing has to do with getting Luke's mind right. And suddenly it materialized on the page in front of me. But then I thought it sounded like something a highly educated person would say and that everybody involved with the movie would ask how this Southern redneck could say something that has a certain smell of academia. But nobody ever questioned [the line]. Strother Martin got it right away and said it perfectly. I can't tell you how many people have told me that this was a part of their [upbringing]. When they crashed the family car, their dad would look at them sadly and say, 'What we've got here. . . .' "

'Mama always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." ' - Forrest Gump

Writer - Eric Roth 

Line Delivered By - Tom Hanks

I tried to create aphorisms that didn't particularly make sense, but they seemed to make sense within the context of this character saying them. My own mother used to say, 'Handsome is as handsome does.' I had Forrest say, 'Stupid is as stupid does.' Upon going through the script, Bob demanded, 'What the hell does this mean?' I said, 'You know, you never know what you're going to get.' And that's how the line came about. You don't write something because you think it will catch on, but when you hear it at the read through, you think it could catch on if this movie becomes popular.

Here are a couple of my personal favorites:

"What, somebody blows their nose and you wanna keep it?" and pretty much every other line in Ghostbusters.

"Ok, the zone's not working. They're a little too big to play man-to-man. And we can't shoot for shit."


"You must be the short depressed kid we ordered." both from Meatballs.

"I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them." - Caddyshack

Look, I could go on and on about awesome movie quotes, but I'll let you take it from here.

What are some of your favorite movie quotes?

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