A major highlight of most films usually happens when the protagonists, lovers, pals or others indulge in repartee. Of course, how memorable those exchanges are does not just rely on the stars delivering the lines effectively. It is up to the screenwriters to come up with the brilliant dialogue in the first place. Fortunately, Hollywood has never been short of superb writers and the movies we enjoy often result from the studios hiring of the best in the business. Anyway, here is the first instalment of a few of my favourite exchanges. See if you can identify the movies from which they are taken. NOTE: Answers appear at the end of the article.



MRS. FENTY: ‘You should read the Bible, Mr. Rumson.’

BEN RUMSON: ‘I have read the Bible, Mrs. Fenty.’

MRS. FENTY: ‘Didn’t that discourage you about drinking?’

BEN RUMSON: ‘No, but it sure killed my appetite for readin’!’



PREWITT: ‘You’ve got guts, honey. I hope you can pull that off.’

ALMA: ‘I do mean it when I say I need you, ‘cause I’m lonely. You think I’m lying, don’t you?’

PREWITT: ‘Nobody ever lies about being lonely.’



COLONEL SHAW: ‘I have no doubt you are a fair man, Mulcahy. I wonder if you are treating the men a little hard. You may speak freely.’

SGT. MULCAHY: ‘The boy is a friend of yours, is he?’

COLONEL SHAW: ‘Yes, we grew up together.’

SGT. MULCAHY: ‘Let him grow up some more.’



JUDGE: ‘Why do you people call yourselves black? You look more brown than black.’

STEVE BIKO: ‘Why do you call yourselves white? You look more pink than white.’



ADDISON DEWITT: ‘You see that man, that’s Max Fabian, the producer. Now, go do yourself some good.’

MISS CASSWELL: ‘Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?’

ADDISON DEWITT: ‘Because that’s what they are.’



JOHN MCCLANE: ‘You throw quite a party. I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan.’

JOSEPH TAKAGI: ‘Hey, we’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out so we got you with tape decks.’



BOB WOODWARD: ‘Who is Charles Colson?’

HARRY ROSENFELD: ‘Sit down. You know I’m glad you asked me that question. The reason I’m glad you asked me is because if you had asked Simons or Bradlee they woulda said, ‘You know, we’re gonna have to fire this schmuck at once because he’s so dumb.’

BOB WOODWARD: ‘Well, who is Charles Colson?’

HARRY ROSENFELD: ‘The most powerful man in the United States is President Nixon. You’ve heard of him? Charles Colson is special counsel to the President. There’s a cartoon on his wall. The caption reads: ‘When you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.’



CALVERA: ‘New wall.’

CHRIS: ‘There are lots of new walls, all around.’

CALVERA: ‘They won’t keep me out!’

CHRIS: ‘They were built to keep you in.’



LEO: ‘But how will you find me? You don’t know where I’ll be…I don’t know where I’ll be.’

CHILI PALMER: ‘I’ll find you, Leo. You leave a trail like a fuckin’ caterpillar.’



JOANNE HERRING: ‘Are you, Catholic, Mr. Avrakotos?’

GUST AVRAKOTOS: ‘Greek Orthodox.’

JOANNE HERRING: ‘Still a Christian, though.

GUST AVRAKOTOS: ‘Imagine my relief.’



RICHARD ROTH: ‘Hi. Richard Roth. Don’t call me ‘Dick’.’

ROBERT WIENER: ‘Robert Wiener. Don’t call me ‘Dick’, either.’



MARY ST. JOHN: ‘She has something I haven’t got – niceness. But then I have something she hasn’t got.’


MARY ST. JOHN: ‘No. Honesty and guts. She has no guts.’



SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: ‘You could always get married.’

LORD ARTHUR GORING: ‘It’s the ‘always’ bit that alarms me.’



JOHN CHAMBERS: ‘So, you want to come to Hollywood, act like a big shot…’


JOHN CHAMBERS: ‘…without actually doing anything?’


JOHN CHAMBERS: ‘You’ll fit right in!’



JACKSON TWO-BEARS: ‘Kid, Kid, what a time to fall off the wagon. Look at your eyes.’

KID SHELEEN: ‘What’s wrong with my eyes?’

JACKSON TWO-BEARS: Well, they’re red, bloodshot.’

KID SHELEEN: ‘You ought to see ‘em from my side.’



EVE KENDALL: ‘Roger O. Thornhill. What does the ‘O’ stand for?




GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY: ‘You’re in a pretty bad fix, Mr. President.’

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: ‘What did you say?’

GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY: ‘You’re in a pretty bad fix.’

PRESIDENT KENNEDY: ‘Well, maybe you haven’t noticed: You’re in it with me.’



OFFICIAL AT THE MINISTRY OF AIRCRAFT PRODUCTION: ‘You say you need a Wellington bomber for test drops. They’re worth their weight in gold. Do you really think the authorities will lend you one? What possible argument could I put forward to get you a Wellington?’

BARNES WALLIS: ‘Well, if you told them I designed it, do you think that might help?’



  1. HOLDEN: ‘Let me go shopping, sir, and see what’s left at the market.’
  2. CMDR SHERMAN: You, Mr. Holden? You’d ruin your manicure.’
  3. HOLDEN: ‘Don’t let the manicure fool you, sir. I grew up in a neighbourhood called ‘Noah’s Ark’. If you didn’t travel in pairs, you just didn’t travel.’



COMMODUS: ‘Have I missed it? Have I missed the battle?’

MARCUS AURELIUS: ‘You have missed the war.’



NATALIE: ‘Hello, David. I mean ‘sir’. Shit, I can’t believe I’ve just said that. And now I’ve gone and said ‘shit’ – twice. I’m so sorry, sir.’

PRIME MINISTER: ‘It’s fine. It’s fine. You could’ve said ‘fuck’, and then we’d have been in real trouble.’

NATALIE: ‘Thank you, sir. I did have an awful premonition that I was gonna fuck up on the first day. Oh, piss it!’



RUTH: ‘Will the lifeboats be seated according to class? I hope they’re not too crowded.

ROSE: ‘Oh mother, shut up! Don’t you understand? The water is freezing and there aren’t enough boats. Not enough by half. Half the people on this ship are going to die.’

CAL HOCKLEY: ‘Not the better half.’



PHYLLIS: ‘Neff is the name, isn’t it?’

WALTER NEFF: ‘Yeah. Two ‘Fs’, like in Philadelphia, if you know the story.’

PHYLLIS: ‘What story?’

WALTER NEFF: ‘The Philadelphia Story.’



WILMER COOK: ‘Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.’

SAM SPADE: ‘The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.’



IKE CLANTON: ‘What is that now? Twelve hands in a row? Holliday, son of a bitch, nobody’s that lucky.’

DOC HOLLIDAY: ‘Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker’s just not your game, Ike. I know! Let’s have a spelling contest!’








1          PAINT YOUR WAGON (1969)

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Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin)

2          FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)

Image result for from here to eternity ALMA AND PREWITT

Prewitt & Alma (Montgomery Clift & Donna Reed)

3          GLORY (1989)

Image result for glory - shaw and mulcahy

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick)

4          CRY FREEDOM (1987)

Image result for steve biko in cry freedom

Steve Biko (Denzel Washington)

5          ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)

Image result for all about eve - sanders and monroe

Miss Casswell & Addison deWitt (Marilyn Monroe & George Sanders)

6          DIE HARD (1988)

Image result for die hard john mcclane and joseph takagi

Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta)

7          ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976)

Image result for all the president's men woodward

Bob Woodward (Robert Redford)

8          THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)

Image result for the magnificent seven chris and calvera

Calvera (Eli Wallach)

9          GET SHORTY (1995)

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Chili Palmer (John Travolta)

10        CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007)


Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour-Hoffman)

11        LIVE FROM BAGHDAD (2002)

Image result for live from baghdad 0 keaton

Robert Wiener (Michael Keaton)

12        FROM THE TERRACE (1960)

Image result for from the terrace joanne woodward

Mary St. John & Alfred Eaton (Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman)

13        AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1999)

Image result for an ideal husband - rupert everett

Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett)

14        ARGO (2012)

Image result for argo - john goodman

John Chambers & Tony Mendez (John Goodman & Ben Affleck)

15        CAT BALLOU (1965)

Image result for cat ballou kid shelleen drunk

Kid Sheleen (Lee Marvin)

16        NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)

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Roger Thornhill & Eve Kendall (Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint)

17        THIRTEEN DAYS (2000)

Image result for thirteen days - bruce greenwood as kennedy

President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood)

18        THE DAM BUSTERS (1955)

Image result for the dam busters redgrave

Barnes Wallis (Sir Michael Redgrave)

19        OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959)

Image result for operation petticoat - grant and curtis

Sherman & Holden (Cary Grant & Tony Curtis)

20        GLADIATOR (2000)

Image result for gladiator - commodus and marcus aurelius

Commodus & Marcus Aurelius (Joaquin Phoenix & Richard Harris)

21        LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

Image result for love actually - natalie and the pm

The Prime Minister & Natalie (Hugh Grant & Martine McCutcheon)

22        TITANIC (1997)

Image result for titanic cal and mum and rose

Ruth & Rose (Frances Fisher & Kate Winslet)

23        DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

Image result for double indemnity neff and phyllis

Phyllis & Neff (Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MacMurray)

24        THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)

Image result for the maltese falcon - spade and

Sam Spade & Wilmer Cook (Humphrey Bogart & Elisha Cook Jr)

25        TOMBSTONE (1993)

Image result for tombstone - kilmer and lang

Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang)



    • If it is any consolation, Cat, it was a pretty tough quiz. My wife thought it was extremely difficult. I was quoting mostly favourite movies of mine, so I had a decided advantage.

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