Greatest Opening Film Lines and Quotes: These are many of the best-known opening lines, fade-ins, and first words of dialogue heard throughout cinematic history - the initial opening words of films are sometimes heard even before the title credits. In quite a few cases, the memorable opening lines are also some of the greatest lines in film history.
They often reveal a vital truth about the film, introduce the film, or help to define what the film was all about. The words, often spoken by an off-screen narrator or character, often help to set a mood or tone before the film begins, and they are often great one-liners. See also Greatest Last Words and Closing Film Lines.
(chronological, by film title)
1920s-1940s | 1950s-1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
Return to Entire Quotes Index
1920s - 1940s
(title card) "Revolution is the only lawful, equal, effectual war. It was in Russia that this war was declared and begun."
"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You ain't
heard nothin' yet. Wait a minute, I tell ya, you ain't heard nothin'!
Do you wanna hear 'Toot, Toot, Tootsie!'? All right, hold
on, hold on. (To the band leader) Lou, Listen. Play 'Toot, Toot,
Tootsie!' Three choruses, you understand. In the third chorus I whistle.
Now give it to 'em hard and heavy. Go right ahead!" [Toot,
"Hello, hello, hello. Is that the clinic? This
is Senf, the Head Porter, Grand Hotel. How's my wife? Is she in pain?
Isn't the child coming soon? Patience? Would you have patience?"
(sung) "Gone are my blues and gone
are my tears. I've got good news to shout in your ears. The long-lost
dollar has come back to the fold. With silver you can turn your dreams
to gold. So, We're in The Money, We're in the Money. We've got a lot
of what it takes to get along. We're in the Money, the sky is sunny,
Old Man Depression you are through, You done us wrong!..."
(title card) "And the Prophet said, 'And lo, the
beast looked upon the face of beauty. And it stayed its hand from killing.
And from that day, it was as one dead.'" (Old Arabian Proverb)
- "Slave in the Magic Mirror, come from the farthest
space. Through wind and darkness, I summon thee. (Wind howling) Speak!
Let me see thy face."
- "What do we care if we were expelled from
college, Scarlett. The war is gonna start any day now, so we would've
left college anyhow."
(title card) "This picture takes place
in Paris in those wonderful days when a siren was a brunette and not
an alarm --- and if a Frenchman turned out the light, it was not on account
of an air raid!"
(sounds of bugles) -
"These hills here
are full of Apaches. They burnt
every ranch building in sight. He had a brush with 'em last night. Says
they're bein' stirred up by Geronimo."
(title card) "For nearly forty years
this story has given faithful service to the Young in Heart; and Time
has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion. To those
of you who have been faithful to it in return...and to the Young in Heart...we
dedicate this picture."
(title card) "On the barren Yorkshire moors in England,
a hundred years ago, stood a house as bleak and desolate as the wastes
around it. Only a stranger lost in a storm would have dared to knock
at the door of Wuthering Heights."
(voice-over) "Last night, I dreamt
I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate
leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way
was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden
with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier
before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning
as it has always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change
had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again, and little by
little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on
and on while the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally,
there was Manderley - Manderley - secretive and silent. Time could
not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd
tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came
from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an
instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it.
I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of the past about its
staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again. That
much is certain. But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back to the strange
days of my life which began for me in the south of France..."
(title cards) "It's a story they tell
in the border country where Massachusetts joins Vermont and New Hampshire.
It happened, so they say, a long time ago. But it could happen anytime
- anywhere - to anybody..."
(voice-over) "I am packing my belongings
in the shawl my mother used to wear when she went to the market. And
I'm going from my valley. And this time, I shall never return. I am
leaving behind me my fifty years of memory. Memory. Strange that the
mind will forget so much of what only this moment has passed, and yet
hold clear and bright the memory of what happened years ago - of men
and women long since dead. Yet who shall say what is real and what
is not? Can I believe my friends all gone when their voices are still
a glory in my ears? No. And I will stand to say no and no again, for
they remain a living truth within my mind. There is no fence nor hedge
round Time that is gone. You can go back and have what you like of
it, if you can remember. So I can close my eyes on my Valley as it
is today - and it is gone - and I see it as it was when I was a boy.
Green it was, and possessed of the plenty of the earth. In all Wales,
there was none so beautiful."
- "Yes, sweetheart?"
(voice-over) "With the coming of the Second
World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully or desperately
toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation
point. But not everybody could get to Lisbon directly. And so
a torturous, round-about refugee trail sprang up. Paris to Marseilles,
across the Mediterranean to Oran [in Algeria], then by train or auto
or foot across the rim of Africa to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here
the fortunate ones through money or influence or luck might
obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World.
But the others wait in Casablanca, and wait and wait and wait."
(title card) "Even as fog continues to
lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the
depressions in the world consciousness." (From The
Anatomy of Atavism - Dr. Louis Judd)
(voice-over) "The magnificence
of the Ambersons began in 1873. Their
splendor lasted throughout all the years that saw their Midland town
spread and darken into a city. In that town in those days, all the women
who wore silk or velvet knew all the other women who wore silk or velvet
and everybody knew everybody else's family horse and carriage. The only
public conveyance was the streetcar. (Yoohoo) A lady could whistle to
it from an upstairs window, and the car would halt at once, and wait
for her, while she shut the window, put on her hat and coat,
went downstairs, found an umbrella, told the 'girl' what to
have for dinner, and came forth from the house. Too slow for us nowadays,
because the faster we're carried, the less time we have to spare."
(voice-over) "Our story takes you
down this shadowed path to a remote and guarded building in the English
Midlands, Melbridge County Asylum. Grimly proud of its new military
wing, which barely suffices in this autumn of 1918 to house the shattered
minds of the war that was to end war."
(voice-over) "Lubinski, Kubinski, Lominski,
Rozanski and Poznanski. We're in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It's
August, 1939. Europe is still at peace. At the moment, life in Warsaw
is going on as normally as ever. But suddenly, something seems to
have happened. Are those Poles seeing a ghost? Why does this car
suddenly stop? Everybody seems to be staring in one direction. People
seem to be frightened, even terrified. Some flabbergasted. Can it
be true? It must be true. No doubt. The man with the little mustache,
Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler in Warsaw when the two countries are still
at peace - and all by himself? He seems strangely unconcerned by
all the excitement he's causing. Is he by any chance interested in
Mr. Maslowski's delicatessen? That's impossible! He's a vegetarian.
And yet, he doesn't always stick to his diet. Sometimes he swallows
whole countries. Does he want to eat up Poland, too? Anyhow, how
did he get here? What happened? Well..."
(voice-over) "I am Matthew Macauley.
I have been dead for two years, but so much of me is still living that
I know now the end is only the beginning. As I look down on my homeland
of Ithaca, California, with its patches of vineyards and orchards, I
feel so much of me is still living there in the places I've been,
in the fields, the streets, the church, and, most of all, my home where
my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions, my beliefs still live in the daily
lives of my loved ones. Yes, they're even reflected in the shining face
of my youngest son Ulysses Macauley, who is so intently watching
the gopher as it pushes up the dirt in my backyard. "
(voice-over narration, reading) "My name is Jane
Eyre. I was born in 1820, a harsh time of change in England. Money
and position seemed all that mattered. Charity was a cold and disagreeable
word. Religion too often wore a mask of bigotry and crueIty. There
was no proper place for the poor or the unfortunate. I had no father
or mother, brother or sister. As a child, I lived with my aunt, Mrs.
Reed of Gateshead Hall. I do not remember that she ever spoke one
kind word to me."
(title screen) "This is a Hallowe'en
tale of Brooklyn, where anything can happen - - and it usually does.
At 3 P.M. on this particular day, this was happening -"
- (knocking) "Why, hello there, Mr. Neff. Working
pretty late, aren't you, Mr. Neff?"
(voice-over) "I shall never forget the weekend Laura
died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying
glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if
I were the only human being left in New York. For with Laura's horrible
death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really
knew her, and I had just begun to write Laura's story when another
of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch
him through the half-open door. (clock chimes) I noted that
his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in
existence, and that was in Laura's apartment, in the very room where
she was murdered."
(title screen) "This is a story of
the Unconquerable Fortress - the American Home...1943."
- (door buzzer) "Well, my name's Marlowe. General
Sternwood wanted to see me."
(voice-over) "Deep among the lonely sun-baked
hills of Texas, the great and weatherbeaten stone still stands. The
Comanches called it Squaw's Head Rock. Time cannot change its impassive
face, nor dim the legend of the wild young lovers who found Heaven
and Hell in the shadows of the rock. For when the sun is low and the
cold wind blows across the desert, there are those of Indian blood
who still speak of Pearl Chavez, the half-breed girl from down along
the border and of the laughing outlaw with whom she here kept a final
rendezvous, never to be seen again. And this is what the legend says
- a flower, known nowhere else, grows from out of the desperate crags
where Pearl vanished. Pearl - who was herself a wild flower sprung
from the hard clay, quick to blossom and early to die."
(voice-over) "To me a dollar was a dollar in
any language. It was my first night in the Argentine and I didn't
know much about the local citizens. But I knew about American sailors,
and I knew I'd better get out of there."
(voice-over) "My father's family name being
Pirrip, and my Christian name, Phillip, my infant tongue could make
of both names nothing longer or more explicit than 'Pip'. So I called
myself Pip and came to be called Pip."
(voice-overs) - "I owe everything to George
Bailey. Help him, Dear Father. "
(scrolling title card) "This is a story of two Worlds
- the one we know and another which exists only in the mind of a young
airman whose life & imagination have been violently shaped by war.
Any resemblance to any other world known or unknown is purely coincidental."
(voice-over) - "It was on a side road outside of Los Angeles. I was hitchhiking
from San Francisco down to San Diego, I guess. A half-hour earlier, I'd
thumbed a ride."
|The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)|
(voice-over) "Manhattan, New York, USA. In
any discussion of contemporary America and how its people live, we
must inevitably start with Manhattan, New York City, USA. Manhattan,
glistening modern giant of concrete and steel reaching to the heavens
and cradling in its arms seven millions. Seven millions, appy beneficiaries
of the advantages and comforts this great metropolis has to offer.
Its fine, wide boulevards facilitate the New Yorkers' carefree, orderly
(title cards before credits) "This boy and this
girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in. To tell
(voice-over) "Well, this is how New York looks when you see it in the
movies and on picture postcards. And this is how it looked to me,
Jane Stacey, when I first came here from Connecticut. But New York's a
great town. It's got Park Avenue. Lovely, isn't it? I wish I lived there,
but I don't. I live in Mrs. O'Reilly's Boarding House at 185 West 73rd
Street, Apartment 3-B, next to a charming delicatessen. But I still love
New York, because it's full of unusual sights, and the most unusual sight
in town is my friend Irma. See if you can pick her out. Having a little
trouble? Then let me help you spot her. You see that street over there,
that's being torn up? And that sign that says, 'Men at work, beware'?
You notice how all the normal people are walking around that hole? Well,
in a few minutes, you will be able to pick out my roommate, Irma Peterson.
(voice-over) "I never knew
the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour
and easy charm - Constantinople suited me better. I really got to
know it in the classic period of the Black Market. We'd run anything,
if people wanted it enough and had the money to pay. Of course, a
situation like that does tempt amateurs, but, but you know they can't
stay the course like a professional. Now the city - it's
divided into four zones, you know, each occupied
by a power - the American, the British, the Russian,
and the French. But the center of the city - that's international, policed
by an International Patrol, one
member of each of the four powers. Wonderful. What
a hope they had, all strangers
to the place and none of them could
the same language, except a sort of smattering
of German. Good fellows on the
whole, did their best, you know. Vienna
doesn't really look
any worse than a lot of other European cities, bombed about
a bit. Oh, I was gonna tell you, wait,
I was gonna tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way
here to visit a friend of his. The name is Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins
was broke and Lime had offered him some sort - I don't know - some sort
of a job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap, happy as a lark and without