Greatest Opening
Film Lines and Quotes

1920s - 1940s

Famous Opening Film Lines 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 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.

Greatest Opening Film Lines
(chronological, by film title)
1920s-1940s | 1950s-1960s | 1970s-1980s | 1990s-2010s
Return to Entire Quotes Index

Greatest Opening Film Lines
1920s - 1940s
Famous Opening Line Film Title
"Revolution is the only lawful, equal, effectual war. It was in Russia that this war was declared and begun." (title card) Battleship Potemkin (1925, USSR)
"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?" Grand Hotel (1932)
"OK. Say, Jones and Barry are doing a show!" 42nd Street (1933)
(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..." Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
"Hunger strike, eh? How long has this been going on?" It Happened One Night (1934)
"What do we care if we were expelled from college, Scarlett. The war is gonna start any day now, so it won't affect college anyhow." Gone With the Wind (1939)
"Senator Samuel Foley - dead, yeah, yeah, died a minute ago - here at St. Vincent's." Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
"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!" Ninotchka (1939)
"Apaches, Captain! The hills are swarmin' with 'em." Stagecoach (1939)
"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)

"She isn't coming yet, Toto. Did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? Come on. We'll go tell Uncle Henry and Auntie Em." (first spoken line)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
"Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Rebecca (1940)
"Rosebud..." Citizen Kane (1941)
"You're only wasting your time writing speeches like that. Why worry about the people and their problems? Think of your own." The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
"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. Streams 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..." How Green Was My Valley (1941)
(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..." Casablanca (1942)
"Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness." Cat People (1942)
"The magnificence of the Ambersons began in 1873." The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
"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." Random Harvest (1942)
(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..." To Be Or Not To Be (1942)
"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 cactus, 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." The Human Comedy (1943)
"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 -" (title screen) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
"This is the story of that unconquerable fortress - the American home, 1943." Since You Went Away (1944)
"Mildred!" Mildred Pierce (1945)
"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..." Duel in the Sun (1946)
"To me a dollar was a dollar in any language." Gilda (1946)
(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." Great Expectations (1946)
(voice-over) "I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, Dear Father." It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
"This is the universe. Big, isn't it?" A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven (1946)
"You've got them mixed up! You're making a mistake. You're making a mistake with the reindeer. Tsk tsk tsk." Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
"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 million, seven million happy beneficiaries of the advantages and comforts this great metropolis has to offer. Its fine, wide boulevards facilitate the New Yorkers' carefree, orderly existence." Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
"This boy and this girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in. To tell their story..." They Live By Night (1949)
"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..." The Third Man (1949)

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