Film Mis-Quotes

Part 1

Greatest Film Mis-Quotes
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Greatest Movie Misquotes
(Part 1)
Greatest Movie Mis-Quotes: Some of the most classic film lines or scenes are really only legendary and/or apocryphal, or they are merely movie misquotes , but after many years of repetition and being misquoted in subsequent films, they have become part of the filmgoing public's consciousness. Many of these examples are film quotes that were either commonly attributed wrongly, or in fact were never actually spoken.
The top 10 most misquoted film lines are marked with an icon #1

Here are some prime examples:

  • In The Virginian (1929), one of the earliest Western talkies, Gary Cooper's taunting line to bad guy Trampas (Walter Huston) was not: "Smile when you call me that!", or "When ya call me that, smile!", but "If you wanna call me that, smile." In the heated exchange at the bar of a saloon, Trampas first challenged the Virginian: "When I wanna know anything from you, I'll tell ya, you long-legged son of a ...", to which the Virginian replied with his gun quick-drawn against Trampas' abdomen: "If you wanna call me that, smile." After a long pause, Trampas replied with a grin: "With a gun against my belly I... I always smile."

    [Owen Wister's book used the phrase: "When ya call me that, smile!"]

    Play 1929 clip: The Virginian - 1929 (88 KB)

  • In the Marx Brothers comedy film Animal Crackers (1930), Groucho Marx (as African jungle explorer Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding) delivered the following line: "One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know." It has often been misquoted as: "...How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."

    Play 1930 clip: Animal Crackers - 1930 (35 KB)

  • The legendary blood-sucking Count Dracula (Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi) never said "I want to suck your blood" in the Universal horror classic, Dracula (1931). However, the line was used in a humorous context by Dr. Tom Mason (Ned Bellamy) practicing his Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) impersonation in director Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994).

  • Often misquoted is Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) - yes, Frankenstein was the name of the mad scientist - and his shout of "It's alive!" with the stirring of life within his non-human Monster (Boris Karloff), in Frankenstein (1931). Frankenstein has often been quoted as saying instead: "He's alive! Alive!" Mel Brooks' irreverent spoof Young Frankenstein (1974) featured grandson Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) resuming his late grandfather's experiments, and his loud exclamation of: "Alive. It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" to bug-eyed Igor (Marty Feldman) and voluptuous lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr):

    Play 1931 clip: Frankenstein - 1931 (18 KB)
    Play 1974 clip: Young Frankenstein - 1974 (54 KB)

  • The mobster refrain, "You dirty rat!" - was never said verbatim by James Cagney, although he did say something similar, "Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin' rat," in Blonde Crazy (1931). It was misquoted in Cole Porter's 1934 stage classic Anything Goes and in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) when Michelangelo imitated James Cagney: "You dirty rat. You killed my brudda. You dirty rat."
    [In Home Alone (1990), Macauley Culkin watched a scene from a fictional B/W gangster film videotape titled, "Angels With Filthy Souls" (a take-off on the Cagney film Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)), in which a gangster shoots his girlfriend, while saying, "Take that, you dirty rat!"]

  • Greta Garbo's most famous quote of all, "I want to be alone" was often thought to be non-existent or merely a statement of her reclusive nature in private life. However, it prominently appeared, with her famous accent spoken by the character Grusinskaya in Grand Hotel (1932):

    Play 1932 clip: Grand Hotel - 1932 (38 KB)

  • "Me Tarzan, you Jane" - was a catchphrase inaccurately-quoted from Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932)

    Jane: (pointing to herself) Jane.
    Tarzan: (he points at her) Jane.
    Jane: And you? (she points at him) You?
    Tarzan: (stabbing himself proudly in the chest) Tarzan, Tarzan.
    Jane: (emphasizing his correct response) Tarzan.
    Tarzan: (poking back and forth each time) Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan...

    Play 1932 clip (excerpt): Tarzan, the Ape Man - 1932 (356 KB)

  • "You're going out (there) a youngster, but you're coming back a star!", "You're going out (on that stage) a nobody, (kid), but you're coming back a star!", or "You're going out a chorus girl, but you're coming back a star!" - all misquotes of the original line in 42nd Street (1933): "But you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out, and, Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!"

    Play 1933 clip: 42nd Street - 1933 (91 KB)

  • "Is that a gun [or pistol] in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" - was not spoken by Mae West in She Done Him Wrong (1933) - but she did restate the line in her final film Sextette (1978) to co-star George Hamilton. Reportedly, she spoke the line to an escorting LA police officer who met her at the LA railway station in February, 1936.

    [Note: The line was parodied in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles (1974) by Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Schtupp as: "Is that a ten gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?"

    Play 1974 clip: Blazing Saddles (32 KB)

    And in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Dolores (Joanna Cassidy) asked Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) - with Roger Rabbit concealed in his pocket: "Is that a rabbit in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"]

  • In the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong (1933), the bawdy actress Mae West did say, "Why don't you come up sometime 'n see me?", often misquoted as "Why, don't you come up and see me sometime, (big boy)?" or "Come up and see me sometime." She also said: "Come up again, anytime."

    Play 1933 clip: She Done Him Wrong - 1933 (22 KB) (short version)
    Play 1933 clip: She Done Him Wrong - 1933 (142 KB) (long version)
    Play 1933 clip: She Done Him Wrong - 1933 (36 KB) (variation)

  • In the Laurel and Hardy classic comedy, Sons of the Desert (1933), Oliver Hardy exclaimed to partner Stan Laurel: "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" He did NOT say: "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into" or "Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into."

    Play 1933 clip: Sons of the Desert - 1933 (9 KB)

  • At the conclusion of the classic adventure film King Kong (1933), Robert Armstrong (as Carl Denham) uttered the famous closing line: "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast." Some have heard it to say: "...'Twas Beauty killed the Beast," although there's little doubt.

    Play 1933 clip: King Kong - 1933 (63 KB)

  • In The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935), Douglass Dumbrille (as treacherous Mohammed Khan) did NOT say: "We have ways of making you talk" or "We have ways to make you talk." Instead, he said: "Well, gentlemen. We have ways to make men talk."

    Play 1935 clip: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer - 1935 (41 KB)

  • #2 "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" - is actually an incorrect quote. In Disney's animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the wicked Queen asked: "Magic Mirror on the Wall, who is the Fairest one of all?" [The misquote was heard in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988), 101 Dalmatians (1996), 54 (1998), and other films.]

    Play 1937 clip: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - 1937 (66 KB)

  • "Come with me to the Casbah," followed by "we'll make beautiful music together" - was not said by Charles Boyer to co-star Hedy Lamarr in Algiers (1938). It was said by cartoon characters Yosemite Sam and Pepe LePew in subsequent Looney Tunes cartoons, among others. In fact, animator Chuck Jones based the Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe LePew on Charles Boyer's Pepe Le Moko.

  • "Elementary, my dear Watson!" - was a phrase never spoken by the lead character in the many Sherlock Holmes novels from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The closest phrases in Doyle's writings were in The Crooked Man ("'Excellent!' I cried. 'Elementary!', said he."), and in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box ("It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you"). This quote was rather found in a film review in the New York Times on October 19, 1929.

    It became popularized only after its trademark use in two films:

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) (the first Holmes film with sound), with Clive Brook (as Holmes) and H. Reeves-Smith (as Dr. Watson).

    Watson: "Amazing, Holmes."
    Holmes: "Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary."

    It was also stated by Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes character in Twentieth Century Fox's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939). There was also a clever reversal of the phrase by Watson in the film's last line.

    Watson: "And how did you know about them?"
    Holmes: "Elementary, my dear Watson. This man has been dead for at least two hours. And Moriarty isn't wasting any time."

    Holmes: "Very effective, my dear Watson!"
    Watson: "Elementary, my dear Holmes, elementary." (last lines)

    Play 1939 clip: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (short) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (extended)
    Play 1939 clip: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    (last lines)

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