“No. I am your father”, “In Paris, they call it a Royale with cheese”, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”, “Quite frankly, I don’t give a damn” and “I’m gonna make him an offer, he can’t refuse” are some of the most quoted lines in film. Besides such classic lines, there are popular phrases that we don’t even realize came from movies at all. These lines have become so embedded in pop culture that they have been put in to daily use. Take a look to see which phrases came from what movie and which character said it.
(WARNING: Spoilers for Alien, Terms of Endearment, and Apollo 13)
The Phrase: “Game Over, Man! Game Over!”
What Movie: Aliens
Who Said It: Bill Paxton as Pvt. Hudson
This phrase that is usually used either when they feel something is hopeless or lost or when one individual have beaten someone was said in by Bill Paxton in the 1986, sci-fi/action classic, Aliens. In Aliens, after one of xenomorphs (aliens) attacks the pilot of a ship coming to rescue Ripley, Newt, Hudson, Pvt. Vasquez, Corporal Hicks, and Bishop crashes. After this happens, they are all in distress and Hudson says, ‘Game Over, Man! Game Over!” in despair.
Watch the scene when Bill Paxton says the phrase. If you want to skip straight to Paxton’s line, go to 0:14 on the video. The clip contains explicit language.
The Phrase: “Houston, we have a problem”
What Movie: Apollo 13
Who Said It: Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell
The phrase, “Ah Houston, we’ve had a problem” was famously said by astronaut Jim Lovell of the Apollo 13 on their nearly catastrophic mission. In the film based on the events of the mission, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, Tom Hank portraying Lovell, famously says the words, “Houston, we have a problem” when a problem with the ship’s oxygen tanks arise. This small change in dialogue has become one of the most quoted movie lines of all time and after the release of Apollo 13, this phrase became a cliche of the space genre. Because of the fact that the phrase is so close to real spoken words and how many times it has been used in other films, people probably don’t realize it’s orgins were from Apollo 13 specially. Although it is a fairly simple movie quote and only a small change in words from “Ah Houston, we’ve got a problem”, it is a powerful quote which we use in real life often.
Watch the scene where Tom Hanks utters the famous phrase. If you want to skip straight to Hank’s line, go to 1:21 on the video.
The Phrase: “You hear this. It’s the world’s smallest violin.”
What Movie/TV Show: M*A*S*H* and Reservoir Dogs
Who Said It: Loretta Swit as Maj. Margaret Houlihan on M*A*S*H* and Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink
The phrase has been said to be around since the 50’s with the farthest trace of the phrase being “The world’s smallest violin playing hearts and flowers”. Both M*A*S*H* and Reservoir Dogs revolutionized the phrase. Starting with M*A*S*H*, in the 1978 episode of the show, “Your Hit Parade”, Loretta Swit brushes her fingers together and says, “Do you know what this is? It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for you.” The writers claim that the phrase had been around since the 50’s, and they were just emulating the 50’s, but before this point this form of the phrase had never been used. Years later in 1992, another variation of the phrase was used in Quentin Tarantino’s fantastic directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs. In the film, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) explains in the infamous scene diner scene why when he pays he doesn’t give tips. Mr. Pink goes on to say that unless a waitress does a fantastic job, he doesn’t tip. When some of the other guys around the table start questioning Mr. Pink about why he doesn’t tip further, Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker) says, “You don’t care they’re live on your tips to live?” and in return Mr. Pink rubs his fingers together says “You know what this is? It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for the waitresses.”
Like much of Tarantino’s work, Reservoir Dogs was both a homage to films of an earlier era and influential for many other films yet to come. Although Reservoir Dogs wasn’t the first to use the phrase and not everyone will register its usage in the film when using it, the popularity of the phrase can no doubt be credited to the film. Since then, the phrase has been used in such media as Spongebob Squarepants, Two and A Half Men, Justified, and Girls.
I could not find the clip from M*A*S*H*, but watch the scene where Steve Buscemi says the phrase.
The Phrase: “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.”
What movie: Terms of Endearment
Who said it: Jack Nicholson as Garrett Breedlove
To sarcastically retort that ‘I’d rather stick needles in my eyes” when asked to do an undesirable task has become popular sarcastic phrase. But what a lot of people don’t know is that it is actually a movie line. It is from the Academy Award winner for the Best Picture of 1984, starring Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito, and Jack Nicholson (who won his second Oscar for this film). In the film, Shirley MacLaine’s character, Aurora, asks Nicholson’s character, Garrett, to come into her house. Garrett responds by saying, “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.” Unlike some of the other phrases on this list which were similar to or different variations of a different phrase, this quick witted phrase is completely original.In fact, it was a nomination for the AFI 100 Quotes list.
Watch the scene where Jack Nicholson say the famous phrase. The quality of the clip is mediocre, but that is the only clip of the scene online.
The Phrase: “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.”
What Movie: The Fly (1986)
Who Said It: Gina Davis as Veronica Quafie
I recently had the pleasure of seeing the classic David Cronenberg horror film, The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. In one scene, Davis’s character, Veronica, turns to another character and says, “Be afraid. Be very afraid”. I paused the movie and after considering that this movie was made in the 80’s that the poster’s tagline was also “Be afraid. Be very afraid”, that this may have been the first film to use that line. I went online to clarify and sure enough, The Fly was the first film to use that phrase. “Be afraid. Be very afraid” is one of the most used quotes in horror films and pop culture generally. This line has been mimicked so many times and is so popular that most people don’t realize that the line’s origin is this movie. Although this line has been overused to say the least, it is one of the things that has made the The Fly still relevant today along with its plot, great performance by Jeff Goldblum, and jaw-dropping makeup and animatronics.
Watch the scene when Gina Davis say this famous phrase.
The Phrase: “It’s Game Time!”
What Movie: Aliens
Who Said It: Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks
Aliens appears on this list a second time for one main reason. It is the pioneer of most action movies. Countless action cliches came from this movie that have since been used in other movies, videos games,and TV shows. There have also been many ripoffs of this film. Many don’t realize this phrase is even from Aliens for the same reason that the origins of “Game over, man! Game over!” and “Be afraid. Be very afraid” are forgotten: Over-use. But what later became cliches are fresh and cool in Aliens. Although they are both on a completely different level because of their different tones, Alien and Aliens are both equal quality. This famous line is said by Michael Biehn as the macho Corporal Hicks when he and Ripley get ready to spring into action. If done right, one-liners can be awesome. The problem is the two main ways to destroy one liners is to have too many and have the one-liner itself be corny or illogical (see Batman and Robin for reference). The beauty of the use of one-liners in Aliens is that they are placed far enough apart so that you aren’t chocked by them and all of the lines are clever and cool.
I could not find a clip of this phrase online, but watch Aliens to hear it and other future tropes.