Film Noir Quotes
A page happily devoted to words of misery, depression, melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, despair, desperation, cynicism, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt, desperation, paranoia, and existentialism.
Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens): “I can be framed easier than ‘Whistler's Mother.’”
Kathleen (Lucille Ball): “You should have William Powell for a secretary.”
Galt: “William Powell? Who's he?”
Kathleen (Lucille Ball): “Don't ya ever go to the movies? He's a detective, in ‘The Thin Man.’”
Barbara Morton (Patricia Hitchcock): “She was a tramp.”
Senator: “She was a human being. Let me remind you that even the most unworthy of us has a right to life and the pursuit of happiness.”
Barbara: “From what I hear she pursued it in all directions.”
Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) to Guy Haines (Farley Granger): “I do your murder. You do mine. Criss-cross.”
Tanya (Marlene Dietrich): “I didn't recognize you. You should lay off those candy bars.”
Quinlan: “Come on, read my future for me.”
Tanya: “You haven't got any.”
Quinlan: “What do you mean?”
Tanya: “Your future is all used up.”
Joyce Harwood (Veronica Lake): "It's funny, but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them."
Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins): "You'll never make big money. You're a two-bit guy."
Packett: "Honey, listen..."
Annie: "No guts, nothing! I want action!"
Packett: "I saw the two of you, the way you were looking at each other tonight, like a couple of wild animals. Almost scared me."
Annie: "It should. He’s (Bart Tare) a MAN."
Ida (Eve Arden): "Personally, Veda's convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young."
Monte (Zachary Scott): "Oh, I wish I could get that interested in work."
Ida: "You were probably frightened by a callus at an early age!"
Jonathan Shields (Kirk Douglas): "Not even a little bit."
Velda (Maxine Cooper): "You never need me when I'm around."
Lt. Sam Lubinsky (Sam Levene): "He's behind schedule now."
Jail Ward Doctor: "He's dead now, except for he's breathing."
Julie (Audrey Totter): "I remember the first time you told me that. You were just one punch away from the title shot then. Don't you see, Bill, you'll always be just one punch away."
Philip Marlow (Robert Motgomery): “Only the ones in skirts.”
Hoodlum: “How about some paint thinner?”
Mr. Brown: “No, that'll kill him. Anything else?”
Hoodlum: “Hair tonic, 40% alcohol.”
Mr. Brown: “Fine.”
Rita (Helene Stanton): "A woman doesn't care how a guy makes a living, just how he makes love."
Philip Marlowe (Eliot Gould): "Well, that's okay, but I'm not taking off the tie."
Marlowe's oft-repeated retort: "It's okay with me."
Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien): "I want to report a murder."
Cop: "Where was this murder committed?"
Bigelow: "San Francisco, last night."
Cop: "Who was murdered?"
Bigelow: "I was."
Vivian: “I think so.”
Marlowe: “Go ahead.”
Vivian: “I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.”
Marlowe: “You don't like to be rated yourself.”
Marlowe: “Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how far you can go.”
Vivian: “A lot depends on who's in the saddle.”
Major Calloway (Trevor Howard): “That sounds like a cheap novelette.”
Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten): “Well, I write cheap novelettes.”
Lime to Martins: "Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock! So long, Holly.”
Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray): "How fast was I going, officer?"
Stanwyck: "I'd say around 90."
Neff: "Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket."
Phyllis: "Suppose I let you off with a warning this time"
Neff: "Suppose it doesn't take."
Phyllis: "Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles."
Neff: "Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder."
Phyllis: "Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder."
Neff: "That tears it."
Al: “That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.”
Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart): "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter, eh?"
Mary Astor: “Mr. Archer was so alive yesterday, so solid and hearty.”
Spade: “Stop it! He knew what he was doing. Those are the chances we take."
Astor: "Was he married?”
Spade: “Yeah, with ten thousand insurance, no children, and a wife that didn't like him.”
Cop, picking up the falcon: “Heavy. What is it?”
Spade: “The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”
Capt. Renault (Claude Rains): "But we’re in the middle of the desert."
Rick: "I was misinformed."
Maj. Strasser (Conrad Veidt): "Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved
Rick: "It's not particularly my beloved
Strasser: "Can you imagine us in
Rick: "When you get there, ask me."
Strasser: "How about
Rick: "Well there are certain sections of
Ugarte (Peter Lorre): "You despise me, don't you?"
Rick: "If I gave you any thought I probably would."
Joan/'Chiquita' (Jane Greer): “Don’t change your habits on my account.”
Joan to Halliday: "What I like about you is you’re rock bottom. I wouldn’t expect you to understand this, but it’s a great comfort for a girl to know she could not possibly sink any lower."
Midge Kelly (Kirk Douglas): "Awwww, lay off the business. It's like any other business, only here the blood shows."
Gilda (Rita Hayworth) : Me?
OUT OF THE PAST is an archetypal noir about a man trying to escape his past (he ran away with his partner's girlfriend). Jeff (Robert Mitchum) is a seemingly good guy, but one bad turn has made his life a hell from which he can never completely free himself. His nemesis is a racketeer (Kirk Douglas) who needs to use Jeff and does so by baiting him with one of the great femmes fatales, Jane Greer. And she consumes him.
Greer is one of many femme fatales who populate film noir - others include Rita Hayworth in LADY FROM SHANGHAI, Veronica Lake in THE BLUE DAHLIA, Joan Bennett in SCARLET STREET, Peggy Cummins in GUN CRAZY, Gloria Grahame in HUMAN DESIRE, Lizbeth Scott in DEAD RECKONING, Ava Gardner in THE KILLERS, and Barbara Stanwyck in DOUBLE INDEMNITY. These women are black widows who slowly draw in men with come-hither looks and breathless voices. Communicating a danger of sex, the femme fatale knows how to use men to get whatever she wants, whether a little murder between lovers (DOUBLE INDEMNITY) or a wild, on-the-run lifestyle (GUN CRAZY). And in one case (MILDRED PIERCE) we even get a femme fatale-tte, a teenager (Ann Blyth) who threatens to destroy her mother (Joan Crawford).
The protagonists of film noir (usually males) forever struggle to survive. Some learn to play by the rules of film noir and survived by exposing corruption (Humphrey Bogart in THE BIG SLEEP, Dick Powell in MURDER, MY SWEET). But more often than not, they're simply poor saps done in by love (Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Edward G. Robinson in SCARLET STREET), a past transgression (Robert Mitchum in OUT OF THE PAST), or overly ambitious goals (Richard Widmark in NIGHT AND THE CITY and Sterling Hayden in THE KILLING).
Film noir first appeared in the early '40s - STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR is often cited as the first full-fledged noir, but others say that title goes to THE MALTESE FALCON. So while soldiers fought a war on foreign soil and dreamed of returning to pretty wives, cute houses and peaceful lives, film noir introduced tales about characters fighting the dark side of life back home, balancing the optimism of Hollywood musicals and comedies with seedy, two-bit criminals and doom-laden atmospheres. While Hollywood sought to help keep public morale high, film noir gave us a peek into the alleys and backrooms of a world filled with corruption, sporting evocative titles like PITFALL, NIGHTMARE, KISS OF DEATH, EDGE OF DOOM, NIGHT AND THE CITY, SIDE STREET, HILL'S ISLAND, and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE that convey in just a few words the very essence of film noir: an overpowering force that can't be avoided.
Film noir remained an important form in Hollywood until the late '50s. Films such as Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) closed out the cycle. By then, the crime and detective genres were playing out their dramas in bright lights, while film noir had become fodder for film buffery.
How ya doin', Parker?
Parker: It's stuffy in here, I need some air.
Jarrett: Oh, stuffy, huh? I'll give ya a litte air.
(pulls a gun from his pants and shoots four times into the trunk)
Cody Jarrett (James Cagney), as he dies in a fiery explosion: "Made it to the top of the world, Ma!"
Juliet Forest (Rachel Ward) to Reardon: "If you need me, just call. You know how to dial, don't you? You just put your finger in the hole and make tiny little circles."
Joe: “A cop? That's a funny kind of a friend.”
Johnny: “Well, he's a funny kind of a cop.”
Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer): “Oh Jeff, you ought to have killed me for what I did a minute ago.”
Jeff: “There's still time.”
Ann Miller (Virginia Huston): “She can't be all bad. No one is.”
Jeff: “Well, she comes the closest.”
Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas): “He couldn't find a prayer in the Bible.”
Jeff: “It was the bottom of the barrel, and I was scraping it.”