100 greatest movie quotes from 100 years of film
Notable movie lines become part of the cultural lexicon, working their way into pop culture, parodies, and—in the digital age—circulating as gifs and memes.
It's only fitting, then, that the American Film Institute (AFI) in 2005 compiled a list of the greatest movie quotes based on feedback from more than 1,500 leaders in the creative community including film artists, critics, and historians. There have, of course, been many worthy additions over the last decade and a half that warrant future consideration: Lines like “I drink your milkshake,” from “There Will Be Blood,” or “I wish I knew how to quit you,” from “Brokeback Mountain,” were delivered shortly after the cut-off date. “Look at me, I’m the captain now,” from “Captain Phillips” has also received full meme treatment, as has “Why so serious?” from “The Dark Knight.”
The quotes in AFI's list were selected from a ballot that included 400 choices from American films that have deeply circulated throughout popular culture over the years to expand their historical legacies. The earliest film quote comes from 1927’s “The Jazz Singer,” with “Wait a minute, wait a minute—you ain’t heard nothin’ yet,” a slick self-reference to its status as the first “talkie.” The final year represented is 2002’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” with the line “My precious” delivered by Andy Serkis’ unforgettable Gollum.
1939 saw the most movie quotes on the ballot, the year that powerhouse films “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” premiered. “Casablanca” is the film with the most quotes in the top 100—a whopping six—whittled down from 10 quotes. Three of the lines are delivered on the foggy tarmac where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman say goodbye with iconic panache.
Read on to see how many of the quotes from the top 100 you already know by heart.
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#100. Titanic (1997)
- Quote: "I'm the King of the World!"
- Character: Jack Dawson
- Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
James Cameron famously shouted this movie line (delivered as Jack Dawson spreads his arms and shouts it from the ship’s prow) after winning the Oscar for Best Director for “Titanic” in 1998. Twenty years later, he told “Vanity Fair” that he regretted the “hubris.” “I now realize what was wrong with my choice to do that.” “Titanic” is still tied with “Ben-Hur” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” for the most Oscar wins of all time.
#99. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Quote: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!"
- Character: Wicked Witch of the West
- Actor: Margaret Hamilton
“The Wizard of Oz” remains one of the most influential films in history, in part because it features witches (both good and bad). These on-screen witches gave way to the popular Broadway show “Wicked,” and this famous line pops up anywhere witches are referenced.
#98. Dirty Dancing (1987)
- Quote: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
- Character: Johnny Castle
- Actor: Patrick Swayze
“Dirty Dancing” writer Eleanor Bergstein, explained that Patrick Swazye didn’t want to say the iconic line, but he gave it one take. Swayze’s earnest performance as Johnny Castle made this line an enduring classic, both silly and sweet. The line was also a 2005 song title for the rock band Fall Out Boy.
#97. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
- Quote: "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you."
- Character: George M. Cohan
- Actor: James Cagney
Released in 1942, this story about the composer of America’s most patriotic songs, became easy propaganda to get the U.S. in a rousing mood for World War II. James Cagney as Cohan speaks the line to President Roosevelt after receiving a medal for serving his country. The line solidifies the notion of the family as a cornerstone of patriotism, and as an extension of the strength of powerful, good men.
#96. Moonstruck (1987)
- Quote: "Snap out of it!"
- Character: Loretta Castorini
- Actor: Cher
As Loretta, Cher slaps Nicolas Cage twice before speaking this famous admonition. Loretta’s inspired anger in the face of a declaration of love comes across as a spirited rebellion against traditional romantic norms.
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#95. Dead Poets Society (1989)
- Quote: "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."
- Character: John Keating
- Actor: Robin Williams
Robin Williams was already a star when “Dead Poets Society” premiered, but he would grow into a beloved cultural icon after this film. “Dead Poets Society” endures due to its theme, tied to this powerfully optimistic line, in a film that’s beautiful, but sorrowful.
#94. Top Gun (1986)
- Quote: "I feel the need—the need for speed!"
- Character: Pete Mitchell & Nick Bradshaw
- Actor: Tom Cruise & Anthony Edwards
Tom Cruise’s hotshot pilot Maverick was a famously adorable rapscallion—a trait embodied in this short, simple line. Despite its overall campiness, reflected best in the unforgettable volleyball scene, the film’s sequel is set to release in 2020. Cruise will reprise his role.
#93. Auntie Mame (1958)
- Quote: "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
- Character: Mame Dennis
- Actor: Rosalind Russell
This film became famous for bucking Hays Code restrictions in the 1950s with open references to homosexuality and gender-bending. This film became a camp classic for its “gay sensibility” and for Rosalind Russell’s exuberant costumes and one-liners like this one, delivered to her repressed nephew.
#92. Caddyshack (1980)
- Quote: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
- Character: Carl Spackler
- Actor: Bill Murray
Bill Murray’s famous “Cinderella” monologue didn’t appear in the “Caddyshack” script—the actor was only given directions to lop the heads off tulips while practicing his golf swing. Murray requested mums instead, and improvised the famous riff doing imaginary sports commentary.
#91. The Naughty Nineties (1945)
- Quote: "Who's on first?"
- Character: Dexter
- Actor: Bud Abbott
It’s hard to imagine this long bit about about a baseball player named “Who’s” would appeal to a contemporary audience. The classic comedy duo Abbott and Costello use the line “Who’s on first?” as fodder for wordplay antics. In this routine filled with dialogue about baseball players, some also have the names “Tomorrow” and “Naturally,” allowing for extended comic hijinks.
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