because words matter.
Maybe the Head Groundskeeper is getting old (David, there’s no “maybe” about it!) but there’s nothing in the movie theaters we’re interested in seeing these days. Not into comic books.
We read today that this date in 1945, the USS Indianapolis, having just delivered the atomic bomb to Tinian Island, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Only 317 survived out of a crew of 1,200.
In the greatest movie soliloquy of all time, Quint tells what made him become a modern-day Ahab. Actor Robert Shaw’s 4-minute speech drives Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster, Jaws. In a movie with spectacular action scenes and special effects, Quint’s claustrophobic shipboard version of a nighttime campfire story focuses tight on his face:
“Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’ … ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then … ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and they rip you to pieces.”
→ Why shark attacks are up in the U.S. It’s actually good news!
Something called The Daily Jaws credits Shaw, a hard-drinking Shakespearean actor who died at age 51, with co-writing it. (A travesty that Shaw wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar.) Who writes dialogue like this any more? If there were any justice, we’d credit the writers not the actors who spoke these lines, but here goes:
Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction:
“There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. ‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.’ … Now… I been sayin’ that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. … But I saw some shit this mornin’ made me think twice.”
Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption:
“Am I sorry for what I did? … A young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him. Tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man’s all that’s left.”
Orson Welles in The Third Man:
“In Italy, for thirty 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, 500 years of democracy, and peace — and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
What other great movie speeches?
Offhand, Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: “I’m no good at being noble, but …” James Stewart filibustering in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: “You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked.” Jack Nicholson, in A Few Good Men: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.” A personal favorite is John Cazale as Fredo in Godfather Part 2:
“I can handle things. I’m smart. Not like everybody says, like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: It is a speech we find necessary to recite to many of our interlocutors these days, for some reason.
Are we sexist? Where are the ladies?
What’s your favorite quotation?