We’re smart and we want respect

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? 

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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39 Responses to We’re smart and we want respect

  1. Bill Cleary says:

    The movie “Deliverance”. The line, “squeal like that piggy boy”. https://www.ranker.com/list/squeal-like-a-pig-scene-deliverance-behind-the-scenes/mike-mcgranaghan

    Or how about this quote. “”A martini. Shaken, not stirred.” – Goldfinger, 1964

    Or one of the funniest lines ever. “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know. Animal Crackers 1930.

    Another one. “Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!” – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948

    So many good and great movies, so little time.


    • A Voice in the Wilderness says:

      Along with his shaken not stirred martinis, 007 would only eat caviar harvested from the Caspian Sea. Is that like some Sconnies claiming to only eat lutefisk prepared in Stoughton?


  2. Mordecai The Red says:

    Alright, not a western, but still one of Clint Eastwood’s best.

    Smokie: Go back in the house!

    Walt Kowalski: Yeah. I blow a hole in your face and then I go back in the house. And sleep like a baby. You can count on that. I used to stack f@#ks like you five feet high in Korea and use you as sandbags.

    And later in the movie.

    Walt Kowalski : You wanna know what it’s like to kill a man? Well, it’s goddamn awful, that’s what it is. The only thing worse is getting a medal… for killing some poor kid that wanted to just give up, that’s all. Yeah, some scared little g@#k just like you. I shot him in the face with that rifle you were holding in there a while ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, and you don’t want that on your soul.


  3. Kooter says:

    Agent Smith from The Matrix:
    “I’d like to share a revelation that I´ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realized that you’re not actually mammals.
    Every mammal on this planet instictively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way can survive is to spread to another area.
    There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.
    Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we… are the cure.”
    Agent Smith was, of course, describing Progressives!


  4. John Zanoya says:

    From THE WIND AND THE LION, by John Milius (who co-wrote Shaw’s speech in JAWS): Theodore Roosevelt : The American grizzly is a symbol of the American character: strength, intelligence, ferocity. Maybe a little blind and reckless at times… but courageous beyond all doubt. And one other trait that goes with all previous.

    2nd Reporter : And that, Mr. President?

    Theodore Roosevelt : Loneliness. The American grizzly lives out his life alone. Indomitable, unconquered – but always alone. He has no real allies, only enemies, but none of them as great as he.

    2nd Reporter : And you feel this might be an American trait?

    Theodore Roosevelt : Certainly. The world will never love us. They respect us – they might even grow to fear us. But they will never love us, for we have too much audacity! And, we’re a bit blind and reckless at times too.

    2nd Reporter : Are you perhaps referring to the situation in Morocco and the Panama Canal.

    Theodore Roosevelt : If you say so… The American grizzly embodies the spirit of America. He should be our symbol! Not that ridiculous eagle – he’s nothing more than a dandified vulture.


  5. SouthofReality says:

    Any list like this HAS to include Lincoln facing down a lynch mob (Henry Fonda in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One eye says:

    Cornelius : [reading from the sacred scrolls of the apes] Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.


  7. Mark Lemberger says:

    Bill Murray in Meatballs, “it just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!”


  8. A Voice in the Wilderness says:

    The HAL 9000 computer to astronaut Dave Bowman in 2001 A Space Odyssey: “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Hal refused to open the pod bay doors to the mother ship; Dave had to blow himself in through the emergency air lock.


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