Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You started it. Show me everything. I can handle myself.

Just an observation on something that's been bothering me on my own blog for some time now- not enough quotes from female characters in movies as post titles.

First a quick note on the quotes themselves. I really don't have any methodology to how I pick quotes to go along with whatever I'm blathering about that day. Sometimes I'll read about something in the news and a quote immediately springs to mind. On rare occasions I'll build the post around a quote from a movie I've recently watched.

As you probably suspected I grab the majority of my quotes off of the IMDB. Again, there's little methodology. If I've written something about FISA for instance then I might immediately go look for a quote from "The Manchurian Candidate." If I can't find a good quote from that film then I may follow the link to Frank Sinatra's book of work and pick another movie he's been in to find a quote. It's a bit of a zen thing.

I have some rules for myself that I try to follow when I pick a quote and picture to head my post. It has to be a movie or television I've actually seen. The quote has to have subtext. Finally the picture has to be on or near to the point when the line used in the quote was actually spoken. (That last one is the toughest to hit and I often have to "cheat" with the picture.)

Recently I realized that the vast majority of the quotes I've used these past years were from male characters. Part of this isn't that surprising in that, as liberal and non-sexist as I try to be, I'm still a guy. I like action movies. It follows that the characters I identify with on a conscious/ subconscious would be strong male leads.

With this in mind I recently set out to deliberately find and use more quotes from women characters. I decided to use a Sophia Loren quote last week. I had a devil of a time finding a good quote from a movie with Loren to use. It didn't help that 2/3rds of the movies on her resume were Italian.

But the exercise tickled my curiosity so I spent a couple of hours thinking up the names of famous actresses, checking their filmology and then the memorable quotes from their individual films. What I found from that little admittedly non-scientific exercise is that, with the exception of women like Elizabeth Taylor or Katherine Hepburn, actresses don't have as many great lines as actors in movies. Here's some of the stuff that I think contributes to that conclusion--

  • Nerds -- Quotes on the IMDB are compiled by fans of the individual movies and not some group of movie scholars who dig through the movies looking for great lines. Point is this could be a group of guys who live in their parent's basement.

  • Who has the conch? --Most writers, especially in the golden age of Hollywood, were men. As such they wrote FOR men.

  • By men, for men -- There aren't that many strong characters who are women written for movies. Strong characters, regardless of gender, get the best lines.

  • And your little dog too -- Along those same lines characters that are strong that happen to be women are usually villains.

  • It blowed up real good -- Hollywood makes action movies and most action heroes, with the exception of films like Thelma and Louise and Aliens, traditionally are men.

While I readily admit my little study was nowhere near empirical, I don't doubt for a second that any actress who has spent any amount of time around Hollywood would back up what I found.

As for myself-- I'm going to continue to try and utilize more quotes from women here. I can't promise that it will ever be perfectly distributed just because of my Schwarzenegger fixation.

At least I'm admitting I have a problem. That's a start.


Off topic but in the course of doing the above mentioned research I did come across this long, beautiful anti-war quote from Elizabeth Taylor Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor in The Lion in Winter. It's too long to use in it's entirety as a post title and too great to break up.

Prince John: A knife! He's got a knife!

Eleanor: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little - that's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.


Life As I Know It Now said...

You know, now that you mention it, that may be why I don't like movies that much. I can't identify with the characters and they don't share my reality in any way.

Great post btw!

Dean Wormer said...



To be brutally honest on my end I really don't share the reality of Arnold Schwarzenegger either. As much as I'd like to think I did.

Bradda said...

What about Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles"?? One hell of a hero who won Jake's heart in the end despite being felt up by her grnadmother on her 16th birthday.

ladybug said...

Well, that means you better dusting off that "screenplay" you've been working on, make sure the lead is a female, and get it down to your bro right quick. He'll know what to do w/it.

Heck, don't you LIVE w/Katharine Hepburn/Sigourney Weaver?..Don't she give you enough lines? :D

Greta Garbo in Queen Christina...
Rosalind Russel in His Girl Friday..
Just some that pop into my head-However if you use anything by Doris Day, I'll have to club you about the head.

pissed off patricia said...

Wow, that one by Eleanor is a hell of a comment. And you can quote me on that ;)

I seldom watch movies because: a, they don't interest me much and b, sitting still for two hours makes me fall asleep. Give me a good book any day.

Randal Graves said...

Man - ha ha - I love The Lion in Winter. We all knew you were an old soft lefty with your Equal Rights Movie Amendments!

Since you brought up Aliens, don't forget to use "get away from her you bitch!" on a future C-word post. ;-)

Dean Wormer said...


Ringwald is great in that movie but while we're on the subject of John Hughes films I personally find that the tomboy best friend character Mary Stuart Masterson played in Some Kind of Wonderful to be more appealling.


I do have another thing that I've been working off and on with that is more of a supernatural love story where a husband and wife rediscover each other.

The werewolf western thing, while awful, might be improved with the addition of an Annie Oakley character.

Heck, don't you LIVE w/Katharine Hepburn/Sigourney Weaver?..Don't she give you enough lines? :D

Ha! Although we do find ourselves telling each other's stories after all these years of being married.


You know the people that I know like myself who are big movie fans usually have a similar story that there was one movie that they saw when they were younger in which they had an out of body type experience while watching it.

Every movie we see after that is looking for that same "fix."

It's the same with books, IMO. One great book when we were younger that made us readers.


Peter O'Toole is a glorious, drunken, scene-chewing ham and in The Lion in Winter he's at his peak. Matching him with Hepburn was genius.

That's the best line in the flick. The Aliens line I wanted to use was "It's the only way we can be sure" but it didn't make sense in the context of this post.

Spirula said...

Well, if you're looking for great lines by women, this is a great source, of course. I believed you've used it before but it certainly hasn't been mined out.

"Thundercats are go!"

Spirula said...

(I see my "comma finger" had a seizure again...bastard!)

Dean Wormer said...



Juno had my absolute favorite quote of last year-

"My body is a sacred vessel. All you have in your belly is taco bell."

Dr. Zaius said...

The media does indeed depict women poorly and with a lack of depth. (And Katherine Hepburn was great in every film that she ever made!)

Dean Wormer said...


That she was!