Quirky Movie Dialogue

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Dave Pitts

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Quirky Movie Dialogue

PostTue Jun 13, 2017 9:47 am

Here are some of the strange, hilarious, or simply unexpected bits of dialogue in vintage films that have stuck with me.

In Sally of the Sawdust (1925), W.C. Fields comments via intertitle on sour old Judge Foster:
Got a face that looks like it wore out four bodies.
(I can't prove Fields crafted that line, but doesn't it sound as if he must have? He never repeated it in a sound film; if he had, it would be better known.)

In The Crash (1932), Ruth Chatterton and Paul Cavanagh have this ridiculous exchange, delivered in languid accents.
She: I'm glad to know what one does when one goes broke. So that's it. You raise sheep.
He: Hmph...it's a smelly business.
(Harvey Korman, doing an old movie spoof, could not have improved on Cavanagh's line reading. Sensational.)

Pola Negri berates stiff Basil Rathbone in A Woman Commands (1932):
I was once in love with an ass. But never until now did I hear him bray.
(Negri's sonorous delivery gave me the giggles.)

Eddie (Clark Gable) and Ruby (Jean Harlow) banter in Hold Your Man (1933):
Eddie: You know all the answers, don't you?
Ruby: Sure, to dumb questions.
(She throws this line at him with the gusto of a star who has found her signature style and has writers who understand it. I love the film -- have always thought it underrated and one of the top films of the Depression years.)

Marjorie Rambeau takes aim at Arthur Hohl in Man's Castle (1933). Just before she fires:
You aint gonna squawk, for the simple reason...STIFFS DON'T SQUAWK!

In Brides Are Like That (1936), Ross Alexander says to Anita Louise, Cheer up, honey, I'm not gonna shoot myself. Eight months after the film was released, he actually shot himself.
I like Ross Alexander and I've seen all his features. He had charm, timing, and a wonderful, warm voice, with a cool New York accent. All he lacked was a breakthrough role.This line is given in his usual casual style. It's one to wince at, now.

Willie Best in Pillow to Post (1945): I never forget a face. Especially when I sit on it.
(Back story: he's referring to falling over someone in the dark. Today, it sounds like a riff from Amy Schumer.)
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Re: Quirky Movie Dialogue

PostTue Jun 13, 2017 10:54 am

I like Ross Alexander a lot too. He can be a bit theatrical but he had a great personality on the screen. He's great in both Flirtation Walk and Shipmates Forever.

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