The 5 Most Famous Movie Quotes That Stand the Test of Time

While you may be able to ramble off a few Avengers: Infinity War quotes or a couple of classic comedic moments from Seinfeld, certain famous movie quotes transcend their source material. Coming to stand the test of time – by embodying the movie that they represent and leaving an everlasting and culturally salient impact – these quotes virtually exist as a representation of Hollywood in and of themselves. This list will attempt to spotlight those specific quotes.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 'Gone With The Wind'
American actor Clark Gable (1901 – 1960) in his role as Rhett Butler kissing the hand of a tearful Scarlett O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in ‘Gone With The Wind’. | Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many movie moments deserve recognition for their permanent relevance and powerful messages; however, this list will strive to narrow down an exceedingly long list to five “superior” quotes. There will be an honorable mentions section for good measure at the end.

5) “Alright, Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close-up.” (‘Sunset Boulevard’)

In Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson plays delusional former movie star Norma Desmond, who remains convinced that her fans still adore her; however, truth is, her butler has been penning false fan letters for years, pretending to be her devout admirers.

When Desmond is suspected of murder, and the police and newscasters come to her house, the extent of her delusion is put on full-blast. She struts dramatically towards the cameras, as she utters the above words, believing the cameras belong to the renowned movie director Cecil B. DeMille. Recently portrayed by Glenn Close on Broadway, the role is a timeless classic, revealing the all too fragile nature of the human mind, and a dependency on delusion above the acceptance of faded glory.

4) “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (‘The Wizard of Oz’)

This quote has become a run-of-the-mill idiom used to imply that a person is “out of their comfort zone” or no longer in the place they call home. While most people who utter these words know ithe quote is from The Wizard of Oz, the phrase has taken on its own life, separate from its source material.

If the general public appropriates a movie quote for everyday use, some sort of acknowledgment must be awarded. Thus, this Wizard of Oz quote has more than earned its place on this list.

3) “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (‘Gone With the Wind’)

Watching Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) utter these words with a sense of pure detachment before turning and walking away from Scarlett O’ Hara (Vivien Leigh) is movie magic. As his last words to O’Hara, the moment is frequently cited, in popular culture, as one of the earliest “burns” in cinema.

Only when her husband finally leaves does O’Hara want him, and that is simply not the way life works. So, just like that, Butler was – at last – Gone With the Wind.

2) “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (‘On the Waterfront’)

Terry Malloy, one of Marlon Brando’s most iconic characters, won the actor an Oscar for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in 1954. An ex-boxer looking back on his life filled with regret and despair, Malloy recounts how his existence would have been different had he not been convinced to throw a fight.

Watching Malloy weep as he enters a pensive state fraught with sorrowful reflection hits any viewer with a soul right in the gut; you can literally feel your heart sink at this moment, as you connect to Malloy’s sense of failure and subsequent internal conflict.

1) “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (‘The Godfather’)

Some version of this iconic line appears in all three Godfather films; however, Don Vito Corleone (portrayed by Marlon Brando) utter’s the most iconic instance. Similar to Dorothy’s quote in the Wizard of Oz, this quote is also used frequently in a jocular way, despite what it implied in the movie (do as I say or die).

While hesitant to place two quotes utterred by Marlon Brando on the list, this Godfather quote is more than deserving of this top spot.

Honorable Mentions

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” (Casablanca)

“Go ahead, make my day.” (Sudden Impact)

“May the force be with you.” (Star Wars)

“You talkin’ to me?” (Taxi Driver)