Essential movie quotes for the advanced EFL learner

In a recent class my (extremely high level) students and I focused on famous and influential movie quotes (from mostly Hollywood movies). My students had previously expressed a desire to be more familiar with oft-repeated quotes. We didn’t have time to watch all the movies ever or even just watch Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. What we did have time for was for each student to take a look at some quotes, try to decode them (and imagine the context and speaker) and do some light research on the quotes and then share their findings with classmates.

Below are the quotes we used (and no, I am not sure they are all essential):

  1.      We’ll always have Paris.
  2.      You talkin’ to me?
  3.      You feelin’ lucky, punk?
  4.      Go ahead, make my day.
  5.      Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  6.      I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.
  7.      Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
  8.      If you build it, he will come.
  9.      I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse. 
  10.  Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.
  11.  There is no crying in baseball.
  12.  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
  13.  There is no place like home.
  14.  You can’t handle the truth!
  15.  You are going to need a bigger boat.
  16.  Who ya gonna call?
  17.  Show me the money!
  18.  Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
  19.  Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand, fast.
  20.  As if!
  21.  Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!
  22.  You can be my wing-man anytime.
  23.  Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up drinking.
  24.  Nobody puts baby in the corner.
  25.  So you’re telling me I have a chance?
  26.  How about you make like a tree and get out of here?
  27.  Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
  28.  There is no try, only do.
  29.  Anyone, anyone, anyone? Bueller?
  30.  Bye Felicia!
  31.  So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that’d be great.
  32.  Houston, we have a problem.
  33.  Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water.
  34.  I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
  35.  Round up the usual suspects.
  36.  I’ll be back.
  37.  You had me at hello.
  38.  The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  
  39.  You make me want to be a better man.
  40.  Love means never having to say you are sorry.
  41.  Here’s looking at you, kid.
  42.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  43.  Say hello to my little friend!
  44.  Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.
  45.  Hasta la vista, baby!

Examining and discussing these quotes brought up a bunch of interesting cultural points and language questions including things like:

  • a Godfather offer
  • guys who always look on the bright side and think they have a chance
  • “He is embracing his inner Gordon Gecko.”
  • “You had me at ____.”
  • “We are not in Jinju anymore.”
  • “We will always have Daegu.”
  • “Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?”
  • bums (at least 2 meanings)
  • Naked Gun
  • Wing-men in general and the fact that I am a good wing-man
  • “You really made my day with that compliment. Thank you!”
  • “There is no crying in the interpreting booth!”
  • Clueless
  • “Yeah, if you could just go ahead and to that from now on that would be great.”
  • What does dull mean, anyway?
  • When might we ever say, “As if!”
  • “Don’t call me Shirley.”
  • “Nobody puts ____ in the corner.”
  • Just who is this Felicia? And why is she so widely known 20 years after the movie Friday? Why and how is she appearing in 2015 films?


Here are some additional links that might be fun or helpful for those interested:

Blockbuster ad featuring famous movie quotes

100 Years 100 quotes

Greatest movie quotes (text, video

The 100 greatest movie quotes of all time 

And finally, here are some quotes as they appear in the movies:
Bye Felicia
That escalated quickly  
Anyone? Anyone?
If you could just go ahead and do that, that would be great.
particular set of skills
Say hello to my little friend
I am serious.
Napalm in the morning
You talkin’ to me?
Go ahead, make my day

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