We all have a movie that contains a memorable line which we can quote verbatim. Famous ones that spring to mind are Arnie’s “I’ll be back” in ‘The Terminator’; Terry Jones “He’s not the Messiah” in Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’ and one of my favourites, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” as quoted by Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather.
But what happens when actors decide to ad-lib on set? Some of the most memorable movie one liners and scenes have come as a result of just that.
In The Dark Knight, The Joker (Heath Ledger) is in the cell of a police station having been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). The mayor arrives and promotes Gordon to the role of commissioner. Whilst his fellow officers clap this announcement, Ledger started to clap very powerfully keeping a fast rhythm and dark facial expression. This was totally unscripted and added some brilliant atmosphere to this scene.
Or how about in the golfing satire, ‘Caddyshack’ where groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) starts reminiscing a story to himself about an unknown golfer who won The Masters? This was also totally done on the fly, but the director loved it so much it made the final cut.
In the original cult film, ‘The Warriors’, one of the most powerful scenes is when Luther (David Patrick Kelly) who was the leader of the New York gang The Rogues, got three bottles and started clinking them together. Kelly spontaneously added the utterly famous lines of “Warriors, come out to play” creating one of the most iconic film quotes ever!
Another infamous one liner has to be from Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) whilst he is putting Isla Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) onto a plane in ‘Casablanca.’ The memorable line of “Here’s looking at you kid” was something Bogart said several times to Bergman between takes whilst teaching her to play poker. He decided to say it during the scene and the rest is history!
But surely the most famous ever unscripted movie one liner has to be from Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in ‘Taxi Driver.’ The script called for Travis to talk to himself in the mirror, but didn’t specify what he should say. Bickle spawned a generation of people who could never walk past a mirror without uttering the immortal words of, “You talking to me?”
So whilst it might not be in the script, it just goes to show how versatile some actors are!