Gone with the Wind
“I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back! After all, tomorrow is another day!”
After a vexed Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) leaves willful, manipulative Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) with his parting shot of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” the southern belle crumples into tears. Then, she feels empowered by the spirit of the plantation back home and is dramatically resolved to try again.
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
These famous final words almost never made the cut. Casablanca’s famed friendship line was a last-minute addition, written by producer Hal B. Wallis and dubbed by star Humphrey Bogart after filming was completed.
“Oh, no! It wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”
Robert Armstrong’s Carl Denham — the filmmaker who captured Kong on a faraway island and transported him to New York like an unwilling sideshow act — says these last lines after the giant ape is killed. Kong is shot dead by fighter planes during the film’s most famous scene where he carries scream queen Fay Wray to the top of the Empire State Building.
“You see, this is my life. It always will be! There’s nothing else, just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
When Gloria Swanson’s faded silent film star Norma Desmond descends the grand staircase after her life finally spirals completely out of control, she only knows one way to engage the lights shining in her face. The bulbs are from news cameras she mistakes for photographers, but she plays to the imaginary camera that rolls one last time — achieving the immortality she sought her whole career, before being taken away by policemen.
Some Like it Hot
“Well, nobody’s perfect.”
Joe E. Brown’s oblivious millionaire in screwball comedy classic Some Like It Hot delivers the movie’s famous last line after his “girlfriend” Daphne (played by Jack Lemmon in drag) tears off his wig to reveal he’s really a man. The line almost didn’t make it into the movie. It was intended as a placeholder until the crew brainstormed something better. Lucky for us they forgot.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
We won’t look while you cry a little over the tearful goodbye that Ryan O’Neal’s Oliver shares with his father in Arthur Hill’s Love Story. He borrows the line from his ailing wife, played by Ali MacGraw, previously spoken during one of the couple’s fights. The emotional dialogue also became the movie’s tagline, featured on its posters.
A Clockwork Orange
“I was cured all right.”
In an interview with French film critic Michel Ciment, Stanley Kubrick gave some insight into Malcolm McDowell’s sociopathic Alex who sneers through his last lines:
“The government eventually resorts to the employment of the cruellest and most violent members of the society to control everyone else — not an altogether new or untried idea. In this sense, Alex’s last line, ‘I was cured all right,’ might be seen in the same light as Dr. Strangelove’s exit line, ‘Mein Fuehrer, I can walk.’ The final images of Alex as the spoon-fed child of a corrupt, totalitarian society, and Strangelove’s rebirth after his miraculous recovery from a crippling disease, seem to work well both dramatically and as expressions of an idea.”
The runner-up Kubrick vote goes to the lusty lines of Nicole Kidman to her husband, played by then real-life partner Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut:
“I do love you and you know there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible.” “What’s that?” “Fuck.”
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
“Let’s go? Don’t you wanna see the rest of the movie?” “I don’t have to see it, Dottie. I lived it.”
Man child Pee-wee travels America in search of his beloved bicycle, encountering a strange and terrifying cast of characters in Tim Burton’s 1985 movie — made before the director started phoning it in with each new release. His wild story is sold to Hollywood, but Pee-wee is content to relive it only in his memory. We like to think that Large Marge had something to do with that decision.
“It’s a strange world, isn’t it?”
It’s a David Lynch movie. No other explanation needed.
Back to the Future
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
After Doc whisks Marty and Jennifer away in Back to the Future’s iconic DeLorean, we’re left feeling the thrill of the rousing time travel adventure tale well into part two’s opening scene.
Some Kind of Wonderful
“You look good wearing my future.”
It’s always nice to see the underdog win in a John Hughes movie. This one is written and produced by the famous filmmaker. Mary Stuart Masterson’s tomboy Watts finally captures the love of best friend Keith (Eric Stoltz) who gifts her with something meant for his former beau, but symbolizes his future with Watts as a couple. We don’t normally approve of a regift, but in this case we’ll make an exception.
The Silence of the Lambs
“I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
After a bizarre game of cat and mouse between FBI fledgling Clarice Starling and Hannibal the Cannibal, the escaped serial murderer makes contact with his protégé one last time before eerily slipping back into society for his next kill.
“It was perfect.”
Neurotic ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) dances her final performance on stage, transformed into the black swan she so desperately struggled to become. Her anxiety-ridden hallucinations finally overtake her, resulting in her tragic demise — but she lives long enough to whisper these last lines, having achieved ultimate perfection in her own shattered mind.
There Will Be Blood
Gold miner-turned-oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) lives out his final years as a wealthy, alcoholic lunatic, rotten to the core. His parting scene with corrupt preacher Eli (Paul Dano) is equal parts disturbing, hilarious, and brilliant. Dano’s milkshake done been drank, basically.
“Jack, I swear… ”
It’s heartbreaking enough that Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) don’t end up together, but when the movie’s end arrives and Ennis utters that sorrowful, desperate, lovelorn line, the tears start flowing like crazy.