Sunday, December 29, 2002

In the last three days I have watched films that contained two of the finest closing lines, ever. The first was My Fair Lady, of which I wrote yesterday. ("Eliza? Where the Devil are my slippers?") The other, which I watched last night, is the always wonderful The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone. The film ends with Flynn, who has just been ordered by King Richard to wed the Maid Marian, calling out, "May I obey all your commands with equal pleasure, sire!" Of course, the greatest closing line in a film of all time comes from Casablanca ("Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"), which is noteworthy for the fact that the line used was one of three possibilities, each of which was recorded for dubbing by Humphrey Bogart well after principal photography had ended.

Films don't always need a great last line -- none of the Star Wars films do, each of them ending instead with a fine visual -- but they can really help. Here is a sampling of my favorites.

"I'll be right here." (ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Maybe this one doesn't quite count, since Elliot responds with a barely audible, whispered "Bye". But I count it.)

"It turns out, I've got a rose garden." (The American President. This one is iffy as well, if you consider the Sergeant-of-arms shouting "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States!", as Michael Douglas as President Shepherd enters the Capitol to give his State of the Union Address, to be an actual line of dialog. I file it under "ambient sound".)

"I used to hate the water."
"Can't imagine why." (Jaws. OK, so it's an exchange and not a line. Ugh!)

"Made you look!" (Aladdin.)

"It's nice to meet you." (Sleepless In Seattle.)

"Fishgill!" (Wayne's World. Well, maybe not.)

"Walt Whitman once said, 'I see great things in baseball. It's our game--the American game.' He said 'it will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.' You could look it up...." (Bull Durham.)

"I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams." (The Shawhank Redemption.)

Help me out here, folks. I've got to be missing a bunch of great last lines.

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