Hollywood has provided us with any number of memorable food-related moments. The explosive restaurant scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life comes to mind, as does Woody Allen's attempt to drive a lobster from behind a fridge by scaring it with a bowl of clarified butter in Annie Hall. And who could forget Groucho Marx's soliloquy from Animal Crackers: "Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does."
In putting this list together, we first eliminated from contention any film specifically about food or restaurants--which means you won't find favorite lines from Ratatouille, Julie & Julia or Alive. Next we excluded alcohol-related bits, including our all-time favorite, Vivien Leigh's "a shot never did a Coke any harm" from A Streetcar Named Desire. Then we began a rigorous winnowing process.
Several great lines failed to make the cut, of course, such as Christopher Guest's Corky St. Clair (Waiting for Guffman) praising a Remains of the Day lunchbox and the famous "leave the gun, take the cannoli" from The Godfather. But we did settle on ten classics.
10. Duck Soup (Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly, to Margaret Dumont)
"I can see you right now in the kitchen, bending over a hot stove. But I can't see the stove."
The setting: Groucho, the president of Fredonia but not an entirely wealthy (or scrupulous) man, is flirting with rich (and rather sizeable) widow Gloria Teasdale, played by Dumont. Groucho is ever the romantic: Can I ask for a lock of your hair? A lock of my hair? You're getting off lucky; I was going to ask for the whole wig.
Finally, he leans back and imagines he and the widow as a married couple. Then utters the top ten line.
9. Airplane (Al White and Norman Alexander Gibbs to a flight attendant)
First Jive Dude (Gibbs): "Bet babe, slide a piece a da porter, drink side run th' java."
On-screen translation: I'll have the steak please.
Second Jive Dude (White): "Lookie here, I can dig grease & chompin' on some butter then drag it through da garden."
On-screen translation: I'll have the fish.
These two Hollywood greats will forever be remember for a few brief, but brilliant, Airplane segments--including the one credited with resurrecting Barbara Billingsley's career. Yes, they are speaking a slang that must be translated for, um, certain audiences.
8. Apollo 13 (Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell)
Jim Lovell: "Uh, Houston, we are ready for the beginning of PTC, and I think once we're in that barbecue roll, Jack and I will eat."
Fred Haise: "Hey, I'm hungry."
Jim Lovell: "Are you sure?"
Fred Haise: "I could eat the ass out of a dead rhinoceros."
This dialog occurs before the 'we have a problem' moment. Haise has just puked what remained of his breakfast into a barf bag...although, to be honest, he pulled the bag out a little too late. Stuff is floating all around the cabin, but commander Lovell is unfazed.
7. A Night In Casablanca (Groucho Marx as Ronald Kornblow, to his hotel chef)
"From now on the essence of this hotel will be speed. If a customer asks you for a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he asks you for a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he asks you for a one-minute egg, give him the chicken and let him work it out for himself."
The later Marx Brothers films didn't show the same spunk as Animal Crackers or The Cocoanuts. In fact, it's sometimes difficult to remember such titles as Go West or The Big Store. But they still had a share of memorable lines.
6. So I Married An Axe Murderer (Mike Myers)
"I think most Scottish cuisine is based on a dare."
So the movie was horrid...or so we've heard. We never--yeah, we never saw it. That's why we don't know the name of Myers' character. Anyway, the comment bears some scrutiny, for there's probably evidence that haggis and fried Snickers bars and other such delicacies either resulted from a dare or from extreme levels of inebriation.
Hell, they export the smoked salmon and keep the lung-flavored oatmeal.
5. The Black Dahlia (John Kavanaugh as Emmet Linscott)
"Hearty fare breeds hearty people. Haute cuisine breeds degenerates."
A detective film set in 1940s Los Angeles--and detective films always have the best one-liners, don't they? Such as when an investigating officer approaches the Madelaine Linscott character: "Slumming, Miss Linscott?" "I am now." The script writer gave John Kavanaugh some classic moments, including this number 4 ranked observation.
4. Sudden Impact (Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, Joe Bellan as Burly Detective)
Burly Detective: "What do ya think, a gang hit, screwed-up drug score, unlucky John, or an unhappy love affair? Huh? Don't tell me this shit's gettin' to ya. Not Harry Callahan. Say it ain't so."
Harry Callahan: "No, this stuff isn't gettin' to me. The knifings, the beatings, old ladies being bashed in the head for their Social Security checks, teachers being thrown out of a fourth-floor window because they don't give As, that doesn't bother me a bit."
Burly Detective: "Come on, Harry. Take it easy."
Harry Callahan: "Or this job, either. Having to wade through the scum of this city, being swept away by bigger and bigger waves of corruption, apathy and red tape. Nah, that doesn't bother me. But you know what does bother me?"
Burly Detective: "What?"
Harry Callahan: "You know what makes me really sick to my stomach?"
Burly Detective: "What?"
Harry Callahan: "Is watching you stuff your face with those hot dogs. Nobody, I mean NOBODY puts ketchup on a hot dog."
Mind you, Dirty Harry and his partner are, at the moment, peering at the body of a man who's had a similar part of the anatomy shot off.
3. L.A. Story (Patrick Stewart as Mr. Perdue, a maitre d', to Steve Martin)
"You think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck?"
Los Angeles weatherman Steve Martin wants to take a date to L'Idiot, a new and extremely pretentious restaurant. In order to get a reservation, he must interview with the venue's staff, bringing all manner of paperwork to support his case. They can give him a reservation sometime in the distant future, they tell him. Maybe. And if they do, what might he order? He decides on the duck.
That's when the stern Patrick Stewart delivers his line. The chef follows with "he can have the chicken."
2. Wayne's World (Dana Carvey as Garth, to Kurt Fuller)
"Benjamin is nobody's friend. If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he'd be pralines and dick."
Maybe the only Saturday Night Live skit successfully translated to the big screen, and one stuffed with great moments--if you think lowbrow humor can be called great, which we clearly do.
Fuller plays Benjamin Kane's (Rob Lowe) right hand man. Benjamin has double-crossed the good guys, taken control of Wayne's World and stolen Wayne's girl in the process. Garth and Wayne and their crew have set out to put things right when Fuller's character interrupts their scheme.
1. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Steve Martin as Rigby Reardon, Edward Arnold as the father of Jimmie Sue)
Jimmie Sue's Father: "Don't go near my daughter again. Don't try to see her. Don't write her and don't phone her."
Rigby Reardon: "Can I use her underwear to make soup?"
There it is, the greatest food-related line ever delivered in an American film. In this black and white thriller set in the 40s, splicing in actors from old movies, Martin plays a hard-bitten detective. He and his partner, Humphrey Bogart, are hard on the heels of a killer. In the process, Martin's character romances the daughter of wealthy businessman Arnold--much to his chagrin.
Great lines, all.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.