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Great Scott! We're running out of classic movie lines

'Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...'

Back To The Future. Oh yes, that's my favourite. Best. Line. Ever.

I've even managed to use it once or twice myself - in a context completely unrelated to both time travel and Marty McFly, I might add.

I probably looked and, indeed, sounded like an eejit in the process, but I can't be the only one that gets a kick out of trying to shoehorn movie quotes into real-life scenarios.

Sometimes, it's quite natural. 'I'll be back'. Yeah, we've all used that one. 'I'm ready for my close-up'. Who hasn't uttered that one before uploading a selfie?

And 'great scott!', another one from Back To The Future.

'I've had it with these mother***ing snakes on this…' No, sorry, I went too far.

The point is, a classic movie line is invaluable.

They have a place in history. Sometimes, we don't even realise we're quoting from a film.

Actually, some of the best quotes of all time have simply wiggled their way into our vocabularies without us noticing.

Everyone has recited at least one iconic movie quote at some point in their lives.

Some of them were scripted; others, the result of ingenious improvisation.

And then there are the ones that get all twisted as the years progress.

'We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto?' Wrong. All over the place, in fact.

'Play it again, Sam?' Nope. That's not what she said to dear old Sam.


'Me Tarzan, You Jane?' Ah, now there's a doozy. Not once did our vine-swinging hero ever say that to his beloved city girl in the original Tarzan pictures. The audience made it up.

This week, the Radio Times has asked readers to vote for their favourite movie quote online, offering up a shortlist of 50 classic examples from which to choose.

There are some startling omissions (that Back To The Future nugget is missing) but what's striking is that only two of the shortlisted quotes (one from Brokeback Mountain, another from Taken) are from films released in the 21st century.

Are things really that bad? Is the cinematic one-liner dead?

I hope not. True, the oldies will always be the best, and what they lacked in realism and chemistry they more than made up for with sparkling scripts and stunning screen presence.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few modern titles that have given us some exceptional moments of dialogue.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy ('my precious'); the Joker's three-word catchphrase in The Dark Knight ('why so serious?'); the final line in last year's beguiling Before Midnight (look that one up, it requires the full context of the piece).

Now I'm struggling. Answers on a postcard - has Hollywood run out of good quotes, or are our heads just stuck in the past?

Whatever the case, you cannot underestimate the power of an unforgettable line and, of course, the way in which it is delivered.

It's a moment of screen-writing magic, like a perfect chorus, or a killer guitar riff.

In fact, one of the most memorable was made up on the spot.

"You're gonna need a bigger boat" from Jaws? It wasn't in the script. Actor Roy Scheider just came out with it in the scene. How amazing is that?

Given the choice of writing a half-decent, reasonably-well received film or coming up with a notable line that would go down in cinematic history...well, I think I'd go with the line. They can come in handy.


'You had me at hello?' I'd love to know how many ladies and gents used that one on prospective partners after Jerry Maguire was released.

Pulling a Liam Neeson on the phone? Now there's a neat prank. 'Are you not entertained?' Ah yes, it's only a matter of time before Conor McGregor swipes that nugget from Gladiator.

Do not scoff at the usefulness of a famous film quote. Next time you're out to dinner you'll have what she's having (she being Meg Ryan's character in When Harry Met Sally).

Sometimes, we're unable to pull them off - well, we can't all be Tom Cruise.

But frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.