The Language of Noir (or, What’d he say?)

"You'd sell out your own mother for a piece of fudge."

“You’d sell out your own mother for a piece of fudge.”

Snappy sayings, crackling comebacks, piercing putdowns, and devastating diatribes – film noir is lousy with ‘em. Among my many favorite aspects of these features are the unforgettable words and phrases that punctuate the shadows – join me today as I take a peek at the noir era’s dazzling, dynamic, and dangerous dames…

  • “I know you like a book. You’re a no-good, nosy little tramp – you’d sell out your own mother for a piece of fudge, but you’re smart along with it.” – Sterling Hayden in The Killing (1956)
  • “You don’t really think I could be in love with a rotten little tramp like you , do you?” – Zachary Scott in Mildred Pierce (1945)
  • “Dames are always pulling a switch on you.” – Dana Andrews in Laura (1944)
  • “People aren’t safe with women like you in the world, and people have to be protected.” – Lloyd Nolan in Lady in the Lake (1947)
"If this were fiction..."

If this were fiction…”

  • “If this were fiction, I would fall in love with Vera, marry her, and make a respectable woman out of her. Or else she’d make some supreme, class-A sacrifice for me – and die.” – Tom Neal in Detour (1945)
  • “One thing I can’t stand is a dame that’s drunk….She’s got the shakes, see. So she has a drink to get rid of them. That one tastes so good, so she has another one. First think you know, she’s stinko again.” – Edward G. Robinson in Key Largo (1948)
  • “You know when a woman loves you like that she can love you with every card in the deck and then pull a knife across your throat the next morning.” – Van Heflin in Johnny Eager (1941)
  • “You’re a beautiful dame, Iris. One of the best I’ve seen. And you treat me like it was Christmas Eve. But no thanks. I see through you like those silk dresses you wear.” – Richard Conte in New York Confidential (1955)
  • “What kind of dame ARE you?” Mickey Rooney in Quicksand (1950)

‘Til next time…

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 1, 2013.

14 Responses to “The Language of Noir (or, What’d he say?)”

  1. Fabulous quotes and they sum up Noir so well.

  2. Noir is littered with great dialogue. One of my favorite noirs is DOUBLE INDEMNITY which contains almost one great line after another. Below Walter Neff:

    “It’s just like the first time I came here, isn’t it? We were talking about automobile insurance, only you were thinking about murder. And I was thinking about that anklet.”

    • Hi, John — this is another great one. And I totally agree about the wonderful overabundance of great quotes in Double Indemnity. It’s one of the many reasons why it’s my favorite noir!

  3. I love this kind of cold-hearted dialogue – astonishing, though, how much ambivalence, shall I say, comes across in noir about women. I love Bogie’s line about Lizabeth Scott in ‘Dead Reckoning’: “You know, you do awful good. I came here to – but go ahead. Put Christmas in your eyes and keep your voice low. Tell me about paradise and all the things I’m missing. I haven’t had a good laugh since before Johnny was murdered.”

  4. Karen, I’m loving these classic film noir quotes, including the ones you cited (“fudge? :-)! I could quote film noir dialogue till the cows come home, but today I ‘m thinking of a brief scene from THE DARK CORNER, in which Clifton Webb and William Bendix teach us a little lesson in film noir-to-thug-speak in regard to hero Mark Stevens:
    Webb:”Tell him you need two-hundred dollars to leave town.”
    Bendix: “I need two yards powder money!”
    Have a great weekend! 😀

  5. Oh yeah – some of the best lines are in film noir. Thanks for pulling out some of these gems.

    Some time ago I saw a movie with this line: “She was a real dish – a 69-cent dish with potatoes and gravy.” That still makes me laugh!

  6. Fantastic quotes!

    Could I share your blog on Facebook, on a film noir group? I’m really impressed with it, and I think they’d love it.

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