Film noir, arguably, offers some of the best quotes in all cinema. Along with noir’s distinctive characters, shadowy presentations, labyrinthine plot tangles, and cynical, hopeless tone, it is the hard-boiled dialogue that makes it such a fascinating era of filmmaking. Here’s Part 1 of my favorite noir quotes — from the mouths of the gents . . .
“Nobody’s your pal now. You’re dead. Lay down.” John Kellogg in Johnny O’Clock (1947).
“What a beautiful picture. Moonlight. Sagebrush. My wife with a stranger.” Vincent Price in The Las Vegas Story (1952).
“For 16 years I’ve been a cop. For 16 years I’ve been living in dirt and take it from me, some of it’s bound to rub off on you. You get to hate people. Everyone you meet.” Edmond O’Brien in Shield for Murder (1954).
“Go on, sit in any chair you wanna sit in. . . . I want you to consider yourself my guest. We’ll have a couple of drinks. And then I’m gonna knock your teeth out.” William Bendix in The Glass Key (1942).
“Decency and integrity are fancy words, but they never kept anybody well fed. And I’ve got quite an appetite.” Howard Duff in Shakedown (1950).
“In your crowd, a polite ‘no’ is enough. In mind, it isn’t. The only kind of a ‘no’ they understand is from the end of a gun.” Steve Cochran in The Damned Don’t Cry (1950).
“I don’t like gambling very much. I don’t like being at the mercy of those little white squares that roll around and decide whether you win or lose. I like to have the say-so myself.” Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill (1947).
What’s your favorite film noir quote? Let us know in the comments!
Karen Burroughs Hannsberry is the author of Shadows and Satin, a blog devoted to her two cinematic passions: pre-Code Hollywood and the film noir era. She has written two books on film noir, Femme Noir: Bad Girls of Film and Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir, and is the editor-in-chief of the bimonthly, hard copy film noir newsletter, The Dark Pages.