8 Ridiculous Misattributed Quotes From Movie History
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Samuel L. Jackson's "That path of the righteous man..." speech from Pulp Fiction is completely made up.
You hear them all the time. You quote them with your friends. They're a part of your cultural identity. You would think you knew where they came from.
Here are some famous lines or quotes you know from film/TV that are in fact twisted truths, attributed to the wrong person, or just altogether inaccurate.
1. “Play it again, Sam." - Humphrey Bogart
It was the suave Casanova, Humphrey Bogart, who delivered this famous line, right? Bogart will continue being remembered as having said, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” in the hit film Casablanca, as well as "play it again, Sam." Not only did Bogart not deliver the second line, but his beautiful Swedish co-star, Ingrid Bergman, who it is often attributed to, didn't say it either. The actual exchange went as follows:
Ilsa Lund [Bergman]: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.
Sam: [lying] I don't know what you mean, Miss Elsa.
Ilsa Lund: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."
Sam: [lying] Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Elsa. I'm a little rusty on it.
Nevertheless, the line went on to inspire Woody Allen’s witty play (later adapted into a film) under the same name: “Play It Again, Sam.”
2. "Everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power." - Frank Underwood misquoting Oscar Wilde
In the Netflix series House of Cards, Francis Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), quotes this line, attributed to Wilde. Of all the misattributed things briefly explored here, this line should be singled out. Why? Because it has been credited to Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, but with no specific source as to when or where he said it. Even on some lists of top Wilde quotes, this sexy one doesn't make the cut. So did he say it? There's no evidence that he did. Why are we giving him credit if it’s borderline-grapevine gossip, or “he said-she said?”
An actual Wilde quote.
3. “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” - Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe. Oo-la-la. She may have been every young man’s first crush (unless you’re me; mine was Kate Winslet, shortly followed by Marilyn). She was a troubled bombshell and sex symbol of the 1950s and early 60s, publicized for her relations with monolithic men such as Arthur Miller and President John F. Kennedy. According to some, the line has been attached to the blonde beauty, but our film archives show that she never actually said it. Rather, it was someone named Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich:
4. “The path of the righteous man…” - Samuel L. Jackson misquoting The Bible
If you know your cinema classics, then Pulp Fiction has probably made the cut to your top 10. Samuel L. Jackson’s Ezekiel 25:17 monologue makes Tarantino’s movie truly what it is, and in a BBC interview with Graham Norton, Jackson still has it memorized word for word. Interestingly enough though, this passage is fictional, not actually appearing in the Bible; however, it adds to the essence of the cult hit.
5. “She was only 16 years old.” - Michael Caine
Good ol’ Michael Caine, the man you’ve seen cry on a dime in countless movies. He was supposed to have said this line in the 1971 British Gangster movie Get Carter. The BBC made two mini-series starring comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon called The Trip and The Trip to Italy; in both series, they go on several hilarious rants of who does a better Michael Caine impression, saying this line over and over again, yet it isn’t actually in the film Get Carter. I should know—I watched the film just to be safe. So, Caine didn’t say it, even though the line is misattributed to him.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's hilarious riff on the misattributed Caine quote:
6. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” - John Wayne
The legendary ‘Man’s Man’ John Wayne has been in part credited with this famous phrase of aggressive motivation. He played a football coach in Trouble Along the Way, a sports film from 1953. This inspirational quote was first said by Bruins (UCLA) and Commodores (Vanderbilt Univ.) football coach, Henry “Red” Sanders, yet it is also given much credit to NFL Hall of Famer, Vince Lombardi. Sanders is said to have originated the phrase, followed by Wayne, followed in suit by Lombardi. Despite the mouth it came from first, Lombardi is given much of the origin credit.
7. “Anything than can go wrong, will go wrong.” - Every movie ever misquoting Murphy's Law
Don’t ever believe what you’re told as factual until you investigate for yourself. That’s basic science, yes? Then does every movie from Jurassic Park to Interstellar quote Murphy's Law as "Anything than can go wrong, will go wrong." The actual law itself is, "If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.”
8. “Let them eat cake.” - Kirsten Dunst misquoting Marie Antoinette
The oft-quoted line from Marie Antoinette presaging the French Revolution is both mistranslated and misattributed. “Let them eat cake” is a translation of "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" (brioche is not cake!) has been recorded in history as having been said by the wife of France’s Sun King, Marie Antoinette. But it isn’t true. According to Lady Antonia Fraser, a biographer, Queen Marie-Therese of Spain should be given credit to the “cake” line’s origin. Oh, how we gobble things down, just like…cake...
In closing, the information we receive from films and television is not always as truthful as presented or claimed to be. This is why we shouldn’t take everything at face value. Of any television series out there, I’d say that Criminal Minds (on CBS) is excellent in their presentation of quotes and authorship attribution. In episode 16 of season 5, Emily Dickinson is used: “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”