Tough Guy Talk

Quotes from classic suspense, action & mystery films

Alan Ladd Veronica LakeAlan Ladd was once memorably described as every ten year-old's idea of a tough guy. Whether it was in Shane ("Sit down before I knock you down") or This Gun For Hire ("I'm my own police"), he was one tough Ladd indeed. He could take a good shot too, like in Appointment With Danger when Phyllis Calvert (playing a nun) takes her shot: "If a woman were to ever love you as much as you love yourself, it would be the greatest romance in history."

The KillingSterling Hayden was one of Hollywood's most enigmatic figures. A real life adventurer who named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and then loathed himself for the rest of his life for doing so, Sterling Hayden Hayden appeared in several of the best action and crime films of his time, including The Asphalt Jungle, Suddenly and Stanley Kubrick's first classic film, The Killing, where he has one memorable scene with femme fatale Marie Windsor. Windsor is improbably married to mousey Elisha Cook, Jr., whom she previously belittled by saying "You don't have enough imagination to lie." When Hayden catches her eavesdropping on their heist plans, and she tries to use her considerable feminine wiles to suck up to him, he tells her: "I know exactly what kind of woman you are. You're a no-good, nosey little tramp... you'd sell out your Mother for a piece of fudge... you have a great big dollar sign where most people have a heart."

Kiss of DeathNicknamed "the Hunk", Victor Mature was born to be Richard Widmarka tough guy. In Gambling House he said: "If you try to stop me you're going to end up in an alley somewhere with the cats licking you." In Kiss of Death he told a weasly hood, "Go on beat it! Pedal your papers." But that hoodlum was played by Richard Widmark, in his notorious film debut. The movies have seen some crazy wackos since then, but nobody has topped Widmark's sadistic, lunatic giggling as he shoves an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs! Imagine getting an Oscar nomination for gleefully saying: "For a nickel, I'd grab him, stick both thumbs in his eyes and hang on until he dropped dead."

Dick PowellAs a former song and dance man, Dick Powell was one of the best tough guys at delivering the kind of wisecracks we take for granted nowadays in action movies. When a drunk staggers into the room in Cry Danger he deadpans, "Looks like Lassie's home." Powell's tough guy soul first materialized and is most memorable in Murder My Sweet ("It ain't personal. We don't like you, but it ain't personal"), but his best line comes in Stations West after he smacks a blowhard thug: "You going to correct me, or just bleed at the mouth."

'You speak treason!' "Fluently!" -- Adventures of Robin Hood

'I believe you're talking treason.' "I hope I'm not being obscure." -- Captain Blood

"This is a rotten town, with a lot of rotten people in it." -- A Man Alone

"Reminds me of the first woman who slapped my face." -- Roadhouse

"If ever a man needed killing, it's that no-good, putrid piece of trash over there." -- Attack

"Here's his guns, a crippled newsboy took them away from him, but I made him give them back."
-- The Maltese Falcon

"When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it!" -- The Maltese Falcon

"The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter." -- The Maltese Falcon

"I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings." -- The Big Sleep

"She tried sitting on my lap while I was standing up." -- The Big Sleep

"An idea couldn't get past the border right now." -- Plunder Road

Robert Mitchum"Fools get away with the impossible." -- His Kind of Woman

'You killed Ferraro. How did it feel?' "He didn't say." -- His Kind of Woman

"He couldn't find a prayer in the Bible." -- Out of the Past

'She couldn't be all bad. Nobody is.' "She comes closest." -- Out of the Past

"My fatal charm. Never misses... except with the women." -- Macao

"If that battery's dead, it will have company." -- White Heat

"If I knew you were coming I'd have set fire to the place." -- The Killers

"You're better off than me... You got me for a buddy... I only got you." -- One Minute to Zero

"You'd think you were traveling with a cripple, or an interior decorator." -- Whipsaw

'Better men than Paul Roder have cracked.' "There are no better men than Paul Roder." -- The Seventh Cross

"Die rich." (shooting a man clutching stolen gold) -- Gold of the Seven Saints

Kiss Me Deadly"I believe you. Thousands wouldn't." -- They Made Me a Fugitive

"Just to hold the soft part of your arms is a meal." -- Kiss Me Deadly

"I can be framed easier than Whistler's Mother." -- Dark Corner

'People get drowned every day.' "Wrong people." -- Kid Glove Killer

"Ladies are hard luck for men of action." -- The Saint in New York

"You're  so bright I could get a suntan sitting next to you."
-- The Saint in New York

"I interfere whenever and wherever I please." -- Sherlock Holmes

To a man headed for the electric chair: "You're gonna sizzle like a squab in a pan." -- Boston Blackie

Narrow Margin"When money talks, few are deaf." - Charlie Chan

A man bumps into a "lady", spilling a drink on her dress.
She gestures at herself: 'Who pays for this?'
The man replies: "Who wouldn't?" -- Riffraff

"First one to make a break for it dies like a dog." -- Sky Murder

"If I'm wrong, I'll apologize." -- Nick Carter, Master Detective

"I'll follow you into your grave. I'll write my name on your tombstone." -- I Wake Up Screaming

"He couldn't kill mice." -- I Wake Up Screaming

'Only a fool wouldn't be scared.' "I'm no fool." -- Tick Tick Tick

"What makes a two-bit heel like you think a heater would give him an edge over me?" -- Kansas City Confidential

A man sticks a gun in the back of his pants: "Careful that gun don't go off and blow your brains out."
-- Wagonmaster

"Think of it, from a locked room, to complete mastery of the situation in ten minutes."
-- Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back

"Thanks for the haircut, Delilah." -- Fly By Night

"Surely you haven't come to negotiate, Mr. Bond.  Your pitiful, little island hasn't even been threatened." -- Diamonds are Forever

"I'd rather be a lamppost in New York than President of France." -- French Connection II

"You tub of guts... you scumsucking pig... you great gob of spit." -- One-Eyed Jacks

"Leave while the suckers are happy." -- Belle of the Yukon

"When Aldo was a kid, he must have wanted to be a suspect." -- Eyewitness

"I could be suave, but how many crude guys do you know?" -- Havana

"Fortunately I'm accustomed to squalor." -- The Lady Vanishes

"I wouldn't piss on his heart if it was on fire." -- Matewan

"You start trouble, I start bleeding." -- Bite the Bullet

"I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man." 'Fill your hands, you son of a bitch.' -- True Grit

"If they move, kill 'em." -- The Wild Bunch

"Better by daylight." -- A Bridge Too Far

"It's a flock of detectives." -- The 39 Steps

"I'm not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going." -- Avon in Blake's 7

"Talk or scream, Travis.  The choice is yours." -- Avon in Blake's 7

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." -- The Princess Bride

"Pardon me. I'm a stranger in town. Can you direct me to your house?" -- Five Against the House

And a few from some tough gals
"You can have love, a dime a dozen, but if it isnít topped with respect, it isnít worth the dime." -- Carole Landis

"If I'd been a ranch they would have named me 'The Bar Nothing'." -- Gilda

"You're up early, for a loser." -- Macao

"You might break out in a sweat and die." -- The Thin Man Goes Home

"I take all the drinks I like, any time, any place. I go where I want to with anybody I want. I just happen to be that kind of a girl." -- The Blue Dahlia

"I could eat a can of Kodak and puke a better movie." -- Kim Novak in The Mirror Crack'd