Galveston Country Daily News (Texas)
By Cathy Gillentine
I got a new book at the Boston convention that I am just now getting around to looking at. It was worth the wait.
It’s called, “The Quote Verifier,” by Ralph Keyes, and it helps straighten out a lot of quotes we always are hearing, letting us know what’s really right, what’s only close to right and what’s completely wrong.
You may not care. But those of us who write stuff sometimes need to find out if what we are saying is really so.
One whole section is from the movies, so most of us are fairly familiar.
I remember “What a dump,” because Elizabeth Taylor says it in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and we all know she is quoting Bette Davis. But what movie? It was “Beyond the Forest,” in 1949. But it really began in 1945 in “Fallen Angel.” I didn’t know that.
Remember “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”? Strother Martin says it to Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke.” Only in the movie, Martin does not say the “a.” Instead, he just pauses.
Then there is, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” In the book, author Mario Puzo has Don Vito Corleone saying, “I’m a businessman. I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Puzo then co-wrote the screenplay of “The Godfather” with director Francis Ford Coppola.
Going back much further in time, we remember a quote attributed to James Cagney, one of the classic gangsters. Impersonators “doing” him always say, “You dirty rat.” Cagney insisted he never said that. What he did say in “Blond Crazy,” in 1931, was “That dirty double-crossin’ rat.”
In his autobiography, according to Keyes, Cagney also relates he did not ever say, “All right you guys,” which he insisted sounded more like the Bowery Boys.
Equally false, said Charles Boyer, was his line “Come with me to the Kasbah.”
Some of you young whippersnappers don’t know what I am talking about, and equally so when I quote you, “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” Johnny Weismuller swears he never said that.
But you probably have all heard the most famous exit line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” said by Rhett Butler at the end of “Gone With the Wind.” In the book, Rhett doesn’t say the “frankly,” which was probably added by screenwriter Sydney Howard.
Those of you who have lived only in this generation of filth won’t believe it, but it is true the censors tried to have the line changed to remove the “damn.”
We’ve all heard “don’t sweat the small stuff.” And the following “It’s all small stuff.” Ann Landers quoted it, but didn’t claim it. So, earlier, did Erma Bombeck. After lots of checking, our author found the source in a 1983 Time article dealing with stress, written by cardiologist Robert S. Eliot, who gets original credit.
Remember the reign of Ronald Reagan being called “the Teflon presidency?’’
The story goes that Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., was preparing eggs for her family’s breakfast in a nonstick frying pan and thinking, as she often did, about Ronald Reagan. “What was it that kept this bumbler from ever being penalized for his mistakes?” she thought. She looked at the pan. Reagan was just like Teflon. Nothing stuck to him.
She said much the same thing that same day on the floor of the House.
Nothing else stuck to Reagan. That one did.