Make that seven

Another way I’m like Ken: in today’s blog post he writes, “I find that I think in movie quotes about 45% of the time.”

Huh. Just 45%? Maybe Ken is Bob lite! After all, I was the founding movie-quotes editor of the Internet Movie Database.

Quoting dialogue from movies and TV shows has been a cherished way of life for me since age 10, when it occurred to me to place my tape recorder in front of the TV and grab the audio from an episode of Happy Days.

(It was the one where Herb Edelman plays a house burglar. He breaks into the Cunningham house but is foiled by Fonzie, who correctly guesses he’s not armed thanks to this bit of “prison poetry”: “He who steals with a gun in his hand / Gets ten years to life in the can.” Jesus, do I really still remember that???)

After that I taped and memorized The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and a Robert Klein stand-up comedy special on HBO, but that was just preparation for the day I smuggled a tape recorder into a movie theater to grab the audio from Star Wars. I memorized every word, every sound effect, every note of music. For years afterward, where other kids would sing their favorite radio hits, I would recite scenes from Star Wars. (And I must say: being so intimately acquainted with the audio of that film gave me an appreciation for just what an accomplishment it was. The visual effects today are dated, but the audio created for Star Wars has never been equalled — which, come to think of it, makes perfect sense coming from the director of the sonically innovative predecessors THX-1138 and American Graffiti.)

As time went by it became clear that I had an aptitude for remembering quotable dialogue verbatim — that is, without the usual minor lapses in word choice and ordering that usually afflict movie quoters — even without the benefit of tape recorders. I expanded my movie-viewing horizons and amassed a collection of favorite quotes. Eventually I offered to contribute them to the maintainers of the nascent “rec.arts.movies movie database” on Usenet. The quality and quantity of my submissions (and my corrections to quotes they already had) landed me an invitation to join the team — a team that later became the Internet Movie Database company and later still got bought by Amazon.com.

(…to be continued…)

5 thoughts on “Make that seven

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  3. sjoleary

    (Are we up to nine?) I met my husband talking about movies.

    I remember you bringing your tape recorder into movies – Star Wars and Animal House, in particular – and practicing the dialogue later. It took forever to figure out: ” . . . and tuck down those pajamas!”

    See if you can place this one (and finish it):

    “I know what you’re thinkin’ ‘Did he fire six shots, or only five?’ To tell you the truth, in all this confusion, I kinda lost track myself . . .”

  4. bobg Post author

    Ahem: “Tuck up.” What kind of movie-quote maven would I be if I let that one slide?

    As for the Dirty Harry quote, even if I couldn’t complete it, I could always refer to the Dirty Harry Tour of San Francisco (a cool website set up by some friends of mine a few years ago, now defunct but still available via the Wayback Machine).

    I can also direct you to an excellent parody of that quote, among the results of the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Bad Writing Contest:

    “I know what you’re thinking, punk,” hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, “you’re thinking, ‘Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?’ — and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel loquacious?’ — well do you, punk?”

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