30 Movie Quotes Every '70s Kid Knows by Heart
From The Godfather to The Exorcist, these '70s movie quotes have stuck with you.
Few things help a movie live on into immortality more than a line of dialogue that everybody remembers. These quotes get batted back and forth between fans, referenced in other films, and generally settle into the national cultural vocabulary. For our list of '70s movie quotes, we pulled from musicals, horror films, classic dramas, and iconic romances. As any child of the '70s could tell you, these lines are unforgettable.
Brody in Jaws
The famous thing about Jaws—besides ushering in the era of blockbuster filmmaking and announcing Steven Spielberg as a major American filmmaker to be reckoned with—was that you never saw the shark until well into the movie. It finally pops up out of the water to the nerve-shattering shock of police chief Brody (Roy Scheider), who bolts upright and delivers the film's signature warning.
Darth Vader in Star Wars
There are many, many memorable quotes to choose from when it comes to 1977's Star Wars. All those quotes about the Force, to start with! But the best line in the film comes when Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) decides to quit taking guff from Admiral Motti (Richard LeParmentier), whose sneering attitude toward the Force is rubbing Vader the wrong way—so he begins to choke him with his Dark Side powers.
Father Merrin in The Exorcist
When Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) comes to the MacNeil home to assist with the exorcism of young Regan (Linda Blair), he brings with him his expertise and unshakable faith. As he does battle with the demon Pazuzu, Father Merrin's repeated incantation becomes both a weapon and a shield.
Jenny in Love Story
The oft-parodied line in the melodramatic 1970 romance may not make all that much sense—in fact, the opposite is probably more accurate—but the deep conviction of the love between Ryan O'Neal's Oliver and Ali MacGraw's Jenny makes it one of the signature lines in any romantic film ever.
Rocky in Rocky
The exhilarating final fight sequence in Rocky is a thrilling and uplifting moment of triumph for the title character (Sylvester Stallone), but what makes Rocky great is that the movie doesn't depend on Rocky winning in the end. In fact, he loses to Apollo (Carl Weathers). But once the fight is over, Rocky's not worried about whether he won—he starts calling for his beloved Adrian (Talia Shire), who fights her way through the crowd to be with him.
Bobby in Five Easy Pieces
Jack Nicholson's breakthrough performance in Five Easy Pieces helped make him one of the defining actors of his generation. And the diner scene, where he attempts to order some eggs with wheat toast despite a clear "no substitutions" policy, was an elaborate, defiant, ill-behaved howl from the counterculture. All over some chicken salad.
Don Corleone in The Godfather
There are lots of ways for Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) to get what he wants, but for the head of a mafia family, he gets quite a lot done without having to resort to Tommy Guns or horses' heads. There's a dark nobility to the way Don Corleone conducts business, whether director Francis Ford Coppola intended it or not, and the euphemism he uses for strong-arming business adversaries contributes to that.
Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II
On any list of movie sequels that are better than the original, you're likely to find The Godfather Part II, thanks in large part to Al Pacino's transformation into a much more ruthless Michael Corleone. This particular quote is so popular that it's often been mistakenly attributed to Machiavelli.
Sally Bowles in Cabaret
What good is sitting alone in your room, Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) asks in the title song from Cabaret. As with everything in the film, there is a dark shadow to all the glittering spectacle of the song. Life is a cabaret, sure, but that's because it's a lot of song and dance to keep you occupied while disaster looms. Start celebrating!
Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon
Al Pacino as a frantic bank robber screaming his rallying cry in front of the police and media, calling back to the recent Attica Prison riot, is one of the great moments in '70s cinema. It featured Pacino at the top of his form, and helped make Dog Day Afternoon one of the quintessential movies of the era.
Kilgore in Apocalypse Now
This quote, delivered by the battle-hungry Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall), is a perfect example of the perspective that director Francis Ford Coppola brings to his Vietnam War movie. It's madness delivered with a smile.
Szell in Marathon Man
If you've watched the scene where an evil Nazi doctor (Laurence Olivier) tortures Dustin Hoffman to get him to reveal the location of stolen diamonds, you know why those three little words are so blood-chilling. And why they may call to mind the whirring of a dentist's drill.
Lawrence Walsh in Chinatown
Those are the words private investigator Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) hears after his investigation into a sinister Los Angeles power broker uncovers an unspeakable scandal and ends in tragedy. Forget about seeing justice done, in other words. (Chinatown, in this case, was the location of another case that ended badly and haunts Jake.)
Howard Beale in Network
Network is a remarkably prescient movie about the media and American culture and where we'd all be going in the '80s, '90s, and beyond. And at its center is newscaster Howard Beale (Peter Finch), whose on-air nervous breakdown—delivered in a trench coat over striped pajamas—culminates in a call to action to the anesthetized viewers to find their anger at a system gone crazy, rush to their open windows, and howl as loud as they can that they're finally fed up.
Dr. Loomis in Halloween
Death, in this case, is Michael Myers (Nick Castle), the murderer who escaped his mental asylum and has returned to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to carry on a steady-walking homicidal rampage. The line is delivered with maximum foreboding by Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis.
The Nanny in The Omen
The true terror of the demon child Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens)—who turns out to be the Antichrist, adopted at birth by a mild-mannered American diplomat and his wife—comes to light at his fifth birthday party, when his nanny (Holly Palance) cheerfully ties a sheet around her neck and leaps to her death, calling out to darling little Damien. The moment is a jolt of true terror.
Bluto in Animal House
The ultimate call to party comes via John Belushi in the quintessential frat-boy film. The idea of a bunch of college guys dressing up in ancient Roman togas in order to better consume dangerous amounts of alcohol and smash ukuleles may never have occurred to anyone before Animal House, but it surely inspired a whole generation of bros.
Margaret White in Carrie
Margaret White's (Piper Laurie) hysterical warning before her daughter Carrie (Sissy Spacek) heads off to prom ends up reverberating in Carrie's mind after she's humiliated with pig's blood and subsequently goes off on a telekinetic rampage. On the bright side for Margaret: she was right!
Deep Throat in All the President's Men
Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) encounter the clandestine informant called "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook) in a dark parking garage, and Deep Throat gives them the best advice they'll get—follow the trail of money to get to the bottom of the Watergate scandal.
Lois Lane in Superman
Rather than deliver any kind of up-up-and-away kind of bravado to sell the super-ness of Superman (Christopher Reeve), the 1978 film lets Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) get the point across, as Superman rescues her from falling to her death with an assuring, "I've got you." Incredulous and a bit hysterical, Lois reacts to the Man of Steel in an incredibly rational way.
Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver
Travis Bickle's (Robert De Niro) imaginary confrontation with a heavy occurs not out on the mean streets of 1970s New York City but in front of his own mirror. Travis' fantasies of himself as the last righteous man in a city of degenerates and liars end up creating a madman, and De Niro is absolutely terrifying (if also a bit pathetic) delivering the film's signature line.
Callahan in Dirty Harry
Clint Eastwood's flinty scowl as detective Harry Callahan came to define so much of his acting persona. But none of his spaghetti westerns of later directorial triumphs had the punchy power of him getting the jump on a punk criminal and taunting him to take a bet on whether he had fired five shots or all six from his gun.
Thorn in Soylent Green
Charlton Heston's panicked holler as he's carried away at the end of the dystopian, futuristic horror of Soylent Green has endured long enough in the culture to become a kind of punchline. But the twist at the end of the movie—that the superfood Soylent Green isn't made of plants but of people—was a true sucker punch.
Tracy in Mahogany
Diana Ross' performance as the titular singing superstar was delivered with so much diva bravado that it's reverberated throughout the years, most recently becoming a weekly catchphrase on RuPaul's Drag Race: All-Stars.
Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein
This line in the Mel Brooks-directed black-and-white parody of classic horror movies isn't very much on paper. Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced "FRONK-en-steen") delivers the line to the homely housekeeper (Cloris Leachman) at his castle. But when it's delivered in the film, followed by a crack of thunder and an offscreen whinny of a horse, it's undeniably hilarious.
Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Tim Curry's delectable delivery toward the end of "Sweet Transvestite" imbues this famous line with a pause so exquisite you're probably still holding your breath. It's just one of the many delights of this cult classic film.
Sandy in Grease
When Olivia Newton-John emerges at the end of Grease as her character Sandy, who's undertaken a bad-girl makeover to suit her greaser boyfriend Danny (John Travolta), it makes for one of the greatest reveals in movie history. No wonder they have to immediately break into song.
Kermit in The Muppet Movie
Kermit the Frog's opening lyrics to "The Rainbow Connection" do the work of instantly transporting you to a happier mindset—a world where cute little Muppets all come together and try to make it in showbiz. The lovers, the dreamers, and Miss Piggy, too.
Navin in The Jerk
Steve Martin's immortal opening line in The Jerk begins the story of Navin Johnson, a naïve white adopted child of black sharecroppers. Navin's adventures as he tries to make his way in the world maintain an absurd ignorance that the opening line totally paves the way for.
Arthur in And Justice for All
A blistering Al Pacino courtroom monologue that has inspired references and parodies for decades is exactly the kind of quote that belongs on a list like this: You know it even if you don't know the movie it came from.