When, in my June 11 column, I asked people to send in some of their favorite movie lines, I thought I might get a few dozen responses, maybe a couple hundred if I really struck a harmonic note. This one seems to have struck not just a note but a whole chord. At last count, Entertainment Weekly had received over 3,000 responses to the column, each containing as many as 10 movie lines that readers remember fondly. Even with my StuffIt feature working at top speed, it took my computer nearly 15 minutes to download them all, and I've spent weeks reading through them. Rarely has time felt so well spent; rarely have I been surprised by so many good memories.
I asked the editors at EW to expand the column a little bit this time so I could share some of my favorites of your picks.
The all-time champion line, by your letters, was written by the great William Goldman, whose body of work was mentioned in the responses to my column again and again:
''Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.'' -- INIGO MONTOYA (Mandy Patinkin) in ''The Princess Bride''
I think more than a hundred people sent this one in. In fact, you readers seem to have something of a jones for ''The Princess Bride.'' The editors tallied up your top 25 choices, and three other ''Princess'' lines made the list:
''Inconceivable!'' ''You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'' -- INIGO MONTOYA (Mandy Patinkin)
''Have fun storming the castle!'' -- MIRACLE MAX (Billy Crystal)
''As you wish.'' -- WESTLEY (Cary Elwes)
''The Princess Bride'' is (arguably) a chick flick, but all the lines you loved were spoken by men. This seemed to confirm something I wrote in my column, which is that most of the best movie lines are given to men. Readers repeatedly challenged me on this score -- ''No, no!'' they protested, ''not true!'' -- and offered up some terrific evidence. Indeed, two of the closest runners-up were from women:
''I'll have what she's having.'' -- FEMALE DINER (Estelle Reiner) in ''When Harry Met Sally...''
''You had me at hello.'' -- DOROTHY BOYD (Renée Zellweger) in ''Jerry Maguire''
Several other women's lines worth repeating came up frequently in your letters and e-mails. Two of your favorites are from movies at least half a century old:
''Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy night.'' -- MARGO CHANNING (Bette Davis) in ''All About Eve''
''You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together...and blow.'' -- MARIE BROWNING (Lauren Bacall) in ''To Have and Have Not''