Most everybody who enjoys going to the movies has a memorable quote from a favorite film, and readers of Milpages.com are bound to have a favorite quote from a war or military movie. The following are ten of my favorite quotes from movies of this genre over the years. My apologies go out to those who think these movies seem dated (or outdated.) If I missed one of your favorites, as I am wont to do, please drop me a line as comments are always welcome!
1) “You can’t handle the truth!” – Colonel Jessup (Jack Nicholson) in a Few Good Men. While there were a ton of memorable quotes including “you don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor” and “and the witness will address this court as ‘Judge’ or ‘Your Honor.’ I’m quite certain I’ve earned it”, Nicholson’s performance as Colonel Jessup, who is on the verge of admitting a Code Red, is stunning.
2) “One Shot” – This line is used a number of times during the Oscar winning film, The Deer Hunter. The most memorable uses of the line may have come in the climatic scene where Michael (Robert DeNiro) is pitted against Nick (Christopher Walken) in a game of Russian roulette in Vietnam. Both actors utter this fateful quote in this last game of chance.
3) “5’9? I didn’t know they stacked sh** that high!” – Gunnery Sgt. Harman – R. Lee Ermey, in Full Metal Jacket – The entire sequence of dialogue inside the barracks is classic and in the former real gunnery sgt.’s finest moment in the film, it is actually quite difficult to pinpoint just one favorite quote.
4) “Kiss my hot lips!” – Major Margaret Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) in M*A*S*H*, during what was thought to be an intimate encounter with Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) actually was heard over a loudspeaker at the entire base. Her quote earned her the name “Hot Lips” at the base.
5) “Dying by the thousands for you, fool! I know because I dug their graves!” In a pivotal confrontation from the movie Glory, Sgt. Major John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) puts Pvt. Trip (Denzel Washington) in his place and helps him straighten out his act.
6) “People say that if you don’t love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America.” – Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) This is Kovic’s response to his people criticizing him for protesting the Vietnam War in the movie Born on the 4th of July.
7) “I’m here to tell you your brothers were killed in combat.” From Saving Private Ryan, Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) informs Private Ryan (Matt Damon) that all three of his brothers have been killed.
8) “That’s a fact, Jack!” – Pvt. John Winger (Bill Murray) – The quote from the movie Stripes was Bill Murray’s response to an Army general that his platoon completed basic training on their own (remember, it’s the movies!)
9) “The Marines are looking for a few good men. Unfortunately, you ain’t it!” – Gunnery Sgt. Highway (Clint Eastwood) – From the movie Heartbreak Ridge, for all you military folks out there, I am sure you had a similar experience during your basic training.
10) “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duval,) in the classic war flick Apocalypse Now, utters this outrageous comment about how he feels about one of the most controversial chemical agents used during the Vietnam War. While this quote doesn’t rank high on my list, it makes the AFI’s list of the top 100 movie quotes at #12.