PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Say What? Famous Last Words

In celebration of tomorrow's DVD and Blu-ray release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (and the similarly themed bonus featurette - "Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words"), SE&L has selected some of its favorite, and most fascinating, individual and entertainment elegies.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Rated: PG-13
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Bill Hader, Christopher Guest, Steve Coogan,
Extras: 7
Studio: Fox
Year: 2009
US date: 2009-12-01 (General release)
UK date: 2009-12-01 (General release)

They are meant to be the final beat to any life - cinematic or human. They often adorn tombstones, or land like bombshells at the end of elaborate plots. They can be memorable or moving, insightful or indicative of an existence worth noting. They often come from the historical or the histrionic, acting as exclamation points with summary significance attached. We call them "famous last words" and for many they mark the one and only reference point for a particular person, personality, or motion picture.

Don't think so? Ask someone to name the movie where "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn…" comes from and they're bound to answer Gone with the Wind (actually, that's not the actual final lines from the film. Scarlett O'Hara, rebuffed by Rhett Butler's curse, argues that she'll figure out how to get him back tomorrow. After all, she says, "Tomorrow is another day."). Mention a noted bit of deathbed cattiness - "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go" and the name 'Oscar Wilde' instantly comes to mind…well, at least to English majors.

From the obscure (playwright Eugene O'Neill supposedly uttered "I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room - and God damn it - died in a hotel room," before passing on) to the sublime (Daniel Day-Lewis' ambiguous reading of There Will Be Blood's bombshell, "I'm finished."), last words resonate with a special kind of power. They can be forceful or sad, pithy or prone to self-pity. In any case, they become like little trivia stepping stones for the cultural maven, a way of gauging knowledge and scope without significantly damaging (or adding to) you geek cred.

In celebration of tomorrow's DVD and Blu-ray release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (and the similarly themed bonus featurette - "Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words"), SE&L has selected some of its favorite, and most fascinating, individual and entertainment elegies. In some cases, the selections are obvious. In others, they're obtuse. While we couldn't find room for all our choices (we are still trying to confirm that "No More Pull-ups" is indeed the last line of Roland Emmerich's ditzy disaster epic 2012) the list below should get you thinking about other entries in the category, as well as what you might say if you time should ever come.


"…And oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” - Casablanca

“Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” - It’s a Wonderful Life

“…You see, this is my life. It always will be! There's nothing else - just us - and the cameras - and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up.” - Sunset Boulevard

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” - The Diary of Anne Frank

“Well, nobody’s perfect.” - Some Like It Hot

“Mein Fuehrer, I can walk!” - Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb

“You finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you! God damn you all to hell!” - Planet of the Apes

“You can tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You’ve got to tell them soylent green is people. We’ve got to stop them somehow.” - Soylent Green

“This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.” - Network

“It's too bad she won't live -- but then again, who does?” - Blade Runner (Director's Cut)

"I'm pregnant." - Hannah and Her Sisters

"I'm sixty." - Murphy's Romance

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” - Stand by Me

“I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye.” - The Silence of the Lambs

"Hail to the king, baby.” - Army of Darkness

“Dick Laurent is dead.” - Lost Highway

People (Famous or Otherwise)

"Drink to Me!" - Pablo Picasso, painter

"Codeine…bourbon…" - Tallulah Bankhead, actress

"Die, I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him". - John Barrymore, actor

"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis". - Humphrey Bogart, actor

"I'm bored with it all." - Winston Churchill, statesman

"Dammit…Don't you dare ask God to help me." - Joan Crawford, actress

"Yes, it's tough, but not as tough as doing comedy." - Edmund Gwenn, actor

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." - Nathan Hale, patriot

"Money can't buy life." - Bob Marley, musician

"Every damn fool thing you do in this life you pay for." - Edith Piaf, singer

"I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have." - Leonardo Da Vinci, artist/inventor

"Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!" - Karl Marx, ideologist

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.