Monday, May 17, 2010

Of Margo Channing and Buffy Summers



My bookcases are an almost even split between books and DVDs. I love great writing—especially great dialogue—and that’s not something that’s always restricted to a few hundred bound pages. In fact (and I’m probably committing some sort of grievous offense by admitting this) I’d say one of the biggest influences on my own writing has been my love of well written, highly quotable movies and television series.

Hello, my name is Kath and I’m a dialogue junkie. (Blame my parents for letting me watch Neil Simon movies before I was old enough to speak in complete sentences.)

Because it’s 12:03 AM and my brain is feeling about as sharp as a hardboiled egg, I’m going to share a list of some of my favourite movies and television shows from a dialogue perspective. Please note that not all of these (heck, not most of these) are teen movies. I’m only pointing that out so that mobs with pitchforks don’t come after me when a teen rents Almost Famous, then leaves home to become a stewardess. Have you ever been chased by a mob with a pitchfork? It’s not a fun time.

Without further ado, the list (which is neither comprehensive nor complete – I did mention that it’s 12:03 AM, 12:11AM now):

The Classics:

The Apartment
All About Eve
The Goodbye Girl

The Comtemps:

Say Anything
Juno
When Harry Met Sally
Almost Famous
The Princess Bride

The Television Shows

WKRP in Cincinnati
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Firefly
Veronica Mars
Wonderfalls

* Alright, so there's no actual dialogue in the above YouTube clip but it's PUPPET LLOYD. How can you not love a puppet tribute to Say Anything? I had to post it somewhere.

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Alright guys, your turn. What shows and movies should be on the list. Battle it out in the comments!

12 comments:

Sarah said...

I think I have to add Castle to your list of T.V. shows. Most definitely brilliant dialogue.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Stargate SG-1 had some of the greatest back and forth dialogue I've ever heard. (Their "cancellation" season dig at TPTB was priceless - mostly because the writers were so good, TPTB didn't realize what they'd filmed until it was too late to cut it.)

Kaitlin Ward said...

My freshman year of college, you couldn't go anywhere without someone quoting something from Napoleon Dynamite at you. I don't know if I would call it 'great' but it was certainly quotable! Same goes for Anchorman.
(My boyfriend and I still say Anchorman quotes at each other sometimes...)

The Princess Bride is amazing.

Great blog post!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

I like humor in my stories, so I have to mention Arrested Development. So sad they were cancelled because the dialogue was genius.

roh morgon said...

I have lots of past favorites, most notably Lord of the Rings (both book and film). The best: Gandalf's line, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Current favorite? Hands down, that has to be Vampire Diaries. Damon (played by Ian Somerhalder)not only has the best cutting remarks, his delivery is outstanding. One of my favorites: "That's for me to know, and you to...dot dot dot." Go Damon.

Jamie B said...

Dorothy - Arrested Development was one of my FAVORTITES! I agree 100%.

Roh - Damon! SO funny!

My husband and I quote South Park all the time. Cartman cracks me up.

Leah said...

Ah, yeah what Sarah said.
Castle is just fantastic. That Nathan Fillion pulls off dialogue humor fantastically, which is why I am a total fangirl for him :P

T.J. Carson said...

love buffy the vampire slayer! It's a classic. I would say SG-Universe or Supernatural. The Good Wife, definitely! Those rely on dialogue alot, esp. the good wife, it's a lawyer show WHICH I LOVE!

Sage said...

Can't disagree with your tv show list, although I've never seen the radio show one (but I've heard good things). One show I would add would be Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

J.S. Wood said...

Ferris Bueller is very quotable :)

Great post!

Debra Driza said...

Juno, Buffy tVS, Veronica Mars, Firefly? *dies and goes to TV/movie dialogue heaven*

Hubs and I are really diggning Greek right now, too. :)

Amy Kathleen Ryan said...

Love this post! I, too appreciate great writing, whatever its delivery system. When people get uppity with me and suggest that as a novelist I should be devoted to the written word above all else, I point out that if people followed that rule five hundred years ago no one would have gone to see Shakespeare's plays.

That said, fave movies:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Juno (Diablo Cody ROCKS!!!)
The Station Agent

Fave TV shows:
The Offices (UK and US versions, though the US isn't hitting it lately. Greg Daniels was the linchpin, it seems.)
Flight of the Conchords
Bored to Death
Arrested Development (Agreed, brilliant writing here.)