I just finished watching the 1934 production of The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Leslie Howard. I only realized after watching it that Leslie Howard also starred in my favorite movie: Gone With The Wind. He played the role of Ashley Wilkes in that particular movie, which works well for his rather effeminate appearance and mild-mannered temperament. Those same attributes made him a dead ringer for Sir Percy in the Pimpernel film.
It strikes me as interesting that my favorite book would actually be a script. Technically speaking Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel as a play first before writing the novel. And if I’m recalling correctly, the play was produced on stage before it was set into the annals of classical novels.
But, of course, this isn’t the big point of the day. The title of this post is to refer to one of my favorite things. I tend to quote movies; it’s a habit I picked up as a kid, and since it was a simple thing for me to pick some lines from movies to use later, I developed the knack for it. Typically speaking, I’ll pick up at least one quote from any movie I see.
Oddly, enough, though I don’t generally pick up quotes from books. I’m not sure if it’s the difference between hearing and seeing or if there are just too many things I might want to pick out of books to quote at later dates. Either way, I generally don’t remember quotes from books.
That’s why I like The Scarlet Pimpernel.
The movie version incorporates my favorite quote from the book. I was reminded of it as I watched today. Sir Percy, dimwitted as he is, has a habit of being the most inane character you could meet. Due to the rising curiosity of Londoners towards discovering the elusive Pimpernel’s identity, Sir Percy has written a small ditty that he uses to both charm the ladies and annoy the French ambassador.
It goes a little something like this: “They seek him here, they seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.”
I always thought that a rather clever little line. It seems trite and silly just reading it in this context, but in the context of Sir Percy the Pimpernel using it to taunt the French? It’s quite brilliant.
As I was thinking about other quotes from movies and books, I was caught by one more book quote. It’s from one of my favorite authors, Lori Wick. Normally I’d remember plots and locations (not to mention names) from her stories. But this one took me off-guard.
It’s from her book Pretense, which is by far the longest book she’s written to date. It’s also one of the more interesting as it follows the love story of a mother and then those of her two daughters. I’ve always been attracted to this particular book and have read it several times now simply because of the two daughters.
Marrell Bishop has daughters that are a year apart in age. The oldest, Mackenzie Rose Bishop, grows up to join the Army. She’s rejected everything concerning God and wants nothing to do with the God her mother used to despise. Her younger sister, Delancey Joy Bishop, hasn’t got the same qualms as her older sister, but she doesn’t see a need for God and goes off to art school.
As this is probably at least 400 pages in length, I’ll shorten the plot and say that Mackenzie becomes an author, my biggest dream, while her sister becomes an illustrator. Together they write two different series of children’s books that become bestsellers. The sisters change and grow, and of course, they have their own set of romantic entanglements.
At one point, after various struggles and hardships, Mackenzie is visiting her step-father and his new wife for lunch one Sunday afternoon. She went to their church and wore a very nice blazer and met the son of her step-father’s wife. After being invited over for lunch, she runs home to change and shows up in jeans and a sweatshirt, curls up on the couch, and lounges with Jackson, her step-father, and Tucker, his step-son.
Without seeming to notice them near her, she mutters softly, “Roughing the kicker,” scuffing her foot against the couch.
It’s something I remember for a couple reasons. One: the first time I read it, I had no idea what she meant by that statement. You can imagine my confusion. Two: the whole scene is actually a very sweet portrait of the family Mackenzie’s been ignoring for years and comes home to. It’s one of my favorite scenes in that book. And three: it’s the beginning of Mac’s romance.
Why do I remember that particular quote? I have no idea. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with other book quotes, but all I have on recall are quotes from my favorite movies.
Either way, I’ve read quite a few quotable books. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the best quotes. But there’s something about a book that’s quotable that makes me want to reread it. Thus, things like Harry Potter, which I just glanced at and remembered a quote from the lovable Dumbledore, have become part of my rereads group.
(Said Dumbledore quote, that most people will know, is the following: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Granted, it’s also quoted in the movie, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I remember it more.)
Do you have any favorite book quotes? Honestly, probably some of the best books I have to quote are non-fiction, but like I said, there are quite a few fiction novels that could be quoted for various reasons.
Anyway, I thought that was an interesting concept: remembering movie quotes but not having recall for novel ones.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know.