Misquoted lines from films

I was familiar with the popular line “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” long before I had seen the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre that it purportedly came from. But when I got around to actually seeing the film, I was surprised to find that the words were not quite the same.

The bandit actually says, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

So how did the distorted version become so widespread as to become the standard? I suspect because it was from this scene in the wildly popular parody Blazing Saddles.

There are a lot of similarly misquoted lines from films that now have become lodged in the collective memory of people.


  1. Dalillama says

    Oh, but “Play it again, Sam.” is a direct quote from the movie. The movie in question, of course, being A Night in Casablanca starring the incomparable Groucho Marx.

  2. Mikey says

    Funny, I always thought people were quoting the Blazing Saddles line, I didn’t know they were parodying a famous line from a previous movie.

  3. left0ver1under says

    Nearly all of the misquotes on that list have commonality: they’re more succinct than the original lines, yet say essentially the same things. The shorter versions are more memorable and quotable. Saying “bumpy ride” after the word “seatbelt” makes more sense than “bumpy night”, even though it’s wrong.

    It’s not just movie quotes, but quotes from literature or sayings. Gore Vidal once said or wrote, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” I’ve heard it used in sports as, “It’s not enough that I must win, but that you must lose.”

    In a reversal, some lines that are quoted verbatim are taken out of context or misused. Shakespeare’s line, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” is assumed to be a poke at lawyers. In reality, the one who says it in Henry VI (and his cohorts) intend to overthrow the English government and jurisprudence in favour of a dictatorship. Shakespeare was defending a system of rights and laws.

  4. Ruth says

    The other popular Shakespeare quote where the assumed meaning is oppposite to the meaning in context, is the opening lines from Twelfth Might “If music be the food of love, play on..”.

    The speech carries on “.. give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die.”

    The Duke wants more music to destroy his love, not to encourage it.

  5. mikmik says

    “Houston, we have a problem”

    Popular culture

    The 1974 movie Houston, We’ve Got a Problem, while set around the Apollo 13 incident, is a fictional drama about the crises faced by ground personnel, when the emergency disrupts their work schedules and places additional stress on their lives; only a couple of news clips and a narrator’s solemn voice deal with the actual problems.

    Apollo 13, a film based on Lost Moon, Jim Lovell’s and Jeffrey Kluger’s book about the event, was released in 1995. It was directed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell, Bill Paxton as Fred Haise, Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert, Ed Harris as flight director Gene Kranz, Kathleen Quinlan as Marilyn Lovell and Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly. Jim Lovell, Gene Kranz, and other principals have stated that this film depicted the events of the mission with reasonable accuracy, though some dramatic license was taken. Technical inaccuracies have also been noted.

    The film also depicts Lovell misquoting Swigert’s famous statement, “Houston, we’ve had a problem” as “Houston, we have a problem”.[35] However, the filmmakers purposely changed the line – and the character speaking it – because the original quote made it seem that the problem had already passed.[36] The film was a critical and box office success, and was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Harris) and Best Supporting Actress (Quinlan). The film engendered new interest in the history of the Apollo program and American space flight in general.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *