Headbloom Blog

American Culture, American Movies, and Quotes You Should Know

Recently, a student was telling me about being up for an award at his company. It turned out to be a recognition award, not one with any money attached. I told him recognition was okay, but if companies really value an employee, “Show me the money.” He didn’t know where that line came from. That launched us into a discussion of the American movie, Jerry Maguire, which I later researched to compile the summary below.

Movie: Jerry Maguire
Summary: When a sports agent (Tom Cruise) has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who stays with him.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger
Qualities: drama/conflict of values and loyalty, some romance, sports, warm feelings
Famous lines: “Show me the money.” “You had me at Hello.”

Everyone has opinions about what the greatest American films are. Lists abound. Perhaps most useful to immigrants and expats to the U.S. is a compendium of famous movie lines which Americans use in everyday speech.

My wife and I are movie fans and love to quote them as well. Below then, are 50 movie recommendations to help non-natives learn more about American movie quotes and the culture they represent.

They are listed in no particular order and include a link to their Internet Movie Database (IMDb) listing as well as the movie’s genre (Drama, Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Western, Musical, Thriller, Action/Adventure, Romance, Sports, Black & White, High School, Classic, Documentary, Family). I have noted my personal favorites (which may or may not coincide with your personal taste) with an asterisk (*).

1. Jerry Maguire – RC, D, S
2. Casablanca – D, CL
3. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid – C, W
4. The Godfather – D, CL
5. Animal House – C
6. Citizen Kane – D, CL, B/W (voted #1 overall)
7. Schindler’s List – D, B/W
8. * Shawshank Redemption – D
9. Roger and Me – Doc
10. The Breakfast Club – D, HS

11. The Graduate – D, CL
12. * Dead Poets Society – D, CL
13. The Sting – D, C
14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – D
15. Good Will Hunting – D
16. Rain Man – D
17. Rebel Without a Cause – D, CL, B/W
18. Tootsie – D, C, RC
19. Kramer vs. Kramer – D
20. Hoosiers – D, S

21. * The American President – D, RC
22. Patton – D
23. The Firm – D, T
24. * What About Bob? – C
25. Die Hard – D, A/A
26. Little Miss Sunshine – C, D
27. The Maltese Falcon – D, T, CL, B/W
28. * A Few Good Men – D
29. Beverly Hills Cop – C, D, A/A
30. Pretty Woman – RC

31. The Wizard of Oz – M, CL, F
32. The Big Chill – D, C
33. True Grit – D, W, A/A
34. Remember the Titans – D, S
35. Annie Hall – RC, D
36. When Harry Met Sally – RC, D
37. Singing in the Rain – M, CL, C
38. Gone With the Wind – D, R, CL
39. * Field of Dreams – D, S, F
40. Forrest Gump – D, C, R

41. A League of Their Own – D, C, S
42. Rocky – D, R, S
43. On Golden Pond – D, R
44. Moonstruck – D, RC
45. Titanic – D, R, A
46. Dirty Harry – T, A/A
47. Wall Street – D
48. * The Princess Bride – C, RC, A, F
49. Star Wars – A/A
50. Cool Hand Luke – D

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the movies is to view them with some American friends. Later, you may wish to watch the movie a second time in order to catch all the lines used in the movie. If your American friends don’t mind, you might rewind to a place where you couldn’t hear well or didn’t understand, so they can explain it to you. Happy viewing!

Alan Headbloom