I’ve been watching some old Mae West movies lately, and her snappy way with a one-linerĀ  (“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork“) got me thinking about some of the other quotable personalities in the arts:

Peel me a grape by Mae West

I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far

"I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far"

George S. Kaufman

I saw the play at a disadvantage, the curtain was up.

"I saw the play at a disadvantage, the curtain was up."

Mr Kaufman reviewing a new stage comedy: There was laughter at the back of the theatre, leading to the belief that someone was telling jokes back there.


Oscar Wilde

The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster

"The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster"

Oscar elaborates on the pecking order: The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.

Jonathan Miller (English theatre director)

The foyer at Covent Garden looks like Harrods food hall has offered up its dead.

"The foyer at Covent Garden looks like Harrods food hall has offered up its dead."

Bette Davis

Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.

"Old age is no place for sissies."

Miss Davis makes a professional observation: In this business, until you’re known as a monster you’re not a star.


Tallulah Bankead

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.

Tallulah at the opening night of a new play: There’s less to this than meets the eye.


And here are just a few book we have in the collection to get you started, not forgetting the good old interweb thingy!

Film quotations : 11,000 lines spoken on screen by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn W. Nolan

The Book of theatre quotes : notes, quotes and anecdotes of the stage compiled by Gordon Snell

Comedy quotes from the movies : over 4000 bits of humorous dialogue from all film genres by Larry Langman and Paul Gold

A dictionary of art quotations compiled by Ian Crofton

Enjoy!

This article has 2 comments

  1. Dermot, I commend the effort you must have made to find a relatively clean Mae West quote. It can’t have been easy. And the trouble you took to find such a flattering photo of Bette Davis.

    • Sadly the Hayes code cramped Mae’s style. Hence her post 1934 films, although entertaining, lack the edge of the early ones. As for flattering photos of Bette Davis, do check out ‘Beyond the forest’

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