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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

what are the greatest or most iconic movie quotes spoken by women?


The Bechdel Test, which examines the representation of women in film, is in the ether at the moment, so this week’s Question is another way of looking at the paucity of women onscreen.

What are the greatest or most iconic movie quotes spoken by women?

The dialogue doesn’t need to be feminist. It doesn’t need to come from a film that passes the Bechdel Test. It doesn’t need to be anything other than so memorable that when it is uttered even outside the context of its story, most people recognize it.

I’m going to get what I think are the three most likely responses out of the way right here:

• “Get away from her, you bitch!” –Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Aliens

• “I’ll have what’s she’s having.” –unnamed bystander (Estelle Reiner) in When Harry Met Sally…

• “You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and… blow.” –Slim (Lauren Bacall) in To Have and Have Not

I’m actually not even sure how recognizable that last quote will be to many people. I do know that I’ve never even seen that film, yet I know the quote.

I suspect this one will be really tough. That’s the point. Go!

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

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