An opening line of a film is so much more monumental than many may give it credit for. It builds the story line of the film that is about to be viewed, painting a picture that may not be clear without it. Though it may not be necessary, it certainly is not a waste of space. There are films that have unforgettable opening lines and some that are simply just forgettable. These 5 opening lines from films are worthy of its own category at award shows.
American Beauty (1999)
American Beauty is a 1999 dramedy starring Kevin Spacey. The movie follows a depressed husband played by Kevin Spacey who is living a remotely perfect life, in a perfect house, in a perfect neighborhood. While his wife is carrying on an affair with a successful real estate agent, Lester – played by Spacey – develops an infatuation with his daughter’s underage friend. The opening line for the film is often referred to when talking about memorable lines because of its quirky yet haunting sarcasm Lester displays giving a synopsis of his untimely death. The opening line: “My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I’m 42 years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead. Of course, I don’t know that yet. And in a way, I’m dead already. Look at me: j***ing off in the shower. This will be the high point of my day. It’s all downhill from here.”
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Do the Right Thing is a film that focuses on the issues of racial conflict between ethnic groups living within the inner cities of Brooklyn, New York. The film was directed by Spike Lee who also appeared in the movie as the main character. The opening line of Doing the Right Thing gives a very clear introduction of the film as it comes from a radio host who represents the narrator of the storyline. The opening line: “Wake up! Wake up, wake up, wake up, up you wake, up you wake, up you wake, up you wake! This is Mr. Senor Love Daddy, your voice of choice, the world’s only twelve-hour strongman on the air, here on We Love Radio, 108 FM, the last on your dial but first in your hearts and that’s the truth, Ruth.”
Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club is a 1999 film based on a 1996 novel that shares the same name by Palahniuk. The film follows a thirty-something white collar professional who seeks an outlet to escape the ruts in his life. He quickly befriends a soap salesman that he meets during one of his business trips and they eventually form a fight club – an underground organization that allows men to beat on one another as a way to release tension. The beginning of the film doesn’t match the plot of the movie and its title, which throws viewers for a loop at first; but later in the film the opening line makes a lot more sense. The opening line: “People are always asking me if I know Tyler Durden.”
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a 1986 comedy film that follows Ferris Bueller – a fearless high school senior (played by Matthew Broderick) who skips school to spend the day painting the town red in downtown Chicago. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a timeless classic because everyone can relate to the storyline in one way or another. The skipping of school is an act most high school students experience but none have done it quite like Ferris. The opening line: “The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school…Incredible! One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second.”
Goodfellas is a crime film that is based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. The movie stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta. Goodfellas, that has been dubbed an American classic, follows the rise and fall of three gangsters. The film follows the familiar story of the mafia with its own twist and unique style. The opening line: “As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.”
An opening line can either make or break a film. Fans are earned when the opening line draws them into the story allowing them to hang on to every word without knowing what will happen next. Every successful film may not have a memorable opening line; however, those that do, go on to be classics that are recited by movie fans that become lifelong fans.