Top 10 Movie Opening Lines

Script written by Nick Spake Talk about starting off on a high note. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Movie Opening Lines. For this list, we’re taking a look at the most iconic first lines of dialogue spoken in movies. Since many of these opening lines tie into major plot points and larger themes, a spoiler alert is probably called for. Special thanks to our user drewbrown for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Movie Opening Lines


Talk about starting off on a high note. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Opening Lines.
For this list, we’re taking a look at the most iconic first lines of dialogue spoken in movies. Since many of these opening lines tie into major plot points and larger themes, a spoiler alert is probably called for.

#10: A Hundred Thousand Streets
“Drive” (2011)


Known only as the Driver, our nameless protagonist’s entire identity revolves around automobiles. He works as a getaway driver, but will only offer his services for exactly five minutes. After that, you’re on your own. Five minutes might not sound like much and not every getaway goes off without a hitch. However, The Driver knows the streets of this city like the back of his hand and he knows how to make himself disappear even better. Reminiscent of a film noir anti-hero, The Driver’s opening lines say so much about his emotionally detached character while also saying so little, which is only appropriate for a man of few words.

#9: Choose Life
“Trainspotting” (1996)


When you’re an addict, you dedicate your entire world to one thing and one thing only. Junkie Mark “Rent Boy” Renton has been a slave to heroin for years. Now he’s looking to finally choose something else. As Renton states in the poetic opening of “Trainspotting,” there are so many things one can choose: a job, a career, a family; the list goes on and on. Above all else, Renton encourages his audience to choose life. All the wonderful things life offers can be easy to pass up, though, when you’re convinced heroin is all you need.

#8: The Drugs Began to Take Hold
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998)


Speaking of drugs, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” plays like one big acid trip. It’s only appropriate that Raoul Duke’s story begins just as the drugs begin to take hold. From the second our main characters reach the edge of the desert, the film takes a nosedive into madness and never lets up. In addition to perfectly setting the stage, this opening also captures the essence of our narrator. Duke is constantly making observations and talking as if he’s typing a novel in his head. Of course, most of his rants are completely ludicrous and could only come from a totally whacked out mind…

#7: I Am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)


Few directors knew how to open a movie better than Stanley Kubrick. Alex’s first monologue from “A Clockwork Orange” continues to give us chills to this day. (xref) However, we’ve decided to single out Gunnery Sergeant Hartman’s exhilarating introductory speech from “Full Metal Jacket.” This film immediately throws the audience into basic military training, which can feel just as hellish as actual combat when you have a ruthless drill sergeant barking orders. Hartman is an unrelenting force that never stops insulting his cadets. From the second he opens his mouth, it’s clear he’ll eventually push one of these young maggots over the edge.

#6: The Music or the Misery
“High Fidelity” (2000)


Although pop music is often viewed as peppy and fun, a majority of the genre’s songs are surprisingly about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery, and loss. So why do we keep listening to them? Is pop music the root of all our misery or do we listen to pop music because we’re miserable? These are the questions Rob Gordon mulls over at the beginning of “High Fidelity.” With a love life that plays like a broken record, Rob contemplates if sad music can be even more harmful than toy guns and violent movies. In any case, Rob could definitely use a sunnier mixed tape.

#5: Tyler Durden
“Fight Club” (1999)


So you know that spoiler warning we talked about earlier? That was primarily for anyone that still hasn’t seen “Fight Club.” This masterpiece from David Fincher is notorious for having one of the greatest movie twists ever, revealing that Edward Norton’s Narrator is also Tyler Durden. What’s so ironic about this twist is that the Narrator basically gives it away with his very first line. Throughout the entire movie, however, the audience is completely oblivious. It isn’t until you watch “Fight Club” a second time that you catch this ingenious foreshadowing, which makes you appreciate the film even more.

#4: The First Time I Saw a Dead Human Being
“Stand by Me” (1986)


“Stand by Me” is all about the life-changing moment that marks a kid’s transition into adulthood. For Gordie Lachance, that moment was when he first saw a dead human being. The opening of the film finds an older Gordie looking back on his childhood friendships and the journey that changed their lives forever. Aside from hooking the audience in, this opening line highlights the bittersweet sense of nostalgia that makes us long for a simpler time. Childhood goes by fast and is easy to take for granted. As Gordie completes his memoir, though, he remembers the importance of looking ahead to the future.

#3: I Believe in America
“The Godfather” (1972)


We’re all taught to believe in the American Dream. The sad truth, though, is that sometimes the American Dream lets us down and the only way to get justice is by seeking out somebody like Don Vito Corleone. The masterful opening of “The Godfather” centers on an Italian man pleading with Vito to kill the boys that disfigured his daughter. Vito ultimately agrees to give him justice and have the youths horribly beaten. As the godfather gives his enforcer instructions, we’re forced to contemplate if he’s keeping the American Dream alive or if he’s why the American Dream is dead.

#2: As Long As I Can Remember
“GoodFellas” (1990)


Some boys dream of being president, but Henry Hill always wanted to be a gangster. This line sums up Henry in a nutshell. Like many of the other characters in “Goodfellas,” he’s a selfish SOB. He does whatever he wants and takes whatever he wants with little regard for those that get caught in the crossfire. In Henry’s mind, being a gangster means to own the world. Henry does indeed achieve all the power and wealth he ever dreamed of… that is until his inevitable downfall. Even then, Henry’s just glad that he got a taste of the gangster lifestyle and wouldn’t change a thing.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

There’s an Old Joke
“Annie Hall” (1977)

Who Are You?
“The Seventh Seal” [aka “Det sjunde inseglet”] (1957)

I Remember Those Cheers
“Raging Bull” (1980)

Yes, This Is Sunset Blvd
“SUNSET BLVD.” (1950)

There Was an Age Undreamed Of
“Conan the Barbarian” (1982)

#1: Rosebud
“Citizen Kane” (1941)


Sometimes one little word can have the greatest impact of all. In this case, “Rosebud” initiates what is often considered the best movie of all time. Charles Foster Kane’s dying word, “Rosebud” sends a reporter on an investigation to uncover its true meaning. He never exactly figures out what “Rosebud” meant, but the audience learns that it epitomizes the one thing the richest man in the world couldn’t buy: his lost childhood. Bringing everything full circle, it’s easy to see why “Citizen Kane” is a masterpiece from beginning to end.

Do you agree with our list? What opening movie line instantly peaked your interest? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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