STEVE ASHMORE: Just the facts about TV, movie quotes

Steve Ashmore
Gannett Florida Blogger
Walton Sun

Do you ever find yourself waiting for a famous line in a movie or television show and wonder if you tuned in too late? When that one phrase that an actor is famous for just doesn’t happen, do you think you may have missed it when you went for a snack?

Truthfully, if you’re looking for “Just the facts, ma’am” you may be waiting a long, long time. Joe Friday never said that in the original series. He has told witnesses, “All we want are the facts, ma’am” but presumably that has been shortened into the catch phrase we all know and love.

And that’s not the only one. Another famous detective is attributed with, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” but Sherlock Holmes only said that in a movie adaptation. The original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never contained this celebrated utterance. He once told his sidekick, “It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you,” in “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box.” But there were no elementary conclusions in the original manuscripts.

Most of us have heard that Humphry Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.” Ingrid Bergman told the piano player to “Play it once, Sam. For old times sake.” Later, while waiting in his gin joint, Bogart’s line ended with “… play it.”

Did you know that the man who postulated “Anything that can go wrong, will,” was a real person? In fact, Edward A. Murphy Jr. was an aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems according to Wikipedia. His line of work explains his fascination with failures. And speaking of failures, society has dumbed down his original quote to the simplest terms. Murphy’s original citation was much more complex. “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.”

Finally, we’ve all been in places or situations where we just wanted to leave. Magically transport to another place, to teleport so to speak. We’ve probably even said, “Beam me up, Scotty.” But Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise never uttered that expression. Being a good leader, he wouldn’t have left anyone behind, so in the 1968-episode “Gamesters of Triskelion” he included the entire away team by his order of “Beam us up, Mr. Scott.”

So if you’ve ever been misquoted, remember the words of J.K. Rowling, “The best of us must sometimes eat our words.”

See all of blogger Steve Ashmore’s thoughts on this page.