I Drink Your Catchphrase Great lines from the movies spice up our speech, whether it's Dirty Harry's "Make my day" or There Will Be Blood's "I drink your milkshake."
NPR logo

I Drink Your Catchphrase

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/87792138/87792101" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
I Drink Your Catchphrase

I Drink Your Catchphrase

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/87792138/87792101" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


When it comes to movie catchphrases, there are the classics.

(Soundbite of movie, "Casablanca")

Mr. HUMPHREY BOGART (Actor): (As Rick) It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now. Here's looking at you, kid.

STEWART: Then there are the quotables.

(Soundbite of movie, "Planet of the Apes")

Mr. CHARLTON HESTON (Actor): (As George Taylor) You maniacs. You blew it up. Ah, damn you. God damn you all to hell.

STEWART: And for modern films, the catchphrase is often a product of the Internet.

(Soundbite of movie, "Snakes on a Plane")

Mr. SAMUEL L. JACKSON (Actor): (As Neville Flynn) I have had it with these (bleep) snakes on this (bleep) plane.

STEWART: So what will be the film-phrase of the past year that will grace T-shirts and worm its way into late-night monologues. It's a four-word sentence uttered with a melodramatic drawl by this year's Oscar winner for best actor, Daniel Day-Lewis.

(Soundbite of movie, "There Will Be Blood")

Mr. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (Actor): (As Daniel Plainview) I drink your milkshake?

(Soundbite of slurping)

STEWART: I didn't count the slurp. That line is from "Their Will Be Blood." It made into "SNL" last week and, of course, with YouTube means that there's a musical mash-up. It had to be with Kelis.

(Soundbite of movie, "There Will Be Blood")

Mr. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (As Daniel Plainview): I drink your milkshake. I have drink it up.

(Soundbite from song "Milkshake")

KELIS (Singing): My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and their like is better than yours. Damn right, it's better than yours. I can teach you, but I have to charge. I know you want it...

STEWART: Right now, milkshakes are having their moment. Kilian Fox wondered about that in a blog post on the Guardian's Web site, so we run him up to talk a little bit about it. Hi, Killian.

Mr. KILLIAN FOX (Film Blogger, Guardian.com): Hi there, Alison. How are you?

STEWART: I'm well. So what do you think it is about I drink your milkshake that it has caught on.

Mr. FOX: I don't know. It's a very eye-catching little phrase. It's got that sort of lurid quality that bloggers on the Internet seem to like. And it's also got the advantage of having the vehicle of an extremely good film to back it up.

STEWART: The phrase itself is allegedly taken from congressional transcripts from the '20's Teapot Dome scandal when a senator was convicted of accepting bribes for oil-drilling rights to various lands. Now, according to the movie's writer, P.T. Anderson, the Senator was asked to describe drainage before Congress, and the way he described it was if you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake, and my straw reaches across the room to your milkshake. So that's the history of how I drink your milkshake was used.

Mr. FOX: Yeah.

STEWART: Currently, how are people using it?

Mr. FOX: That's an interesting question. I'm sure in this sort of greedy and rapacious world that we live in there are many opportunities to use this sort of line.

STEWART: Do you think screenwriters can set out to write catch phrases? Can you actually create one?

Mr. FOX: Well, Paul Thomas Anderson seemed very surprised by the flurry of interest around this phrase. So I imagine these things work their way in unconsciously. I don't think they're necessarily dropped into a screenplay. I think people are just as surprised as we are.

STEWART: Let's listen to a movie catch phrase that comes in a really pivotal point in the film - if this was never said, you wouldn't even understand the movie "The Sixth Sense."

(Soundbite from film "The Sixth Sense")

Mr. HALEY JOEL OSMENT (As Cole Sear): I see dead people.

STEWART: Okay, of course that was parodied into other films. One, I see black people, I believe that was one of the "Scary Movie." What gives a phrase legs?

Mr. FOX: It's got to stand out from its context. It's got to be applicable to everyday life, I think. It's got to be something that jumps into your head whenever there's a certain situation. The example you gave just there I think is a good one. I've heard hundreds of people use that line.

STEWART: Do you think DVDs have a hand in creating catch phrases?

Mr. FOX: Yeah, people will, these days, watch films 30 times over. An example that came up over and over again when I wrote my post on the Guardian Web site was "The Big Lebowski."

(Soundbite from film "The Big Lebowski")

Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (As Jeffrey Lebowski, aka: The Dude): I'm The Dude.

Mr. FOX: Which clearly has a lot of fans who probably watch it every week...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FOX: ...by the sounds of it. And they - just endless quotes from that film. And that's clearly the result of watching and re-watching and re-watching, yeah.

STEWART: For a while everywhere you went we heard people attempting a Borat imitation.

(Soundbite from film "Borat")

Mr. SACHA BARON COHEN (As Borat): Yesavach. My name is Borat. Give me four, huh? And maybe make the second time...nice.

STEWART: Very nice. I've heard that many, many times. And then after a while you hear that one time too many.

Mr. FOX: Yeah.

STEWART: What does it take to really spoil a catch phrase?

Mr. FOX: There's a certain cachet in good catch phrases, when it hasn't quite reached critical mass and when it's still a bit of a mystery. People kind of look at you slightly askew; they don't quite know what you mean. That's where a catchphrase I think has its best effects, certainly from a selfish point of view. But once it just transfers and becomes a completely common occurrence and everybody says it, that's the point where it goes off the boil I think.

STEWART: So I drink your milkshake is kind of in that moment. It's just at the right time when you say it to the right person they might smile or laugh. But...

Mr. FOX: Yeah. Sue me - with the Internet these things are in grave danger of getting overexposed, I think, yes. And I think there could be a point where Paul Thomas Anderson is ruing ever putting that line in his screenplay.

STEWART: All right. Well, I'm going to attempt to use it at some point during the rest of the show today. Killian Fox wrote about movie catch phrases in a blog post on the Guardian Web site. Thanks so much for weighing in and writing about the milkshake.

Mr. FOX: My pleasure, thanks.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.