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Lassie barks twice and it’s time to take out the garbage: The Quotable Stanley Motss

December 13, 2010

The 1997 political satire Wag the Dog has more quotable lines per scene than any film besides The Big Lebowski! Much of its sharply drawn analysis of political pageantry and Hollywood posturing in placed firmly in the hands of the pitch perfect Dustin Hoffman who sends up the great producer Robert Evans with his portrayal of unflappable Stanley Motss, a producer felled by only one thing: his ego. Hoffman’s ability to infuse Motss with both irresistible folksy charm and hubris is impressive. Stanley Motss is a totally selfish, self-involved, petty tyrant, yet dazzles the people around because he’s so good at what he does. Except, nobody seems to know what a Hollywood producer actually does. That’s cool, but because nearly one of out every four lines uttered by Motss seeks to clarify misconceptions. The hallmark of Motss’ style is irrepressible optimism in the face of insurmountable evidence such optimism is unwise.

  • “This is nothing. This is nothing. D’you ever shoot in Italy? Try three Italian starlets wacked out on Benzedrine and grappa, this is a walk in the park…”
  • “You think you’re in a spot? You think this is a tight spot? Try making the Hunchback of Notre Dame when your three lead actors die, two weeks from the end of principal photography.”
  • “This is nothing I was three months into the filming of Song of Solomon it turned out I didn’t even have the rights!”

  • “Johnny, I got a lot of people here who are a little depressed because the war just ended, please give me a new song.”
  • “It’s okay, he’s not dead. (gunshot) Uh, strike that.”
  • “They said I couldn’t make Moby Dick from the perspective of the whale…”
  • “Fuck the world. Try a ten a.m. script meeting, coked to the gills, no sleep and you haven’t even read the treatment.”
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9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2010 11:35 am

    Except, nobody seems to know what a Hollywood producer actually does.

    did we miss our calling??

  2. December 13, 2010 11:44 am

    Every time I watch Wag the Dog I wonder! I probably would be a fantastic producer because it seems to consist of having a lot of ideas and being able to get other folks to execute them while everyone drinks wine or veggie shakes. sign me up.

  3. December 13, 2010 1:05 pm

    I want one of those handheld plastic face-protectors, not for hairspray, but just for when out in public and someone is a close-talker, I can erect an immediate barrier.

  4. December 13, 2010 2:30 pm

    I want one of those handheld plastic face-protectors, not for hairspray, but just for when out in public and someone is a close-talker, I can erect an immediate barrier.

    BHAHAHA. I think the same thing whenever I watch that scene. How awesome would it be to be all, “shield up” whenever you got stuck in a conversation with a spitter or someone who sprinkles garlic on their garlic soaked meals.

  5. evmaroon permalink
    December 13, 2010 2:35 pm

    Every time I hear those quotes from Wag the Dog, I think of Lenny Briscoe. They’re different, but somehow reminiscent to me.

    Love this list of lines! Is there a Lebowski list coming next?

  6. December 13, 2010 7:13 pm

    I never tire of this film. And everyone gets good lines, not just Hoffman. For example, I LOL every time I hear William H. Macy say “There are two things I know to be true. There’s no difference between good flan and bad flan, and there is no war. “

  7. December 13, 2010 7:19 pm

    I love it when Willie Nelson says, “I was about to go out and get drunk. Shit, what key do you want it in?”

  8. December 14, 2010 2:39 pm

    It’s really stunning that this film even got made, because it exposes so much truth. I think the fact that it’s a comedy is how they got away with it all.

  9. December 14, 2010 2:59 pm

    Exactly, Penpusher. It exposes both politics and hollywood and also points out there is very little difference and lots of overlap between them.

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