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A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
Charles Tatum: Bad news sells best. Cause good news is no news.
Lorraine: I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.
[last lines] Charles Tatum: How'd you like to make yourself a thousand dollars a day, Mr. Boot? I'm a thousand-dollar-a-day newspaperman. You can have me for nothing.
Charles Tatum: I've done a lot of lying in my time. I've lied to men who wear belts. I've lied to men who wear suspenders. But I'd never be so stupid as to lie to a man who wears both belt and suspenders.
Lorraine: I met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you - you're twenty minutes.
Herbie Cook: [Looking at the unstable cliff-dwelling] I don't like the looks of it, Chuck. Charles Tatum: Neither do I, fan, but I like the odds.
Charles Tatum: I can handle big news and little news. And if there's no news, I'll go out and bite a dog.
Charles Tatum: Mr. Boot, I was passing through Albuquerque; had breakfast here. I read your paper and thought you might be interested in my reaction. Jacob Q. Boot: Indeed I am. Charles Tatum: Well, to be honest, it made me throw up. I don't mean to tell you I was expecting the New York Times, but even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque. Jacob Q. Boot: Alright, here's your nickel back.
Reporter: We're all in the same boat. Charles Tatum: I'm in the boat. You're in the water. Now let's see how you can swim.
Charles Tatum: It's a good story today. Tomorrow, they'll wrap a fish in it.
Charles Tatum: I don't belong in your office. Not with that embroidered sign on the wall; it gets in my way. Jacob Q. Boot: Then it does bother you a little. Charles Tatum: Not enough to stop me. I'm on my way back to the top, and if it takes a deal with a crooked sheriff, that's alright with me! And if I have to fancy it up with an Indian curse and a broken hearted wife for Leo, then that's alright too!
Jacob Q. Boot: Do you drink a lot? Charles Tatum: Not a lot - just frequently.
Charles Tatum: Where's my desk? Jacob Q. Boot: The one by the door. You may be out of here by Saturday. Charles Tatum: Sooner the better.
[first lines] Charles Tatum: Hey. Pull up at the corner.
Deputy Sheriff: Hey you! Sheriff wants to see you, down at the trading post. Don't waste any of his time 'cause he ain't staying around long. Maybe you ain't either. Charles Tatum: You don't say? Deputy Sheriff: You wanna know something? He don't like you. Charles Tatum: And I was going to propose to him.
Charles Tatum: When the history of this sun-baked Siberia is written, these shameful words will live in infamy: No chopped chicken liver! No garlic pickles. No Lindys. No Madison Square Garden... no Yogi Berra! Whattya know about Yogi Berra, Miss Deverich? Miss Deverich: I beg your pardon? Charles Tatum: Yogi Berra! Miss Deverich: Yogi? Why, it's a sort of religion, isn't it? Charles Tatum: You bet it is! A belief in the New York Yankees!
Jacob Q. Boot: [after learning that Tatum was once fired from another newspaper for "starting something" with the publisher's wife] Now about that publisher's wife. I think you should know that Mrs. Boot is a grandmother three times. If you want to start something with her, she'd be very flattered.
Charles Tatum: You know what's wrong with New Mexico, Mr. Wendel? Too much outdoors.
Charles Tatum: When they bleached your hair, they must have bleached your brain too.
Vocalist: [singing] We're coming, we're coming Leo/Oh Leo don't despair/While you are in the cave-in hopin'/We are up above you gropin'/And we soon will make an openin' Leo./We're closer, we're closer Leo/And soon you'll breathe fresh air/While you are in the devil's prison/Keep the spark of life a fizzin'/We'll soon have you out of prison, Leo./Oh Leo, Leo, Leo, Leo.
Sheriff: You're that Tatum guy that was popping off over the phone last night! Charles Tatum: I wasn't popping off, Sheriff; I was threatening. "Play along with me and you'll get re-elected. Don't, and I'll crucify you," that's what I said, remember? Sheriff: I think I'll have my boys take you down to the county line and throw you out! Charles Tatum: Throw out your campaign manager? You need plenty of help. Sheriff: And maybe before I throw you out, I'll toss you into the 'Klink' for awhile!
Herbie Cook: The old man sure looked bad. Did you see his face? Charles Tatum: Yeah. Herbie Cook: Like the faces of those folks you see outside a coal mine with maybe 84 men trapped inside. Charles Tatum: One man's better than 84. Didn't they teach you that? Herbie Cook: Teach me what? Charles Tatum: Human interest. You pick up the paper, you read about 84 men or 284, or a million men, like in a Chinese famine. You read it, but it doesn't say with you. One man's different, you want to know all about him. That's human interest.
Nagel: [on the telephone to Tatum] Come on Tatum! How much for the Minosa story? Exclusive! [listens] Nagel: What! Don't you know there's a war on... somewhere?