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Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.
Sidney Falco: The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river.
J.J. Hunsecker: You're dead, son. Get yourself buried.
J.J. Hunsecker: I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.
Sidney Falco: Maybe I left my sense of humor in my other suit.
Sidney Falco: If I'm gonna go out on a limb for you, you gotta know what's involved! J.J. Hunsecker: My right hand hasn't seen my left hand in thirty years.
J.J. Hunsecker: What's this boy got that Susie likes? Sidney Falco: Integrity - acute, like indigestion. J.J. Hunsecker: What does that mean - integrity? Sidney Falco: A pocket fulla firecrackers - looking for a match! [grinning] Sidney Falco: It's a new wrinkle, to tell the truth... I never thought I'd make a killing on some guy's "integrity."
J.J. Hunsecker: Here's your head; what's your hurry?
Steve: The next time you want information, don't scratch for it like a dog, ask for it like a man!
[holding an unlit cigarette] J.J. Hunsecker: Match me, Sidney.
J.J. Hunsecker: Mr. Falco, let it be said at once, is a man of 40 faces, not one - none too pretty, and all deceptive. You see that grin? That's the, eh, that's the Charming Street Urchin face. It's part of his helpless act: he throws himself upon your mercy. He's got a half-dozen faces for the ladies. But the one I like, the really cute one, is the quick, dependable chap. Nothing he won't do for you in a pinch - so he says. Mr. Falco, whom I did not invite to sit at this table tonight, is a hungry press agent, and fully up to all the tricks of his very slimy trade. [Pulls out an unlit cigarette and faces Falco] J.J. Hunsecker: Match me, Sidney. Sidney Falco: Not right this minute, J.J.
J.J. Hunsecker: I love this dirty town.
Mary: [Sidney Falco is at her desk] Have you seen this? Otis Elwell's column today? Mary: [Falco feigns disinterest; Mary reads the piece from Elwell's gossip column aloud] "The dreamy marijuana smoke of a lad who had the high-brow jazz quintet, is giving an inelegant odor to that elegant East Side club where he works. That's no way for a card-holding Party member to act. Moscow won't like it, you naughty boy."
Sally: But Sidney, you make a living. Where do you want to get? Sidney Falco: Way up high, Sam, where it's always balmy. Where no one snaps his fingers and says, "Hey, Shrimp, rack the balls!" Or, "Hey, mouse, mouse, go out and buy me a pack of butts." I don't want tips from the kitty. I'm in the big game with the big players. My experience I can give you in a nutshell, and I didn't dream it in a dream, either - dog eat dog. In brief, from now on, the best of everything is good enough for me.
Sidney Falco: Watch me run a 50-yard dash with my legs cut off!
J.J. Hunsecker: Well son, it looks like we have to call this game on account of darkness.
J.J. Hunsecker: Sidney, this syrup you're giving out with... you pour over waffles, not J.J. Hunsecker.
Rita: Here's mud in your column!
Rita: What am I, a bowl of fruit? A tangerine that peels in a minute?
Sidney Falco: I am tasting my favorite new perfume - success!
Sidney Falco: Every dog will have his day.
Sally: Where do you want to get? Sidney Falco: Way up high, Sal, where the air is balmy.
J.J. Hunsecker: President? My big toe would make a better President!
Sidney Falco: Sure, the columnists can't do without us, except our good and great friend J.J. forgets to mention that. You see, we furnish him with items. J.J. Hunsecker: What, some cheap, gruesome gags? Sidney Falco: You print 'em, don't ya? J.J. Hunsecker: Yes, with your clients' names attached. That's the only reason the poor slobs pay you - to see their names in my column all over the world. Now, I make it out, you're doing *me* a favor?... The day I can't get along without a press agents' handouts, I'll close up shop and move to Alaska, lock, stock, and barrel.
Susan Hunsecker: Who could love a man who makes you jump into hoops like a trained poodle?
J.J. Hunsecker: How do you spell Picasso, the French painter? [Taps out three letters on his manual typewriter upon hearing Sidney's response] J.J. Hunsecker: It's an item - I hear he goes out with three-eyed girls.
Sidney Falco: He thinks J.J.'s some kind of a monster... Susan Hunsecker: Don't you? Sidney Falco: Susie, J.J. happens to be one of my very best friends! Susan Hunsecker: I know. But someday I'd like to look into your clever little mind and see what you really think of him. Sidney Falco: Where do you come off, making a remark like that? Susan Hunsecker: Who could love a man who makes you jump through burning hoops like a trained poodle?
Rita: [to Sidney] Don't you get messages, Eyelashes? I called you twice.
Sidney Falco: You're walking around blind, Frank, without a cane.
Mary: You're an amusing boy, but you haven't got a drop of respect for anything in human life.
Leo Bartha: [to Sidney, of J.J] Tell him that like yourself, he's got the scruples of a guinea pig and the morals of a gangster.
Sidney Falco: Kill me, push me through a window somewhere! I walked into this hallowed ground without knocking!
J.J. Hunsecker: Don't remove the gangplank, Sidney - you may wanna get back onboard.
Otis Elwell: I can't think of a good reason why I should print anything you give me. I can't even think of a *bad* reason. Sidney Falco: [eyeing a pin-up] Suppose I introduce you to a... a lovely reason... who's both good *and* bad... and available? Otis Elwell: [pauses] I'm not an unreasonable man.
Sidney Falco: If you're funny, Walter, I'm a pretzel! Drop dead!
Sidney Falco: [to Susan] Start thinking with your head instead of your hips. [pause] Sidney Falco: Uh - by the way, I got nothing against women thinking with their hips. That's their nature. Just like it's a *man's* nature to go out and hustle and get the things he wants.
J.J. Hunsecker: Now don't kid a kidder.
Mary: If it's true, J.J.'s gonna hit the ceiling. Sidney Falco: Can it be news to you that J.J.'s ceiling needs a new plaster job every six weeks?
J.J. Hunsecker: Look, Manny, you rode in here on the Senator's shirt tails, so shut your mouth! Sen. Harvey Walker: Now, come, J.J., that's a little too harsh. Anyone seems fair game for you tonight. J.J. Hunsecker: This man is not for you, Harvey, and you shouldn't be seen with him in public. Because that's another part of a press agent's life - he digs up scandal among prominent men and shovels it thin among columnists who give him space. Sen. Harvey Walker: There is some allusion here that escapes me... J.J. Hunsecker: We're friends, Harvey - we go as far back as when you were a fresh kid Congressman, don't we? Sen. Harvey Walker: Why does everything you say sound like a threat? J.J. Hunsecker: Maybe it's a mannerism - because I don't threaten friends, Harvey. But why furnish your enemies with ammunition? You're a family man. Someday, with God willing, you may wanna be President. Now here you are, Harvey, out in the open where any hep person knows that this one... [points at Manny Davis] J.J. Hunsecker: [points at Linda James] ... is toting THAT one... J.J. Hunsecker: [points at Senator] around for you.
Sidney Falco: Don't do anything I wouldn't do! That gives you a lot of leeway...
Sidney Falco: A press agent eats a columnist's dirt and is expected to call it manna.
J.J. Hunsecker: I like Harry, but I can't deny he sweats a little.
J.J. Hunsecker: Harvey, I often wish I were deaf and wore a hearing aid. With a simple flick of a switch, I could shut out the greedy murmur of little men.
J.J. Hunsecker: Son, I don't relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don't you just shuffle along?
Jimmy Weldon: It's a dirty job, but I pay clean money for it.
J.J. Hunsecker: Sidney, conjugate me a verb. For instance, "to promise."
Steve: That's fish four days old. I won't buy it!
Steve: [to Hunsecker, of his flunky] Tell me sir, when he dies, do you think he'll go to the dog and cat heaven?
Lt. Harry Kello: Come back, Sidney... I wanna chastise you...
Sidney Falco: Dallas, your mouth is as big as a basket and twice as empty!
Loretta Bartha: What you do now, Mr. Falco, is crow like a hen. You have just laid an egg.
J.J. Hunsecker: Manny, what exactly are the UNSEEN gifts of this lovely young thing that you manage? Manny Davis: Well, she sings a little... you know, sings... Linda James: Manny's faith in me is simply awe-inspiring, Mr. Hunsecker. Actually, I'm still studying, but... J.J. Hunsecker: What subject? Linda James: Singing, of course... straight concert and... J.J. Hunsecker: [glance flicks between the Girl and the Senator] Why "of course"? It might, for instance, be politics... Linda James: Me? I mean "I"? Are you kidding, Mr. Hunsecker? With my Jersey City brains? J.J. Hunsecker: The brains may be Jersey City, but the clothes are Traina-Norell.
Rita: It was Palm Springs. Two years ago. Don't tell Sidney.
Sidney Falco: Do you believe in capital punishment, Senator? Sen. Harvey Walker: [amused] Why? Sidney Falco: [pointing to the phone] A man has just been sentenced to death.
Steve: Mr. Hunsecker, you've got more twists than a barrel of pretzels!
J.J. Hunsecker: Yes, Sidney. You sound happy, Sidney. Why should you be happy when I'm not? How do you spell Picasso, the painter? One S or two? Sidney Falco: Two.