A screenshot from Manhattan: The Manhattan Bridge (?)

Manhattan Quotes

I think these are all in the order they appear in the film. Apologies for any innaccuracies in my transcription.


"Mmm...  Oh man, that is so great."

"You don't smoke!"

"I know I don't smoke; I don't inhale, because it gives you
cancer, but I look so incredibly handsome with a cigarette that
I can't not hold one."


"I'm older than her father.  Can you believe that?  I'm dating a
girl wherein I can beat up her father.  That's the first time
that phenomenon ever occurred to me."


"Listen, you shouldn't ask me for advice; when it comes to
relationships with women, I'm the winner of the August
Strindberg award."


"Look at you, you're so threatened."

"Hey, I'm not threatened, because out of the two of us I wasn't
the immoral, pyschotic, promiscuous one.  I hope I didn't leave
anything out."


"Now that was brilliant to me, absolutely brilliant."

"The steel cube was brilliant?"

"Yes!  To me it was very textural, if you know what I mean, it
was perfectly integrated and it had a marvellous kind of
negative capability.  The rest of the stuff downstairs was


Mary:  "... It's one of those little magazines.  I'm mean,
        they're such schmucks up there, really mired in thirties
        radicalism.  What do you do, Tracy?"

Tracy: "I go to high school."

Mary:  "Oh really..."  [aside] "Somewhere Nabokov is smiling, if
        you know what I mean."

Yale:  "I think Lewitt's overrated.  In fact, I think he may be
        a candidate for the old academy.  Mary and I have
        invented the Academy of the Overrated, for such notables
        as Gustav Mahler..."

Mary:  "And Isak Dinesen, and Carl Jung..."

Yale:  "Scott Fitzgerald..."

Mary:  "Lenny Bruce.  Can't forget Lenny Bruce, now, can we?  How
        about Norman Mailer?  And Walt Whitman?"

Isaac: "I think that those people are all terrific, everyone
        that you mentioned."

Yale:  "Who was that guy you had?  You had a great one last week."

Mary:  "No, I didn't have it. It was yours. It was Heinrich
        Böll, wasn't it? 

Isaac: "Overrated?"

Yale:  "Oh, God.  Oh, we wouldn't want to leave out old Heinrich..."

Isaac: "What about Mozart?  I mean, you guys don't want to leave
        out Mozart, I mean, while you're trashing people."

Mary:  "Ah, well, how about Vincent van Gogh?"

Isaac: "Van Goch? She said Van Goch? Van Goch..."

Mary:  "Or Ingmar Bergman?"

Isaac: "Bergman?  Bergman is the only genius in cinema today, I think."

Yale:  "He's a big Bergman fan."

Mary:  "God, you're so the opposite, I mean you write that absolutely
        fabulous television show, it's really really funny, and
        his view is so Scandinavian, it's bleak, my God, I mean,
        all that Kirkegaard, right?  Real adolescent, you know,
        fashionable pessimism, I mean, the silence, "God's
        silence": OK, OK, OK, I mean, I loved it when I was at
        Radcliffe, but I mean, all right, you outgrow it, you
        absolutely outgrow it."

Isaac: [aside] "Get her away from me, I don't think I can take
        much more."  

Mary:  "Don't you see, don't you guys see, that it is the dignifying of
        one's own pyschological and sexual hangups by attaching
        them to these grandiose philosophical issues - that's
        what it is."

Yale:  "Here we are."

Isaac: "Listen, it was a very nice meeting you - it was a
        pleasure and a sincere sensation, but we have to go.
        Because we've got to get some .. we've got to do some
        shopping, I forgot about it"

Mary:  "Listen, I don't even want to have this conversation, I mean,
        really, I'm just from Philadelphia: I mean, we believe
        in God."

Isaac: "What the hell does that mean?  What does she mean?  What
        do you mean by that?  'I'm from Philadelphia, we believe
        in God.'  Does this make any sense to you at all?"


"But he was always a sucker for those kind of women, you know,
the kind who'd involve him in discussions of existential
reality.  They probably sit around on the floor with wine and
cheese and mispronouce 'allegorical' and 'didacticism'."


"Well, I'm old-fashioned, I don't believe in extra-marital
relationships.  I think people should mate for life, like
pigeons or catholics."


"Oh, plus, I'll probably have to give my parents less money.
You know, this is going to kill my father, he's not going to be
able get as good a seat at the synagogue - he's going to be in
the back, away from God, far from the action."


[Man]: "I heard you quit your job?"

Isaac: "Yeah, a real self-destructive impulse. You know, I want
        to write a book, so I, so I ...  Has anybody read that
        nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know?  I
        read this in the newspaper, we should go down there, get
        some guys together, you know, get some bricks and
        baseball bats and really explain things to them."

[Man]: "There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed
        page of the Times.  It is devastating."

Isaac: "Well, well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but
        bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the

[Woman]: "Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical

Isaac: "No, physical force is always better with nazis.  Cos
        it's hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots."

[Woman]: "Well, you get emotional, I know..."

Dennis: "Excuse me, we were talking about orgasms."

Mary:   "Oh no, no, please, give me a break.  I'm from Philadelphia, we
         never talk about things like that in public."

Isaac:  "Yeah, you said that the other day, I didn't know what
         the hell it meant then either."

Dennis: "I'm just about to direct a film, of my own script, and the
         premise is this guy screws so great ..."

Isaac:  "... screws so great?"

Dennis: "... screws so great that when he brings a woman to orgasm she's
         so fulfilled that she dies.  Right, now this one,
         excuse me, finds this hostile."

Mary:   "God, it's worst than hostile, it's aggressive-homicidal.
         You have to forgive Dennis, he's Harvard direct from
         Beverley Hills.  It's Theodore Reich with a touch of
         Charles Manson."

[Younger Woman]: "I finally had an orgasm and my doctor told me
         it was the wrong kind."

Isaac:  "Did you had the wrong kind, really?  I never had the wrong
         kind, never.  My worst one was right on the money."


"That's an interesting group of people, your friends are.  Like
the cast of a Fellini movie."


"Sometimes you have a losing personality, Mary"

"Hey, I'm honest, what do you want?  I say what's on my mind,
and if you can't take it, then fuck off!"

"And I like the way you express yourself, too, you know, it's
pithy yet degenerate.  You get many dates?"


"I mean, the brightest men just drop dead in front of a
beautiful face, and the minute you climb into the sack, if
you're the least bit giving, they're so grateful."

"Yeah, I know I am."


"They made some studies, I read in one of the psychoanalytic
quarterlies, you don't need a male, two mothers are absolutely

"Really?  Because I always feel very few people survive one


"You call your analyst 'Donnie'?"

"Yeah, I call him Donnie."

"I call mine Dr Chomsky, you know, either that or he hits me
with a ruler."


"Well, my book is about decaying values, it's about ... See, the
thing is, years ago I wrote a short story about my mother,
called "The Castrating Zionist" and I want to expand it into a


"How many of the satellites of Saturn can you name?  There's
Mimas, Titan, Dione, Hyperion, of course, err..."

"No, I can't name any of them, and fortunately they never come
up in conversation."


"... because nothing worth knowing can be understood with the
mind. Everything really valuable has to enter you through a
different opening, if you'll forgive the disgusting imagery."


"You rely too much on your brain.  The brain is the most
overrated organ, I think."


"You know we have to stop seeing each other, don't you?"

"Oh, yeah.  Right.  Right.  I understand.  I could tell by the
sound of your voice over the phone.  Very authoritative, you
know?  Like the pope, or the computer in 2001."


"The point is, what the hell am I doing in this relationship
anyway?  My phone never stops ringing, I could go to bed with
the entire faculty of MIT if I wanted to, it's just ... I don't
know, I'm wasting myself on a married man."


"Don't pyschoanalyze me - I pay a doctor for that."

"Hey, you call that guy that you talk to a doctor?  You don't
get suspicious when your analyst calls you up at 3 in the
morning and weeps into the telephone?"

"All right, so he's unorthodox: he's a highly qualified doctor."

"He's done a great job on you, you know - your self-esteen is
like a notch below Kafka's."


"What have you got to eat here?  Nothing, right?  You've got a
.. oh, Jesus ... what is this?  You've got a corn beef sandwich
here from 1951.  Corn beef should not be blue."


Mary:  "I thought you wanted to kiss me that day at the

Isaac: "Yeah, I did.  But you were going out with Yale then, and
        I would never in a million years, you know, intefere..."

Isaac: "Did you want me to kiss you then?"

Mary:  "I don't know what I wanted.  I was so angry at Yale that

Isaac: "But you were so sexy, you know, you were all soaking wet
        from the rain - I had a mad impulse to throw you down on
        the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion
        with you."


"You look so beautiful, I can hardly keep my eyes on the meter."


"I was just thinking there must be something wrong with me,
since I've never had a relationship with a woman that's lasted
longer than the one between Hitler and Eva Braun."

"I think you're still drunk."


"You certainly fooled me, I mean, I was shocked, because this is
not what I expected."

"What did you expect?"

"I don't know, you had always led me to, you always said that he
was a great ladies man, that he opened you up sexually."

"So, so."

"And then, this little homunculus..."


"What does your analyst say?  I mean, did you speak to him?"

"Donnie's in a coma; he had a very bad acid experience."


"What are you telling me?  You're going to leave Emily, is this
true?  And run away with the winner of the Zelda Fitzgerald
emotional maturity award?"


"You're so self-righteous, you know.  I mean we're just people.
We're just human beings, you know?  You think you're God."

"I ... I gotta model myself after someone."


"What are future generations going to say about us?  My God, you
know, some day, you know, we're going to be like him!  He was
probably one of the beatiful people - he was probably dancing
and playing tennis and everything and now look - this is what
happens to us.  I'm going to be hanging in a classroom some day,
and when I ... thin out ... I want to be well thought of."

A screenshot from Manhattan: Isaac and a prehistoric skeleton