‘Houston, We Have A Problem’ & 9 Other Iconic Lines We’ve Been Misquoting All Along

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Did you know that what is perhaps one of the most iconic lines in pop culture was never actually received by NASA in the film at all? In reality, the real crew behind the Apollo 13 mission reported the technical problem on their craft to the air base with slightly different wording.

Yup folks, we’ve been saying it wrong all along and the most memorable line of one of the is actually: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

Yet, is the most famous quote from the 1995 blockbuster the only one all these years? Unfortunately not. Here are some more commonly misquoted lines to familiarize yourself with:

1. Field Of Dreams (1989)

Kevin Costner looks mysterious in a corn field

Kevin Costner looks mysterious in a corn field

While parading around his corn fields, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) mutters that infamous line. Sadly though, no matter how hard we try, we’ve been getting it wrong all this time. Now’s the chance to change that.

  • The Misquoted Line: “If you build it, they will come.”
  • The Actual Line: “If you build it, he will come.”

Fun Fact: You can search following in Google Maps – 42°29’51.8″N 91°03’18.4″W – for the exact location of the field specially built for the film.

2. Alfie (1966)

Michael Caine in his iconic 'Alfie' role

Michael Caine in his iconic ‘Alfie’ role

Many of us might know British 1966 classic Alfie back-to-front by now, but the line linked to actor Michael Caine is never actually spoken by his young, womanizing character. And not a lot of people know that.

  • The Misquoted Line: “(And) not a lot of people know that.”
  • The Actual Line: “Not many people know this.”

Fun Fact: The film only cost $500,000 to make, with director Lewis Gilbert famously saying was “the sort of money executives spend on cigar bills.”

3. Casablanca (1942)

Ingrid Bergman in 'Casablanca'

Ingrid Bergman in ‘Casablanca’

As wartime adventure romance Casablanca improves with age, our ability to quote from it appears to be in decline. In particular, what appears to be was actually never uttered. Instead, the interaction surrounding it takes place during two exchanges between Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa Lund and Dooley Wilson’s Sam.

  • The Misquoted Line: “Play it again, Sam.”
  • The Actual Line: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.”

Fun Fact: Humphrey Bogart wore platform shoes to star alongside Ingrid Bergman due to the height difference between them.

4. Gone With The Wind (1939)

'Gone with the Wind' is quintessential Hollywood

‘Gone with the Wind’ is quintessential Hollywood

Decades on and Gone with the Wind is still the most epic romance to come out of Hollywood. Indeed, every year it is re-watched by thousands upon thousands of people worldwide, who sit through the black-and-white drama in its entirety (a colossal length of 222 minutes!). Interestingly though, just because we are familiar with it doesn’t mean we can quote from it correctly.

  • The Misquoted Line: “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”
  • The Actual Line: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Fun Fact: Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American in history to win an Academy Award, for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.

5. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This lot are ready for their close-up

This lot are ready for their close-up

It’s often a surprise that one of the greatest movies ever made about Hollywood would attract so many misquotes. So, when re-watching the glittering classic next time, take note of what the characters actually say. It’s not what you might think.

  • The Misquoted Line: “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.”
  • The Actual Line: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”

Fun Fact: In certain scenes, the cinematographer sometimes sprinkled dust into the air to create a moody effect.

6. All About Eve (1950)

Beware of Bette Davis as fiesty Eve

Beware of Bette Davis as fiesty Eve

Considering Bette Davis’s cold-blooded character, Eve, in the movie would jump at the chance to sneer at any of our mishaps, it would definitely do you well to memorize one of her most iconic lines as she actually said it.

  • The Misquoted Line: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
  • The Actual Line: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Fun Fact: Bette Davis filmed all of her scenes in 16 days.

7. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now'
Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’

While watching Francis Ford Coppola’s whirlwind of intensity that is Apocalypse Now, admittedly it’s easy to get distracted by all the primal madness. Yet, if you’re going to misquote anything, make sure it’s not this famous line.

  • The Misquoted Line: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory!”
  • The Actual Line: “You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Fun Fact: Although initially scheduled to last 6 weeks, the filming dragged on for a lengthy 6 months.

8. Planet Of The Apes (1968)

Charlton Heston as George Taylor

Charlton Heston as George Taylor

Following George Taylor’s crash landing on the planet, he is captured by the apes, where by Dr. Zaius orders him to be castrated. Considering this is far from an ideal situation, actor Charlton Heston delivers the line below, which has been commonly misquoted ever since.

  • The Misquoted Line: “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
  • The Actual Line: “Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

Fun Fact: It naturally happened that when the actors managed to get a break in between filming, they hung out in their various “primate” groups — gorillas with gorillas, chimps with chimps, etc.

9. The Godfather (1972)

Marlon Brando probably chewing some cotton wool

Marlon Brando probably chewing some cotton wool

Out of all of Marlon Brando’s roles, his performance in The Godfather is arguably his most legendary. Similarly, his famous line in the movie is one of the best-known in any film — that’s why we should all try to avoid getting it wrong.

  • The Misquoted Line: “I wanna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
  • The Actual Line: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Fun Fact: Marlon Brando stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool before the audition for the role because he wanted Don Corleone to look like a bulldog.

Which movie quote do you often get wrong?

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