jack nicholson

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

From: Batman (1989)

Genre: Movies

Who said it?: Jack/Joker

The story behind the quote: This week’s quote comes from Tim Burton’s first take on Batman way back in 1989. The movie was a smash hit and, believe it or not, shed the “campy” mystique mainstream audiences associated with the character thanks to the (still rather wonderful) Batman live-action television series left. It made general audiences aware of Batman’s original dark roots and the movie lent a hand to the revival of superhero films.

The quote actually is mentioned several times throughout the film and can be considered to be Jack Napier/The Joker’s (played by Jack Nicholson) catchphrase. In one memorable instance, when confronted by Bruce Wayne (played by Michael Keaton) while in Vicki Vale’s (played by Kim Basigner) apartment, he delivers the quote and explains that he just likes how the phrase sounds.

Geek wisdom: Although Jack/Joker says it doesn’t really mean anything, there is a way to interpret the quote to have a deeper meaning. Essentially, The Joker delivers the catchphrase to anyone he’s about to kill. This could be his way of asking them if they ever tempted fate and did something so dangerous that their life may be threatened.

While it may be sometimes exhilarating to do something death defying, it may sometimes be better not to, especially if there is a chance of perishing because of it. You only live once, you know.

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“You make me want to be a better man.”

From: As Good As It Gets

Genre: Movies

Who said it?: Melvin Udall

The story behind the quote: This week’s quote comes from As Good As it Gets. The film stars Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall, a shut-in, obsessive-compulsive novelist. He, however, becomes involved with Carol Connelly (played by Helen Hunt), a waitress at the restaurant where he eats on a regular basis as well as his gay neighbor, Simon Bishop (played by Greg Kinnear). Because of his involvement with these people, Melvin slowly starts to come out of his shell.

The quote comes near the end of the film. The trio take a trip so that Simon can a loan from his parents. During their trip, Melvin takes Carol out to dinner. In an awkward way of professing his growing feelings for her, Melvin tells her a “compliment” as well as the quote in question.

Geek wisdom: We can’t actually force change on people. We may think we know what’s best for them but forcing them to do so doesn’t usually stick and they will return to their old ways. However, people will change for you on their own free will if you give them the chance. This is when they will try to better themselves in the long run.

“What if this is as good as it gets?”

From: As Good As It Gets

Genre: Movies

Who said it?: Melvin Udall

The story behind the quote: The quote from the 1997 romantic comedy film, As Good As It Gets. Melvin Udall (played by Jack Nicholson) is a successful but neurotic novelist. His general bad attitude combined with his obsessive compulsive disorder has pretty much alienated him from others. However, he comes in contact with Carol Connelly (played by Helen Hunt), a waitress at the diner where he regularly eats, his homosexual neighbor Simon Bishop (played by Greg Kinnear) and Simon’s dog. Because of these people, Melvin starts to question his current status in life.

The quote comes rather early in the film. Extremely agitated, Melvin barges into his psychiatrist’s office asking for help. However, the doctor says he will have to make an appointment. As the novelist enters the psychiatrist’s lobby with all the other patients, he turns and delivers the quote.

Geek wisdom: During the times when you feel like something is missing, it can be very easy to think that life is hopeless and has no meaning. The thing that people always forget is like is always what you make of it. Life doesn’t have to be dreary and dull. If it does feel that way, it’s your choice to either wallow in despair or do something about it.

“You can’t handle the truth!”

From: A Few Good Men

Genre: Movies

Who said it?: Col. Nathan R. Jessup

The story behind the quote: The quote comes from the film A Few Good Men. While this may be considered spoilers since it happens pretty much at the end of the film (and is actually “the big thing” of the entire story), a lot of people don’t seem to recognize this fact.

Here’s a quick summary of the scene…

Lt. Jr. Grade Danny Keefe (played by Tom Cruise) has pretty much determined that Col. Nathat Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) given a “code red” (essentially an order to punish soldiers without any hearing) which led to the death of Officer Santiago. However, Keefe is without any form of proof. He devices a plan to call Col. Jessup to the stand during the trial and get him angry. In this way, he hopes that Col. Jessup will incriminate himself by admitting that he ordered the code red.

Keefe’s finds a flaw in the Col’s initial statement that Santiago should have been safe since there were orders not to harm him. Yet, at the same time, there were orders that he should be transferred for safety reasons. Keefe repeatedly asks the Colonel why would there be a need to transfer Santiago if there were standing orders not to hurt him. He eventually gets Col. Jessup to admit that he ordered the code red. However, the Colonel makes a speech saying that he gave the order to make sure that our freedoms are kept safe.

Geek wisdom: There are actually two pieces of Geek Wisdom we can pull from, not just the quote, but the entire monologue…

Like Col. Jessup said, there are some secrets that you think you want to be privy to, but in reality, the weight of those secrets can be too much to bear. There are going to be things that we believe that we can handle but we really can’t. We will have to rely on others to bear these (sometimes) terrible burdens and perform terrible actions because of them.

However, as Col. Jessup also said, we do have the liberty to condemn others for doing these terrible things, but we don’t know the full story. We may think that there may have been another way to prevent such horrible actions but there may be details that prevented a peaceful resolution. We do have to keep that in mind before we totally rally against something.