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Quotes of the day: David Mamet

Published Saturday, November 30, 2013 @ 12:29 AM EST
Nov 30 2013

David Alan Mamet (b. November 30, 1947) is an American playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and film director. As a playwright, Mamet has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he has received Oscar nominations for The Verdict (1982) and Wag the Dog (1997). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

Art and mass entertainment and propaganda, they can all be plotted on the same graph, but there is a difference.

Every fear hides a wish.

Everybody makes their own fun. If you don't make it yourself, it isn't fun. It's entertainment.

For all industries migrate toward monopoly, and decrease in competition inevitably results in decrease in quality.

I hate vacations. There's nothing to do.

I recall the homily of old, that thousands worked over years to build the cathedrals, and no one put his name on a single one of them.

I've always been more comfortable sinking while clutching a good theory than swimming with an ugly fact.

In a world we find terrifying, we ratify that which doesn't threaten us.

In Chicago, we love our crooks!

In my family, in the days prior to television, we liked to while away the evenings by making ourselves miserable, solely based on our ability to speak the language viciously.

In the meantime: (1) be direct; (2) remember that, being smarter than men, women respond to courtesy and kindness; (3) if you want to know what kind of a wife someone will make, observe her around her father and mother; (4) as to who gets out of the elevator first, I just can't help you.

It is my experience that being self-supporting is like shooting free throws: if you hit, you get to shoot again, if not, not.

It's not a lie. It's a gift for fiction.

It's only words... unless they're true.

Money spent on crossing guards cannot be spent on books. Both are necessary, a choice must be made and that this is the Tragic view of life.

My idea of perfect happiness is a healthy family, peace between nations, and all the critics die.

Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

Our prosperity will be in direct proportion to our ability to fulfill the needs of others.

People may or may not say what they mean... but they always say something designed to get what they want.

Policemen so cherish their status as keepers of the peace and protectors of the public that they have occasionally been known to beat to death those citizens or groups who question that status.

The avant-garde is to the left what jingoism is to the right. Both are a refuge in nonsense.

The day of the dramatic script is ending. In its place we find a premise, upon which the various gags may be hung.

The poker player learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong.

The spiritualist and the politician are magicians, one offering diversion, the other security, in exchange for a suspension of common sense.

The surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle, losing is half the battle. Let's think about what's the whole battle.

When the three branches of government have failed to represent the citizenry and the mass of the media has failed to represent the citizenry, then the citizenry better represent the citizenry.

You can't bluff someone who's not paying attention.


Mamet wrote the screenplay for the 1982 film The Verdict, and afforded actor Paul Newman- who should have won the Best Actor Oscar that year- with perhaps the most memorable and emotionally powerful court room scene since To Kill A Mockingbird. I'd include the clip here, but the film's producers have and continue to scour YouTube and other online sites to remove it. While the words are powerful, you must see and hear Newman deliver it:

"You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, please God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true. When there is no justice– the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims. And we become victims. We become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. Well, today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book. Not the lawyers. Not the marble statue or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are... they are, in fact, a prayer, a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say act as if ye had faith... and faith will be given to you. If, if we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts."

Categories: David Mamet, Paul Newman, Quotes of the day, The Verdict


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