June 21, 2021

“Luke, I am your father!” — the most famous movie misquote ever?

On May 21, 1980, The Empire Strikes Back, the second film in the original Star Wars movie trilogy, had an initial release at a limited number of theaters in the US.

The nationwide release came nearly a month later on June 20, 1980.

Now called Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back since George Lucas decided to start producing Star Wars prequels, it’s still a favorite of many Star Wars fans — including me.

I can’t recall if I first saw The Empire Strikes Back at my local move theater in May or June of 1980.

But I know I went as soon as it was shown there, along with my daughter, who was already a Star Wars fan at age 6.

I vividly remember that, like other fans who saw it for the first time, my mind was blown by the shocking climactic scene in the huge air shaft of Cloud City on the planet Bespin, when Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill) fights a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader (played by David Prowse, with the voice overdubbed by James Earl Jones).

The first shocker in that scene (which you can watch in video clips online) is seeing Darth Vader cut off Luke’s right hand with his lightsaber.

Then Darth shocks viewers — and Luke — even more by saying he is Luke’s father.

Vader’s revelatory line is widely misquoted and often spoofed for comedic effect as: “Luke, I am your father!”

As serious Star Wars buffs know, Vader doesn’t say those exact words.

But somehow, the misquoted version took on a life of its own shortly after The Empire Strikes Back was released.

For example, a review in the June 28, 1980 edition of the Montana newspaper The Missoulian, says of the final fight scene between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader:

“Both are silent. After a few minutes, Luke’s hand is cut off and his lightsaber falls into a chasm surrounding him. Then all of a sudden Vader turns off his lightsaber and says ‘Luke, I am your father!’”

I’d guess that a review in a small Montana paper didn’t create the famous misquote.

I suspect it was floating around elsewhere in print and conversations in the weeks after the film was released.

At any rate, since 1980, “Luke, I am your father” has become one of the most familiar movie misquotations of all time.

Indeed, it’s often included in lists of top movie misquotes.

In case you can’t recall what Darth Vader really said, here’s a transcript of the exchange between him and Luke Skywalker with the actual “I am your father” quote.

DARTH VADER: “Don’t make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”
“I’ll never join you!”
“If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father.”
LUKE: “He told me enough! He told me you killed him.”
DARTH: “No. I am your father.”

This freaks out Luke as much as it did audiences.

He cries: “No! That’s not true. That’s impossible!”

Then he pushes himself off into the void of the Cloud City air shaft, seemingly falling to his death.

Of course, Luke lived on.

In the highly unlikely event that you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t explain how he survived.

What also survived long after The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980 is one of the most famous movie misquotes in the known universe.

Maybe the most famous.

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June 09, 2021

“Elvis has left the building.”

Even people who aren’t Elvis Presley fans know the line “Elvis has left the building.”

Credit for popularizing this famous quote goes to Al Dvorin, a Chicago bandleader and booking agent hired by Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1957 to help organize Elvis concerts and serve as an announcer at the shows.

From the late 1950s until Presley’s death in 1977, Dvorin spoke these familiar words at the end of “The King’s” concerts, to let audiences know a show was definitely over and that Elvis would not be coming back for any more encores.

The most widely heard use of the line by Dvorin is on the live album Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden, taped at a classic Presley concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972.

That album has been listened to by millions of people around the world. On the last track, titled “End Theme,” Al Dvorin is heard saying:

       “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.”

Dvorin’s use of “Elvis has left the building” (sometimes preceded by “Ladies and Gentlemen…”) is so well known that many websites erroneously claim he coined the line.

In fact, although he did make it famous, he didn’t say it first.

It was actually coined as an off-the-cuff remark by Horace Lee Logan, the producer of Louisiana Hayride.

Louisiana Hayride was a pioneering country and early rockabilly music show broadcast on radio from 1948 to 1960 and on TV from 1955 to 1960 from Shreveport, Louisiana.

It helped launch the careers of many famous music artists, including Elvis Presley.

Elvis first appeared on the show in 1954, not long after his first single “That’s All Right, Mama” was released by Sun Records and before he was widely known.
Over the next two years, Presley had a string of hits and became a star.

When he returned for a final appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956, his young fans mobbed the auditorium in Shreveport where the show was held.

Elvis was the third of many performers scheduled to perform that day.

After he gave a final encore and exited the stage, many of the young people in the crowd continued screaming for him.

Some stood up and began leaving, either hoping to see Elvis outside or not seeming to understand that the Hayride show was not over.

At that point, according to various written sources, Hogan took the microphone and said: “Please, young people...Elvis has left the building. He has gotten in his car and driven away...Please take your seats.”

In an excerpt from an audio recording of the show, the words Hogan uses are slightly different (though it’s possible that the written sources and recording may both only include part of what he said that day).

What Hogan can be heard saying in the audio version is: “All right, uh, Elvis has left the building. I've told you absolutely straight up to this point, you know that, he has left the building. He left the stage and went out the back with the policemen and he is now gone from the building.”

Further confusing the issue is the fact that at least one version of the audio posted on YouTube credits these words to KWKH disc jockey Frank Page, who was the radio announcer for Louisiana Hayride.

Based on what I’ve read and other recordings of Page’s voice I’ve listened to, I believe the voice in the Louisiana Hayride audio is Horace Logan. (Some sites credit audio clips to Hogan that I think are actually the voice of Al Dvorin.)

What seems certain is that the phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first used at at the end of Presley’s appearance on Louisiana Hayride on December 15, 1956 and that it was later picked up and popularized by Al Dvorin — whose most famous use was recorded at the Elvis concert at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972.  

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Comments? Corrections? Questions? Email me or post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page.

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