Films have degenerated to their original operation as carnival amusement - they offer not drama but thrills.

— David Mamet

The most useful David Mamet quotes that are glad to read

The Oscars demonstrate the will of the people to control and judge those they have elected to stand above them (much, perhaps, as in bygone days, an election celebrated the same).

81

Every scene should be able to answer three questions: "Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don't get it? Why now?"

70

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

38

Having spent too many years in show business, the one thing I see that succeeds is persistence. It's the person who just ain't gonna go home. I decided early on that I wasn't going to go home. This is what I'll be doing until they put me in jail or in a coffin.

37

We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.

26

Being a writer in Hollywood is like going to Hitler's Eagle Nest with a great idea for a bar mitzvah.

26

A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.

25

Encounter: Doubt, Shame, Humiliation.

It will finally be worth it. Acting is more about courage than anything else.

21

In a restaurant one is both observed and unobserved.

Joy and sorrow can be displayed and observed "unwittingly," the writer scowling naively and the diners wondering, What the hell is he doing?

20

Train yourself for a profession that does not exist.

16

Art is an expression of joy and awe. It is not an attempt to share one's virtues and accomplishments with the audience, but an act of selfless spirit.

15

A stage play is basically a form of uber-schizophrenia.

You split yourself into two minds - one being the protagonist and the other being the antagonist. The playwright also splits himself into two other minds: the mind of the writer and the mind of the audience.

15

About David Mamet

Quotes 184 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Dramatist
Birthday October 16

Society functions in a way much more interesting than the multiple-choice pattern we have been rewarded for succeeding at in school. Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.

15

My alma mater is the Chicago Public Library.

14

The first amendment ensures not that speech will be fair, but that it will be free. It cannot be both.

13

Here's what happens in a play. You get involved in a situation where something is unbalanced. If nothing's unbalanced, there's no reason to have a play. If Hamlet comes home from school, and his dad's not dead and asks him if he's had a good time, it's boring. But if something's unbalanced, it must be returned to order.

12

Always tell the truth -- it's the easiest thing to remember.

11

You get rich through luck. You get rich through crime. You get rich through fulfilling the needs of another. You can be as greedy as you like. If you can’t do one of those three things, you ain’t going to get any money.

10

Liberalism is a religion. Its tenets cannot be proved, its capacity for waste and destruction demonstrated. But it affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost.

9

If the scene bores you when you read it, rest assured it WILL bore the actors, and will then bore the audience, and we're all going to be back in the breadline.

8

Don't write stage directions. If it is not apparent what the character is trying to accomplish by saying the line, tell us how the character said it or whether or not she moved to the couch isn't going to aid the case.

8

A dramatic experience concerned with the mundane may inform but it cannot release; and one concerned essentially with the aesthetic politics of its creators may divert or anger, but it cannot enlighten.

7

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

7

There's nothing in the world more silent than the telephone the morning after everybody pans your play. It won't ring from room service; your mother won't be calling you. If the phone has not rung by 8 in the morning, you're dead.

7

Roll back the clock, and every possession of every great country started with a crime.

7

I grew up in a tough neighborhood and we used to say you can get further with a kind word and a gun than just a kind word.

7

You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame. Yeah, see, they die of shame. 'What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?' And so they sit there and they... die. Because they didn't do the one thing that would save their lives. Thinking.

6

Like Lincoln said: "If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong," and I feel the same way about the leftist dismantling of the West. If that's not wrong, then nothing is wrong.

6

They say the definition of ambivalence is watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new Cadillac.

6

I love working on a typewriter - the rhythm, the sound;

it's like playing the piano, which I do, too.

5

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.

5

A play is basically a long, formalistic polemic.

You can write it without the poetry, and if you do, you may have a pretty good play. We know this because we see plays in translation. Not many people speak Norwegian or Danish or whatever guys like Ibsen spoke, or Russian - yet we understand Chekhov and the others.

5

The quality I most admire in a man is steadfastness.

4

I hate the computer. I hate their spell-check. I won't ever do e-mail.

4

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.

4

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

4

To find beauty in the sad, hope in the midst of loss, and dignity in failure is great poetic art.

4

The mind is a mill which can incessant turn, 'til its mere operation focus the stress inward and the stones grind themselves to dust.

3

My dad was an immigrant kid and a Democrat and a Jew, and we didn't know any Republicans in our group. So I grew up Democratic. My dad was a labor lawyer - a very hardworking guy, a one-horse labor lawyer - and then I went to hippie college and lived in the bubble.

3

The most charming of theories holds that someone other than Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's plays -- that he was of too low a state, and of insufficient education. But where in the wide history of the world do we find art created by the excessively wealthy, powerful, or educated?

3

The conscious mind is going to suggest the obvious, the cliché, because these things have offered the security of having succeeded in the past.

3

As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.

Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.

3

You can't write about history without writing about politics at some point.

History is about movements of people. 'What is criminality and what is government' is a theme that runs through every history.

3

A novel it's different. It's kind of exhilarating not to have to cut to the bone constantly. Oh, well I can go over here for a moment. I can say what I think the guy was thinking or what the day looked like or what the bird was doing. If you do that as a playwright, you're dead.

3

If You can't tell it to me in one sentence, they can't put it in TV Guide.

3

All rhetorical questions are accusations.

3

We recipients of the boon of liberty have always been ready, when faced with discomfort, to discard any and all first principles of liberty, and, further, to indict those who do not freely join with us in happily arrogating those principles.

3

Welcome to Chicago. This town stinks like a whorehouse at low tide.

2

The honest man might observe... that no one gets something for nothing; that politicians go in poor and go out rich; that the Government screws up everything it touches; and that the Will to Believe is best confined to the Religious Venue, as to practice it elsewhere is just too damned expensive.

2
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