Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding
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Quotes for
Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Character)
from The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
[Red places his bet on Andy]
Red: That tall drink of water with the silver spoon up his ass.

Red: [narrating] I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight, and the Sisters let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but prison is no fairy-tale world. He never said who did it, but we all knew. Things went on like that for awhile - prison life consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Andy would show up with fresh bruises. The Sisters kept at him - sometimes he was able to fight 'em off, sometimes not. And that's how it went for Andy - that was his routine. I do believe those first two years were the worst for him, and I also believe that if things had gone on that way, this place would have got the best of him.

Andy Dufresne: You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?
Red: No.
Andy Dufresne: They say it has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.

Red: [narrating] But then, in the spring of 1949, the powers that be decided that...
Warden Samuel Norton: The roof of the license-plate factory needs resurfacing. I need a dozen volunteers for a week's work. As you know, special detail carries with it special privileges.
Red: [narrating] It was outdoor detail - and May is one damn fine month to be working outdoors.

1967 Parole Hearings Man: Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you've served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you've been rehabilitated?
Red: Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means.
1967 Parole Hearings Man: Well, it means that you're ready to rejoin society...
Red: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it's just a made up word. A politician's word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?
1967 Parole Hearings Man: Well, are you?
Red: There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone, and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.

Red: The man likes to play chess; let's get him some rocks.

Red: [narrating] I must admit I didn't think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him; looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man.

Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

Red: [narrating] The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell... and those bars slam home... that's when you know it's for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.

Red: These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.
Heywood: Shit. I could never get like that.
Ernie: Oh yeah? Say that when you been here as long as Brooks has.
Red: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.

Red: [narrating] His first night in the joint, Andy Dufresne cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound.

Red: [narrating] I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

Andy Dufresne: That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you... Haven't you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn't make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy Dufresne: Forget that... there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours.
Red: What're you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.

Red: [narrating] In 1966, Andy Dufresne escaped from Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than twenty. Oh, Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time. That, and a big goddamn poster. Like I said, in prison a man will do most anything to keep his mind occupied. Turns out Andy's favorite hobby was totin' his wall out into the exercise yard, a handful at a time. I guess after Tommy was killed, Andy decided he'd been here just about long enough. Andy did like he was told, buffed those shoes to a high mirror shine. The guards simply didn't notice. Neither did I... I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a mans shoes? Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards... that's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.

Andy Dufresne: If they ever try to trace any of those accounts, they're gonna end up chasing a figment of my imagination.
Red: Well, I'll be damned. Did I say you were good? Shit, you're a Rembrandt!
Andy Dufresne: Yeah. The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.

Red: Ever bother you?
Andy Dufresne: I don't run the scams Red, I just process the profits. Fine line, maybe, but I also built that library and used it to help a dozen guys get their high school diploma. Why do you think the warden lets me do all that?
Red: To keep you happy and doing the laundry. Money instead of sheets.

Red: [narrating] Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

Red: [narrating] Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so.

Andy Dufresne: What about you? What are you in here for?
Red: Murder, same as you.
Andy Dufresne: Innocent?
Red: [shakes his head] Only guilty man in Shawshank.

Red: [narrating] We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.

Red: [narrating] And that's how it came to pass that on the second-to-last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of forty-nine wound up sitting in a row at ten o'clock in the morning drinking icy cold, Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.
Captain Hadley: Drink up while it's cold, ladies.
Red: [narrating] The colossal prick even managed to sound magnanimous.

Red: [narrating] You could argue he'd done it to curry favor with the guards. Or, maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me, I think he did it just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.

Captain Hadley: Dufresne!
[to Dekins]
Captain Hadley: That's him. That's the one.
Guard Dekins: I'm Dekins. I was thinking about setting up some kind of trust fund for my kids educations.
Andy Dufresne: Oh, I see. Well, why don't we have a seat and talk it over. Brooks, do you have a piece of paper and a pencil? Thanks. So, Mr. Dekins...
Brooks: [at lunchtime to the other prisoners] And then Andy says, "Mr. Dekins, do you want your sons to go to Harvard... or Yale?"
Floyd: He didn't say that!
Brooks: God is my witness! Dekins just looked at him a second and then he laughed himself silly and afterwards he actually shook Andy's hand.
Heywood: My ass.
Brooks: Shook his hand! I near soiled myself, I mean all Andy needed was a suit and a tie and a little jiggly hula gal on his desk and he woulda been *Mister* Dufresne, if you please.
Red: Making a few friends, huh Andy?
Andy Dufresne: I wouldn't say friends. I'm a convicted murderer who provides sound financial planning - it's a wonderful pet to have.

Red: [narrating] The following April Andy did tax returns for half the guards at Shawshank. Year after that he did them all including the warden's. Year after that they rescheduled the start of the intra-mural season to coincide with tax season. The guards on the opposing teams all remembered to bring their W2s.
Andy Dufresne: So Moresby prison issued you your gun but you actually had to pay for it.
Moresby Batter: Damn right. The holster too.
Andy Dufresne: You see that's tax deductible, you can write that off.

[last lines]
Red: [narrating] I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

[Andy has asked Red to procure Rita Hayworth]
Andy Dufresne: Can you get her?
Red: Take a few weeks.
Andy Dufresne: Weeks?
Red: Well yeah, Andy. I don't have her stuffed down the front of my pants right now, I'm sorry to say, but I'll get her. Relax!

[watching Rita Hayworth in Gilda]
Red: This is the part I really like, when she does that shit with her hair.

Red: [narrating] Sometimes it makes me sad, though... Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

Red: You're gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent, you know that? Heywood, what you in here for?
Heywood: Didn't do it. Lawyer fucked me.

Red: I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say... I liked Andy from the start.

[Playing checkers]
Red: King me.
Andy Dufresne: Chess. Now there's a game of kings.
Red: What?
Andy Dufresne: Civilized. Strategic...
Red: ...and a total fuckin' mystery. I hate it.

Red: [narrating] Tommy Williams came to Shawshank in 1965 on a two-year stretch for B&E. That's breaking & entering to you. Cops caught him sneaking TV sets out the back door of a JC Penney. Young punk. Mr. Rock and Roll. Cocky as hell.
Tommy Williams: Hey, c'mon, old boys! You're movin' like molasses! Makin' me look bad!
Red: [narrating] We liked him immediately.

Red: [narrating] There's a harsh truth to face. No way I'm gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they'd send me back. Terrible thing, to live in fear. Brooks Hatlen knew it. Knew it all too well. All I want is to be back where things make sense. Where I won't have to be afraid all the time. Only one thing stops me. A promise I made to Andy.

Red: Well, if it was a toothbrush I wouldn't ask questions, I'd just quote a price, but then a toothbrush is a non-lethal object, isn't it?

Heywood: The Count of Monte Crisco...
Floyd: That's "Cristo" you dumb shit.
Heywood: ...by Alexandree Dumb-ass. Dumb-ass.
Andy Dufresne: Dumb-ass? "Dumas". You know what it's about? You'll like it, it's about a prison break.
Red: We oughta file that under "Educational" too, oughten we?

[after Brooks held a knife to Heywood's throat]
Andy Dufresne: I just don't understand what happened in there.
Heywood: Old man's crazy as a rat in a tin shithouse, is what.
Red: Oh Heywood, that's enough out of you!
Ernie: I heard he had you shittin' in your pants!
Heywood: Fuck you!
Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain't no bug. He's just... just institutionalized.
Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.
Red: The man's been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he's an important man. He's an educated man. Outside, he's nothin'! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands.

Red: I'd like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.

Red: One day, when I have a long gray beard and two or three marbles rollin' around upstairs, they'll let me out.

[Tommy and Red are talking about Andy]
Tommy Williams: What's he in here for, anyway?
Red: Murder.
Tommy Williams: [Impressed] The hell you say!

Andy Dufresne: I have no enemies here.
Red: Yeah? Wait a while. Word gets around. The Sisters have taken quite a likin' to you. Especially Boggs.
Andy Dufresne: I don't suppose it would help if I told them that I'm not homosexual.
Red: Neither are they. You have to be human first. They don't qualify.

Floyd: Takin' bets today, Red?
Red: Smokes or coins, better's choice.
Floyd: Smokes. Put me down for two.
Red: All right, who's your horse?
Floyd: That little sack o' shit. Eighth, eighth from the front. He'll be first.
Heywood: Aw, bullshit. I'll call that action. You out some smokes, son, let me tell you!
Floyd: Well, Heywood, you so smart, you call it!
Heywood: I'll take the chubby fat-ass there. Fifth from the front. Put me down for a quarter deck.

Red: [narrating] Two things never happened again after that. The Sisters never laid a finger on Andy again... and Boggs never walked again. They transferred him to a minimum security hospital upstate. To my knowledge, he lived out the rest of his days drinking his food through a straw.

Heywood: Red? You saying Andy's innocent? I mean *for real* innocent?
Red: Yeah, it looks that way.
Heywood: Sweet Jesus. How long's he been in here?
Red: Since '47, what is that... 19 years.

[Tommy receives a letter from the Board of Education]
Red: You gonna open it, or stand there with your thumb up your butt?
Tommy Williams: Thumb up my butt sounds better.

Andy Dufresne: Red. If you ever get out of here, do me a favor.
Red: Sure, Andy. Anything.
Andy Dufresne: There's a big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?
Red: Well, there's... there's a lot of hayfields up there.
Andy Dufresne: One in particular. It's got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It's like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It's where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes. Promise me, Red. If you ever get out... find that spot. At the base of that wall, you'll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There's something buried under it I want you to have.
Red: What, Andy? What's buried under there?
Andy Dufresne: [turns to walk away] You'll have to pry it up... to see.

Andy Dufresne: [reading letter from Brooks] "I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me. PS: tell Heywood I'm sorry I put a knife to his throat. No hard feelings, Brooks."
Red: [pause] He should've died in here.

Warden Samuel Norton: [after Andy escapes] Well?
Red: Well what?
Warden Samuel Norton: I see you two all the time, you're thick as thieves, you are. He musta said *something*.
Red: Honest, Warden, not a word.
Warden Samuel Norton: [frustrated] Lord, it's a miracle! Man up and vanished like a fart in the wind! Nothing left but some damn rocks on the windowsill. And that cupcake on the wall! Let's ask her, maybe she knows.
Warden Samuel Norton: [to poster] What say you there, fuzzy-britches? Feel like talking? Aw, guess not. Why should she be any different?
[hefting one of Andy's rocks]
Warden Samuel Norton: This is a conspiracy, that's what it is.
[throwing rocks]
Warden Samuel Norton: One... big... damn conspiracy! And everyone's in on it, including *her*!
[Throws a rock at the poster, the rock goes right through it and they hear it clattering. Norton puts his arm through the torn poster and rips it away from the wall, revealing Andy's escape tunnel]

Red: Same old shit, different day

Red: I don't know; every man has his breaking point.

Red: [narrating] Not long after the warden deprived us of his company, I got a postcard in the mail. It was blank, but the postmark said Fort Hancock, Texas. Fort Hancock... right on the border. That's where Andy crossed. When I picture him heading south in his own car with the top down, it always makes me laugh. Andy Dufresne... who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. Andy Dufresne... headed for the Pacific.

Andy Dufresne: [in a letter to Red] Dear Red. If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you?
Red: Zihuatanejo.
Andy Dufresne: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.

[Andy is comforting a sobbing Brooks after he held a knife to Heywood's neck]
Heywood: Hey, what about me? Crazy old fool goddamn near cut my throat!
Red: Aw Heywood, you've had worse from shaving!

Andy Dufresne: I understand you're a man who knows how to get things.
Red: I'm known to locate certain things from time to time.

Warden Samuel Norton: [as Mozart music is playing on the phonograph, the Warden comes to bang on the door] Open the door. Open it up! Dufresne, open this door! Turn that off!
[Andy acts like he is going to do as he says]
Warden Samuel Norton: I am warning you Dufresne, TURN THAT OFF!
[Andy turns up the volume instead, so Hadley comes to the door]
Captain Hadley: Dufresne...
[taps on the door with the club]
Captain Hadley: ... come on down.
[Andy does nothing, so Hadley smashes the screen on the door, unlocks it, and comes in the room]
Red: [narrating] Andy got two weeks in the hole for that little stunt.
Captain Hadley: [turns off the phonograph] On your feet.

Red: There must be a con like me in every prison in America. I'm the guy who can get if for you; cigarettes, a bag of reefer, if that's your thing, a bottle of brandy to celebrate your kid's high school graduation, damn near anything within reason. Yes sir, I'm a regular Sears and Roebuck.

Red: I find I'm so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Snooze: [after thinking Andy might commit suicide in prison] Oh, man, Andy came down by me and asked for a rope?
Red: And you gave it to him?

Andy Dufresne: Thirty years. Jesus, when you say it like that...
Red: ...You wonder where it went.

Red: Get busy living or get busy dying. That's goddamn right!

Andy Dufresne: Not me. I didn't shoot my wife, and I didn't shoot her lover. Whatever mistakes I made, I've paid for them and then some. That hotel, that boat... I don't think that's too much to ask.
Red: You shouldn't be doing this to yourself. This is just shitty pipe dreams. Mexico is way down there and you're in here... and that's the way it is

Andy Dufresne: I wonder if you might get me a rock hammer
Red: What is it? And why?
Andy Dufresne: A rock hammer is about six or seven inches long looks like a miniature Pickaxe
Red: Pickaxe?
Andy Dufresne: For rocks.
Red: For rocks?
Andy Dufresne: I'm from a rock hound at least I was in my old life I'd like to be again on a limited basis
Red: Or maybe you'd like to sink your into somebody's skull
Andy Dufresne: No I have no enemies here
Red: No? Wait a while word gets around full queers take by force that's all they want or understand if I were you I'd grow eyes in the back of my head
Andy Dufresne: Thanks for the advice
Red: That's free, you understand my concern?
Andy Dufresne: If there's any trouble I won't use the rock hammer
Red: I guess you'd want to escape? Tunnel under the wall
[Andy starts laughing]
Red: did I miss something? What's so funny?
Andy Dufresne: You'll understand when you see the rock hammer
Red: What's an item like this usually go for?
Andy Dufresne: Seven dollars in any rock and gem shop
Red: My normal marker is twenty percent but this is a specialty item risk goes up price goes up let's make it an even ten bucks
Andy Dufresne: Ten it is
Red: Waste of money if you ask me
Andy Dufresne: Why's that?
Red: Folks around this joint love surprise inspections if they find you're going to lose it, if they do catch you with it you don't know me, you mention my name we never do business again not for a shoe lace or a stick of gum you got that?
Andy Dufresne: I understand thank you Mr.?
Red: "Red", my name's Red

Red: Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.