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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) Poster

Quotes

Peter Fallow: Caroline, you devil.

Caroline Heftshank: Peter, you pig!

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Peter Fallow: If you're going to live in a whorehouse, there's only one thing you can do: be the best damn whore around.

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Sir Gerald Moore: I was at dinner last evening, and halfway through the pudding, this four-year-old child came alone, dragging a little toy cart. And on the cart was a fresh turd. Her own, I suppose. The parents just shook their heads and smiled. I've made a big investment in you, Peter. Time and money, and it's not working. Now, I could just shake my head and smile. But in my house, when a turd appears, we throw it out. We dispose of it. We flush it away. We don't put it on the table and call it caviar.

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Judge Leonard White: [to court room] Racist? You dare call me racist? Well I say unto you, what does it matter the color of a man's skin if witnesses purjure themselves. If a prosecutor enlists the perjurers. When a district attorney throws a man to the mob for political gain, and men of the cloth, men of God, take the prime cuts? Is that justice?

Judge Leonard White: I don't hear you...

Judge Leonard White: Let me tell you what justice is. Justice is the law, and the law is man's feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency! And decency is not a deal. It isn't an angle, or a contract, or a hustle! Decency... decency is what your grandmother taught you. It's in your bones! Now you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be decent.

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Judy McCoy: I'm leaving you!

[pause]

Judy McCoy: After the party... and now, if you will excuse me, we have guests.

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Maria Ruskin: [Maria and Sherman running in the car after take the wrong way and ending up on Bronx] Oh Sherman, LOOK OUT!

Maria Ruskin: Oh Christ, Sherman, we're in the middle of a godamn war zone and you're worried about doing the right thing?

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Sherman McCoy: I suppose we could still go to the police. We could get a very talented lawyer...

Maria Ruskin: And put our heads right into the tiger's mouth? I'm the one who was driving the car. Don't you think I'm the one who should make the decision? And I say, no. No, Sherman. Trust me. Nothing is going to come of this little newspaper article. Absolutely nothing.

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Sherman McCoy: I understand you went to Yale.

Tom Killian: Yeah. You, too. Huh?

Sherman McCoy: What did you think of it?

Tom Killian: It was okay. As law schools go. They give you the scholarly view. You know. It's terrific for anything you want to do - as long as it doesn't involve real people.

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Maria Ruskin: [when she and Sherman end up in Bronx] Sherman... where are all the white people?

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Maria Ruskin: [while on Bronx] Sherman, I'm coming from the South and I'm starting to not like this very much!

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Reverend Bacon: [about the incident with Henry Lamb] This is a tragedy! A fine young man has been struck down. God- fearing, church-going, never in trouble, graduating from high school, ready for college - and somebody comes along - some rich white people in a rich white man's car and wham! They run him down and never even stop. Now what are we going to do about these parking tickets?

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Sherman McCoy: Maria, you're incorrigible!

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Maria Ruskin: Sherman, fuck the luggage. Let's go have a drink.

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Peter Fallow: [narrating] Our hero, Sherman McCoy, was about to make a simple phone call. But despite the existence of 11 telephones, and 7 different lines, in 14 rooms of his 16-million-plus dollar apartment, this was a phone call he could not make at home.

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Maria Ruskin: [introducing Russian ballet dancer] He's defective.

Sherman McCoy: You mean, he "defected".

Maria Ruskin: No, I mean he doesn't speak any English.

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Sherman McCoy: There's one thing I can do. I want to see the truth come out, and burn every one of them, and there's only one way to do that.

Mr. McCoy: And what is that?

Sherman McCoy: Lie.

Mr. McCoy: Oh... you know I have always been a great believer in the truth. I have lived my life as honestly as I can. I, I believe in the truth as an essential companion to a man of conscience. A beacon in this vast and dark wasteland, that is our modern world. And yet...

Sherman McCoy: Yes.

Mr. McCoy: ...in this case, if the truth won't set you free, then lie.

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Peter Fallow: [narrating] It was all over. There was no hope now. The darkness closed in around them. And then I noticed the most peculiar thing. Sherman was smiling.

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[last lines]

Peter Fallow: [narrating] Yes see, Sherman, who started with so much, lost everything. But he gained his soul. Whereas I, you see, who started with so little, gained everything. "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses..." Ah well. There are compensations.

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Aubrey Buffing: The wrath of heaven must be at hand! Its justice will not tarry! I see the deadly thunderbolt poised above his head!

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D.A. Abe Weiss: You don't think the future knows how to cross a bridge?

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D.A. Abe Weiss: And now they're gonna sue the hospital... All they want is money. Can you imagine using a tragedy like this for your own selfish motives?

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Pollard Browning: Hello, Sherman.

Sherman McCoy: Good evening, Pollard.

Pollard Browning: It's raining, you know.

Sherman McCoy: I did notice, yes.

Pollard Browning: [on Sherman's dog] Ah, Sherman, a true friend to man's best friend.

Sherman McCoy: Pollard, you old phrase-maker.

Pollard Browning: I beg your pardon?

Sherman McCoy: Is that the best you can do? Is that as witty as we get?

Pollard Browning: I don't know what you're talking about. Furthermore, if you're wet when you return, take the service elevator.

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Sherman McCoy: I want you to meet Aubrey Buffing.

Judy McCoy: Who?

Sherman McCoy: Aubrey Buffing. The poet. He's on the short list for the Nobel Prize, he has AIDS, you'll love him!

Judy McCoy: Sherman, we are standing alone in the middle of the room, a married couple talking to each other. You simply don't do it. Go on and mingle! Please.

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Ed Rifkin: Henry Lamb. Who's that?

Peter Fallow: He was a student of yours at Ruppert High. In your English class.

Ed Rifkin: He was? What's he done?

Peter Fallow: He hasn't done anything. He's been seriously injured. I'm a reporter, I work for a newspaper.

Ed Rifkin: Well, I don't remember him.

Peter Fallow: I'm trying to find what kind of student he was?

Ed Rifkin: If I don't remember him, I guess he was okay.

Peter Fallow: You say he was a good student?

Ed Rifkin: Good doesn't really apply at Ruppert High. They're either cooperative or life-threatening.

Peter Fallow: Well they say he was going to college.

Ed Rifkin: You mean City College. That... they got to open admission policies so if you live in the city, graduate high school, and still breathing, they're gonna take you.

Peter Fallow: What can you tell me about his performance in class? Any aptitude, special skills?

Ed Rifkin: Mr. uh...

Peter Fallow: Fallow. Peter Fallow.

Ed Rifkin: Mr. Fallow, I got 65 students in every class.

Peter Fallow: Tests, homework, any written work he might have turn now?

Ed Rifkin: Shit, there hasn't been any written work at Ruppert High since 15, maybe 20 years.

Peter Fallow: Really? And how the hell you keep track of these kids? I mean, Jesus Christ, there must be some record of how this boy measures up to the other students at class.

Ed Rifkin: You're thinking about honor students and grades.

Peter Fallow: Attendance records. Grades. Yeah.

Ed Rifkin: High achievements. We don't make those kind of comparisons. We just try to keep them off the streets. At Ruppert High, an honor student is somebody who comes to class and doesn't piss on the teacher.

Peter Fallow: Well, by that standard then, would you say Henry Lamb was an honor student?

Ed Rifkin: Well, uh, he never pissed on me.

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Ray Andruitti: Trace the car?

D.A. Abe Weiss: Yeah.

Ray Andruitti: Trace the car, Abe? We don't even have a witness. We don't even know where it happened. We don't even know if it happened.

D.A. Abe Weiss: Trace the car, Ray!

Ray Andruitti: Abe, we don't have a case! Even if we find the car. Now if the driver, if the driver come to us and say "Oh yeah, yeah, that's right! I hit this kid the other night and yeah, that's right. I didn't stop! I didn't report. I'm the one, I'm the guy, I did it!" then we got a case.

D.A. Abe Weiss: Just trace the fucking car, Ray!

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Peter Fallow: Alright, alright. Here we go. Everything's under control. Nothing to worry about. Oh. Excuse me. I haven't introduced myself, have I? My name is Peter Fallow. I'm a writer. But you know that already. Unless you haven't read a newspaper or seen the television in the last few months, you know exactly who I am. I am the man of the moment. Hero of the evening. Me and a little book I happened to write. Now, the real hero of the evening is of course not even with us tonight. But we'll come to him in a minute. For now, indulge yourself in the extravagance of the moment and remember, if you will, a phrase from another little best-seller: "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?". This is the story about such a man.

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D.A. Abe Weiss: Yesterday I was a respected Jewish liberal. Ten minutes of news like this and all of sudden I'm a hymie racist pig? The Italians are gonna love this. The Irish too. And the WASPS. They love this shit more than anybody. They love laughing at me! All the riches sons of bitches.

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D.A. Abe Weiss: [on Reverend Bacon's rant against him] That's my name! My own fucking name!

Jed Kramer: That's a complete fuck up.

D.A. Abe Weiss: Who the hell are you?

Jed Kramer: I'm, I'm Kramer. I'm assistant district attorney Kramer. I work in this office.

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D.A. Abe Weiss: We are gonna prove to these black motherfuckers... pardon my language, Howard. We are going to prove to this niggers that this administration loves them! No matter what it takes. I am no racist hymie! By November, they're are going be thinking of me as the first black district attorney of Bronx County. Huh?

Jed Kramer: Yeah.

D.A. Abe Weiss: They're gonna beg for me to be mayor. We're gonna walk away with that election!

Jed Kramer: No question.

D.A. Abe Weiss: That's what we're gonna do!

Jed Kramer: Yes!

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Peter Fallow: Oh excuse me but what the hell? Who were these people? What were they doing here? This was my story. Sherman McCoy was my baby, my creation.

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Robert Corso: Why did you hit that kid, Sherman?

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Tom Killian: Hey, wait a minute. What the fuck? What press? I talked to Ray last night and he promised me no bullshit!

Det. Martin: This is Weiss. Weiss gave the order this morning.

Tom Killian: Somebody's gonna pay for this!

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See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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