The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) Poster

Maggie Smith: Jean Brodie

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Quotes 

  • [Miss Brodie is getting the new girls to introduce themselves] 

    Jean Brodie : Would you like to tell us something about yourself, Emily.

    Emily Carstairs : [eagerly]  I'm a Girl Guide, Miss Brodie. I have six merit badges: one for knot-tying, one for flag-folding...

    Jean Brodie : [cutting off Emily's list]  For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.

  • Jean Brodie : "Dear Miss Brodie, I hope it will be convenient for you to see me in my office this afternoon at 4:15. Emily Mackay." Four fifteen. Not four, not four thirty, but four fifteen. Hm. She thinks to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours?

  • Jean Brodie : Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. You girls are my vocation. If I were to receive a proposal of marriage tomorrow from the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, I would decline it. I am dedicated to you in my prime. And my summer in Italy has convinced me that I am truly in my prime.

  • Jean Brodie : It was you who betrayed me.

    Sandy : I didn't betray you! I simply put a stop to you!

    Jean Brodie : Oh, I see.

    Sandy : No, you don't see. You don't see that you're not good for people.

    Jean Brodie : In what way? In what way, Sandy, was I not good for you?

    Sandy : You are dangerous and unwholesome, and children should not be exposed to you!

    Jean Brodie : How can you think it? How can you think that I would harm you?

    Sandy : But you have! You have harmed me!

    Jean Brodie : How?

    Sandy : You have murdered Mary!

    Jean Brodie : You have assassinated me!

    Sandy : Oh, why must you always strike attitudes? You really are a ridiculous woman.

    [pause] 

    Sandy : What will you do... now?

    Jean Brodie : Do? I don't know. But I am a descendant, do not forget, of Willie Brodie. He was a man of substance. A cabinetmaker and a designer of gibbets... a member of the town council of Edinburgh... the keeper of two mistresses who bore him five children between them. Blood tells. He played much dice and fighting cocks. Eventually, he was a wanted man for having robbed the excise office. Not that he needed the money. He was a burglar for the sake of the danger. He died cheerfully on a gibbet of his own devising. That is the stuff I am made of.

    Sandy : I knew you would rise like a phoenix. I'm glad I shall not have to worry about you.

    Jean Brodie : No, I expect that is to be your gift, Sandy: to kill without concern. It is you who are dangerous. You see yourself as a conqueror, don't you, Sandy? Kaiserian in all his beauty rare.

    Sandy : But you profess to be a great admirer of conquerors. Goodbye, Miss Brodie.

    [Sandy turns and leaves the room. Miss Brodie stands quietly a few moments, then follows Sandy out to the landing] 

    Jean Brodie : Assassin!

    [Sandy ignores her and continues to walk away] 

    Jean Brodie : ASSASSIN!

  • Jean Brodie : Miss Mackay, since you were first appointed headmistress of Marcia Blain, you have done nothing but try to dismiss me from the teaching staff. You have tried every feeble excuse, even that of immorality, and failed. Now you are accusing me of preaching politics to my pupils. Such a continuous personal vendetta is hardly conducive to the dignity of your position.

    Miss Mackay : Miss Brodie, I don't think you quite understand. Let me make the situation perfectly clear. It is not I, but the board of governors, who have pursued this investigation to its conclusion. And it is the board of governors who, after having given due consideration to the grave charges laid against you, have given instructions that you leave this school immediately, and that your classes be taken over tomorrow morning by another teacher. The board have asked me to convey to you the fact that your salary will be paid in full until the end of the term which, in the circumstances, is more than generous. Miss Brodie, there is nothing more to be said

    Jean Brodie : I shall not accept the board's action. I shall petition. I shall put the question before the public, before the parents, and the student body. You will find, Miss Mackay, that I have the loyalty of my girls!

    Miss Mackay : [Smirking]  Do you, Miss Brodie?

  • Jean Brodie : [after Miss Mackay has read a supposedly incriminating letter, written by Sandy and Jenny]  There's very little for me to say, Miss Mackay in the face of your extraordinary prejudice and hostility.

    Miss Mackay : Miss Brodie, I am not asking you to say anything. I am asking... demanding... that you put your signature, your own signature, on a letter of resignation which I have prepared for you.

    Jean Brodie : I will not resign.

    Miss Mackay : If you will not resign, you will force me to dismiss you.

    Jean Brodie : I will not resign and you will not dismiss me, Miss Mackay. You will not use the excuse of that pathetic, that humorous document to blackmail me! Mr. Lowther, you are a witness to this. Miss Mackay has made totally unsupported accusations against my name and yours. If she has one authentic shred of evidence, just one, let her bring it forth! Otherwise, if one more word of this outrageous calumny reaches my ears, I shall sue! I shall take Miss Mackay to the public courts and I shall sue the trustees of Marcia Blaine, if they support her. I will not stand quietly by and allow myself to be crucified by a woman whose fetid frustration has overcome her judgment! If scandal is to your taste, Miss Mackay, I shall give you a feast!

    Miss Mackay : Miss Brodie!

    Jean Brodie : I am a teacher! I am a teacher, first, last, always! Do you imagine that for one instant I will let that be taken from me without a fight? I have dedicated, sacrificed my life to this profession. And I will not stand by like an inky little slacker and watch you rob me of it and for what? For what reason? For jealousy! Because I have the gift of claiming girls for my own. It is true I am a strong influence on my girls. I am proud of it! I influence them to be aware of all the possibilities of life... of beauty, honor, courage. I do not, Miss Mackay, influence them to look for slime where it does not exist! I am going. When my class convenes, my pupils will find me composed and prepared to reveal to them the succession of the Stuarts. And on Sunday, I will go to Cramond to visit Mr. Lowther. We are accustomed, bachelor and spinster, to spend our Sundays together in sailing and walking the beaches and in the pursuit of music. Mr. Lowther is teaching me to play the mandolin. Good day, Miss Mackay.

  • Jean Brodie : I am a teacher! First, last, always!

  • Jean Brodie : P-E-T-R-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N. Petrification! I do not intend to devote my prime to petrification.

  • Jean Brodie : Deep in most of us is the potential for greatness or the potential to inspire greatness.

  • Jean Brodie : Ah, chrysanthemums. Such serviceable flowers.

  • Teddy Lloyd : My church understands human imperfection and forgives it. Why can't you?

    Jean Brodie : I am not interested in human imperfection! I am interested in beauty, in art, in truth!

  • Jean Brodie : Six inches is perfectly adequate. More is vulgar!

  • Jean Brodie : Now Jenny, do us a cartwheel for comic relief.

  • Jean Brodie : Surely you cannot believe that this is the work of nine-year-olds?

    Miss Mackay : I could believe it was the work of your nine-year-olds!

  • [Miss Brodie is getting the new girls to introduce themselves] 

    Jean Brodie : What about you, Mary McGregor. What are your interests?

    Mary McGregor : [diffidently]  I haven't got any.

    Jean Brodie : That is what I am for, Mary McGregor: to provide you with interests.

  • Jean Brodie : Can anyone tell me: who is the greatest Italian painter?

    Jenny : Leonardo da Vinci, Miss Brodie.

    Jean Brodie : That is incorrect, Jenny.

    [Miss Brodie unrolls a print of Giotto's painting "Flight Into Egypt"] 

    Jean Brodie : The answer is Giotto. He is my favourite.

    [Miss Brodie walks to the back of the classroom where there is a picture of Stanley Baldwin] 

    Jean Brodie : Observe, little girls, Stanley Baldwin, who got in as Prime Minister... and got *out* again ere long. Our head mistress, Miss Mackay, retains him on the walls because she *believes* in the slogan 'safety first!'

    [Miss Brodie triumphantly pins Giotto's painting on top of the picture of Baldwin] 

    Jean Brodie : But safety does not come first: goodness, truth, and beauty come first. One's prime brings one's insight into these things. One's prime is the moment one is born for. You little girls must be on the alert to recognize your prime, at whatever time it may occur, and live it to the full - 'season of mist and mellow fruitfulness... '

    [Miss Brodie continues on with this descriptive anecdote of prose] 

  • Jean Brodie : Sandy, please try to do as I say and not as I do. Remember, you are a child, Sandy, and far from your prime.

  • Jean Brodie : Safety does not come first. Goodness, truth, and beauty come first.

  • Jean Brodie : It was *you* who betrayed me!

    Sandy : I didn't *betray* you - I simply put a stop to you!

  • Jean Brodie : The French have a genius for food, but I doubt French women will ever get the vote.

  • Teddy Lloyd : You should have married old Lowther, you really should. I'm 43 years old, Jean. Now, how old are you?

    Jean Brodie : I'm... I'm in my prime!

    Teddy Lloyd : Your "prime". LOOK at yourself, Jean! Look at me: a second-rate painter running to seed. You're NOT in your prime, Jean, you're a frustrated spinster taking it out in idiot causes and dangerous ideas. A schoolmarm!

    Jean Brodie : [indignant]  I am a teacher!

    Teddy Lloyd : A teacher or a leader? The dangerous Miss Brodie and her troops. Well, where you lead I cannot follow.

    Jean Brodie : Arrivederci.

    [walks away] 

  • Jean Brodie : I am truly in my prime.

  • Jean Brodie : Assassin! Assassin!

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