The Best Opening Lines in Cinema

Whether you’re reading a book or watching a film, audiences and bookworms want to be pulled into the story’s world, immersed in the life of its characters, and get a keen sense of the setting where the action is taking place. Skilled writers can ignite that connection almost instantly, and as the Guardian shared over the weekend, the literary world is full of fine examples where the first lines in fiction have been enrapturing readers for decades. Cinema is no different, and we wanted to search for the most unforgettable movie openers. These oft-quotable opening lines have acted as a foreshadowing device, added instant drama, and allowed us to understand the inner workings of different characters’ minds. We could have spent all day reciting first lines from our favorite films, but we narrowed our picks down and left you the opportunity to share your own past the break.


“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn where he started working for the Lucchese crime family as a kid. It’s there that he learns to never rat on his friends and always keep his mouth shut — wiseguys’ words of wisdom that come back to haunt Hill later in his criminal career. Goodfellas opening reminds us that Hill didn’t just fall into his mobster lifestyle, he was born and bred to be a mobster, surrounded by gangsters and steadily seduced by the respect, money, and power they possessed. “To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States,” he tells us next. For a kid like Hill who was busy skipping school, these crooks became his idols.