Hadley Freeman’s All Time Favourite 80s Quotes

Hadley Freeman brings us her personalised guide to American movies from the 1980s – why they are brilliant, what they meant to her, and how they influenced movie-making forever.


American moves of the 1980s have simply got it all. Comedy in Three Men and a Baby, Hannah and Her Sisters, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Trading Places; all a teenager needs to know – in Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club and Mystic Pizza; the ultimate in action – Top Gun, Die Hard, Young Sherlock Holmes, Beverly Hills Cop and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; love and sex – in 9 ½ Weeks, Splash, About Last Night, The Big Chill, Bull Durham; and family fun – in The Little Mermaid, ET, Big, Parenthood and Lean On Me.

Born in the late 1970s, Hadley grew up on a well-rounded diet of these movies, her entire view of the world, adult relations and expectations of what her life might hold was forged by these cult classics.

In this personalised guide, she puts her obsessive movie geekery to good use, detailing the decades’ key players, genres and tropes, and how exactly the friendship between Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi influenced the evolution of comedy. She looks back to a cinematic world in which bankers are invariably evil, despite this being the decade of Wall Street, where children are always wiser than adults, and science is embraced with an intense enthusiasm, and the future viewed with excitement. She considers how the changes between movies then and movies today say so much about pop culture’s and society’s changing expectations of women, young people and art, and explains why Pretty in Pink should be put on school syllabuses immediately.

To celebrate publication, here are Hadley’s Top 20 Eighties Quotes – ‘I quote them all, aloud or in my head, on a weekly basis’.


20 ‘I’m too old for this shit.’ (Lethal Weapon)










19 ‘You are evil, and you must be destroyed.’ (Steel Magnolias)










18 ‘Any girl that did that to me I would not be too JAZZED to hold on to.’ (Pretty in Pink)

17 ‘You think what you want about me – I’m not changing. I like me.’ (Planes, Trains and Automobiles)













16 ‘You have chosen … wisely.’ (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

15 ‘I love you.’ slap ‘Snap out of it!’ (Moonstruck)

14 ‘Fuck me gently with a chainsaw, do I look like Mother Teresa?’ (Heathers)









13 ‘Looking good, Billy Ray!’ ‘Feeling good, Louis!’ (Trading Places)












12 ‘You know what I am? I’m your worst fuckin’ nightmare – I’m a nigger with a badge.’ (48 Hours)

11 ‘Shame on you, you macho shithead!’ (Tootsie)*1









10 ‘The royal penis is clean, your highness.’ (Coming to America)

9 ‘If you build it, he will come.’ (Field of Dreams)

8 ‘Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.’ (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure)

StrangeThings AreAfoot








7 ‘If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.’ (Hannah and Her Sisters)

6 ‘When you grow up, your heart dies.’ (The Breakfast Club)










5 ‘Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.’ (Back to the Future)










4 ‘Your ego is writing cheques that your body can’t cash.’ (Top Gun)

3 ‘I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.’ (Say Anything)

2 ‘Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!’ (Ghostbusters)

1 ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner.’ (Dirty Dancing)












Extracted from: Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we don’t learn them from movies any more) is out today.

To find out more about our books, events and competitions, click here to sign up to our newsletter.

If you enjoyed this, try:

Comments are closed.