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Get to “I Love You”

“Shut up and deal.”

“Would it kill you one time to put on a dress?”

“Walter, you’re all washed up.”

I’m sure we can all think of a million more, but these are famous last lines, delivered respectively by Shirley MacLaine, Art Carney, and Edward G. Robinson from, in order, The Apartment, The Late Show, and Double Indemnity.

            What do they have in common?

            They all mean, “I love you.”

Shirley MacLaine declares her love for Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment”

            [P.S. for writers’ credits, let’s give it up for Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond, Robert Benton, and Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler.]

            It doesn’t work for all novels and movies but here’s an axiom I’ve found tremendously helpful as I work on a new story:

            Get to “I love you.”

            Moby Dick can be viewed as a love story between Ishmael and Queequeg. When the Pequod goes to the bottom with all hands and Ishmael is saved—by Queequeg’s watertight (empty) coffin bobbing to the surface—that’s “I love you.”

            When Walter White (Bryan Cranston) bites the dust in the final episode of Breaking Bad, thus saving Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), that’s “I love you.”

            Story after wonderful story starts with two characters who are miles apart in every way … and ends with the twain coming together as if it were the most natural and inevitable thing in the world.

            Can you identify the sources of these “I love yous”?

    “I told you I don’t want you riding with me no more.”

     “Want something? Pie?”

      “Why not?”

            Hint: these lines are delivered by, in order, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Duvall, and Warren Oates.

            (I would say “Answers next week,” but for sure the Comments section will answer them all within ten minutes of this post going up. I’m talking about YOU, Joe Jansen.)