At the movies · Catchphrases

“Get this boy a bib”

Of all the lines in all the movies that I watched with my father, this is probably the one that he repeated most often: “Get this boy a bib”.

There were plenty of lines that he quoted from dozens of films (“The Godfather” series, those starring Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, westerns like “The Magnificent Seven”) but “Get this boy a bib” was right up there as the one he said most often. I have said it hundreds of times too, not just in the context of babies and toddlers needing a bit of extra protection when eating and drinking.

The line comes from Michael Crichton’s “Westworld”,  released in 1973 and described on the BBC iPlayer as follows: “Sci-fi thriller in which two strait-laced businessmen visit a vacation resort where robots enact people’s dream adventures – but something goes horribly wrong”. It’s said by Yul Brynner, playing the part of a robot gunslinger, in a scene set in a saloon. The saloon is in part of the vacation resort that recreates a “lawless frontier town” in 1880. The scene ends in a gunfight.

My father and I watched “Westworld” together in the 1980s and I didn’t see it again until  last month, chancing upon it late one Saturday night (after “Match of the Day”). It caused me to go to bed an hour or two later than planned, but no more than that (it’s under 90 minutes long). Although we watched the film just once all the way through, my father and I repeated our versions of the words spoken by Yul Brynner for decades afterwards. As noted many times on this Blog, my father died in April 2020. Our experience of watching films on TV together was recalled in this piece about Peter Yates’s delightful 1979 release “Breaking Away”. If my father were still alive, I would tell him that we spent many years misquoting Yul Brynner’s first words, immediately after his arrival in the saloon where the “two strait-laced businessmen” are having a drink at the bar. He deliberately bumps into one of them, causing him to spill his drink. He (Yul Brynner as the gunslinger) tosses a coin onto the bar, has a drink, and says: “Sloppy with your drink”. We always quoted this as “Sloppy drinker”. We got the next line right, though. He really does say, “Get this boy a bib”.

You can rent the whole movie from Amazon Prime (it doesn’t appear to be on Netflix) and there’s a link at the end of this piece to a YouTube clip of the whole scene but here, for the record, is my transcription of the dialogue:

Gunslinger [after paying for, and pouring, a drink]: Sloppy with your drink … [Long pause, while he has a drink] … Get this boy a bib … [Another long pause] … He needs his mama.
Strait-laced businessman [after being urged by his colleague to stand up for himself, and kill the gunslinger]: You talk too much
Gunslinger: You say something boy?
SLB: I said you talk too much.
Gunslinger: Why don’t you make me shut up?
[The bar clears in readiness for the gunfight.]
Gunslinger: Your move …

Enjoy the whole scene here. I certainly have, but I have spent 35 years replaying my own version of these words, with and without my father.

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