In an earlier post, I noted that Eli Wallach had died on Tuesday. And I mentioned, while giving a brief rundown of his career, that one of my favorite Wallach performances came in 1960’s “The Magnificent Seven.”
He portrayed the Mexican bandit chief Calvera, who is as quotable as he is ruthless in how he handles the peasants he preys on – until seven American hired guns stop him.
About those very peasants, Calvera says, “If God didn't want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”
What does he say when he discovers that the peasants have hired the Americans? “Generosity… that was my first mistake. I leave these people a little bit extra, and then they hire these men to make trouble. It shows you, sooner or later, you must answer for every good deed.”
And his dying speech to Yul Brynner’s character Chris shows just how little he understands why these seven Americans would risk their lives for one, unimportant Mexican village: “You came back - for a place like this. Why? A man like you. Why?”
As should be obvious when you consider that Wallach died at age 98, and had been working in movies since 1956, he played plenty of roles. So I’ve collected a number of other good quotes.
From “Baby Doll” (1956), in which he plays the Italian businessman Silva Vacarro. In response to Carroll Baker’s blithe statement about her husband’s sexual frustration, Vacarro says, “Mrs. Meighan your husband sweats more than any man I know and now I can understand why.”
From “The Misfits” (1961), in which he plays the pilot Guido. To Marilyn Monroe’s character, Guido says, “You have the gift for life, Rosylyn. The rest of us, we're just looking for a place to hide and watch it all go by.”
From “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1965), in which he plays “Ugly” Tuco. Offering a general view of life, he says, “There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door; those that come in by the window.”
“How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life” (1968), in which he plays Harry Hunter. To Stella Stevens’ character, he says, “But there's an opening in merchandise, and you have character, integrity, and principle. It'd be interesting to see if an executive could survive with such handicaps.”
So many movies, so many quotes. These have just been a few of Eli Wallach's.