Popular Misquotations

Popular misquotations - Play it again Sam.

...'the things they never said'.

Many phrases and sayings have entered the language with scant evidence linking them to the person who is supposed to have said them first.

These false attributions join the popular fallacies as the most difficult to remove from the popular consciousness.

There are a startlingly large number of 'quotations' which, on investigation, turn out to be false. Here are a few examples:

Beam me up, Scotty.
Captain James T. Kirk, in the Star Trek series.
The closest that Captain Kirk ever got to this was "Beam us up, Mr Scott", in the 'Gamesters of Triskelion' episode.
Come with me to the Casbah.
Charles Boyer, in the film Algiers, 1938.
The line doesn't appear in the film, although it was present in some early trailers. Boyer did epitomize the suave, debonair French lover and became somewhat typecast in such roles. The 'quotation' came to the public consciousness via Chuck Jones’s cartoon skunk "Pépé le Pew" in a satire of Boyer's performance. In later life, Boyer tired of the endless repetition of the phrase and attempted to disassociate himself from it.
Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.
Sigmund Freud.
The line doesn't appear in any of Freud's works. It derives from others' summaries of Freud's theories.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
The Wicked Queen in Disney’s animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.
The actual line is "Magic Mirror on the Wall, who is the fairest one of all?".
Elementary, Dear Watson
Sherlock Holmes
Holmes didn't say 'Elementary, Dear Watson' in any published story. He came close in a couple of books, but never that exact phrase.
England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
George Bernard Shaw
This supposed quotation doesn't appear anywhere in the copious writing of GBS. A similar idea was expressed by Oscar Wilde in The Canterville Ghost, 1887, some years earlier than Shaw was supposed to have said it:
"We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language".
It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.
Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the Star Trek television series.
The saying does not occur in the series but derives from the 1987 song 'Star Trekkin' ' sung by The Firm. The nearest equivalent found in the series is (There is) 'No life as we know it' (here), said by Mr Spock in 'The Devil in the Dark', 1967.
If you gotta ask what jazz is you'll never know.
Louis Armstrong
The misquote is an invented variant of Armstrong's response 'If you still have to ask… shame on you', quoted in Max Jones' Salute to Satchmo, 1970.
Me Tarzan, you Jane.
Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), in Tarzan, the Ape Man, 1932.

The actual dialogue (not a classic example of the screenwriter's art) went like this:

Jane: (pointing to herself) Jane.
Tarzan: Jane. 
Jane: And you? You?
Tarzan: Tarzan, Tarzan.
Jane: Tarzan.
Tarzan: Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan...

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), in the 1942 film Casablanca.
One of the best known movie misquotes. The nearest to 'Play it again, Sam' in the film is 'Play it, Sam', which is spoken by Ingrid Bergman's character, not Bogart's.
The white heat of technology.
Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister 1964-70 & 1974-76.

What Wilson actually said, in a speech at the Labour Party Conference, October 1963, was:

'The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry'.

Oliver Cromwell
There's no evidence to support the idea that Cromwell ever said 'warts and all'.
Queen Victoria.
Victoria is often portrayed as the type of person who might have coined this expression, but there's no clear evidence that she did.
Why don't you come up and see me sometime?
Mae West, in the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong.

A bit nitpicky this one, but what West actually said was:

'Why don't you come up sometime, and see me?'

You dirty rat!
James Cagney

This line didn't appear in any of Cagney's many films. In a speech to the American Film Institute in 1974 he made a point of saying:

'I never said "Mmm, you dirty rat!"'

...and, if you want to know what they really said, see our Quotes by Famous People.