In the Line of Fire

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In the Line of Fire is a 1993 film about Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan, who couldn't save Kennedy, but who's determined not to let a clever assassin take out the current president.

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Written by Jeff Maguire.
An assassin on the loose. A president in danger. Only one man stands between them...

Mitch Leary[edit]

  • What did happen to you that day? Only one agent reacted to the gunfire, and you were closer to Kennedy than he was. You must have looked up at the window of the Texas Book Depository, but you didn't react. Late at night, when the demons come, do you see the rifle coming out of that window, or do you see Kennedy's head being blown apart? If you'd reacted to that first shot, could you have gotten there in time to stop the big bullet? And if you had - that could've been your head being blown apart. Do you wish you'd succeeded, Frank? Or is life too precious?
  • Do you know how easily I could kill you, Frank? Do you know how many times I watched you go in and out of that apartment? You are still alive because I have allowed you to live so you show me some GODDAMN RESPECT! [slams phone down]
  • [last words, left on Frank's answering machine] Hello, Frank. By the time you hear this, it'll be over. The President is most likely dead, and so am I. I wonder, Frank, did you kill me? Who won our game? Not that it really matters, for among friends like you and me, it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game, and now the game is done and it's time to get on with your life. But I worry, that you have no life to get on with Frank. You're a good man, and good men like you and me are destined to travel a lonely road. Goodbye, and good luck.

Frank Horrigan[edit]

  • [at the Lincoln Memorial] Well, Abe? ...Damn. Wish I could have been there for you, pal.
  • For years, I've been listening to all these idiots on barstools with all their pet theories on Dallas. How it was the Cubans, or the C.I.A., or the white supremacists, or the Mob. Whether there was one weapon, or whether there was five. None of that's meant too much to me. But Leary, he questioned whether I had the guts to take that fatal bullet. God, that was a beautiful day. The sun was out, been raining all morning, the air was... First shot, sounded like a firecracker. I looked over, I saw him, I could tell he was hit. I don't know why I didn't react. I should have reacted. I should have been running flat out. I just couldn't believe it. If only I'd reacted, I could have taken that shot. And that would have been alright with me.


Mitch Leary: [on phone] Frank?
Frank Horrigan: Yeah?
Mitch Leary: Frank Horrigan, the Secret Service agent?
Frank Horrigan: Yeah, what'd I win?
Mitch Leary: My God, that really was you in my apartment this afternoon!
Frank Horrigan: [turns off stereo] McCrawley?
Mitch Leary: Why not call me Booth?
Frank Horrigan: Why not Oswald?
Mitch Leary: Because Booth had flair, panache - a leap to the stage after he shot Lincoln.

Mitch Leary: What's kept you in the game all these years?
Frank Horrigan: Why don't we get together and have a drink? We could talk about that.
Mitch Leary: Oh, I'd love to, but I think the less you know about me the better.
Frank Horrigan: Oh, why?
Mitch Leary: Because I'm planning to kill the President.
Frank Horrigan: Oh, now you shouldn't have gone and said that. It's a federal offense to threaten the President. You could go to jail, even if you don't mean it.
Mitch Leary: I mean it all right. John F. Kennedy said all someone needs is a willingness to trade his life for the President's, right?
Frank Horrigan: That's right.
Mitch Leary: I'm willing.

Lilly Raines: What makes you think he'll call again?
Frank Horrigan: Oh, he'll call again. He's got "panache."
Lilly Raines: Panache?
Frank Horrigan: Yeah, it means flamboyance.
Lilly Raines: Uh, I know what it means.
Frank Horrigan: Really? I had to look it up.

Mitch Leary: The irony is so thick you could choke on it.
Frank Horrigan: There's no fuckin' irony, Mitch.
Mitch Leary: Think, Frank. Think. The same government that trained me to kill trained you to protect. Yet now you want to kill me while up on that roof I protected you. They're gonna write books about us, Frank.

Frank Horrigan: How's the First Lady? She ask about me?
Lilly Raines: Have you gotten to know them yet?
Frank Horrigan: Well, I normally prefer not to get to know the people I'm protecting.
Lilly Raines: Oh, yeah? Why's that?
Frank Horrigan: Well, you never know. You might decide they're not worth taking a bullet for.

Lilly Raines: I heard you and Nixon didn't get along.
Frank Horrigan: Now, that's not true. His chief of staff, though, that was a different story. I remember one time, he wanted me to go out and get rid of some anti-war protesters. I said no, talking about the Bill of Rights and so on. And he says, "look, when I'm talking to you, I am the President." I said, "The President? That's funny, you look more like a sack of shit in a cheap suit to me, sir!"
Lilly Raines: [laughs] Well, I like the "sir." It's a classy touch.
Frank Horrigan: I thought so.

Mitch Leary: Watching the President, I - I couldn't help wondering why a man like you would risk his life to save a man like that. You have such a strange job - I can't decide if it's heroic or absurd.
Frank Horrigan: Now, why would a man like you want to risk his life to kill a man like that?
Mitch Leary: Don't you have a psychological profile on me yet?
Frank Horrigan: I don't put a lot of stock in them.
Mitch Leary: Nor do I. A man's actions don't equal the sum of his psychological parts. Doesn't work that way.
Frank Horrigan: Just how does it work?
Mitch Leary: It doesn't work, Frank. God doesn't punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Everyone dies. Some die because they deserve to; others die simply because they come from Minneapolis. It's random and it's meaningless.
Frank Horrigan: Well, if none of this means anything... why kill the President?
Mitch Leary: To punctuate the dreariness.
Frank Horrigan: It sounds to me like you need to get yourself laid.
Mitch Leary: You're the same as me. Name one thing in your life that has any meaning.
Frank Horrigan: I play the piano.
Mitch Leary: That's not enough.
Frank Horrigan: How do you know? Do you play?
Mitch Leary: I've seen you in your bar alone. There's no cause left worth fighting for. All we have is the game. I'm on offense. You're on defense.
Frank Horrigan: When do we start playing the game?
Mitch Leary: The clock's ticking.

Mitch Leary: Frank, you of all people, I want you to understand because we both USED to think this country was a very special place...
Frank Horrigan: You don't know what I used to think!
Mitch Leary: Oh, but you know about me? Do you have any idea what I've done for God and country? Some pretty FUCKING HORRIBLE things! I don't even remember who I was before they sunk their claws into me!
Frank Horrigan: They made you into a real monster, right?
Mitch Leary: That's right and now they want to destroy me because we can't have monsters roaming the quiet countryside, now can we?
Frank Horrigan: What do you see when you're in the dark, and the demons come?
Mitch Leary: I see you, Frank. I see you standing over the grave of another dead president.
Frank Horrigan: That's not going to happen. I'm onto you.
Mitch Leary: Forget it, Frank. I am willing to trade my life for his. I am smart, and I am willing, and that is all it takes. That president is coming home from California in a box.
Frank Horrigan: Where in California?
Mitch Leary: Uh, the address? Come on, Frank. I'll keep you in the game, but I'm not going to throw it for you.

Frank Horrigan: I want you to give yourself up.
Mitch Leary: So I can live a long and fruitful life?
Frank Horrigan: We can work something out.
Mitch Leary: Fuck you. Don't fucking lie to me. I have a rendezvous with death, and so does the President, and so do you if you get too close.
Frank Horrigan: You have a rendezvous with my ass, motherfucker!
Mitch Leary: Frank. Do you know how easily I could kill you, Frank? Do you know how many times I've watched you go in and out of that apartment? You're alive because I have allowed you to live. So you show me some goddamn respect!

[Lilly's wearing an evening dress]
Lilly Raines: What are you looking at?
Frank Horrigan: I was just wondering where you hide your firearm. Don't tell me, let me guess.

[Frank is arguing with the Chief of Staff after a false alarm]
Harry Sargent: The president came off looking like a coward on national television.
Frank Horrigan: I thought he came off all right. You're the one that came off looking like a damn coward.
Harry Sargent: This is a just a joke to you?
Frank Horrigan: No, you're a joke to me, Harry! You have no idea what we do around here!
Bill Watts: That's enough, Horrigan!
Harry Sargent: You call me Harry one more time, you'll be busting counterfeiters in Alaska! You keep him away from the president, away from the White House, and you sure as hell better keep him away from me!
Bill Watts: Don't talk to the White House Chief of Staff like that.
Frank Horrigan: I don't work for him.
Bill Watts: No, you work for me. At least you did. You're off my detail.

Lilly Raines: [after a false alarm] The President was humiliated.
Frank Horrigan: He's alive, isn't he?
Lilly Raines: Yeah, well, we're here to safeguard his dignity as well.
Frank Horrigan: I'm not paid for that.
Lilly Raines: What about the time Kennedy's girlfriend was caught in the White House and you said she was with you?
Frank Horrigan: Don't you go believing every rumor someone tells you.
Lilly Raines: Frank, Wilder told me the whole story. About how you were suspended a month without pay. I'd say that was safeguarding his dignity.
Frank Horrigan: That was different. He was different.
Lilly Raines: Maybe you were different.
Frank Horrigan: I was different. The whole damn country was different. Everything would be different right now too if I'd been half as a paranoid as I am today. Fuck.

Mitch Leary: So, you have the guts, Frank. You took the bullet.
Frank Horrigan: I broke my damn ribs.
Mitch Leary: Sorry. I wasn't aiming at you.
Mitch Leary: A bulletproof vest is cheating a bit. Otherwise, you played a good game.
Frank Horrigan: It's no game, Leary. I was doing my job. What are we gonna do now?
Mitch Leary: Do you believe in the nobility of suicide?
Frank Horrigan: No. But if you wanna blow your goddamn head off, go ahead, be my guest.
Mitch Leary: Nicely put, except I don't want to leave this miserable world alone.

Frank Horrigan: Take my hand. If you don't, you'll die.
Mitch Leary: You want to save me, Frank?
Frank Horrigan: To be completely fair and honest with you, no. But it's my job.

[last lines]
Frank Horrigan: I'll bet you that brown pigeon down there flies off before the white one.
Lilly Raines: How do you know?
Frank Horrigan: I know things about pigeons, Lilly.


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